As the current arc, “Uprising” comes to a close this week in DC Comics’ “Green Lantern” #33 and next week in “Green Lantern Corps” #33, Hal has proven indispensable and absolutely capable of leading the Corps against a full-scale Durlan invasion utilizing a wide range of tactics including a Stonewall Jackson-like field assault and a bait-and-switch covert operation that would leave Jack Bauer grinning. And Jack Bauer doesn’t grin.
But it hasn’t been all Hal all the time with Venditti, The increasingly busy writer — he is currently working on “Green Lantern,” “The Flash” and “X-O Manowar” while completing his debut novel “Miles Taylor and the Golden Cape” — has also delivered new heroes and villains to the Green Lantern mythos including game-changing Zezzite Gorin-Sunn.
With the Billy Tan-drawn “Uprising” Part 5 in stores this week and the final chapter coming next week, CBR News connected with Venditti to discuss Hal’s growth as a leader, Gorin-Sunn’s unexpected, yet well-received, prominence in the current arc and the upcoming return of one villain he created for the series (Relic) and an undead army that he didn’t (Black Lanterns).
Venditti also teased that as big as “Uprising” was for Hal Jordan and the Corps, what’s coming this fall is even bigger.
CBR News: When you are writing characters with a long history like Green Lantern, obviously developing a threat not only worthy of a confrontation but who is also fresh and exciting for readers, is of the utmost importance. Can you talk about the big bads of “Uprising,” the Durlans, and how you were able to build them up into such a worthy adversary for the Green Lantern Corps this time around?
Robert Venditti: It started in “Green Lantern Corps” with a story featuring the Durlans and the Khunds — two alien races with a history in the DCU so we didn’t create them as villains. They were working in the background in “Green Lantern Corps” and at the same time, Hal was going up against the Outer Clans, which is like the Wild West on the fringe of the DC Universe. Van [Jensen] and I were talking because there are certain things we want to do with the two books and those are going to continue to come to fruition throughout the rest of this year and this is one large piece of it. What we want to do with Hal and John is have a storyline that if you read both books together, you would get a larger story but each individual one stands on its own, too. For example, the three “Uprising” issues in “Green Lantern” are about Gorin-Sunn and the people of Zezzen and the energy aspect of Durlans; and over in “Green Lantern Corps,” it’s about Sodam Yat and the Daxamites and finding out about DNA aspect of the Durlans’ plan. There is two individual plots that you didn’t really realize were connected until the very end and everybody ends up in the same spot for the final big battle. That was the challenge that we set for ourselves — to tell a story that would do those things and have big moments in both books and sew them together to make something even bigger.
I want to ask you about the breakout star of “Uprising,” Gorin-Sunn, and the return of Sodam Yat, but before we do that, I want to ask you about Hal. When we last spoke, you shared your plans for developing him as a leader. As “Uprising” comes to an end, is he delivering the goods as leader of the Green Lantern Corps?
I think if you go back and look at “Green Lantern” #21, one of Hal’s first acts as leader of the Corps is to open up all of the rings and send them out for recruits without worrying about what the repercussions of that would be, which is a very Hal thing to do. He’s not a long-term planner historically. He acts on his gut and, usually, it tends to work out for him. But since he became leader of the Corps, he’s beginning to understand that acting on his gut isn’t always the best way to go because that decision ripples across 7,200 other Green Lanterns. If you look into how much he’s changed in what really amounts to just a year from “Green Lantern” #21 to #33, he’s really grown as a leader. At the end of “Uprising,” at least the “Green Lantern” part of “Uprising,” he goes from a guy that always charges into battle with his ring held forward, guns blazing to a guy that in one battle he uses ground troops, artillery, sets up a trap to lure the Durlans in to achieve a certain goal — it’s a very strategic plan that he puts together at the end. He’s implementing all of these moving pieces against a very complicated enemy. I think that shows a lot of him as a leader and how he’s grown based on his decision-making process.
Let’s talk about Gorin-Sunn from the planet Zezzen because he shares a really neat power set with the rest of his race. Can you explain?
Sure. The Zezzites are basically a race of sentient energy. They’ve never really left their home world and they all live in a sea of energy. Gorin-Sunn is the first one to ever leave their planet because he has the Green Lantern ring, which allows him to take a more corporeal form whereas others are bound to Zezzen and its sea of energy.
We actually first see Gorin-Sunn in “Green Lantern” #26. He shows up when Hal is fighting with the Outer Clans on one of their home worlds. We needed to create a new Green Lantern for this sector that we didn’t have any Green Lanterns for and we wanted to come up with some new concepts that we haven’t seen and I came up with the idea of a race that was made from living energy. And Billy [Tan] did an awesome design on him. He’s a very cool character. I also wanted something that would be very bright and vibrant so that on the color page it would contrast with what ends up, by necessity, a lot of green in “Green Lantern” comics. All of sudden, you have this guy that’s orange and yellow and very bright. He really pops when you see him on the page. That’s what went into the original design and creation of Gorin-Sunn. It wasn’t until later on when we started working on the “Uprising” storyline that we figured out how much Gorin-Sunn was going to be connected to it.
