IGN Comics: Up until now Fatality has been a member of the New Guardians book. Is Green Lantern Corps her new home from here on out?
Van Jensen: She’s moving entirely over to Green Lantern Corps. John is in this place where he’s very much questioning the direction of the Corps and what he wants out of life. Fatality represents a very different option from continuing the status quo of being in the Corps and offering a different vision of his future. There’s a lot of confliction he experiences over that. Of course, their relationship is fraught with so many different issues. There’s a lot in store for them that we’re going to be exploring and she’s going to play a really big role in the future.
IGN: What appeals to you about the romantic dynamic between the two of them?
Jensen: I think that she represents, as per being a Star Sapphire and how her character has changed, just this very pure look at love and relationships. Relationships are so incredibly complicated. I’m married, and like any married coupled, marriages are work and relationships are work. But [Fatality] has this very pure vision of love, and for John, it’s a real struggle because he’s a very pragmatic-minded guy. There’s this entire legacy of him contributing to the destruction of her planet and her trying to kill him for years, so this is the heaviest baggage that you can have in a relationship.
IGN: Earlier this week, we talked a bit about the new Guardians, who appear to have some pretty solid heads on their shoulders in comparison to what came before them. Are they going to be playing a major part of your book?
Jensen: They’re not going to have a major presence in the short term, but certainly in the long term they’re going to be very actively involved with the Corps as a whole.
IGN: Salaak has some really interesting material here. What’s his state of mind following recent events, and what kind of journey is ahead of him?
Jensen: Yeah, he’s in a really interesting place. Imagine someone who has dedicated their lives to the Guardians and then it turns out the Guardians have betrayed the entire Corps. He kind of views himself as being to blame, so in one sense he’s beating up himself and in another way he’s seeking some redemption. So he’s just in a very troubled state of mind. He had his entire world torn apart from under him, so it’s almost like he’s gun shy now. Where’s the next threat coming from? What other looming threats are out there that the Guardians might have laid in store?
I think that’s a really interesting place to take him because he’s always been so composed. He’s the guy who had all the answers and had every “I” dotted and every “T” crossed. Now he’s really going down this rabbit hole in a totally different direction.
IGN: Bernard, do you find it more difficult to render emotion on a character like Salaak, given his physical appearance?
Bernard Chang: Well, about Salaak… he doesn’t have a mouth. [laughs] I think that, in a sense, is extremely difficult when you want to convey a lot of emotion. But storytelling-wise, in his scenes I always try to place a lot of the environment in equal or greater part of his scope, so you get a sense that, with him, there’s always the Corps around him on Oa. So there’s always this greater sense of responsibility that has been kind of a burden that he’s been carrying.
But going back to Fatality, in the last scene of the book, where her and John fly off and split, there’s this sensibility of where the two are flying but their trails are intertwining, and then toward the end there’s the split where she makes the decision to go and follow what happens to be the villains and John goes off to the right. And then the last time we see her, she’s by herself all alone, showing an un-sureness of her future with John.
Storytelling-wise, it’s not just facial emotions but also how the pages and panels are composed to try and lay out as much emotion as I can. I’m hoping that the readers will read these books over and over again and get the depth of the emotions in the story.
Jensen: The thing that Bernard mentioned with John going one way and the Durlans going another, that was something that was in the script in a literal sense but that he totally added in such a brilliant visual moment. It’s very quiet and stark. It works so incredibly well. That’s exactly the kind of thing that I just feel so lucky, this being my first book, to work with someone of Bernard’s experience and talent and real attention to storytelling. Every page in this issue is something that he added in a big, big way. A kernel of it might’ve been there in the script, but he brought it to life in a whole new way.
IGN: Something else I found really interesting in this issue was the internal beef between Salaak and Shorm. To what extent will we be seeing the ratifications of recent events play out amongst the ranks? Is there a lot of internal strife that we haven’t seen yet?
