The men behind two of DC’s ongoing monthly comic book series, “Green Lantern New Guardians” and “Green Lantern Corps”, respectively, the two have been writing Lanterns and their intergalactic enemies for years. But as the current “Rise Of The Third Army” crossover transitions into a new story, Bedard and Tomasi will have to tackle a whole different sort of foe in “Wrath Of The First Lantern.”
Begun in October of last year, the “Rise Of The Third Army” crossover saw the Guardians of Oa unilaterally deciding the best way to guard against evil was to remove free will. Creating the monstrous Third Army to achieve this end, the fight for free will has played out over the past six months across Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke’s “Green Lantern,” “Green Lantern Corps” by Tomasi and artist Fernando Pasarin, “Green Lantern: New Guardians” by Bedard and artist Aaron Kuder and “Red Lanterns” by Peter Milligan and Miguel Sepulveda. But while the “Third Army” storyline concludes this month, the crossover continues when the Guardians’ secret failure and power source, the First Lantern, breaks out of his prison and enacts his revenge on the corps.
Working together on the crossover, the two writers joined forces again to speak with Comic Book Resources about the impact of “Third Army” and “First Lantern” on their individual books, the horrors the First Lantern plans to unleash on the entire emotional spectrum and the many, many mistakes of the Guardians of Oa.
CBR News: “Wrath of the First Lantern” begins right out of the “Third Army” crossover. At this point the latter crossover has been going on for nearly half a year — how do you guys on the Green Lantern side of the DCU actually plan for an event that goes on as long as this one?
Peter J. Tomasi: It’s mostly phone calls; it’s been a lot of, “Let’s make these specific dates available for all of us to get on the phone” — me, Tony, Geoff [Johns], Pete Milligan, Matt Idelson and Wil Moss the editorial guys. Basically every call we lay out what we need to discuss, we sort of hit everything on each of those calls and we’ve probably had, what Tony, I guess maybe two a month on average?
Tony Bedard: Yeah, that sounds right.
Tomasi: Just really making sure we’re on the same page and really trying to figure out how to interject a lot of “oomph” and a lot of energy into all the different stories that are going on. Because there are so many different characters, we want to make sure everybody’s getting their just due.
You two have known each other for a long time, meeting while you both were working in the DC offices, and you’ve both traded off writing on “Green Lantern Corps.” What is it like working together on the Green Lantern side of the DCU?
Tomasi: It’s been great, I’ve known Tony for many years — Tony’s definitely an old, comfortable shoe.
Bedard: You’re still breaking me in, though! [Laughter]
Tomasi: It was a lot of fun, actually, getting Tony into the GL stuff and just having him kind of dive in and do all the cool stuff he’s done in his book and back when he took over “Corps” from me and then obviously with all the “New Guardians” stuff. Honestly, it hasn’t been one of those, “Oh, it’s been a tough puzzle to fit into the GL universe.” Tony fit in really smoothly and grappled with the engine that is Geoff Johns like we all do and took the ride! [Laughs]
Bedard: Yeah, it really helps that we like what Geoff does so much! I mean, he’s already on a wavelength that matches with ours pretty well, so it’s never been a chore to try and follow his storylines or anything like that. He sets the bar pretty high in terms of quality, but that’s kind of cool. I’ve been a part of events and storylines where I haven’t particularly agreed with the creative direction but I just tried my best to get along. Green Lantern hasn’t been that way at all. I really like how [Geoff] just breathes new life in [Hal], who had always been one of my favorites, but I remember when I was an editor, Green Lantern couldn’t get arrested, he wasn’t seen as a viable character. Now it’s one of the strongest franchises.
How does the First Lantern, as a foe, differ from what’s been going on with the Third Army, or the various individual aliens and Lanterns and Guardians your books’ protagonists have been facing up to this point?
Tomasi: Well, it boils down to the First Lantern was set up in Geoff’s “Green Lantern Annual” #1 where we’ve seen this First Lantern locked away by the Guardians. Now the door is going to be kicked open and it’s one of those things that’s like a weed — it’s slowly been working its way through all our books in tangible and intangible ways. Now we’ll see, after the “GL Corps Annual,” the result of the Third Army and everything they’ve been putting together against the Corps and the universe itself. And then we’ll see where the First Lantern steps up to the plate and kicks it into high gear, and all the pain and suffering he’s going to put on the Guardians — it’s definitely going to be pouring out. It’s the title; it says pretty clearly “Wrath of the First Lantern.” He’s not a happy camper and it’s going to be a lot of pain that’s going to get taken out in a very big way on these characters and in very personal ways.
Bedard: Yeah, that actually gets at what I think is the coolest thing about it, which is the last few crossovers have been these giant wars between two armies or more than two armies sometimes, and there are two hundred characters on a page. The way that this thing has been set up it’s a lot more personal. They really delve into the characters. It’s not about the scope of it in terms of spectacle. It’s really more about what’s at the core of the characters and who they are emotionally. It’s an interesting place for a crossover.
Tomasi: Yeah, it is. I mean, when you look at even all the stories now in “Rise Of The Third Army” it’s been touched upon that all this stuff is happening the universe: the Third Army is spreading and creating chaos and assimilating countless beings around the universe, but the main spotlight stayed on the characters themselves, the GL characters themselves and really laser-beamed it and just focused in on them rather than going too broad in this crossover.
With that more personal approach in mind, what is the unique threat that the First Lantern poses to your individual characters — to Kyle and the New Guardians, or to Guy and John?
