After bursting onto the comics scene with his and artist Tradd Moore’s Image Comics surprise hit “The Legend of Luther Strode,” Justin Jordan’s star is undeniably on the rise. In fact, it’s taking Jordan beyond the edge of the DC Universe as he begins his run on “Green Lantern: New Guardians” as Kyle Rayner faces off against Relic, a character billed as the “next major Green Lantern villain.”
Ahead of Jordan’s first space-faring issue in June, featuring art by Brad Walker, CBR News spoke with the writer to learn more about what lives within the strange anomaly Kyle is asked to investigate and how the character’s origins as an artist may provide him with precisely the point of view necessary to understand exactly what’s at stake.
Jordan also states that he has no plans for Kyle to revert back from White Lantern to Green Lantern during his run, conceded that his main character is basically no longer a part of the Green Lantern Corps and assures fans that an upcoming storyline will explore why the series is called, “Green Lantern: New Guardians” versus the singular “New Guardian” starring Kyle Rayner.
CBR News: With a new writer comes a new beginning, but how much of what you have planned out of the gates ties into what Tony Bedard been doing on “Green Lantern: New Guardians” for the past 20 issues?
Justin Jordan: It’s a fairly new storyline. In my first issue, Kyle is asked by Hal and the Templar Guardians to take on a new mission. It’s one that he’s not entirely onboard with, but they make a pretty compelling argument for him. If you start with that issue, you’re basically starting at ground zero and you get a sense of what Kyle’s powers are, that he can use different colors, what he’s going to be doing and how he feels about the situation.
We’ve tried to make it as new reader-friendly as we could. Hopefully, if someone is coming onto this for the first time, they’ll be starting at pretty much the same point as Kyle is, in terms of what he’s doing mission-wise and what he’s facing, so they should be able to catch up — if I’ve done my job right. [Laughs]
I’m going by your online photos, but my guess is that you are a few years younger than me. Growing up, was Kyle Rayner your Green Lantern?
Oddly enough, my Green Lantern — in my head — is probably John Stewart. Unlike a lot of people, that’s not because of “Justice League Unlimited.” It’s because when I started seeing Green Lantern in comic books, John Stewart was the guy, which was back some time in the eighties.
What was your introduction to Kyle, then?
I was aware of Kyle from the start. I remember “Emerald Twilight” and the fact that Hal was being replaced. And I can remember the girlfriend being stuffed in the fridge before girlfriends being stuffed in a fridge was a thing.
What do you think differentiates Kyle from Hal Jordan, who is arguably DC’s primary Green Lantern, and John Stewart, your introduction to the Green Lantern concept?
There are probably a few things. The one that is character-related is that Kyle came from an artistic background, which is sort of true of John Stewart, as well, because he was an architect. But both Hal and John come from a more militaristic mind-set, which is not, by any means, negative but it means that they fundamentally approach things a bit differently than a guy that was a working artist who ended up with the ring. The way Kyle uses the power of the ring and the way he approaches problem solving, in general, is going to be different and that’s one of the things that I want to make apparent as I write this. He is approaching this from an artistic mind-set, as much as I can make this a thing.
Power-wise, he’s the White Lantern still, which means he has access to abilities that Hal and John and Guy just don’t have. He can basically access the power of any of the rings so he can do a lot of stuff that they can’t, which is something we want to explore and it works really nicely with that artistic motif — he can basically work with the entire palette. [Laughs]
Are you planning to keep Kyle as the White Lantern throughout your run?
I have no plans to have him as anyone but the White Lantern for the foreseeable future.
By differentiating his power set and source from the other Green Lanterns, what does that allow as a storyteller?
The Green Lantern ring allows you a fairly infinite range of things you can make, plus a couple of other abilities. When you have all of these other rings, each of them have individual powers that are unique to them — the White Lantern can use all of them. He can do things that Hal flat out can’t do, and that means he can approach problems differently.
One of things that’s going to go on as we continue is he’s going to learn how to do that more effectively. He started out as a Green Lantern, and to an extent; he’s got a mind-set of how to use these powers. Of course, he’s learned a lot through “New Guardians” already, but that’s going to continue as he realizes the full extent of what he’s actually capable of doing.
Why isn’t this book called “New Guardian,” singular, as it’s so Kyle-centric?
There is a very good reason that the book is called “New Guardians” now and going forward. My relatively coy answer is that there is definitely a reason the book is called “New Guardians,” plural, and you will see that very quickly.
The solicitations and DC’s PR have told us that you will introduce “the next major Green Lantern villain” during your first arc. What can you tell us about Relic?
Relic is somebody who has seen what the unrestricted use of Green Lantern-like powers can do and looks upon it — poorly. In his own head, he’s very much not a bad guy. What he’s trying to accomplish is actually a fairly noble goal. It’s just the extent that he’s willing to go to do it puts him in conflict with pretty well everyone else.
As you suggested, Kyle has a different mind-set from the other Lanterns. Since Relic’s goals are generally laudable, does that affect Kyle’s approach to dealing with him?
You’ll have to read the full arc to find out, but I will say that Kyle is — at least when he finds out what Relic is doing and why he is doing it — willing to listen and think about it in a way that some of the others aren’t.
And yes, I think that comes from that outside mind-set. He’s not really in the Corps anymore so he’s able to look at things from a different perspective, which is also the point of view that Relic is taking. They’ll be able to find some common ground.
Will this series continue to cross over regularly with the other Green Lantern titles?/b>
Oh, sure. There is a pretty high degree of connectivity, at least starting out. Eventually, “New Guardians” kind of goes its own way. I know Robert [Venditti], Charles [Soule] and Van [Jensen] from before any of us were on any of these books, which is nice. We talk lots and are familiar with each other, which gives us the opportunity to make our little corner of the DCU a lot more cohesive.
It’s always easier working with people you already know. And like. [Laughs]
How are you finding working with Brad Walker? He has a lot of experience with big space books having done “Guardians of the Galaxy” at Marvel and seems like a perfect fit.
I’ve seen some pages, and they are amazing. He brings a very good sense of how to present things that are happening on a big scale, which is tricky. As a writer, one of the hardest things to wrap my head around is the scale of which things are happening.
Brad has a much better grasp of that than I did going into it, so he’s propped me up on that regard. His work has also really helped the script, because as I see pages while I am writing future scripts, I am able to push more and come up with more challenging and interesting things that are within his wheelhouse to do. Yes, it’s very good to have Brad Walker on board.
“Green Lantern: New Guardians” #21, by Justin Jordan and featuring art by Brad Walker, goes on sale June 19.