CBR: Now, let's talk about "Black Hand," who is a character who,the last time we saw him, he was dead -- well, more dead than he usually is. [Laughter] Why did you want to bring Black Hand back?
CS: Since "Blackest Night," I've always felt Black Hand was a great villain. The way he was written and portrayed as just this weird, strange psychotic individual obsessed with death. I think there's a lot to work with, and I think the story that I tell delves into that. What it would be like if you would literally prefer everyone in the world be dead? If that was your perfect world, with everyone dead, you view people that are alive with the same disgust we might view a corpse; that's how Black Hand sees anyone who's alive. That's a fun story to tell. Well, maybe "fun" is the wrong word to use.
CBR: Sounds like your mad scientist side is coming out! [Laughter] I've noticed at conventions that when Black Hand is not currently being used, there are always fans asking for Black Hand to return, and when he is being used, fans ask for even more of him. Why do you think he's become such a popular Green Lantern villain?
CS: First of all, he's a conduit to storylines that have been dead and gone; they can kind of come back through Black Hand as we saw in "Blackest Night." A lot of characters who were out of play can come back, albeit in a gross zombie way, but they can appear again. Whenever Black Hand shows up, you tend to have things happening that wouldn't otherwise happen, so that's fun. As far as his specific appeal, it's interesting because he is essentially a guy who likes zombies. Zombies are hot right now -- maybe it's as simple as that!
CBR: When we were talking about Lex, you were saying that he's got a lot of different facets. How about Black Hand? Does he have as many competing sides as Lex Luthor?
CS: That's a good question. The way I'm planning to write Black Hand is as someone who is fundamentally damaged. He's not an evil mastermind, he is not a well-rounded person. He is a damaged person who, as I mentioned, is just obsessed with death and dead things. That's what makes him happy. But I also feel that this is a mindset that is so alien to anything you or I would think of, so contrary to the way we view existence, that it's about getting into that perspective and trying to explain what it would be like to be in Black Hand's head. How he sees the world and the way he'd remake it if he could. Because he's so damaged, I don't think he's as well rounded as someone like Lex Luthor, but that means I can explore the concept of Black Hand's weird psyche in more depth and detail.
CBR: Though they are villains, Lex sounds more complex than evil, and your description of Black Hand as a damaged individual makes it sound like he's also more complicated than that. That said, how do you define evil as a writer, and do either of these characters really fit that mold?
CS: Evil, to me, is very simple. It's doing things outside of what the rest of society thinks is acceptable. There's a spectrum ranging from mildly criminal all the way up to evil. The thing that unites evil people is they, generally speaking, don't see what they're doing as evil. They see it in different ways than society does. They're not self-aware enough to realize that what they're doing is evil, or they're lying to themselves, or they simply don't care. You get into the damaged psyche of psychotic personalities and sociopathic personalities and things like that.
I think evil really is defined by stepping away from what the rest of the world thinks is OK. But then, different cultures around the world have different definitions of what's allowable and what's OK. To some, what we do in America every day is considered evil. So to some extent, it depends on your perspective.
CBR: Your third villain is Arcane, and while I said Black Hand and Lex Luthor feel more complicated than evil, Anton Arcane has always come off as very overtly evil. We saw him explored rather thoroughly in "Rotworld," so what's your take on Anton Arcane?
CS: First off all, the one-shot is set up as a direct sort of coda to "Rotworld" to show where the "Rotworld" characters are today, what they've been up to and what they're doing which is fun. It's neat to revisit some of Scott Snyder's storylines a little bit and play with it. He did such a fantastic job, it's nice to touch on it a little bit.
But Arcane, specifically, you're right -- he's about as horrible as you can get! He's been written that way: he is someone who I think knows completely what he's doing is considered 100% evil by any standard definitions, but he does not care. He luxuriates in it and it makes him happy. He's bad! He knows if he were brought to trial he'd be found guilty in a second. But you know what? He's going to do what he does until something stops him.
If you look at the three characters I'm writing, they all have different approaches to what they're doing. Black Hand, again, is the damaged guy who sees the world differently than everybody else. He's not able to understand why other people don't see the world the way he does. Lex Luthor is simply convinced what he's doing is for the greater good. He feels if he were brought to trial, he would not be convicted. And then there's Arcane, who is evil for the sake of evil and loves it, loves death and destruction.