This June, when DC Comics ongoing "Green Lantern Corps" series begins, writer Dave Gibbons and artist Patrick Gleason will be jumping ahead "One Year Later" and be taking readers many light years away from Earth and into the farthest corners of the galaxy. CBR News spoke with Gibbons about his plans for the Guardians' elite force of emerald clad ring slingers.
"Green Lantern Corps" #1 picks up one year after the events of the "Green Lantern Corps: Recharge" mini-series and in the intervening time, life on the Corps home world has changed. "Life on Oa is very different. Oa is very different," Gibbons told CBR News. "Following the attack by the Spider Guild in 'Recharge,' the Guardians realized that just to have a naked little planet floating there in space was maybe a little foolish. So, they've taken steps to fortify it. Just how, you'll see in the first issue and I wouldn't want to spoil it."
The Guardians have placed themselves behind the most secure parts of Oa's fortifications. "Obviously they're the prime targets for anybody who wants to destabilize the Green Lantern Corps," Gibbons explained. "They're very rarely seen by the Lanterns and it's only Salakk who ever has any direct contact with them and relays their orders down."
Salakk may be the Lantern selected to voice the commands of the Guardians, but even he won't be aware of the full scope of his masters' mysterious agenda. "I think maybe one of the things about the Guardians is in the past they've been too visible, and too exposed," Gibbons explained. "They've been too much like, I guess, friendly 'Smurfs' is the word that everybody used. I've always seen them as being rather more sinister. I've always seen a race of people that have appointed themselves to be the Guardians of the Universe to be rather above chit-chat. So, they're going to become more mysterious in their motivations. Which is consistent with what has gone on before, but their motivations I think we'll see are really on levels which perhaps don't make sense or perhaps don't seem to make sent to mortals such as us."
Along with the fortifications on Oa and their masters becoming more aloof, discipline has tightened within the Green Lantern Corps during the missing year. "The Corps has regrouped," Gibbons stated. "There are two Lanterns assigned to each sector who work very much as a team and Guy Gardener is the trouble shooter, the wild card, who attends to situations that the Lanterns on the scene can't deal with.
"Killowog and Salakk are still in charge of things on Oa and they're very much removed from the action, or so it seems," Gibbons continued. "There's a much greater sense of people having roles within the organization and sticking very much to those like a proper military or law enforcement agency rather than it has been in the past with Lanterns often milling around and dealing with whatever pops up."
Readers will be experiencing life in the GL Corp through the eyes of a core cast of characters. "Guy is our main character," Gibbons said. "Guy is the Earth man's representative in space. He's the eyes and ears through which we experience all the strangeness and weirdness of the greater galaxy. In addition to Guy, the characters that we got quite close to in 'Recharge' namely Vath from Rann, Isamot from Thanagar and Soranik from Korugar will be the group that we're really going to focus on.
"Much like a good cop drama, say 'NYPD Blue' or before that 'Hill Street Blues,' you really have to have a fairly well differentiated and interesting central cast through which to explore the greater organization," Gibbons continued. "We will meet lots of other Green Lanterns. We will meet some pretty strange Green Lanterns and we'll meet Green Lanterns who have got powers and abilities beyond merely being ring wielders. I do really want to investigate some of the stranger Green Lanterns. Some of the ones who are vastly different in size and ones who are vastly different in life styles, just to show its all about diversity and its all bout strangeness. As I believe Killowog said back in 'Rann-Thanagar,' 'everybody is somebody's alien.'
"But they will be brought in as we need them and to interact with the main cast because to me, the main purpose of a book about the Corps is to actually explore what it's like to be a member of an organization like this and how the characters relate to one another, rather than the solo kind of heroics. Which is kind of what you get in the Hal Jordan book and I guess in the 'Ion' book as well. So, it's really central to the 'Green Lantern Corps' that we have a familiar and well delineated central cast of characters that illuminate everything for us."
The cast of "Green Lantern Corps" will have their work cut out for them as they use their rings to illuminate the galaxy's most dangerous corners. "The galaxy is huge, so there are always trouble spots and there are always places that are relatively calm and these kind of shift around. Much like our world in microcosm," Gibbons explained. "However there are known trouble areas. The area that's probably the most vexing for the Guardians, the one by ancient pact they promised not to interfere in, is what goes on in and around the Vega System. This is very much mystery territory to the Lanterns and we've seen that the Spider Guild broke out of there and almost destroyed Oa. And there is still a lot of simmering discontent, dislike and enmity towards the Guardians and their Lanterns, emanating from Vega. So, we'll find that they continue to give the Lanterns trouble.
