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Venditti Plays the Long Game with “Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps”

by  in Comic News Comment
Venditti Plays the Long Game with “Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps”

You might not realize it, but Robert Venditti actually wrote more issues of “Green Lantern” than Geoff Johns did during DC ComicsNew 52 — 36 issues all told — but the writer told CBR News he has many more stories left to tell in “Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps” starting this July.

Despite Hal’s name being front and center, Venditti confirmed fellow Lanterns John Stewart, Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner will all play major roles in the series too. As for John and Hal’s arch enemy Sinestro, the writer said that seed was planted way back in his first issue, “Green Lantern” #21. Equating Sinestro with more high profile supervillains like The Joker and Lex Luthor, Venditti noted that he only featured the fallen Lantern in a few issues during his initial run and has been keen to tell a major story with him for ages. Now, along with Rafa Sandoval, his long-time collaborator on Valiant’s “X-O Manowar,” he’s doing exactly that in the Rebirth title’s opening arc, the appropriately titled “Sinestro’s Law.”

RELATED: “Green Lanterns” #1 Debuts New Powers, Deepens Red Lantern Mystery

Below, Venditti also shares his thoughts on the huge impact artist Ethan Van Sciver played not only as the guest artist on the “Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps: Rebirth” #1 special, but also as a conceptual sounding board when he was developing the series.

CBR News: With the name ‘Hal Jordan’ right there in the title, it’s hard to believe this new series isn’t all about the man without fear. But that’s not the case, is it?

Robert Venditti: Hal will be a central character in the story, obviously, but you’re right; John Stewart, Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner, and even some other characters that I can’t name yet will too. We’re going to have a lot of the Lanterns sharing this book.

While there are very distinct versions of The Flash from the Golden Age to the Silver Age and from the Silver Age to the modern era, Hal has contemporaries. Do you think that same sense of legacy with mentors and proteges is missing from DC’s Green Lantern characters?

Yes, I think it makes for more of a team book. You have a lot of leads all sharing time. I’m writing different arc focusing on different characters. One arc will be about Hal and another one will be about John. And one arc might focus on Hal and Guy and the next one might be with Hal and John. It’s about having all of the characters present — sometimes, they will be more supporting characters and sometimes, they will be the leads and that you will be able to focus more on each character. They are all going to be there but depending on the story, [the series] is structured in a way that we will be focusing on different characters.

You’ve been writing Hal Jordan for a few years now, and we’ve seen him as both a leader and an outlaw on the run. Where do we find him when “Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps” opens?

When we ended our “Green Lantern” run, Hal’s gauntlet was having an effect on him. In fact, he was almost becoming a construct. He was almost an expression of will. He realizes that the gauntlet is having this unpredicted effect on him and he has decided that he is going to search for the Green Lantern Corps, which is lost due to the events of “Green Lantern Corps: Lost Army” and “Edge of Oblivion.” That’s where we pick up his story. He realizes that he is the last Lantern left and he has to reclaim that mantle and he is going to go find the Green Lantern Corps and protect the universe as best he can while he is doing it.

How he gets there? How he reunites with the Corps? How he gets his mantle back and becomes a Green Lantern again? These are things that we are going to see early on in the story, some of them as early as the very first “Rebirth” issue.

This sounds very much like a continuation of what you were doing with the character versus what can be perceived as even a soft relaunch in “Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps: Rebirth” #1.

I think that’s the mission statement of “DC Rebirth.” We want stories that are good jumping-on points for new readers that re-introduce the characters and get back to what these characters are like historically. We also want to embrace the very long histories and legacies of these characters, going back for decades. I think if you read a lot of the “Rebirth” issues, you will see that’s exactly what these are. It’s a continuation of the New 52 but it reaches further back than that, too. That’s the “Rebirth” concept and that what we are planning to do with “Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps.”

So we have ‘Hal.’ And then we have ‘and the Green Lantern Corps,’ but we’re not only talking about classic supporting characters like Kilowog. As discussed, we’re getting heavy hitters like John Stewart, Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner. What differentiates John Stewart from other Green Lanterns?

Obviously, all Green Lanterns have to have this indomitable will that allows them to be chosen as Green Lanterns in the first place. While I see Hal as someone that is much more spontaneous, goes much more with his gut instinct and is great in solo situations, I see John as much more a thinker, much more of a planner, much more of a strategist and much more suited to a broader leadership role than Hal might be. In that way, I think they are opposites. Both very effective and equal in terms of capability as far as Lanterns go but different skill sets to apply to different situations.

I know when I was writing “Green Lantern,” Hal was my lead for going on three years now, but I always wanted to focus on John too as we looked at the entire Green Lantern line. My long-form plan for him going back to my very first issue, which was “Green Lantern” #21, was for John to become leader of the Green Lantern Corps and be seen as that guy who knows how to lead a large group of people, seeing all of the pieces on the chess board and move them all around. These are things that I’ve been wanting to do with the character for a very long time.

