In DC Comics’ “Green Lantern: New Guardians,” written by Tony Bedard and penciled by Tyler Kirkham, Kyle Rayner’s problems continue to escalate to cosmic levels. Not only are Kyle and the other Lantern Corps members still clueless about why all the emotional spectrum rings have settled on Kyle as their new wielder, now Guardian Ganthet has been lobotomized by the others on Oa and a brand new menace has come calling in a spaceship the size of a solar system.
Relaunched last year as part of the New 52, Bedard and Kirkham’s first arc is still going strong as the various emotional Corps members slowly begin working together to unravel the mystery of the rings. Now, in the upcoming second arc of the series, a new the question has surfaced — will they be able to set aside their differences long enough to survive the threat of Invictus?
CBR News caught up with Bedard for a discussion about the team dynamic now that Larfleeze has joined the group, as well as brand new villain Invictus’ connection to the Corps, and what the upcoming “Secrets Of The Indigo Tribe” arc in writer Geoff Johns’ “Green Lantern” means for “New Guardians.”
CBR News: In these latest issues of “New Guardians” you’ve introduced Larfleeze to the fray. Larfleeze is one of the characters really associated with Geoff Johns, and at last year’s NYCC Johns even joked he had a “lockdown” on the Orange Lantern. Did you and Johns discuss how to write Larfleeze or where he fits into the greater Green Lantern universe before using him in “New Guardians?”
Tony Bedard: It was actually Geoff who suggested I include Larfleeze in “New Guardians.” He’s been a very generous collaborator from the moment he and [editor] Eddie Berganza invited me to join the Green Lantern writing team. Mostly, I’m nervous about not living up to the great characterization that made Larfleeze such a fan favorite. I think that whole “lockdown” thing was more about big plans he has for an upcoming storyline, and all we had to do was make sure that my story didn’t get in the way of his. That said, Larfleeze is tremendous fun to write, especially his relationship with his “pet Guardian” Sayd. But Larfleeze isn’t taking over “New Guardians.” He plays a key role, but Orange Lantern Glomulus is the one who gets more screen time, and he’s turning into a great little character in his own right.
Speaking of upcoming storylines, starting with “Green Lantern” #7 Johns plans to delve into “The Secrets Of The Indigo Tribe.” As you are writing both an Indigo character and focusing on all the different emotional Corps, will the events in Johns’ book heavily impact your story and take on the characters involved?
My Indigo Lantern, Munk, actually gets called away so he can take part in Geoff’s Indigo epic, which will reveal some startling stuff about the true nature of the Indigo Tribe. That will end up putting Munk in a whole new light in “New Guardians,” but not until after the story concludes in “Green Lantern.”
Turning to “New Guardian’s” core team, how did you go about choosing what specific Lanterns you wanted to use in the series?
Well, Kyle was the starting point. In fact, I got the “New Guardians” job because the folks at DC liked how I handled Kyle in “Green Lantern Corps.” I knew I couldn’t use Sinestro since he’s starring in “Green Lantern,” so I chose the next most powerful Yellow Lantern, Arkillo. Likewise, since Atrocitus is headlining “Red Lanterns,” I went with Bleez, who has emerged as both his second-in-command and his nemesis. Saint Walker was the natural pick for our Blue Lantern, and Munk seemed a good one for the Indigo since I knew Geoff’s upcoming Indigo arc focuses on Indigo-1.
As for a Star Sapphire, since Carol Ferris was relinquishing her spot on that Corps, I chose Fatality. She has a terrific back story and history as a hunter of Green Lanterns. I think she’s emerging as a fascinating character who could just as easily be leading the New Guardians as Kyle. And then there’s Glomulus, who has quickly become the most visually interesting and just plain fun member of the team. So while this may not be the same lineup as Geoff pulled together in “Blackest Night,” it’s still a pretty compelling crew. And as I flesh out their personalities, I’m getting to really delve into what all these Corps are about and what makes them distinct from each other.
Along those lines, what does each emotional spectrum Lantern (Munk, Fatality, Larfleeze, etc.) bring to the mix?