"As far as the Rann-Thanagar War is concerned, that's still reverberating around and there's still great distrust between the people of Rann and the people of Thanagar," Gibbons continued. "Although, Thanagar due to the actions of Kyle and Killowog in 'The Rann-Thanagar War' is starting to regenerate and be settled again. We'll get glimpses of what's going on there.
"At the moment we're not dealing with things in the galaxy like Apokolips and that area. Things are so vast out there that I think it's a question of exploring it piece by piece and not bringing in huge casts of aliens and other agencies which really only confuses the issue. Although, there will be hints of activity and trouble in all kinds of places; some of them expected and some of them unexpected."
After "Recharge," Readers might not be expecting the direction of the opening plot arc of the ongoing GL Corps book. "Having come off 'The Rann-Thanagar War' and 'Recharge,' which were kind of cosmic in scope with planets falling, huge armies and armadas and millions of people running around, I really wanted to start off the 'Corps' by coming in a little bit closer.' So, the opening story is a fairly close up tale of murder and mystery and ambition. I think it would be fair to say it features Guy very strongly. Soranik is very much involved. We also get to see what's happening with Vath and Isamot. I wanted to start off closer to some of the key players and explore a little bit of their characters and the relationships between them albeit it set against obviously a cosmic background with lots of cool science fiction stuff going on in there.
"The second arc, which I'm writing at the moment, will actually be the one that I draw because due to scheduling worries. Patrick Gleason, who did such a great job on 'Recharge,' is doing the opening three issues and then I'll come in with #4." Gibbons explained. "On #4, again Guy plays a lead part and we see him in an environment that he's wanted to be in for a long time, but it gives him rather a different set of problems from what he normally experiences when he's out there in space with the Green Lantern Corps."
As they patrol the blackness of Space, the members of the Corps will be involved in smaller scale, quieter adventures and large scale, epic tales. "In the background there is something building which will perhaps spiral out in an unexpected way and give Oa a problem again," Gibbons said. "Because, as I suggested before, there are people out there who don't like the Green Lantern Corps, who don't see why the Guardians should decide what happens in the universe and a lot animosity will become very tangible."
In the most recent issue of "Green Lantern," writer Geoff Johns revealed that Sinestro, a villain who harbors a very tangible amount of animosity towards the Corps, has begun to create his own Corps. "They will cause problems for the GL Corps although not in the 'Green Lantern Corps' book," Gibbons explained. "Although, of course, as Geoff and I talk and things get worked out, that may well change, but at the moment, that's very much an area that Geoff and Hal Jordan will be dealing with."
One area that the Corps members will find themselves dealing with in a sometimes adversarial way is their relationships with the representatives of local law enforcement in the sectors they're assigned to. "Individual systems and planets have their own law enforcement agencies and indeed the scene I'm writing as you speak to me shows Vath and Isamot bumping heads with some of them," Gibbons said. "So, it's an interesting area to explore."
One law enforcement agency that won't be causing trouble for the GL Corps is LEGION. "Vril Dox is wise enough not to pick fights that he can't win," Gibbons stated. "I think that the way the Lanterns are organized now would give LEGION a serious headache and we've seen with Kyle's interaction with them back in 'Rann-Thanagar' that certainly the Lanterns don't have a lot of time or sympathy for LEGION. I've certainly got no plans to show them at the moment, although as things progress that could change."
One thing that won't be changing is the dark science fiction feel of the book that Gibbons established in "Recharge." "The way I see it, the Hal Jordan book is the superhero book, which is a guy in a costume essentially behaving like a superhero," Gibbons stated. "Although clearly being a member of the Corps, he's something more and different than that. The way I see the Corps and the way that I certainly tried to play it in 'Recharge' is that they're not heroes as such, certainly not superheroes. They are members of a uniformed disciplined army, if you like, and as such they're acting out of a sense of duty rather than a sense of do-gooding. They're people who are attracted to the idea of being in a body of people much as regular soldiers, who get something out of being in an organized force that has an objective. And certainly the science fiction that I've always liked has been the rather strange, rather dark and intimidating kind. It's not the 'Star Trek' universe, although having said that 'Star Trek' has its dark corners, but this is a much more strange, much more scattered, much more unpredictable kind of place."
Gibbons is having a blast writing "Green Lantern Corps" and he looks forward to a long run of chronicling the adventures of the Guardians emerald clad champions. "What I'm really enjoying with the "Green Lantern Corps' ongoing series is the opportunity to let ideas grow and unfold and to be able to approach things in a very organic way," Gibbons explained. "I'm finding it very rewarding as these characters expand and we find out new things about them. It's a ride that I'm very much enjoying and it's nice to be able to take a slightly longer view of things, to know that you haven't got to resolve a whole plot line in a couple of issues. I feel I've got a good amount of breathing space on this and I'm having great fun doing it. I hope that translates into excitement for the reader."