In this week's Green Lantern #29, Hal Jordan does the unthinkable: he asks for help.
He has been struggling with his role as the leader of the Green Lantern Corps, making snap decisions without thinking of the long-term consequences. Green Lantern writer Robert Venditti explains why Hal created a council to assist him as leader, as well as how translating expressions with the ring works and whether Saint Walker and Mogo are "just friends."
IGN Comics: Are we seeing Hal create a new structure for the Green Lantern Corps instead of just doing everything by himself? Is this council of his the new Guardians (not to confuse them with the other Templar New Guardians)?
GL_Cv29_dsRobert Venditti: Sure, yeah. I think what we're seeing is him creating a council. Kilowog, Salaak, and Two-Six can help him and inform him in making his decisions, because he's realizing, like all leaders, you can't go it alone, which is kind of what his career has been like in a lot of ways. Whether or not that becomes a permanent part of the structure of the Corps remains to be seen, but certainly in regards to Kilowog and Salaak, they've always traditionally been and continue to be in somewhat of a governing role in this context. Kilowog has been trained a generation of Lanterns, things like that.
IGN: Do you see this as more of a democratic process? The Guardians were like, "What we say goes." They were rewriting Corps laws left and right. If this is the structure that Hal sticks with, is this a more fair-minded way to run the Corps?
Venditti: I don't know that we know exactly what the future of the Corps' structure is going to be. The Templar Guardians are still in charge of the Corps; they're just off on some of their own missions with Kyle, which Hal doesn't know that Kyle is alive.
But certainly in terms of Hal's leadership, for him individually, Salaak, Kilowog and Two-Six are there to help him make decisions. He's still in charge. He's still Corps leader. What he says still goes, in that regard. But just as the troubles anyone else would have, Hal has his advisors around him. That's what these characters now represent. Being a test pilot is a lot different than being the leader of a large organization.
Venditti: In terms of Hal's decision-making, yeah, he has been making decisions that have not gone his way in the aftermath, but it's been in keeping with the character of being someone who acts on his gut. Historically, he's been somebody who charges in and acts on his instincts. Again, this goes back to him being a test pilot. You can't really think. You have to have reflexes and act fast in quick situations, otherwise you'd never get anything.
That's always worked out great for him as a Lantern, but now as the leader of a group, this is a much larger scope and scale. So if he makes a gut reaction, if he's bringing in the entire Corps, bringing in Mogo, whatever, to fight some battle, that's going to have a lot of ramifications that wouldn't really be the case if he were making this decision for a battle he's fighting by himself.
So he's made decisions that are in keeping with him as a character in the sense that he's trying to keep people safe. He's trying to bare the brunt of the danger and everything on himself, but him doing so just ripples out into larger aftereffects that he's never encountered before or even thought about anticipating.
That's what makes him I think grow as a leader and the character he is now. People have referred to him as the greatest Green Lantern of them all. He's cheated death twice, right? He's literally died and come back twice. So this gut instinct has worked out for him every single time, and I think it's understandable that it would take him one more stumble to realize that he needs to do a course correction.
Issue #29 is that moment where he realizes, "Okay, my gut instinct isn't working out here, and I need to come up with another way of doing this." He grabs people to put around him that have spoken up and are willing to speak their minds and not just be Yes-Men, so he can have someone to check him, and they can make decisions together, the group, and move forward, just slow things down a little bit. Like I said, I think #29 represents that moment for him.
Venditti: As far as the Durlans, I think what will be more of an eye-opener for a guy like Hal, if the villains are able to discredit you without even having to make anything up, you know?
Venditti: So yeah, they're painting him in a different light, and they're making it look like these are mistakes Hal made intentionally, that he didn't care, whatever -- but they are still the mistakes that he made. So I think that represents part of that rockbottom moment for him. For now, he has made these mistakes.
Instead of it being just him, he'll have to pay the price, which would be the case in a test pilot situation, right? If he makes a mistake, the plane crashes, that's on him, and that's the end of it. Now, instead of it just being an aftereffect that is a problem for him, it's a problem for the entire Corps. Now the Corps has become even further damaged than it was under the entire leadership of the old Guardians who were in a lot of ways acting almost intentionally evil, you might say.
So for Hal to have that reputation and make it even worse through his decisions, again, it's a rockbottom situation to realize he needs to start learning a better way. That's how we get him growing as a character.
Let's also remember that the Green Lantern rings are driven on willpower. So these are literally the most willful people that you're going to encounter in the entire universe. That's why the rings chose them. So that I think compounds a character's decision to not necessarily change, right? They're willful, and they're set in their ways in that sense. That willpower has gotten through time and time again. Always acting the way he's acted, I think it would be even more of a reason for him to have to learn a lesson really hard before he makes a dramatic change in his character.
IGN: I don't want this question to come off nitpicky, because I really do want to know the answer, but I want to know what are the rules on using an expression? Because the ring translates everything you say, so what are the rules of using an expression that's translated by the ring? For example, Hal used the expression "like a 9 to 5 job," and that seemed to have gotten successfully translated to who he was talking to. But when he said, "What would Jesus do?" that didn't get translated. In Van Jensen's Green Lantern Corps book, which I believe you were co-writer on, Jruk didn't understand what "peace" meant. So does the ring translate expressions and colloquialisms? Does DC have rules for this sort of thing?
With something like that aside, if that gets translated across a new culture -- for instance, that culture might not say "9 to 5," but there are probably day jobs where you work shifts or whatever happens; so it translates into whatever that colloquial version of "9 to 5" would be. Does that make sense?
IGN: Yes, it totally does. I appreciate you taking the time to answer that. I've actually seen a lot of debate on it in the comments so it's nice to have you settle it. So moving on, also in Issue #29, former Blue Lantern Saint Walker has become a larger part of the story. I loved the "I'm no longer a saint, I'm a walker." That was a great line. I also enjoy him interacting with Mogo a lot. Are we seeing a romance, or are they just friends?
Venditti: [Laughs] Just friends. Friends who come from completely different versions of existence. One is a humanoid that lives a normal life, and the other one is a planet, which will live a much longer life. They think about life and death in much different terms, and we're going to continue to see that develop. But they both come from this sort of philosophical style of thought, so I think that's where their friendship is going to come from.
IGN: It's nice to see Simon Baz pop back up. Was that just a quick cameo to address what he's up to and show that he's not been forgotten, or does he have a bigger role planned? He's actually the only Earth Green Lantern without a book of his own.
Venditti: Yeah, Baz is not only part of the Green Lanterns but also the DC Universe. In terms of what the plans are for that character, I don't think I'm allowed to say. I probably shouldn't say. But there is a longterm approach to what we'll be doing with Baz. The Green Lantern, the main title, is still going to remain primarily Hal's book, but there is a future for Baz as a character. Yeah, I can't say.