As the first year of the New 52 titles ended this week, the Green Lantern writers prepared for their first crossover event within the relaunched universe: "Rise of the Third Army."
But for Green Lantern: The New Guardians, the second year also sees a major shift for its lead character, as Kyle Rayner attempts to harness the power of the Emotional Spectrum.
That is... the entire Emotional Spectrum.
According to the comic's writer, Tony Bedard, Kyle Rayner's quest toward mastery of the Emotional Spectrum will cause him to "grow in power and change in ways that will make you worry about who he'll be."
"What will it profit a man if he should gain the entire Emotional Spectrum but sacrifice his soul in the process? That's the big question for Kyle Rayner," Bedard told Newsarama.
Green Lantern: New Guardians will also get the addition of Carol Ferris in a new costume starting this fall. Bedard also made it clear that "Third Army" is not the culmination of what's been happening in the Green Lantern universe. (Green Lantern writer Geoff Johns told Newsarama back in July that there would be more big stuff coming in the Green Lantern universe after "Third Army.")
Newsarama: Now that we understand the true nature of the Third Army as introduced in the Green Lantern Annual, can you summarize the threat the characters in your book will be facing during this event as it relates to these disturbing "will-less" creatures?
Tony Bedard: The Third Army is a threat to every sentient creature in the universe, so the New Guardians must find a way to stop them — preferably by stopping the Guardians themselves. Kyle Rayner and Carol Ferris in particular have very personal missions in this event. Kyle wants, if possible, to rescue Ganthet, to restore the emotions and personality of the Guardian who was like a father to him. Carol wants, if possible, to get back her beloved Hal Jordan. The odds don't seem to favor either of them, but then long odds have always been part of the deal for these ring-slingers.
Nrama: Does Green Lantern: New Guardians tell one story that readers can follow without buying all the other GL books during the "Third Army" event? Or do they literally cross over?
Bedard: During the four months of "Rise of the Third Army" (Green Lantern: New Guardians #13-16 ) Kyle will be on a quest to master every shade of the Emotional Spectrum. He'll have to learn to wield Blue Hope, Indigo Compassion, Yellow Fear, Red Rage, Violet Love and Orange Avarice. It's those "negative" emotions like avarice, fear and rage that will prove the greatest challenge and affect Kyle's personality the most. Even if he succeeds, Kyle may emerge from this forever changed as a person. Those four months will be pretty self-contained on the New Guardians front, and then all four Lantern books will cross over more intensively as we build to a crescendo that I don't think anyone will see coming.
Nrama: Tony, the end of issue #12 seemed to mark a turning point for your book. As issue #0 begins, does that issue take place before your issue #1? And can you give any indication about how it ties into the threat of the Third Army and these soulless Guardians?
Nrama: From a philosophical point of view, what drives each of the members of the New Guardians team as they battle the Guardians/Third Army? Why is Larfleeze there, for example, and all these other Lanterns? Is it merely survival, or is there more? What does the fight mean to the members of the your team?
Bedard: On a basic level it is about survival for all of them. Nobody wants to be a mindless pawn for the Guardians. But we do have individual motivations driving them, too. Kyle wants to rescue and restore Ganthet. Carol wants Hal back. Larfleeze wants his long lost family back. Arkillo wants to get out from under the shadow of Sinestro, and so on.
Nrama: We see the new look for Carol Ferris as designed by Brett Booth on the cover of issue #13. Were you involved at all in the redesign, and if so can you tell us anything about the ideas that informed her new costume?
Bedard: I think it began with wanting to give Carol a more modest look. The old costume with the plunging neckline was certainly visually striking, but it didn't seem to fit Carol's personality. She's a serious person, a captain of industry, etc. It just didn't make sense to have her showing that much skin. We have a lot of good moments coming up for Carol in New Guardians, and I think the new uniform will help keep the focus on her as a person, not as a hottie.
Nrama: What does Carol bring to the team going forward, and will it tie into Hal's disappearance/"death?"
Bedard: In many ways, Carol is a more natural leader than Kyle, and she gets him to finally focus and be all he can be. She's a driving force for the team, and she is driven herself by her love for Hal. Read New Guardians #0 and you'll see how Carol comes in as a co-leader and real kick in the pants for Kyle.
