Never failing to score high marks on the cool quotient, writer Robert Venditti and artists Billy Tan and Mark Irwin have infused the greatest Green Lantern of them all with even more hipness thanks to a new status quo that leaves Hal Jordan without the very thing that's made him who he is the past 56 years. He's no longer a Green Lantern. (And if we're keeping score, he no longer has his power ring, either.)
With the DC Universe believing Hal is an outlaw (following the events of the 'Godhead' arc), the Green Lantern Corps has now gone missing -- a storyline further explored in the new "Green Lantern: Lost Army" by Cullen Bunn and Jesus Saiz -- leaving the ex-Lantern to patrol space solo as a 'Renegade.'
Maybe not stuck up or half-witted but definitely scruffy-looking, Hal is joined on his new adventures by Darlene (the A.I. aboard his space ship), Prince Virgo (a rescued royal who may be the last surviving member of his race) and Trapper (the thug who kidnapped Virgo). Venditti and Irwin told CBR News about the dynamic this rag-tag group creates in terms of storytelling possibilities for "Green Lantern" moving forward.
Venditti and Irwin also shared their thoughts on Hal's new weapon of choice (but not by choice), the former test pilot's ability to tackle multiple threats within the DC Universe at the same time and the return of Black Hand.
CBR News: Really digging Hal Jordan "unleashed." While he is obviously still loyal to the Corps and has set out to find them, does the fact that he isn't currently a Corps member allow for a different kind of Hal?
Robert Venditti: It does. Now he can operate outside of the law and that doesn't mean that he is a criminal or that he's an ends-justify-the-means type of personality but if you look at Hal, historically, as a character he's always been not so rule-orientated. While he certainly misses the Corps and he bled for the Corps and he led the Corps and he wonders where they have gone, it is understandable, based on history, that he would lean back in his seat, arms crossed behind his head -- like he did in "Green Lantern" #41 -- and say, "I've got space to stretch my legs." There are no rules and structure that he has to operate within anymore and for somebody grew up watching his dad be a test pilot and went on to become a test pilot himself, I don't know if there is something that he would like more than cruising around the universe as the pilot of his own spaceship.
Again, it's doesn't mean that he doesn't miss the Corps. He desperately wants to find out what happened to them because he loves those guys but this new status quo definitely suits his personality.
The first year of your run basically established Hal as a true leader of the Corps and now he finds himself flying solo once again. Will what he's learned becoming a leader play into the decisions he makes in the series moving forward?
Venditti: Absolutely. If you follow his entire arc -- going back to when we started our run on "Green Lantern" #21 -- and you see how he developed as a leader and how he reacted differently in "Lights Out" and "Uprising" and "Godhead," you see how he grew and he'll absolutely continue to use those lessons learned but there are also those characteristics that are ingrained in his personality. As a test pilot, Hal just has to go with his gut sometimes and he is going to have to rely on those instincts heavily because there is nobody backing him up anymore. The Corps is gone and most of the universe thinks that he is a villain, so even though we as readers know he is still a hero, wherever he goes, he has a target on his back. He really has to be quick on the draw and think fast.
Mark, I love his new look, too. I'm from Canada and he almost looks like a hockey player with those shaggy locks. Can you discuss his new look including the new cloak and costume?
Mark Irwin: Billy [Tan] has been bringing it with all of the new designs. It's been fun for me. I've been on and off "Green Lantern" for quite a while and I've had a chance to go through all of the main characters and see all of their looks so it's fun now that's there is change. Billy has such a different sensibility in terms of how he draws aliens, how he draws Hal and how he draws tech and it's a challenge for me. Every page that I get, there is a new twist to what he is doing. I think it's a great update for the character.
Hal no longer has his ring but he is brandishing Krona's gauntlet. I love his interaction with his new weapon of choice. Is it a learning curve for Hal like when he first wielded a power ring?
Venditti: There is definitely an element of that. Hal is obviously very comfortable with the ring but that's a fine piece of technology that's been worked on for who knows how many years. Krona's gauntlet was the basis for the refined piece of equipment but isn't very refined in and of itself, much like most prototypes. There are some similarities like he can still wield solid-light constructs that are still based on will power. Conversely, the gauntlet has its own internal battery mechanism so he doesn't have to recharge it every 24 hours. We also know from continuity that it's vastly more powerful than an individual ring. Along with that, it's also much more dangerous because it's unpredictable and the interface with the user's thoughts isn't as clear as it is with a ring. Sometimes, it just pulls something out of Hal's head and uses it. And for someone as spontaneous as Hal, that can be even more dangerous and unpredictable. Yes, there is definitely going to be a learning curve.