Jensen: I think that’s the idea of that scene. Obviously there are thousands of Green Lanterns and there are 20 pages per month, so you can’t show all of them, but you want to show those little grounded moments. I think the Green Lantern Corps’ recent history has been great in these epic sort of ways, and what we’re trying to do is just have a slightly different feel of looking, in a very down to Earth way, at the personal and emotional impacts on people from what has happened recently and what’s going to come.
I certainly hope that people would read that scene and interpret that Shorm and Natu are handling the situation in this way, but it’s a very emotional thing and all the Lanterns are going to be very on edge. They’re going to react and react in different ways, but everyone has this baggage that they’re trying to deal with.
Chang: They’ll probably get slapped with a couple more fish tails. [laughs]
Jensen: That fish tail is a perfect example of what I was talking about! The fish tail was not in the script and Bernard added that. That’s like the single best thing in the entire issue and I didn’t create it. So that’s what Bernard brings to the table.
IGN: In this issue you introduce four new recruits in a really impactful way with very little space, which was really impressive. Can you each talk a bit about each character and the design elements that went into them?
Jensen: Thanks! So, the background with those characters and the direction I wanted to go into is that we’ve seen the rings go to people who exhibit great willpower. We’ve seen willpower in terms of people who are very strong, who are very courageous, who are truly heroic in a very overt and obvious way.
The idea that Rob [Venditti] had was that the Corps has been decimated and so many Green Lanterns have died off, so the cream of the crop is not out there anymore. The way that Robert put was that this is like the Bad News Bears that are getting brought in. So the way that I approached that was that the rings are still seeking out willpower, but that very obvious form of willpower is not there anymore. So what are other representations of willpower?
For Jruk, the warrior in this sort of gladiatorial combat, here’s someone who is a very aggressive character, but he has this blind willpower to go and fight and keep himself alive. To not acknowledge the brutality around him.
Chang: You have four very distinct characters from different cultures and different backgrounds with different features. There’re a lot of ingredients and recipes there for me to play with. Just thinking about a culture of people that are nomads, visually the first thing that came to mind is that they have to be able to walk a lot. And humans probably aren’t the best at that, so it’d be more like an animal, like a horse or some other creature that has those kind of legs that would allow them to bend and track long distances.
And then Maro, who is a mute but the race is all about talking, they would have these big heads because they’d need a lot of brainpower to think. But you can only design from a base foundation, and Van has definitely put a lot of thought into these characters. As the story progresses, you’re going to find out more about why and how these four new recruits fit within the Corps.
IGN: Like I said, I thought you guys did a great job with that aspect of the issue and it’s definitely the stand out portion of this book. But finally, we haven’t seen the Durlans in a while. What intrigues you about them as a race, and can you tell us what are they seeking revenge for?
Jensen: One of the things that’s kind of cool about the Durlans in relation to the Green Lanterns… the power of the Green Lanterns is to create any construct with the ring, and the speed of your imagination is the governing power over what you can do with your ring. With the Durlans, because they can change their form, it’s almost like a variation on that type of power because they are their own construct. It’s just an interesting analogue to think about as a villain.
Beyond that, what we’re going to see from the Durlans, these are not villains that attack you with overwhelming force. They aren’t leading some giant charge straight head on against you. Their entire culture is based on deception. That is the way they conduct war. The Green Lantern Corps has fought these giant, massive threats and we’ve seen these extremely epic battles, but this is going to be something a lot grittier and closer to the bone, in a way, than what they’ve fought before.
The intent is the same – to crush the Corps – but the Durlans have their very own specific way of going about it. It’s going to be quite a while before we see the full reveal of the backstory of the Durlans and where the beef with the Corps begins, but it’s something that’s a new wrinkle that we’re bringing into the New 52 universe. I will say the Six-Minute War is still part of their history, but we’re going to see a slightly new twist on that.
Chang: And more Durlan action in issue #22!
Jensen: Yeah, Fatality in #22 is going to continue her pursuit of the Durlans, so we’ll see how that plays out.