Tomasi: That’s a good question. Tony? [Laughs]
Bedard: That’s the tough part, the not giving away too much! But let’s just say the First Lantern has a way of taking a look at you and seeing everything that led to who you are today. But he can kind of mess around with that, he can find key moments that shaped who these characters are and then twist them around so that you can see how they might have turned out differently. What that does, I think, is really ask the question “Who is this person?” They are very character defining stories in this arc.
Tomasi: Yeah, we peel back a lot of layers, the First Lantern peels back a lot of layers with the very distinct power that he has, and as we’re saying it really goes to the core of these characters and what makes them tick and what makes them happy, what makes them sad, all the different emotions. All the ranges of emotion is something the First Lantern is going to play off of.
Bedard: Right, the emotional spectrum has been part of the Green Lantern universe in the past few years and exploring what that means, and this is a villain that can manipulate that, the emotional core of things, in a way that we have not seen before.
Talking about your individual books, in “Third Army” Guy’s really been getting the screws put to him, getting kicked out and made an example of to demoralize the Corps, etc. While he’s dealing with Mogo, will we see more emphasis and stress on John in “First Lantern?”
Tomasi: Yeah, it’s a pretty good balance actually. We’re going to be putting the screws to both of them big time. I’ve been taking great pains, especially with Guy, to build a foundation back on Earth for him too, making sure I’m introducing the characters of his sister and his brother and his father. And some questions that I actually posed in the #0 issue will be answered in the “First Lantern” story. So it’s going to be pretty cool for the people who have been reading the New 52 launch, they’ll see some stuff I’ve seeded over the past year; the chickens are going to come home to roost now, we’re going to see some answers to some of the things that have been alluded to with Guy, and with John himself the same thing. There are things that have been planted along the way in John’s history and we’ll see the First Lantern is going to expose that and really just create raw nerves that will hopefully resonate with the readers as we pick apart Guy and John.
In “New Guardians” Kyle has mastered the entire emotional spectrum. With the potential for that unique power in “First Lantern,” how does having someone who can control the whole spectrum affect the balance of power in the Green Lantern universe?
Bedard: Well, the thing I always liked about Kyle was how emotionally open he was. He’s a little different character than most of the other folks you see getting a power ring who are really heroic or not like us, not like normal people. Kyle was just an average guy. But his emotional openness as an artist was, I think, the key to him being a good Green Lantern and to mastering these other emotions. So by the time we get into the First Lantern storyline he’s got all seven powers under his belt, and that makes him a unique threat to the First Lantern, and also makes him, in a weird way, more vulnerable to the First Lantern and the type of power he has. Also, we’ve gotten Carol Ferris in the book in the past two months as sort of a co-lead and so we’ll examine her character a little more. Especially with the way the First Lantern operates, he’s going to look at what makes her tick. She’s always been kind of defined by her relationship with Hal Jordan, but she’s a formidable character in her own right and that’s something we want to get into as well. She’s not just about how she plays off of Hal. Without getting into specifics, those are the two big points in the “First Lantern” story.
With the “Third Lantern” crossover we’ve basically seen the Guardians go off the rails, but even before this their first idea for order in the universe was the Manhunters, which didn’t work, and then the recently revealed First Lantern which also didn’t work, and then we’ve got the Third Army which they think is a great idea but the rest of the universe obviously disagrees. As Green Lantern writers, do you feel the Corps is the only good idea the Guardians have had? Or are the Corps also a flawed plan?
Tomasi: Well that’s funny, that’s a good way to put it really because even though they don’t see it that way, the GL Corps is the best child they’ve produced, so to speak. It’s the one that’s done the most good and hasn’t caused the most grief and is just a humanistic face of the Guardians themselves. It’s a shame they haven’t been able to see just what good the Corps has been to them in their own perception of what the universe looks at the Guardians as and the Corps itself. It’s one of those things where they don’t see that one of their creations has just been an amazing force for good, and now they’re trying to get rid of it and implement something that’s going to once again be something that brings a lot of problems and terror and horror to the rest of the universe.
Bedard: It’s funny, too, that over the years it seems that the biggest threat to the universe has turned out to be the Guardians even though they’re the ones supposed to be safeguarding it. I think that this storyline here really addresses that and brings it to its logical conclusion. It seems like everything has been leading up to this over time and it’ll be a real surprise for people how it all pays off. But yeah, for being billions of years old and all knowing, the Guardians sure seem to mess up a whole lot!
Tomasi: I think that even as a title itself, for the readers who have been with us for a while it’s a really great payoff and for readers who jumped on with the New 52 relaunch there will be a real sense of forward movement and moment in such a shot period of time. I think it’ll be really exciting and an exciting storyline that is going to set the table for so many new Green Lantern adventures coming up.
Then wrap things up, “Wrath of the First Lantern” tackles both those personal character stories and the larger problem of emotional perception the Guardians have. With “Third Army” ending and “First Lantern” beginning, at this point do the Guardians have any redeeming qualities?
Tomasi: My opinion is they are sort of a lost cause at this point. If they can’t see the forest for the trees after, like Tony just said, thousands and thousands of years, it seems like they’re never going to! [Laughs] There’s a cool line Guy says in the Annual, he just sums it up in a nutshell, that by closing off their hearts they’ve destroyed themselves. It’s just one of those things that’s going to come back and bite them in the ass.
Bedard: On the other hand, Ganthet has been almost a father figure to Kyle and regardless of how bad things have gotten he can’t completely give up hope on these guys. There’s got to be some shred, some little nugget of humanity or goodness in them that they can reach. That’s a big central question in this, actually, whether or not they can get the Guardians can redeem themselves.
The “Wrath Of The First Lantern” crossover begins in “Green Lantern Corps” #17 on February 13 and “Green Lantern: New Guardians” #17 on February 20.