Irwin: I definitely notice the difference in drawing things like Hal's halo and the energy burst that he uses, all of those things are different from the way they used to be. I get the impression while I'm doing it that the gauntlet is drawing from Hal's subconscious as much as his actual thoughts and reactions. That's a really cool new idea.
Venditti: There is definitely an element of that, too. As we'll see as the issues progress, a lot of the constructs that Hal generates on the fly -- and Mark, you would know this being from San Diego, which is roughly, as least geographically, an analogue for Coast City -- are from his personal history and past. If it's a mountain goat or a great whale or if it's a cable car that comes through and knocks someone over, it's a Coast City cable car that he saw everyday growing up. It's pulling these things out of his subconscious just as Mark was saying.
I love his new crew -- if we are indeed calling Prince Virgo, Trapper and Darlene his crew. Are we going to see this supporting cast ride shotgun with Hal for the foreseeable future?
Venditti: Yes. And it definitely makes for an interesting dynamic. He only has Trapper and Virgo on his ship to begin with because Trapper kidnapped Virgo and Hal was paid by Virgo's uncle to rescue him. And while doing so, Hal took Trapper into custody with the idea that they would all go back to Virgo's planet and Virgo would be free and Trapper would go on trial for the original kidnapping. But when they arrive, the planet has been turned to stone and the entire civilization is gone.
Now Hal has these two people on his ship, one of which may be the last surviving member of his entire culture and the other one being a criminal. What does he do with them now? He can't just drop them off as Corps headquarters. He's not a Green Lantern anymore and there's not even a headquarters to go to because the Corps is gone. It's an interesting dynamic and there will be other characters that we introduce, as well. We're going to see how Hal operates with a criminal on his ship in "Green Lantern" #43 and even more so in #44. And we'll also see how this disparate group of individuals end up finding the common ground between them and fighting toward the same goals because ultimately, we're going to be dealing with the survival of the universe -- and at that point, everybody has the same goals.[Laughs]
With all due respect, I actually laughed when Virgo effectively made Trapper his manservant. It's like the pilot George and Jerry pitched to NBC on "Seinfeld." [Laughs] Back to the survival of the universe, the Medusa Effect -- as it's referred to in the title of the issue -- is pretty terrifying as it turns space ships and their crew and even entire planets and their populations to stone. Is it safe to say we will meet up with the monster causing this effect?
Venditti: Yes, it's one of the things that Hal will be dealing with. Hal has a lot of conflicts going on right now, in addition to being cut off and alone. The Green Lantern Corps is gone so there is no police force for the universe any more. Who is going to come in and fill that vacuum? And what are their motives going to be? On top of that, he has worlds being turned into stone and he is very much the kind of character that while he needs to find the Corps -- that's a really big deal. But he's also not going to just turn his back when entire world are being wiped out. He's going to try to find the answer to that too. No matter how big the ultimate goal is, Hal is the type of guy that is he has one life in his hand that he can save right now, he is going to do that because he can leave a man behind. That's just who Hal is. And you know, he thinks he can handle it all. It's not really an either/or for him. He's going to want both. When he's alone and he doesn't have the Corps backing him up, it makes it a very difficult thing for him to tackle all of these things all at the same time but he's going to have figure out a way to do it.
Finally, the big reveal on the final page of "Green Lantern" #42 is that we are going to get some more Black Hand in the series. Just add him to Hal's to-do list, right?
Venditti: That's right. [Laughs] Black Hand is obviously one of the classic Green Lantern villains. He's been around for a while. He's an extremely compelling character. We last saw him in "Godhead" and he raised some beings off the Source Wall, which has never happened before in the DCU so this is a moment that is extremely significant -- and is going to have consequences. That's what we'll be exploring in the next issues. What effect did that have on Black Hand? And what does it mean for the larger DC Universe? While we'll be introducing a lot of new concepts, Hal Jordan obviously has a long-standing history and war with this character and other classic villains and concepts and put them up against this new version of Hal.
Irwin: I started with Billy on "Green Lantern" with the "Godhead" annual and having Black Hand on those initial pages was pretty exciting because I always had a blast inking Black Hand when Doug Mahnke was drawing him. And Billy brings a very unique, different look to him. Black Hand is such a creepy guy. And he's kind of hilarious at the same time. And he's also so scarily powerful that it's always exciting when he's on the page. There's always something with Black Hand. He's like Sinestro in that way.
"Green Lantern" #42 by Robert Venditti, Billy Tan & Mark Irwin is on sale now.