Hitting comics stores today from DC Comics is "Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Superman-Prime," featuring the backup story "Fear is a Baby's Cry!" written by newcomer Sterling Gates. Perhaps best known for his regular gig as assistant to popular comics writer Geoff Johns, "Fear is a Baby's Cry!" is the 26-year-old Tulsa, Oklahoma native's first writing credit in what he calls "the major leagues."
And what a way to kick off a career, contributing to a book that ties-in to the top-selling, Johns-helmed epic, "Sinestro Corps War." Gates told CBR News, "I don't think I could possibly be more excited. Geoff has been one of my favorite writers for years, ever since his run on 'The Flash,' and I was completely floored when I saw my name on the cover art under his. And I am so glad to be a part of the epic 'Sinestro Corps War.' It's been tremendously exciting."
"Fear is a Baby's Cry!" is fully scripted by Gates with art by the Jerry Ordway ("Superman," "The Power of Shazam!"), whose work Sterling lauds as incomparable. "Jerry Ordway is absolutely one of the greatest pencillers of this age," said Gates. "Heck, of any age! He's really in a class all his own."
"Fear is a Baby's Cry!" is a story about Sinestro Corps member Kryb, who artist Ethan Van Sciver drew in "Sinestro Corps Special" #1. "She's the creature with the back full of babies," explained Gates. "I looked at that and thought, 'If that scares the crap out of me, it's probably going to terrify some Green Lanterns, too.' Kryb's a very great and very, very creepy design by Ethan Van Sciver and my hat is off to him."
To combat Kryb, Gates went back 25 years in Green Lantern lore to find the perfect foe. "Going up against Kryb is the Green Lantern Jeryll, who was created in a 'Tales of the Green Lantern Corps' backup in the early '80s," said Gates. "I always loved her, she's a classic Carmine Infantino design, so when we started talking about this story, I knew she was the Green Lantern I wanted to see Kryb go up against."
Gates' story will also feature cameos from Sinestro Corps member Lyssa Drak and introduce two new Green Lanterns he created, the married couple Matoo and Amnee Pree.
Looking to draw a comparison, Gates likened his tale to the one told by Johns in "Sinestro Corps Special" #1 involving the sentient virus Despotellis, who it was revealed was responsible for the death of Kyle Rayner's mother. "Like Geoff's Despotellis story, 'Fear is a Baby's Cry!' really shifts the focus out of the giant space epic and onto just one member of the Green Lantern Corps and one member of the Sinestro Corps," explained Gates. "I think in these giant widescreen comic stories, it can be really nice to take a quick breather from the main action and allow some of the various players a quick spotlight.
"Not that you're going to be able to take that breather while you read this one," laughed Gates. "You'll be too busy holding your breath from the fear."
While "Fear is a Baby's Cry!" doesn't tie directly to "Tales of Sinestro Corps: Superman-Prime," Gates says, "I think Kryb appears in the first few pages of the Superman-Prime story, but her story really stands on its own legs."
While not recommended for all up and comers, Gates actually credits one of his drinking buddies for his burgeoning comic career. That and, of course, a chance encounter with a superstar writer by the name of Geoff Johns.
"I was at Wondercon in San Francisco in February 2006," explained Gates. "I had just moved to L.A. and hadn't found a steady job yet. My friend Cody and I had had many, many drinks after the con that night, and we decided we needed to eat something. As we stepped out of our elevator, across the lobby Geoff and [former DC editor] Steve Wacker stepped out of another. My friend had a conniption and started extolling Geoff's comic book virtues to the Heavens. Needless to say, I was a little embarrassed.
"A few minutes later, we were in Mel's Diner and found ourselves at the table right next to Geoff and Wacker. Hoping to make things a little better, I got their check from our waitress before she could give it to them and bought their dinner. It was the least I could do, y'know?
"So I came back the table and told them how great it was to meet them, and apologized for my friend's outburst, then told them I'd taken care of their bill so they could just take off when they were done. Without missing a beat, Geoff looked up and said, 'Do you want a job?' I thought Wacker was going to have a heart attack right there at the table.
"The next Monday, I found myself interviewing to be the Writer's Room Production Assistant on [Johns' TV show] 'Blade: The Series,' and I started there that Tuesday. After that show ended and Geoff started working on the feature film 'Naughty or Nice' with Seth Green and Matt Senreich from 'Robot Chicken,' he took me on as his assistant.
"I can't thank my friend Cody enough for having so many shots that night," laughed Gates, who also credits his editors Eddie Berganza and Adam Schlagman for their guidance during his first-ever professional work. "They're wonderful, wonderful editors, and it's been a completely sublime experience working with them."
Now firmly ensconced in the legend of the Green Lantern Corps, Gates' next writing assignment is the co-creation with Johns of a bible for the power ring-wielders entitled "Green Lantern/Sinestro Corps Secret Files" #1 – due in stores December 19.
"Instead of using the typical 'Secret Files' format, this will essentially be a very detailed 'Who's Who of the Green Lantern Corps,'" Gates said. We've worked really, really hard to make sure that any and all of the Green Lanterns make it into this book, and that no one's favorite is forgotten. We've got everyone, from Ghr'll to Soranik Natu to Zghithii. We want to show that all of the Green Lanterns are unique and interesting characters, given the right place to shine. And a lot of great artists are coming in to update the Green Lanterns' looks and really polish up the Corps, most of which we haven't seen in over a decade.
"It also features the Sinestro Corps members, a lot of whom readers know nothing about, given just how big the scope is in 'Sinestro Corps War.' This book will focus in on them and show readers just how gruesome they are.
"Also included is a story I did with Joe Prado called 'Lessons in the Sand.' It's about the Green Lantern crypt-keeper, Morro. It fleshes out his origin and really gets into how rough a life he had to lead, to volunteer to be the crypt-keeper of Oa. And Joe's work on it is just phenomenal, really fantastic work."
Asked to pick his all-time favorite GL, Gates was torn but landed on a gem who first appeared in "Green Lantern" Vol. 2 #188 in May, 1985. The writer explained, "If you'd asked me before we started researching 'Secret Files,' I would've said either Kyle Rayner or Hal Jordan. I liked Hal as a kid, especially when he would team up with Barry Allen, who is my second favorite character ever, just under Wally West, but Kyle was my Green Lantern for a long time, both in [Grant] Morrison's 'JLA' and in Marz's 'Green Lantern.' But then Geoff made Hal's return so huge in 'Green Lantern: Rebirth,' I was instantly back into him.
"Now that I've spent hundreds of hours pouring over 'Green Lantern' back issues, however, I'd have to say my favorite Green Lantern is Dkrtzy RRR, the Alan Moore-created mathematical equation Green Lantern. It's an idea only Alan Moore would have."
As for a favorite member of the Sinestro Corps, Gates went with the one he knows best. "Wow. That's actually a lot tougher. I'd probably have to say Kryb. Or Yellow Lantern from the Bizarro Justice League," laughed Gates "I mean, how can you not love a Bizarro Hal Jordan?"
Bizarro Hal Jordan can be seen in today's release "Action Comics" #857, the final chapter of Geoff Johns and Richard Donner's "Escape From Bizarro World" arc.
Now discuss this story in CBR's DC Comics forum.