Tuesday, April 16, 2013
New GREEN LANTERN CORPS Writers Dispel Rumors & Talk Future
This summer, Green Lantern Corps will go through some big changes — both in the comic and among its creative team. Not only will the comic deal with "a new status quo on Oa," but the title's lead character, John Stewart, will encounter a new threat to the future of the Corps.
The comic is also getting a brand new creative team, along with all the Green Lantern titles. New Corps writers Van Jensen and Robert Venditti will take over Green Lantern Corps after the departure of long-time Lantern-universe writer Peter Tomasi. They'll be working with artist Bernard Chang.
As they take over, they intend to make Green Lantern Corps an "adventure" book. "To throw around comparisons, I think it combines the intrigue and drama of Battlestar Galactica with the adventure and whimsy of Doctor Who," Jensen told Newsarama.
The new creative team is inheriting Green Lantern Corps after some major upheavals in the Green Lantern universe. Not only did "Rise of the Third Army" destroy the trust between the Guardians and their Corps while introducing a brand new Green Lantern, but the "Wrath of the First Lantern" is currently providing even more turmoil within the ranks.
Jensen and Venditti also begin their run after some Internet buzz made fans concerned about editorial plans for the Green Lantern universe. First, DC announced that Joshua Hale Fialkov would write Green Lantern Corps and Red Lanterns, but he left both series before his first issue was even published. The an internet rumor started to spread, alleging that Green Lantern John Stewart was going to die, and that's why Fialkov left — a rumor that caught such fire among fans that Venditti publicly stated that he and Jensen were never asked to kill the character.
For Green Lantern fans, Venditti's name is already familiar because he's also currently slated to write the main Green Lantern title, a job he won after impressing editors with his work on the current Demon Knights series.
But Jensen is new to DC. He's the writer behind the acclaimed indie series Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer, and his background echoes that of several other new, indie-turned-DC writers.
Newsarama interviewed both Jensen and Venditti about their plans for the comic after the upheaval being experienced both in the creative teams and in the ranks of the Green Lantern Corps.
Newsarama: Robert and Van, how has it been working together on this comic, and does the collaboration mean we'll see Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps tie closely together in coming stories?
Van Jensen: Rob and I have been friends for years and have worked together a lot in the past, including collaborating on writing projects. He's one of the smartest writers in comics, and I'm very lucky to have him helping me and pushing me as I learn the ropes. Rob has some great, great stuff planned for Green Lantern, and we're working closely to make sure that Green Lantern Corps — while standing on its own — fits seamlessly with the flagship title.
Robert Venditti: Yeah, there will definitely be things tying all the titles together, but the goal is to have each of them stand on its own as well.
As for the collaboration, Van is really doing most of the heavy lifting. His writing career, in both comics and journalism, has given him a particular skill set that makes him a great choice for a book like Green Lantern Corps. The concepts are his, and I’m just helping with the plotting and getting him adjusted to the monthly comics format. He has his own vision for the series, and it’s a great one.
Nrama: What's the tone of Green Lantern Corps? How would you describe the comic?
Jensen: It's an adventure book, first and foremost. This is the universe's police force, armed with powerful rings, battling against all sorts of nefarious villains, protecting the innocent.
But, in the wake of recent events, there's a very different status quo on Oa. And so a lot of the book will focus on rebuilding the Corps, and the personal and political struggles that impact that effort. To throw around comparisons, I think it combines the intrigue and drama of Battlestar Galactica with the adventure and whimsy of Doctor Who.
Nrama: There are obviously going to be big changes on Oa now. What's the status of the Corps as you take over the comic? And what type of struggle does that cause within the Corps?
Jensen: The Corps is decimated and rudderless after the revelation of the Guardians' evil schemes, and so they need both new Corps members and new leaders.
As with any organization facing a leadership vacuum, there will be struggles for control, with different sides pushing different agendas. Also, the Green Lanterns have a tarnished image throughout the universe thanks to the Guardians, and so part of their struggle will be to serve as a police force for alien races who despise and fear them.
Nrama: The solicitation for issue #21 teases that "it's nonstop action as the Corps faces attacks on Oa and Earth." Is that still the plan for that issue now that there's been a creative change?
Jensen: Issue #21 sees our characters struggling with the new status quo on Oa while John Stewart and Fatality uncover a big, new threat that long has been building out of sight. We'll also meet some new members of the Corps. The "nonstop action" part is still accurate, though!
Nrama: Can you describe what type of story and threat we'll see in that debut issue as you two take over Green Lantern Corps?
Jensen: John and Fatality respond to a seemingly benign emergency call on an alien planet, and they discover that the situation is far more dangerous than expected. All I'll say for now is that a big threat is looming, one that is both old and new.
