This month marks a new beginning for DC Comics’ “Green Lantern” books with new creative teams debuting across the line. At HeroesCon 2013, the new writers behind the intergalactic peacekeeping force took the stage to tease the new direction for each series. Panelists included “Green Lantern” writer and “Green Lantern Corps” co-plotter Robert Venditti, “Green Lantern Corps” writer Van Jensen, “Green Lantern: New Guardians” scribe Justin Jordan and “Red Lanterns” writer Charles Soule. With the full spectrum of “Green Lantern” books represented for one of the first times since the creative change-over announcement, the panel was full of interesting tidbits and teases for the future of the Corps.
After introductions, the panel began with the “Green Lantern” writers giving a quick pitch as to their ideas for the series, starting with Venditti on the main “Green Lantern” title.
“My vision of how knowing what was going to be in place by the time Geoff’s run came into conclusion, the corps decimated — with the upper structure gone and the Guardians gone, they don’t have the infrastructure,” said Venditti. “Hal takes on a leadership role. He’s a guy who’s a fighter pilot, but now that he’s in a leadership role, his decisions are going to affect others. How is that going to affect him as a leader? In the main ‘Green Lantern’ title, we’re going to see Hal take on challenges both in a leadership role and in the villains he’s going to face.” Following the conclusion of Johns’ run, the Corps is in a difficult situation, which causes problems for Hal Jordan.
Soule’s “Red Lanterns” is “a weird concept. It’s ragey-rage-rage guys who rage.” What Soule wanted to do with it was to bring Guy Gardner on an entry point to the series. “The way the series plays out is basically because the Green Lanterns have been decimated and they want to know as much as they can what’s coming,” said Soule. “What they do is Hal asks Guy to go undercover in the Reds. Guy is very resistant to that, but he realizes there’s a need to do it and then things go terribly wrong. It all goes to shit and Guy Gardner has to deal with that.” Soule compared the book to “Sons of Anarchy” and “The Shield.”
Next up was Van Jensen’s “Green Lantern Corps,” which is John Stewart’s time to shine. “It’s really exciting to be the writer that takes him on as a character,” said Jensen, who said he wanted to explore both where he’s been and where he’s going. “It fits into what Rob is building with the Corps being thrown into upheaval. Who’s really running the show? What’s the structure? If you think of the Green Lanterns as the guardians of the universe, what happens when people don’t want to be governed by them?” Jensen said he hopes to challenge the corps in ways they haven’t been challenged before.
Jensen was a crime reporter at a newspaper for a while, which gives him a unique insight to police procedure. “It was a lot of racing around town, being in the wrong place at the wrong time of night,” he said.
“Green Lantern: New Guardians,” as written by Justin Jordan, will “finally have a reason to be called New Guardians,” according to Jordan. The new Guardians will get escorted by Kyle Rayner and they’ll find out that the actions of the Old Guardians’ actions haven’t endeared them to the idea of Guardians at all.
The panel was immediately opened up to questions, which included a fan dressed as Hal Jordan who asked about “Red Lanterns” and Atrocitus.
“You bring a guy like Guy Gardner into a Corps that has Atrocitus in it — they’re both Type A personalities,” said Soule. “There’s going to be some clashes and tension between the two. How that plays out is a part of the story, and Guy vs. Atrocitus is in it for sure.”
Venditti also had the opportunity to discuss whether he plans to view Hal on Earth, saying the necessary offshoot of Hal being given this job as leader of the Corps is that he’s going to be on Oa most of the time. “He’s in this position where he doesn’t want to be a leader, but people are prone to follow him in many ways,” he said. “At some point, these ducklings are all following around, he has to get them across the street whether he wants to or not.”
A question of how much the other emotional spectrums will play a part came up, with creators saying there would be hints going from June to August. “The entire idea of the emotional spectrum and the corps are part of the long-form work we’re doing,” said Venditti.
“We’ll see a presence of the entirety of the spectrum,” said Jensen. “I think the territory we’re exploring is more about how the entire universe sees the different corps, the different group. It’s not about how this group is beating the crap out of this group.”
“If you think about it from the civilian perspective, it doesn’t matter if it’s a red gun or a blue gun,” said Venditti.
One fan hoped for the return of older villains, and Venditti said it was in the cards, in addition to some new villains that are completely unrelated to the spectrum.
“With the New 52, there’s a chance to take stuff that exists and reexamine the continuity,” said Jensen. “You take it and find a new twist. The Green Lantern Universe is so big and so creative and so many legendary creators that established this great stuff. Just to play in that sandbox is the best feeling.”
For “Green Lantern Corps,” John Stewart is the protagonist of the book, but with only 20 pages a month, there are only so many characters they can put it. “We’re really linking in all that stuff that’s happened to the corp and looking at how it’s affected people. It’s not like this issue’s going to be about [individual lanterns], but they’re all there and we’re going to see what happens to them.”
A question about Simon Baz came up, and Venditti said they “definitely” had plans for him, “but not in the immediate future.”
