As the New Year arrives with countless unfulfilled resolutions, one big change coming to the New 52 is a new writer on “Red Lanterns.” With Charles Soule signing an exclusive deal with Marvel, DC Comics has tapped Landry Walker as the new ongoing writer of the “Green Lantern” spinoff series, with art by Jim Calafiore.
2015 is going to be a big year for Walker, who enjoyed previous success at DC with the all-ages “Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade,” as his creator-owned superhero series, “Danger Club,” also returns to Image Comics after an 18-month hiatus.
CBR News connected with Walker to discuss his upcoming run on “Red Lanterns,” and the writer not only revealed where his love for Guy Gardner began, he also teased what to expect from his opening arc, shared his thoughts on whether or not Guy should still be considered a superhero and explained exactly what it means to be a Red Lantern.
With the final three issues of the limited series, “Danger Club,” scheduled for the same release dates as his first three issues of “Red Lanterns” (January 28, February 25 and March 25), CBR News also got a quick update from Walker on the Image series, and (spoiler alert!) it doesn’t sound good for the teenaged heroes fighting to save the day.
CBR News: Were you one of the tens of thousands of fans who grew up reading Guy Gardner in “Justice League International?”
Landry Walker: I absolutely did. I read and re-read those comics until they were worn out — then read them again. In my opinion, you’re pretty much pointing to the best and most interesting incarnation of the Justice League.
He’s obviously not your typical superhero, or even your typical Green Lantern. What is it about Guy Gardner that you think fans adore?
Guy certainly was an atypical hero/Green Lantern at one point. I’m not so sure that’s true these days, which has more to do with the general tone shift of everyone else over the last 20 years than it does with changes in Gardner himself.
As for the appeal of the character, Guy is decisive and direct, to a fault. He looks at the world and decides at a glance what is right and what is wrong and then takes definitive action and is unapologetic in the process. It’s a dangerous path to take in the real world, but in terms of escapist fantasy, there’s always been a lot of currency in that approach.
Can he still be considered a superhero?
That’s kind of a loaded question. From a mainstream comics writing perspective, the lines between superhero and supervillain blurred a long time ago. In the case of Guy, he’s always been a hero because that is how he sees himself, even if his peers disagree. Given the consequences of his recent actions though, I think it’s a question of how he sees himself now — which is something I intend to address.
As the lead character of “Red Lanterns,” Guy operates with even more rage than he did as a Green Lantern. What does it mean to be a Red Lantern?
Anger is a deeply personal thing, and potentially means something different to everyone. How we process it, where we direct it, etcetera. Due to that, there is an inherent discord with Red Lanterns in terms of group interaction. That’s fine when you’re Atrocitus and everyone is a mindless savage, and yes, I know that is way back in the series, but when we start really looking at the group as individuals, not as much.
Consequently, we can examine what it means for Guy to be a Red Lantern, but that means only a little when compared to another character.
Will Guy remain a Red Lantern during your run now that he’s back on Earth?
In my limited view, Guy is a Red Lantern. No plans on my table for changing anytime in the foreseeable future. That said, I’m a fickle writer. I can be halfway through a script when I completely change my mind about something, throw away all my work and change direction. So who knows?
The Red Lanterns were basically wiped out during the Atrocitus War. Will we see a rebirth during your run?
That’s not really where I’m headed in the immediate future. Firstly, I think a break from the organization of Red Lanterns is in order. Secondly, I think a story telling that angle properly would require a solid foundation, one that I’m not really poised to build at this precise moment. My focus is very Guy-centric.
That’s awesome news for fans of Guy. Can you give us a tease about your opening arc on “Red Lanterns”?
I’m looking towards exploring the red light of rage itself. The blood pool on Ysmulth was a method of interaction with this primal energy source, but it was never the power itself. I’m interested in seeing what happens when you have a world ravaged by an unprovoked alien attack, driven to a point of great rage, and then what? The red light of rage is generated by living beings experiencing intense anger — a collective anger. What happens to that energy?
Will we see more of Simon Baz?
Again, no plans for anyone other than Guy. I mean, I have a serious fondness for Doctor Spectro. He’d be fun. Same with Rainbow Raider. I bet Guy would have a great time teaming up with them, driving across the country solving color-based mysteries. [Laughs] Since DC is unlikely to greenlight that though, I guess it will just be Guy.
The artist on the series is Jim Calafiore. What does he bring to the table as a collaborator?
My direct experience with Jim’s work is sadly limited. What I have looked at suggests someone who can take the traditional structure of a comic page and break all the rules to make a page dynamic. I write full scripts, but I told my editor that he can tell Jim to ignore my suggested panel count and pacing if he sees a way that serves the story better. He’s a pro, and I look forward to stepping back and watching my work unfold in his hands.
Before I let you go, I want to ask a few questions about “Danger Club,” your creator-owned series from Image. After a lengthy hiatus, it’s back in 2015. For the uninitiated, what is it about?
Basically, all the adult heroes leave to fight an oncoming alien menace and never return. The teen sidekicks quickly devolve into a Lord of the Flies like situation, with a small group of them taking point to prepare to defend the Earth form this cosmic threat. Murder, suicide, betrayal, desperation, all rendered beautifully by co-creators artist Eric Jones and colorist Rusty Drake.
The book is also very much a commentary on the evolution and history of comics, but I’ll let that part speak for itself as the series progresses.
What were the reasons for the delay?
We started the book a bit in the weeds after Dylan Williams, one of our closest friends and the founder of Sparkplug Comic Books, passed away abruptly. Shortly after, someone else close to Eric and me was murdered. We pushed forward with the book, but in all honesty, we didn’t have the cushion you really want when you embark on a self-publishing venture. Then one of Rusty’s kids was hit by a car. He’s okay, but it was another delay in the schedule.
Enter the domino effect. We had no margin for error, we were all kind of wrecked, and we all ran out of time as all the delays pushed us past our time budget on the book. We all had to go back to our paying jobs while working on “Danger Club” became secondary. We could have pushed through faster, but at a compromise of quality that just wasn’t acceptable to us, and replacing anyone wasn’t an option. We’ve all been friends since we were teenagers. This isn’t a work for hire scenario. But that’s all in the past. Now, the book is done. No more delays — we’ve been stockpiling so that these last three issues can come out monthly.
Did you consider a new #1?
No, not really. It’s only set to run eight issues and is one very contained story. So we kept the numbering system as is. If we had held off on issue 5 and released it with 6, 7 and 8, we might have done it as a new 1-4, then. Hindsight — I’m a big fan of it.
What can we expect when Jack Fearless, Kid Vigilante and the rest of the team return to action in “Danger Club” #6?
We have a descent into hell, a rebooted universe, a crisis of infinite proportions, an army of robots, gods, demons — that sort of stuff. [Laughs] We pretty much told the reader what would happen back in “Danger Club” # 1. That’s what we’re facing now: What happened to the adult heroes, and how can a handful of sidekicks survive where their mentors failed?
“Red Lanterns” #38, by Landry Walker and featuring art by Jim Calafiore, is slated for January 28.
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