I love writing him and again, I love the visual of him. So much credit goes to Billy Tan and his design — the little backpack construct that allows him to exist without the sea of energy that he comes from is super cool. And I love how Billy almost has him pouring into every scene. There is so much expression on his flaming head in his eyes and his mouth.
Will his prominent role continue beyond “Uprising?”
I want to do more with him but first we have a big story coming up in the second half of this year and the first half of next year that’s going to have a very different feel. Once again, we’re trying to shake up Hal’s life and change his status quo and put him up against some conflicts that he hasn’t really faced before. How Gorin-Sunn and the other Lanterns factor or don’t factor into that story is something I can’t really get into yet.
Can the same thing be said about Sodam Yat?
He’s more Van’s territory. Readers haven’t had the chance to see “Green Lantern Corps” #33 yet, which is the sixth and final part of “Uprising” so there is still some pieces there that need to be filled in. One of the questions that Van and I had when we were researching “Green Lantern” and “Green Lantern Corps” was where did Sodam Yat go? Where has he been all of this time? And as we were figuring exactly what the Durlans’ master plan was going to be, and what their plan for universal conquest was, that would be different from what we’ve seen before but at the same time, fit their culture and how they operate, there was just a moment where I was like, “Oh. What if that’s where Sodam Yat’s been all of this time?” The Durlans caught him a real long time ago and they were able to figure out that there is this race of beings out there called the Daxamites. And they’re super powerful and Sodam Yat is one of them. Sodam Yat ventured off world, which is what his father told him not to do, and the Durlans caught him and if he hadn’t ventured off world none of this would have happened.”
It was just the complexity of that and what that means for Sodam Yat as a character. And his dad, who has a very distasteful, very anti-anybody stance against anybody that isn’t a Daxamite, ends up being right. His point of view is still wrong but he, at the end of the day, was right. When you can bring that kind of complexity to stories, that’s what we’re always trying to do.
Okay. No Gorin-Sunn. And no Sodam Yat. But according to the solicitations, we are going to get some Simon Baz in the wake of “Uprising.” Geoff Johns recently revealed that Hal was coming back to “Justice League.” Is Hal leaving “Green Lantern” and Baz is taking his place?
This is more of a standalone appearance for Baz. There is a very specific reason that he’s here. If you go back to “Green Lantern/Red Lanterns” #28, when the two titles crossed over for a single issue, it was determined and later shown in “Green Lantern” #29 that Hal puts Simon Baz in charge of Earth now that the Red Lanterns are in charge of Sector 2814. That factors into this story. In the wake of “Uprising,” it very much has the feeling of an ‘all of the soldiers coming home’ issue. Everyone is coming home but Hal, not being allowed to be Sector 2814 because of the deal he struck with the Red Lanterns, has no home to go home to. There are a handful of other guys in the same boat like Kilowog, whose home has been destroyed, so there is still a skeleton crew. And the story develops out of that. What exactly is Hal doing when the Lanterns are on shore leave, if you want to call it that. And Simon Baz is part of that.
We’ve also seen the solicitation for “Green Lantern: Futures End” #1 and the big reveal is that Relic plays a role. When we talked about him a few months back when “Lights Out” ended, I asked you if we would see him again any time soon and you weren’t saying. Are you happy to have him back in the series? I know he’s a character you enjoyed writing before.
I like Relic a lot and I love writing him, but again, hats off to Billy Tan for his design. He did such an amazing job and he’s such a cool visual. He looks different than all of the other Green Lantern villains. I think we established him as a unique character during “Lights Out” in terms of what defines him as a Green Lantern villain and even a villain featured in the wider DCU. There’s a very specific reason to why he’s back. And that’s the first part of the mystery of the ‘Five Years Later’ storyline. Of course, with that story being five years into the future, it’s not like he’s showing up in “Green Lantern” #34 or anything like that but he is a character that I’m glad to get a chance to write again.
We’re also going to see the Black Lanterns in that issue too, who pose a very unique threat to the Green Lantern Corps and, honestly, to the rest of the DCU. What can you tease about their presence in “Futures End?”
You’re right. The Black Lanterns are a very unique threat. And it’s obviously a threat that Hal’s faced before. Not just against Black Hand but through “Blackest Night” and all of the ensuing stories. There is a specific reason why the Black Lanterns are in the ‘Five Years Later’ story that’s going to tie into some “Green Lantern” stories coming up in the very near future. Timelines being what they are, it will have happened publication wise after the ‘Five Years Later’ issue but in terms of time, they would have happened before the events of the ‘Five Years Later’ issue, if that makes any sense at all. [Laughs] This is meant to almost be a tease, which will lay down some mysteries of what’s to come. Even though it’s a look to the future, it’s teasing some of the things happening in the very near present.
One more reveal from the solicitations is that the ‘shocking’ final pages of “Green Lantern” #34 will signal the start of the biggest Lantern story yet. Exclamation point. And the biggest Lantern story yet is about…
[Laughs] It is big. It’s a huge, huge story that we have planned and I imagine you will be hearing all about it very soon. It ties into the ‘Five Years Later’ storyline but it’s also going to, by the end of it, have some very long and very significant repercussions not just for “Green Lantern” titles but across the entire DCU, as well.
“Green Lantern” #33, part 5 of “Uprising,” is on sale now.