“There are a whole bunch of Lanterns and you don’t want to do it all at once,” he said. “When I pitched, I had a whole section about him and what his role will be. It’s great to hear all you guys asking these questions and know that I’ve thought about them.”
One fan had a very good point — why don’t the Lanterns ditch Oa and live on Mogo? The writers laughed and said somebody should really write that idea down.
The panel got quite a few questions about whether the Lanterns will have a chance to see their lives outside of the Corps — including John Stewart and Fatality.
“With the Corps, it’s hard to get back to Earth, I don’t think that’s part of what the book is,” Jensen said. “What I’m looking at are their lives on Oa and so John and Fatality is a great example of a couple that has as much baggage and as much stacked against them and they’re trying to make it work. What does that look like amongst the upheaval of the Corps.”
Although Larfleeze is getting his own series, Venditti mentioned that the Orange Lantern is both in his debut “Green Lantern” #21 and next month’s “Green Lantern” #22. He characterized the Larfleeze ongoing as “different, in a positive way.”
Kyle is also “perfectly capable” of using orange, according to Jordan, who said readers might have a chance to see that.
“He is the White Lantern and he can use any of the powers of any of the rings, except possibly the black,” said Jordan. “He’s got a really versatile weapon in the form of the White Ring.”
The Kyle-centric questions continued, with one fan asking about Glomulous, with Jordan teasing he might do something with the character. “If you’ve read my ‘Shadowman,’ you know I love small characters that don’t talk,” said Jordan.
There was a big cheer for Dex-starr, the cat Red Lantern, who Soule said “will have a pretty unique role to play.” “I’m doing some cool stuff with Dex-starr,” he said.
A question of integration with the rest of the DCU came up, and the writers said most of their stories would take place in the Green Lantern microcosm. “We’ve got Earth covered,” said Jordan. “There are billions of other planets we could be covering, so it’s more about what’s going on in the rest of the universe rather than the place the other 48 books are covering.” Soule noted that Green Lantern books can be more science-fiction oriented than the rest of the New 52.
In terms of last-minute editorial changes, the writers said that they hadn’t had any. “This group of writers are trying to see what they can do as new voices,” said Soule. “They seem to have confidence in us. We’ll destroy that confidence very quickly.”
Venditti echoed that sentiment for all the books he’s written so far. “One thing I will say is whether you guys end up liking it or not, I feel comfortable saying that the story we’re coming out of the gate with is not what I would define as a safe story. They’re allowing us to take some pretty big risks with something that’s one of their marquee properties.”
“If you had a bulletpoint list of everything that’s going to happen over the next few months, you’d be surprised,” said Soule.
One fan asked about what the minimum age would be for each of the books. “‘New Guardians’ I would say is pretty PG-13,” said Jordan. “Below that, they probably just wouldn’t enjoy it.” Understandably, “Red Lanterns” has some gore. Venditti said his 8-year-old daughter read both “Green Lantern” and “Green Lantern Corps.”
“My book does have space sharks, so that’s perfect for all ages,” said Jordan.
When asked about process, Venditti said he tends to work in week-long chunks. Whenever Soule is up against a plot point, he’ll pose a question to himself about the story and do something relatively mindless and the answer comes to him. Jensen agreed that everyone has their own process, and for his first monthly comic in “Corps,” a lot of it was getting used to the timing. “I’m so used to writing graphic novels,” he said. “It’s a very different animal than to work on something like this.”
Jordan, who writes a lot of books, works on everything at once. “My books that I’m working on are all different from each other, so it’s really easy to compartmentalize,” he said. “It’s a time management thing. I do like to get on a plot point and grind at it until I solve it. I’m too obsessive. I tend to work on something until I get it right.”
A fan asked about the Templar Guardians and how they were able to come out the other side well-adjusted from their billion years in solitary confinement. “What makes you think the Templar Guardians that are left are all the ones that they started with,” said Jordan. “The mental part of it will come up. They’ve been in there billions of years … they may have just had enough time to go insane and go sane again. The time they spent in that temple really interests me. Those are questions that will be explored.”
The panel was asked about their definitive Green Lanterns. “John Stewart,” said Jordan. “When I first saw ‘Green Lantern,’ it was the John Stewart books. Given how cool he was in ‘Justice League’ and ‘Justice League Unlimited,’ I’d imagine there are a lot of people who [find him to be the definitive Green Lantern].”
Jensen agreed with the choice, citing the same reasons as Jordan. “He’s a very introspective Green Lantern, very intellectual,” Jensen said.
For Soule and Venditti, it was Hal Jordan, partially because it was the first Green Lantern they ever encountered.
The panel wrapped with a question about which ring they would prefer to take. “I identified with the Indigos first, but the I realized I would have to be a serial murderer,” said Venditti.
“I’d be green,” said Soule.
“If I’m stuck in Atlanta traffic, it’s definitely red,” said Jensen.
“White. Get ’em all,” said Jordan.