Green Into Black: Geoff Johns on the Night to Come

Geoff Johns on the Night to Come

Blackest Night #0

"The War of Light starts now."

That's what Green Lantern writer Geoff Johns told Newsarama the last time we talked to him about the title, and sure enough, the battles have begun. Emotion-charged aliens donning rings of red, blue, yellow and violet are all getting involved in the melee as the story builds toward this summer's DC event, Blackest Night.

And with next month's Green Lantern #39, Johns begins the much-anticipated introduction to the Orange Lanterns and their leader, "Agent Orange," a vile, greed-twisted creature named Larfleeze (whom Johns has already called one of his favorite characters). Featuring art by Philip Tan, the storyline is the final one before the Blackest Night event begins in July.

For today's "green theme” in celebration of St. Patrick's Day, we talked to Johns about the Agent Orange storyline, the many corps flying around the title now, and what the status is on Blackest Night.

Newsarama: We've been looking at Philip Tan's sketches of the Orange Lanterns here on Newsarama over the last couple months…

Geoff Johns: First off, this is the best part of working on Green Lantern – creating new characters and concepts and exploring them. Creating the various Corps and the stories behind the members, in conjunction with artists like Philip Tan, Ivan, Shane and Ethan is what continues to illustrate the growing scope of the initial vision of the Green Lantern Corps. Agent Orange is Philip and I exploring the consumption mentality that has slowly taken over our society. Is greed addictive? Is it a sign of another defect or past pain?

NRAMA: Do you have names for all these guys? How do you keep all these Lanterns straight?

GJ: I've got names and stories for them all: Every single Orange Lantern that Phil designed, all the Red Lanterns that Shane designed, everyone. I think the fact that Phil designed all those Orange Lanterns is because he's so into the concept and the work speaks volumes about his dedication to the story.

NRAMA: Let's talk about this upcoming issue. What can you tell us about the Agent Orange storyline?

Green Lantern #39

GJ: Obviously, the major focus is Agent Orange, whose real name is Larfleeze. This dirty Muppet-like creature that dwells deep within an underground sanctuary within the planet Okaara. He’s been there for eons, but he’s never come out. We'll learn more about him and the Orange Lanterns throughout this arc. He probably has a deeper history with the Guardians than anybody else thus far, next to Atrocitus.

NRAMA: Are there hints about Agent Orange in the corpses and weeds that we saw in issue #38 as the Controllers approached?

GJ: Well, the Orange Lanterns’ power is coalesced avarice, or greed, and it leaks into everything surrounding him. So that whole jungle is actually made up of overgrown, giant weeds that literally wrap around every object, living or dead, organic or inorganic, surrounding the area.

NRAMA: As we go forward into this storyline, Hal Jordan wore a blue ring, right after he was possessed by the rage of the red ring. We also saw him fall to the yellow power of Parallax. Is there something special about Hal that attracts all these powers of the emotional spectrum to him in particular?

GJ: Hal's a target, and why Hal is a focus and why Hal is a target will be pretty clear as we move forward. There are forces at work against him.

NRAMA: Now last we saw Hal, he was wearing a blue ring, right?

GJ: Yeah. The last we saw, Hal was stuck with this blue ring. In the next issue, we'll see what that blue ring means to someone who doesn’t necessarily rely on hope to fuel their actions.

NRAMA: There's a future solicitation that says Hal has a "new power ring." Is that still the blue one?

GJ: Yes. Hal will be struggling with the blue ring throughout Agent Orange.

NRAMA: During the Rage of the Red Lanterns storyline, you also revealed a little more about the Blue Lanterns. Why did you make it so that the blue energy of hope has no power on its own?

Hal Jordan by Philip Tan

GJ: I’ll be exploring that in the upcoming Green Lantern #39.

NRAMA: We've talked before about how fear is detrimental to willpower, and how fear cripples you and makes you afraid to act. Yet it seems to be implied here that hope has the opposite effect, giving the willpower green energy a boost, right?

GJ: Yes. The blue and green are kind of symbiotic in nature.

NRAMA: Is this why the Guardians Sayd and Ganthet think the "hope" part of the spectrum is so important?

GJ: As Ganthet has always said, they're creating the Blue Lantern Corps to help aid the Green Lantern Corps. They're doing what they can to embrace an emotion that they think is going to have a positive effect on the universe in the upcoming Blackest Night.

You'll meet two more members of the Blue Lantern Corps. It's extremely limited on how many join it. And they're some of the most respected and righteous religious figures in the universe that become part of the Blue Lantern Corps.