If John is on one of the spectrum and Hal is somewhere in the middle, I guess we find Guy way on the other end?

Yes, but Guy is different. Hal does it based on gut instinct. He does it based on his training as a pilot and being able to react in a split second, and that works out for him. That’s what makes him an effective pilot. That’s what makes him an effective Lantern. But Guy Gardner is completely different. They may seem similar on the surface, there is almost a recklessness about them, but I would apply the term ‘recklessness’ to Guy Gardner much more so than I would to Hal. Guy has a chip on his shoulder and I would hope that he’s almost sad or sympathetic to the reader in a way because he’s somebody who had a very long and distinguished career as a Lantern and has done a lot of good things but he still feels like he has something to prove. And it’s almost like he has to prove it to himself. He’s never going to be happy with how he views himself. I see that as the core of his character and what propels him to be a bit reckless sometimes. Sometimes on the battlefield, you need that reckless berserker and Guy definitely fills that role.

RELATED: Venditti Shares the Secrets of “Green Lantern’s” “All-New” Classic Villain

And we’re getting more Kyle Rayner too, a character that was pushed to and through the edge of the DC Universe, both literally and figuratively, in the New 52. When we talk about power-sets, Kyle may now be the most powerful of all of the Lanterns, right?

Very much so. I am limited as to what I can say now because the plans that we have for Kyle are a bit more secretive. You’ll notice that a lot of the art that we’ve put out so far, we haven’t really shown him in cover images and things like that. That’s not by accident. [Laughs] What I can say is that readers will see him in the “Rebirth” issue and the arc that he is going to be on as a character is going to tie very heavily into some of the key moments and developments that happen in “Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps: Rebirth” #1. He won’t have as much page time early on as we might with John or Guy or Hal but when he does show up, it’s going to be for a big reason. It’s going to be because they need him and he’s only guy who can do what they need him to do.

With the opening arc called, “Sinestro’s Law,” I’d guess that means Sinestro is front and center. While he doesn’t have the mainstream name recognition of the Joker or Lex Luthor, in terms of arch-enemies, he really is right there with the big bads of the DCU.

Yes. And in terms of complexity of character, I find him every bit as intriguing as I do the Joker or Lex Luthor. He’s enormously complex. He has a lot of things that he can bring to the table that a lot of these other characters don’t have. For instance, his relationship with his daughter, Soranik. You get to see this parent-child dynamic going on there.

Why open a new series with Sinestro as opposed to a slow burn with a new villain and leave readers waiting for the big throw-down?

I really haven’t done a lot with Sinestro. I wrote him for a few issues in “Godhand.” I did close to 36 issues of “Green Lantern” and he appeared in three of them, maybe. He is a character that I’ve been wanting to write for a long time. And he is the big arch-nemesis. He represents the opposite philosophy of what is at the core of not just Hal but all of the Green Lantern. A lot of people think of him as a Hal nemesis but he’s really a Green Lantern nemesis. You have green versus yellow, will versus fear, Hal versus Sinestro. These are things that go back to the birth of the modern version of the Green Lantern concept back in the Silver Age.

To me, this was a no-brainer but it also picks up on developments that we were already trending towards in the book. With what Sinestro was doing in his book and what Hal was doing over in “Green Lantern,” these characters were already on somewhat of a collision course. I’m just in a position now where this is where we get to collide. The timing just worked out that it happens in “Rebirth.”

When we open “Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps: Rebirth” #1, Sinestro is parking Warworld in Sector 0 where Oa used to be. The Sinestro Corps is now the established and accepted police force in the universe and Hal, as far as he knows, is the only Green Lantern left and that’s where we pick up the story.

I’m already 10 scripts into the series. We already have three issues completely in the can — all the way through colors and letters. We’ll be five issues in and I’ll be 12 scripts in by the time we launch so we have a plan in place. Each new arc will be a jumping-on point but when we get to the end, you’ll realize all of this stuff is connected in ways you didn’t realize.

And if that long game was somehow not enough to get readers engaged, you are bringing someone back into the fold on the creative side that Green Lantern fans know really well too.

That’s right. Ethan Van Sciver’s name is synonymous with not only Green Lantern but “Rebirth” as a concept. He knows these characters better than anybody. He designed a vast majority of it and has already put his stamp on it and to me, his art just brings so much weight to the book. I love what he did with the “Rebirth” issue. I can’t say enough about him. He’s a great guy to talk about concepts with, as well.

And then we have Rafa Sandoval too. He’s someone I know well from working on “X-O Manowar.” And when I knew I was going to be doing “Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps,” I asked if we could get him on the book. He has just phenomenal designs and he’s really great with expressions. It’s such a hard book because there are so many aliens that you have to draw and so many complex designs, he’s able to do it all so well. I think people are really, really going to be pleased when they see his work. I don’t know how many readers are familiar with his work but he’s about to make a real big name for himself. I’m so proud of the work of these two guys.

“Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps: Rebirth” #1 goes on sale July 13; “Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps” #1 goes on sale July 27 from DC Comics.

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