After a decade-long run on “Green Lantern” by superstar Geoff Johns, writer Robert Venditti needed something big to reignite one of DC Comics’ flagship titles when he inherited the proverbial power ring. Is blowing up Oa big enough for you?
That’s right. In “Green Lantern Corps” #25, the second part of the “Lights Out” crossover, Venditti and co-writer Van Jensen told a story that featured the end of Oa, one of the oldest planets in the DC Universe that has been home to the Guardians of the Universe since “Green Lantern” #1, way back at the dawn of the Silver Age in 1960.
Taking its place as Green Lantern Corps new headquarters is Mogo — the living planet charged with protecting Sector 2261 as its resident Green Lantern. The character was introduced in “Green Lantern” #188 in 1985 by the dynamic duo behind “Watchmen,” Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, in the Green Lantern Corps back-up, “Mogo Doesn’t Socialize.”
Venditti spoke with CBR News about the change of status quo that he’s been teasing for months and shared insight into what readers can expect from Mogo as a major player in “Green Lantern” moving forward, how Hal Jordan’s leadership of the Corps will be affected by recent events involving Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner and how psyched he is that John Stewart gets his rightly deserved #0 issue in “Green Lantern Corps” #25, which ties into “Batman: Zero Year.”
CBR News: “Lights Out” came to a close this week in “Green Lantern Annual” #2 and I couldn’t stop thinking of “South Park.” But this time, it wasn’t: “You killed Kenny!” It was: “You blew up Oa!”
Robert Venditti: [Laughs]
Was the end of Oa readily accepted by DC editorial or did you have to do some negotiating?
It wasn’t something that I came up with very early on in the process. I didn’t start off by saying, “We’re going to have a crossover and we want to make a big splash so let’s blow up Oa. Okay, let’s figure out how to do that.”
That’s not what happened. In the course of the story and plotting it out, I reached the point where Relic is now on Oa and we know that the foundry and everything is inside the planet, including the catacombs that run through it, are interconnected to the batteries. When I finished up the plot and brought it to DC, I said, “Here’s what would logically happen right now: Oa would blow up.” And the question was, “Do we actually want to do that?” It made sense for the story and they liked the idea of Mogo as the new base so we did it. We blew up Oa.
We have a lot of storylines that are going to incorporate and use that to what I think is great effect. The Corps are not going to be just standing around on Mogo all the time. Mogo is going to be an active part of the series. DC liked it and they were supportive of it. As long as it made sense and it wasn’t done for shock value, they were okay with it.
I always assume when you are writing for a website like Comic Book Resources you don’t have to explain that, spoiler alert, Batman’s parents were killed in a back alley when he was a young boy or Superman was raised in Smallville by the Kents, but Mogo doesn’t have quite the same brand recognition as the Dark Knight or the Man of Steel. For those who don’t know Mogo, can you please enlighten?
Mogo is a planet-sized, sentient planet Green Lantern. He’s been around for a long time and the interesting thing about Mogo as a character is that it’s an entirely unique concept. There are 7,200 Green Lanterns, five from Earth, but there’s just one Mogo. That’s something that’s very appealing. And there’s also this thing about Mogo that being a planet, it’s never been able to socialize. This is an opportunity to let Mogo be a consistent character in the series and we have some definite plans for what we’re going to do. It’s not only going to shape and transform how the Corps operates but also develops Mogo as a character and uses Mogo to help develop other characters, as well.
On top of that, I think it’s a very cool, very appealing visual — this lush, Eden-esque homebase that the Green Lanterns live on while there is all of this tumult going on around them.
True enough. And very different from Oa, which was very desert-like except for the Guardians’ city, which was very futuristic and fantastic in design.
Yes. It’s very different and obviously, Mogo is a very powerful character, as well. That will also change how the Green Lantern Corps do business.
When Scott Snyder talks about Batman, especially when he’s talking about the new weekly series coming next year, he very much views Gotham as a character. If Gotham’s a character, Mogo’s definitely a character.
Absolutely. We’re going to learn about Mogo, try to drill down deep on his motives and motivations and really, just his personality. I think it’s an opportunity to really flush out his personality and see how the character reacts with and around other Lanterns. It’s something that we’re looking forward to doing.
While he managed to destroy Oa, it would appear Relic didn’t survive “Lights Out.” Is this the last we’ll see of the character or do you have future plans for him?
Relic isn’t destroyed so much as he is now fused to the Source Wall. Whenever you come into contact with the Source Wall, you become fused to it. Kyle, being the revelation, is the one exception because that’s part of the White Lantern power set. It allowed him to pass through the wall. That’s going to be a big part of Kyle’s arc in “New Guardians.” What did he experience on the other side of the wall?
But Relic is a character that we created for this storyline. As far as what the future of that character is… who can say? But at this point, the events of “Lights Out” and the knowledge of what brought Relic into our universe is going to have a legacy in terms of how it affects the Corps and direction of the books moving forward. But as a character, Relic is on the shelf at this point. He’s stuck to the wall. [Laughs]
You touched on Kyle, who is primarily featured in writer Justin Jordan’s “New Guardians,” but how do Hal and the rest of Lanterns react to his death, or perceived death?
