Geoff Johns on Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns

Johns on Rage of the Red Lanterns

As the Sinestro Corps War of 2007 ended, readers found out that the war was just a minor skirmish compared to what's coming next in the Green Lantern universe.

This week's oversized Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns by Green Lantern writer Geoff Johns kicks off the "War of Light," the epic conflict that builds toward next year's much-anticipated Blackest Night event. Featuring art by Shane Davis, Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns focuses on the creatures who utilize the energy of blood-red hate, telling the story of how the Red Lantern Corps forms.

Preview:here

"Probably, the most violent of the Corps," Johns said of the Red Lanterns. "It’s based on violent reaction driven by emotional eruption – rage – instead of any clear-cut plan of war. Atrocitus is the most coherent and in control of the Red Lanterns, but he’ll have a difficult time wrangling his mad dogs. Sinestro, obviously, is their target."

The villainous Sinestro, who is currently awaiting execution by the Guardians that oversee the Green Lanterns, is the target of much of the rage of the two Red Lanterns readers have seen so far. Former Green Lantern Laira switched to wearing a red ring after killing a member of the Sinestro Corps, angered by Sinestro's reign of fear. And Atrocitus, who's been described as the leader of the Red Lanterns, was imprisoned by Sinestro -- a history of the character that was revealed in the just-finished Green Lantern: Secret Origin arc.

"Rage of the Red Lanterns really is a continuation of the Secret Origin arc because it features Sinestro, Hal and Atrocitus," Johns said. "This story, at its core, is about Hal and Sinestro, with the introduction of the Red Lanterns. And then it continues directly into Green Lantern #36."

The “Rage of the Red Lanterns” storyline will be a total of four issues, including the special and the three issues of Green Lantern that follow. But Johns pointed out that the "Final Crisis" in the title of the special is there for a reason. "You’ll see events in Final Crisis have motivated the Guardians to proceed further with their attempted containment of the light," he said. "It also will push another group to seek their own power source."

While Ivan Reis remains the regular Green Lantern artist, he's working ahead while other artists work on the Rage of the Red Lanterns storyline. But Johns said fans will be pleased by the contribution of Shane Davis to the Green Lantern mythos.

"Shane Davis is amazing. He’s done some fantastic design work here. Something that's very cool is that Ethan [Van Sciver] designed all these Sinestro Corps members, Ivan's been designing the Green Lanterns and will tackle some of the other Corps, and Shane's been designing all the Red Lanterns," the writer explained. "It's really fun seeing everyone embrace what the Corps is and what it means. The exploration of the emotional power they wield and how it manifests visually and character-wise is an intense challenge."

All those different Corps and the power-charged "War of Light" are the culmination of story threads that Johns has been building within the pages of Green Lantern since he first started writing the characters. The Green Lantern: Rebirth miniseries that relaunched the title introduced the concept that the Corps' "yellow impurity" was a living power, the embodiment of fear, and that green was the embodiment of willpower. Based on the idea that there is power in emotions, the emotional spectrum evolved from those first two colors into a total of seven different emotions that correspond to an energy and ring-bearing corps in the War of Light.

After the four-issue Rage of the Red Lanterns storyline, "two new laws are unveiled that lead into a storyline called Agent Orange," Johns said. Those two laws follow up on the 10 new laws enacted by the Guardians in reaction to the Sinestro Corps War, and Agent Orange has been touted as leader of the Lanterns that harness the orange of avarice, or greed.

But while Johns said "the War of Light starts now," he also clarified that this epic story will still focus on the heroes of the Green Lantern Corps and will be told at a character level. "The exploration of all these powers and how that affects the lives of our main Lanterns – Hal, John, Guy and Kyle – is what the story is about," he said.

In fact, Johns has said before that the Green Lanterns of Earth are important to the war because Earth is "the most emotionally rich planet in the universe," something that will be even further explored during the Blackest Night storyline scheduled to begin next year. In Blackest Night, the superpowered dead of Earth are expected to be recruited as Black Lanterns, serving a power that incorporates the history of the villain Black Hand and the harnessed energy of the Anti-Monitor.

"Black Hand will be appearing soon in Green Lantern, but not immediately. There are obviously big plans for him through 2009," Johns said.

In our recent interview with Ethan Van Sciver, Newsarama discovered the artist is designing a new look for the DC characters currently "at room temperature" who will become Black Lanterns during Blackest Night. And for months, Johns has teased during convention appearances that several now-dead characters will rise and become Black Lanterns.

"There are so many characters that are obvious targets for recruitment," Johns said of the dead characters who will wear the rings of the Black Lanterns, although he wouldn't confirm any names. But he did indicate some fan-favorites might return by adding: "I hope to thrill and terrify at the same time."

And while the road to Blackest Night begins this week in Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns, Johns was keeping mum about any other details of how the issue plays into the future of the Green Lantern Universe.

"The book says it all and I would hate to give away the details that I think make the Green Lantern mythology so rich and vast," he said. "I’ve always seen it as comic books’ Star Wars. No other comic book comes close to capturing the sci-fi epic adventures that the universe of Green Lantern does."

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