On a surface level, Kyle takes the leadership role, Saint Walker is the healer, Arkillo is the powerhouse, Munk teleports them around, Fatality is the tracker, Bleez is the wild card and Glomulus is the comic relief. But on a deeper level I want to show that you need all aspects of that emotional spectrum in order to succeed. It’s easy to dismiss anger and fear as “evil” emotions, but Kyle will find they are very necessary evils.
To piggyback on that, while Red and Yellow rings have been looked at as the “evil” rings, we’ve learned enough about Arkillo at this point to see he has some sympathetic qualities (such as his reverence for Sinestro). Because of that, are you going for a more nuanced approach to the members of those two Corps?
Yeah, I think it would be a pretty boring book if everything was done at face value. I want to find aspects to each Corps that you wouldn’t expect but once you see them they make perfect sense. We’re starting to see a strange bond between Arkillo and Saint Walker. We’re discovering that Glomulus is more independent than he seems. Most of all, I want to grow Kyle as a character and show that he has the potential to reach across the entire emotional spectrum in a way no other Lantern can match.
On the other hand, for a group of super-powerful space beings who banded together to fight evil and protect the universe, the Guardians sure come off as, well, evil. While we’ve seen some redeeming qualities in your other Lanterns, will we see equally redeeming qualities for the Guardians on Oa?
That is actually the big question that will play out through the Green Lantern books in the months to come. More than this I should not say.
Before the first issues of “New Guardians,” there were several discussion about who the Star Sapphire in the series would be. What was it about the character of Fatality that made you want to explore her in “New Guardians?”
Fatality used to hunt and kill Green Lanterns. She blamed Green Lantern John Stewart for the destruction of her home world, Xanshi. But the Star Sapphire Corps has brought love back into her heart and given her a chance at redemption. It’s a great back story that makes her unpredictable. Is she really a trusted ally? Or might she revert to the remorseless killer she once was? And what exactly does it mean to wield the violet light of Love? It sounds all warm and fuzzy, but like Neil Young said, only love can break your heart.
While Kyle and the gang are still trying to figure out how he obtained all the rings, in “New Guardians” #4 we also have a solar-system sized ship at the center of the galaxy. At this point, what can you tell us about the ship and Invictus?
The Archangel Invictus is a new adversary who turns out to have a lot of unfinished business with Larfleeze. I don’t want to give away too much of his back story, but there’s a cool reason why that ship of his looks like a model solar system, and there’s an even better reason why Larfleeze doesn’t want this guy getting anywhere near Orange Lantern Headquarters in the Vega System. And like the best villains, Invictus is a hero in his own mind. I couldn’t be more pleased with how he’s come together — Ty’s design, Nei’s color treatment — and I think he’s going to be a cool new addition to Lantern lore.
Artist Tyler Kirkham also seems to be having a lot of fun with the Lanterns and Kyle’s ring constructs, like that manga Ganthet in the very first issue. With Kyle being an artist, how do you two go about figuring out how to portray Kyle’s cartoony, comic book-esque ring constructs as different than normal comic book art?
That’s one of the biggest challenges with this book. It’s too easy to slip into having them fire their rings like guns. The constructs should ideally reveal something about their inner character. Sometimes (like with that manga-Ganthet construct) I indicate what to draw. And Ty generally knocks it out of the park. Other times, Tyler just comes up with cool stuff, which completely delights me. Keep an eye on Glomulus. Tyler really breathes life into that guy, and since Glommy is a construct, he can look however he wants.
With both “New Guardians” and your other comic, “Blue Beetle,” you have stories with epic, science fiction serial elements including massive space battles, powerful foes bent on taking over the galaxy, etc. More than comic books, were you a huge Sci-Fi fan as a kid?
Totally. My first favorite TV show was “Ultraman,” I grew up on “Star Trek,” and then “Star Wars” came out when I was ten and it was all over for me. I’ve always loved “space opera” and one of my all-time favorite comics remains [Mike] Baron and [Steve] Rude’s “Nexus.” Now I’m just blessed that I get to do my own cosmic tales, like the Green Lantern books and the late, great “R.E.B.E.L.S.”
“Green Lantern: New Guardians” #5 hits stores 1/25.