It’s a huge factor because the Green Lantern Corps is leaving “Lights Out” operating under the assumption that Relic’s theory was correct and their rings — and not just their rings but all the colored rings — are a drain on this reservoir that powers the emotional spectrum and in turn, powers all of creation. Granted, it took billions and billions of years for it to run dry and get us to the point of “Lights Out,” but it’s something that we are now cognizant of.
And you see at the end of “Green Lantern Annual” #2 that Hannu, Graf Toren and Tomar-Tu are now reluctant to use their rings because even though the reservoir would run dry a very, very long time from now, it’s still something, philosophically, that they don’t know that they want to be part of in terms of tapping into that reservoir of light and draining it. This is all under the assumption that Kyle, the White Lantern, who was the only being to ever pass through the Source Wall and was actually able to go through and replenish the reservoir and give everybody a fresh start, is believed to be dead. They have no knowledge that Kyle remains in existence. The fail-safe that Kyle represents is no longer on the table. And as far as they know, never will be again. That affects their mindset in terms of what they’re going to do now and what the new mission of the Corps is going to be and how do they enforce law and justice and order and all of these kinds of things with or without their rings. And is there justification for them to use their rings? These are all questions that they are going to have to face.
During “Lights Out,” Hal lashed out at Carol thinking that she may have feelings for Kyle. With Kyle believed dead, does that have any effect on or even further strain their relationship?
We’re going to get answers to that in “Green Lantern” #25 and “New Guardians” #25. But you’re right, their relationship is a bit up in the air. Carol was able to detect Kyle’s presence when no one else could at the opening of “Green Lantern Annual” #2. Why that was the case, we don’t know yet. Hal immediately jumped to the conclusion that because she’s a Love Lantern, she must be in love with Kyle but I don’t know that we’re drawing a fine point to what exactly that means just yet. There are a lot of factors at play and it could be one of very, very many answers as to why Carol was able to detect Kyle’s presence. And that’s something that’s going to play out over time. We’ll see where that goes. We, of course, know where it’s going [Laughs] but as far as we as readers know, there are a lot of different options.
In an effort to thwart Relic, Hal made a deal with the devil, namely Guy Gardner, and gave the Red Lanterns their own sector to police. Is that a storyline that will be explored?
Very much so. That’s a big part of what I said and what we’ve all said in a lot of interviews leading up to and during “Lights Out,” was that this was going to be an event that affected a major status quo change across “Green Lantern,” “Green Lantern Corps,” “Red Lanterns” and “New Guardians.” “Lights Out” has a long tail that reaches into those books and really shakes things up. The bargain that Hal struck with Guy, which happened in “Red Lanterns” #24, is going to be seen immediately in the #25 issues and onward.
In the solicitation for “Green Lantern” #25, which is on sale now, it teases: “Hal makes a controversial decision that will change the mission of the Green Lantern Corps.” Is the Red Lantern deal the controversial decision?
No. That specific text refers to another controversial decision. [Laughs] He doesn’t know that the bargain with Guy and the Red Lanterns is controversial yet. He doesn’t realize the full extent of the deal that he’s struck. And he already made that decision. The solicitation text for “Green Lantern” #25 is referring to another controversial decision.
Let’s talk about Hal post-“Lights Out.” Not really a surprise, but as the central figure of the Green Lantern titles, it would appear that “Lights Out” has changed him the most.
He’s still the leader of the Green Lantern Corps so this is just another big thing that he’s got on his plate. Hal’s had a run of bad luck since he took over leadership of the Corps — in the wake of “Rise of the Third Army” and “Wrath of the First Lantern” the Corps is really battered and bruised. He hasn’t had an opportunity since taking on the leadership role to relax and move his stuff into the office and organize his stationery. [Laughs] It’s been nonstop. And now that he’s faced with this idea that the rings may be draining the reservoir and certain Lanterns don’t want to use their rings is just another thing that he has to deal with. I think he’s feeling a little punch-drunk.
How Hal perseveres through all of these things is going to say a lot about him as a leader and as a character. We have a very firm plan to where everything is going. We know what we’re doing in the books pretty much through 2014 so we know how all of these plots are going to weave together. And there are a lot of subplots that were laid down in “Lights Out” that you haven’t even asked me about. There are subplots that I don’t know if people even realize that they are subplots yet. [Laughs] There are a lot of things going on that will be teased out over the next year in all four books.
Before I let you go, I want to ask about one of those other four books, “Green Lantern Corps,” which you’re writing too. Before we get to see the fallout of “Lights Out” in that book, you have a “Batman: Zero Year” tie-in. Do you think that will be jarring for readers?
When DC came told me about “Batman: Zero Year,” they were looking for books that would logically tie into it — it wasn’t a mandate or anything — and “Green Lantern Corps,” which I co-write with Van Jensen, immediately came to mind especially now that John Stewart is the lead of it because it presented an opportunity for him to have the #0 issue that he never got to have. “Green Lantern Corps” #0 was focused on Guy Gardner so John never got the chance. This is an opportunity to really show John Stewart before he was a Green Lantern in a very interesting and unique situation in Gotham as a marine. By looking deeper into his past, it gives you an idea of who his parents were and what they experienced and shines a light on why he is the Lantern that he is. And why he does what he does. It’s a great issue, and then “Green Lantern Corps” picks up from the end of “Lights Out.”
“Green Lantern” #25 by Robert Venditti and Billy Tan is on sale now.