Nrama: As Kyle discovers what has been happening, what's his response? How does this affect him differently from the other members of the team — or from the other Green Lanterns?
Bedard: Kyle is horrified by what happened to Ganthet, but then he has been almost since the start of New Guardians. He's been fighting the Guardians for the last year's worth of issues, and now he has an even more compelling reason to keep up that fight and to earn the firepower he needs to stop them once and for all. Kyle's always been a character who exceeds expectations (when he was the Corps' "Torchbearer," when he was Ion, etc). Now he must combine all the emotional power he can to take down the most powerful beings in the cosmos.
Nrama: By the end of the Green Lantern Annual, the Guardians have become an enemy to all the Lanterns, obviously. But is Ganthet still at the center of the team's mission, and what role does Sayd play going forward in the book?
Bedard: Sayd will return in issue #15 when Kyle tries to get Larfleeze to share his Orange power. Ganthet has gone from renegade Guardian to acting more like the leader of the pack. When this all comes to a head, it's going to be Kyle versus Ganthet.
Nrama: Solicitations indicate (if they're right) that Kyle is going to be visiting Earth in issue #13. Now that we know the reason Baz gets a ring, does Kyle encounter him?
Bedard: I actually don't have a Kyle/Baz encounter planned until later, when the crossover really gets in gear.
Nrama: Since Kyle's apparently on Earth for issue #13, how much of a role does he play in the events there (it looks like the Guardians are specifically wanting a Third Army to be created from humans)? Is that one "front" for your characters?
Bedard: Earth is always central to DC stories, even the cosmic ones. Issue #13 is where Kyle must learn to wield Red Rage, and Atrocitus himself has come to Earth to show him the ropes. Of course, Atrocitus isn't gentle about anything he does, so the only question is how many people will have to die before Kyle gets schooled in the ways of Rage. As the whole Third Army thing rolls on, we'll certainly come back to Earth for more crazy fun, but it remains to be seen where the final showdown with the Guardians will take place.
Nrama: Now that it has been made clear that the Guardians are really messed up, should we read more into the title of your comic — the "new" Guardians?
Bedard: Yeah, the idea from the start was that this team could become a sort of inter-Corps "United Nations" eliminating the need for the Guardians. Let's face it... those little blue know-it-alls haven't exactly been batting a thousand. But as of issue #0, the emphasis shifts from a team with members from all seven corps to combining all seven colors in one man: Kyle Rayner. We won't see every single member of the cast in every issue, but that let's us go deeper with the character stuff regarding Kyle, Carol and others.
Nrama: Speaking of Guardians — is it possible we'll see those "old" Guardians that are locked in the Chamber of Shadows again? Or is that something that might happen outside your book?
Bedard: I don't want to spoil a thing about those guys, what they kept locked in the Chamber, or anything else regarding them. It's wayyy to cool to tip our hand just yet.
Nrama: Issue #14's cover doesn't look good for Kyle. Is this in-fighting among the team's members, or is there more behind that image of Arkillo vs. Kyle?
Bedard: I think it's natural that there would be in-fighting with such a disparate group, but that issue is also about Kyle learning to wield Fear, and Kyle giving a lesson right back to Arkillo, who has blossomed as a character over the past year of New Guardians tales. He's one of my faves right now, and I'm really looking forward to giving him more time on stage.
Nrama: Overall, what should readers expect from New Guardians over the next few months?
Bedard: Kyle is going to grow in power and change in ways that will make you worry about who he'll be at the end of this training process he's undergoing. What will it profit a man if he should gain the entire Emotional Spectrum but sacrifice his soul in the process? That's the big question for Kyle Rayner, who has in many ways been the most grounded and the most human of the Green Lanterns.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell us about New Guardians and the "Rise of the Third Army" event?
Bedard: Just make sure you don't miss it, starting with Green Lantern: New Guardians #0 . We're rolling down a dark road toward a defining moment for Kyle and for Lanterns in general. Just as Blackest Night changed the cosmic landscape for the DCU, so the war with the Guardians will shake things up and become a moment we'll be talking about for years to come.