VENDITTI To Balance New with Existing GREEN LANTERN Concepts

Green Lantern by Billy Tan
Green Lantern by Billy Tan

It's like a high wire balancing act, trying to create a smooth transition from Geoff Johns' long run on Green Lantern while also taking the comic in a new, exciting direction.

But Robert Venditti's standing ready to walk the wire, maybe even pulling out a few surprises to thrill audiences along the way.

In June, all the Green Lantern titles will get new creative teams, and Venditti will handle the flagship title with artist Billy Tan doing interiors.

According to Venditti, they're already working on designs for new characters and concepts — including new villains — for a story that will affect not only the current New 52 universe, but the greater cosmic universe as well.

Venditti was previously best known for his work with Top Shelf, including his comic-turned-film The Surrogates. And since last year, he's been helping Valiant revive its characters by writing the X-O Manowar comic.

But the writer has obviously also impressed DC editors since he took over the Demon Knights title a couple months ago, because that part-time gig has turned into a permanent job for Venditti, with DC subsequently handing him the keys to its top-selling Green Lantern book.

Newsarama talked to Venditti to find out more about what he's hoping to bring to Green Lantern, what it's like working with Billy Tan, and which Corps member he's going to focus upon in the title.

Newsarama: Robert, the last time we talked, you were stepping away from Constantine, a book you were originally supposed to launch, because you said you were too busy with other project. Is the job on Green Lantern why you had to step away from Constantine?

Robert Venditti: Yeah, what happened was that I had been asked to do a limited run on Demon Knights, and then I was going to move off and do Constantine while I was doing X-O Manowar. But when DC started reading the scripts from Demon Knights, they decided they wanted to try to keep me on the book longer.

So because I was already doing that, and I was already working with all the other people involved with that project -- and I had pitched Green Lantern during that time period as well -- it became a situation where it was an opportunity for me to do all those books.

But I didn't feel comfortable doing four books a month. I mean, it's possible I could have made it work, but I didn't want to find out by not being able to do it. You know?

So we all sat down and decided that Constantine would be the best choice for me to move off, especially since Jeff Lemire and Ray Fawkes were already in a pretty good position to come onto that book. Those guys are obviously very talented in their own right. So yeah, Constantine made the most sense for me to back away from.

Nrama: Well let's talk about Green Lantern. Having pitched it, I'm sure you have a description of your overall vision for the type of stories you want to tell. Is it a departure from what Geoff's been doing on the title, or are you utilizing what he's done to move it forward?

Venditti: I very much want to use a lot of the continuity and the great mythology that Geoff Johns put together during his run. But I want to take that to what I see as being the next logical conclusion of it, looking at the various corps and the high concepts he brought to the series. I'm just taking that and looking at what impact that would have, not just to the universe, meaning the New 52 universe, but the wider universe at large.

Nrama: Right now, Simon Baz is starring in Green Lantern, and before that, Sinestro was the lead character, sharing the spotlight with Hal Jordan. Who's the star of the book as you take over?

Venditti: Hal's going to be the focus of the book.

Nrama: At the risk of perhaps spoiling the "First Lantern" event and the possible outcome for the other characters, why is Hal the focus?

Venditti: Knowing what the events are that lead up to the end of Geoff's run, and then when Billy and I step on, it makes the most sense that Hal would be the character that would be in a position to transition out of some of these things, to open up the new chapter for the story.

It will be Hal's book, and it will be looking at the aspects of Hal's character that make him unique from every other character in comics. We'll highlight that uniqueness, how he deals with them in a good way, or how he deals with them in a bad way.

Nrama: OK, since you're focusing on Hal in this book, can you describe how you see that character? You said he's got qualities that make him "unique." Can you say what some of those things are, as you're writing him?

Venditti: The thing that I like about him, that I find really compelling, is that he's a character that does not want to be a leader. He wants to be the kind of guy that cuts his own path. He's a fighter pilot who flies alone in the cockpit. So he's very much the kind of guy who wants to do his own thing.

But people are just naturally drawn to him as a leader anyway. And so, I think that's a nice dichotomy to have in his character. At some point, if people are following you, you're going to have to lead them whether you want to or not, just out of responsibility to the people around you.

So I think that's a nice thing to play off with the character, and it's something I want to hone in on as we start our run.

And as you said, we're also coming out of some of these large events, and things are going to unfold in this "Wrath of the First Lantern" storyline.

Nrama: Will the beginning of your run focus in on him more personally, as opposed to being a big, epic storyline?

Venditti: Ideally, I will do both. What I'm trying to do is a large, overarching story that's going to have very profound effects, not just for the New 52, but the wider cosmic universe as well, and use that as a way to focus in on a character who's at the center of this entire thing.

Ideally, it's not an either/or. I think you can focus in very strongly on this character while also having this very large, sort of sweeping, epic story. And that's definitely what we're trying to go for.

Nrama: For the last several months and into the next few issues, all the Green Lantern titles are tied very closely together. Will that continue going forward, or are the creators on the Lantern titles going to do their own thing for awhile?

Venditti: They're each going to have their own individual stories. Josh has come up with some great ideas for what he's going to do on Green Lantern Corps and Red Lanterns. And Justin has some really cool ideas for what he's going to do on New Guardians. And so all the books are going to stay on their own in the sense that I think you would get a complete reading experience if you just picked up one of them in any given month.

But there are also going to be ties that bind them together, because there are going to be these commonalities between them, in terms of the Corps and the characters involved.

I think if we execute the way we want to, it will be the type of situation where the books stand on their own and are complete, but also, if you read them all together, you get this enhanced reading experience of all these things that are going on and working together, if that makes sense.

Nrama: Are you guys designing some new characters and concepts for the Green Lantern title? Have you been working with Billy on that?

Venditti: Yeah, we're introducing some new characters and villains over the next several months after we're starting on the title. We're pretty early in the process, but we have seen a pretty good amount of pages from Billy, as well as some character designs and concepts and things. He's really been surprising me. You'd think I'd be able to expect what he's sending in, since I wrote this stuff. But he has this great capacity to take the script that I wrote and then turn around and send me pages, and when I read them, I'm surprised. I mean, that's the best compliment, because it's a pretty difficult thing for an artist to do to a writer. It's almost like when I see his pages, I'm seeing the story for the first time as well. So it's really exciting to work with him. He's a super nice guy and obviously very talented. I'm really excited to see what he's going to bring to the book, and we're very excited to get the stuff out there so everybody can see it.

Nrama: Then to finish up, is there anything else you want to tell readers about what you're hoping to do with Green Lantern?

Venditti: I just want to say that I understand the scale and the scope of this undertaking. But I'm excited about it, and I don't take it lightly. I know it's a huge responsibility, not just in terms of what the character means to comics, but also to all the fans. I recognize all the great stuff that Geoff was able to bring to the comic and what he was able to do. But it's my intent to capture that imagination and give readers the sort of things they're used to seeing in the book, but also surprise them and catch them off guard, and maybe make it even more fun for them.

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