Nrama: Will the cast stay the same as what we've seen in recent issues by Peter Tomasi, or are you guys hoping to shake up the cast of characters in the title? And can you describe the characters we'll see spotlighted in the comic?
Jensen: There will be a fairly significant shakeup. John Stewart is our main character. Other central characters that are continuing on will be Fatality, Kilowog, Salaak, Soranik Natu and a few others. Each of them has a new role in the Corps, and the adjustment won't go smoothly. And then the Corps is in desperate need of new members, so we'll be meeting a lot of rookie Lanterns.
Venditti: The rookies are something I’m really looking forward to. We’re going to have a lot of fun with this crop.
Nrama: Guy Gardner is obviously getting involved in the world of the Red Lanterns, according to upcoming solicitations and covers for both GLC and Red Lanterns. What can you tell us about his choices regarding the Red Lanterns, and how does that influence the Green Lantern Corps book?
Jensen: To keep up with Guy, your best bet is going to be checking out Red Lanterns or asking for a scoop from Charles Soule.
Nrama: Robert, you were obviously made aware that there was a rumor going around that John Stewart was going to die in upcoming stories. Just to highlight your response to that rumor, what can you tell us about John Stewart's future in Green Lantern Corps?
Venditti: From the beginning, Van and I have had a very particular plan in mind for John. He’s a compelling character so full of potential, and there are many ways we envision him playing off other members of the cast. I spent a lot of time wondering if I should address the rumors, since to come out and deny them would reveal things about our story. But when it got to the point that people thought we had somehow changed our story because of internet pressure, I felt I should respond. Readers need to be able to trust us to write the stories we want to write and not worry about how they’re going to be received. If we start trying to predict things like that, we’ll end up driving ourselves crazy.
So, for the record, we never considered killing John, and no one asked us to. And since we were brought in as the new writers before the stories about John getting killed off were reported, it should seem clear to everyone that the Internet outcry didn’t factor into our decision.
Nrama: Van, what's your hope for the Green Lantern Corps book as you take over the writing with Robert, and what do you think it offers you as a writer?
Jensen: Green Lantern Corps offers so much. There's a cast full of characters with complex personalities, a deep mythology and action and intrigue that spans the entire universe. I hope this book can continue to be an exciting, character-driven piece of the DCU, a book with new developments for existing characters and strong debuts for some new faces.
For me, this is a thrilling opportunity. I'm coming from a background in indie comics and journalism, and so I'm learning a lot very quickly — with much help from Rob and our great editors — about monthly comics. It's a new challenge, and I'm hoping the fans will enjoy this next age of the Green Lantern Corps.
Nrama: You built a huge mythology around the main character in your indie book Pinnochio: Vampire Slayer. Do you see similarities in the world-building that drives the Green Lantern Corps book?
Jensen: There are surprising similarities. The Pinocchio books all are based on Carlo Collodi's original story, and so we were building off of an existing platform and existing characters. In the same way, Green Lantern Corps has decades of continuity. What you do then as a writer is ask yourself, "What's next?" You can stay true to what's come before and still chart new, exciting territory. That's exactly what Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi have been doing, and it's what Rob and I aim to continue in our own way. The most important thing is to let the characters drive the story.
Nrama: You've also utilized humor in your comics in the past. Are you injecting some of that into Green Lantern Corps? Or is your debut story a little more on the serious side?
Jensen: There's a certain slapstick quality to Pinocchio that won't be present in Green Lantern Corps, at least at the start. But that's largely because of where things are leaving off in "Wrath of the First Lantern." The Corps has just gone through what might be its darkest hour, and a big new threat is emerging. A lot of our characters are still coping with what they've just been through. That said, I am trying to make this book a whole lot of fun.
Nrama: How has it been for both of you to be working with Bernard Chang on the comic? What does he bring to the title?
Jensen: Bernard is a dynamite artist. He nails the little character beats and the huge action sequences and everything in between. He adds a lot to the storytelling as well, always looking for ways to make each issue as good as it can be. I'm thrilled to get to work with him.
Venditti: And let’s not forget Marcelo Maiolo. I was fortunate to work with Bernard and Marcelo for four issues of Demon Knights, and they’re a spectacular team. Everything they do elevates the script, and I learn a lot by watching them do what they do.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans about Green Lantern Corps?
Jensen: Already, I've seen how passionate the Green Lantern fans are, and so I just want them to know that I care about these characters a great deal, and I hope they'll come along with us as we explore some new territory in the long, storied history of the Corps.
Venditti: In so many ways, this is a dream gig. Van and I are getting paid to talk story with each other, which is pretty much what we do all the time for free. I’m excited and motivated to find out what makes these characters tick. I hope readers will see that come through on the page.