NRAMA: Is there a spirituality to the power of hope?

GJ: It's very spiritual. It's prayer. Hope can be prayer.

NRAMA: So in order to harness that part of the emotional spectrum, you'd need a spiritual type of faith or hope?

GJ: You have to believe in something and have faith in something. As long as it's a positive force in your life, a positive symbol in your life -- whether it's religion or any type of spirituality, as long as it's a positive force, you can tap into that hope.

NRAMA: And the closer the energy is to the middle green part of the spectrum, the more controllable it is? Is that still true?

GJ: Yes. And you saw that with the Red Lanterns in this last arc. Red completely blinds people, and you see Hal at the end of that last issue, and he's just lashing out. He's trying to get some kind of sense of what's going on. And if anyone has ever had even road rage or any kind of anger where you just lose it, you don't even know what you're doing until you're already done. And then you realize, what the hell just happened? To experience the red ring is not pleasant at all. Atrocitus has learned how to control that. And the Red Lanterns are like mad dogs for him. He wants to have that control.

Green Lantern #40

NRAMA: But Geoff, if there is a loss of control at that end of the spectrum, is the violet side going to get out of hand as well?

GJ: Violet will influence you greatly, but it does it in a different way, which we'll be getting into more. Think of it this way: When you have a great loss -- and everybody who has will relate to this in one way or another -- there's something empty in your heart. And it won't ever go away. It's there. It's like a scar. And depending on the circumstances, you either feel just emptiness or a great anger.

They say the line between cops and criminals is very close. The line between Red Lanterns and Violet Lanterns, or Star Sapphires, is very close as well. There's a line right there, and you can fall on either side really easily, because you can get really angry at that loss. And if you do, the red ring will taste it and come after you. On the other side, if you're in great sorrow or pain, and you just miss…or just feel that emptiness, the violet ring will come up and offer itself to you. And it will say I can heal that hole and make that scar go away if you want me to and you will serve the Star Sapphires.

If you haven’t read Peter Tomasi’s "Sins of the Star Sapphires" arc [in Green Lantern Corps], I’d suggest it.

NRAMA: The only Corps we haven't learned anything about now is the Indigo Lanterns. Will we learn more about them soon?

GJ: I've been very careful with Indigo because they're not what everyone expects, and they act very differently than what everyone expects. They will be introduced within Blackest Night. And they're actually called the Indigo Tribe. You'll see a little glimpse of them in Blackest Night #0, the Free Comic Book Day comic we're doing, but a very little glimpse.

NRAMA: We saw entities that represented the "embodiment" of the powers of emotions, with both the Ion entity and Parallax entity showing up. Will we see similar entities for other corps?

GJ: There are other entities for the corps. You'll see two new entities -- one kind of revealed in Green Lantern #43, and another full out in Green Lantern #44. But the entities are these living creatures that are born out of this power.

Graphitti [Designs] did all these T-shirts with the different symbols. And at New York Comic Con, they sold out twice. This is something I think is really great about what's happening with the other corps I’ve created during this run. To see which corps speaks to you, and learning about what the corps do, why these different characters were chosen. It’s infinite.

NRAMA: As we finished the last issue, it felt like Carol Ferris and Sinestro in particular are playing an important part in the story now. Green Lantern recently took a little break from the present-day story to tell the Secret Origin arc, focusing on Sinestro, Carol Ferris and Atrocitus. Why was it so important to make that a separate storyline at that point in the story leading up to Blackest Night?

GJ: Secret Origin was very carefully planned to come out at that time. I had done the Sinestro Corps and followed up with the Alpha Lanterns, and I’d just started to peel back the beginnings of the Red Lanterns. There was a very clear tie between Hal and Sinestro, and Hal and Carol Ferris that I wanted to explore further.

Shane Davis Talks Red Lanterns
Shane Davis Talks Red Lanterns

Not everybody's read comics for 20 years. Not everybody's read comics for 10 years. And not everybody's read Green Lantern. There are a lot of new readers that came on the book with Rebirth and then Sinestro Corps, a lot more that could come in through a graphic novel of Secret Origin. I thought it was important to look back at the key members of Hal's cast, and look at them from the beginning from a different light. And it also allowed me to introduce the threads that will come into play in Hal's life now, while reminding people of the relationship between Hal and Carol and Hal and Sinestro that started so long ago, and even introducing Atrocitus.

Sinestro and Carol are characters that will always be an important part of Hal's life, whether it's a positive or a negative force. But Carol Ferris in particular is going to have a very large role in the upcoming year of Green Lantern.

NRAMA: Let's talk about Carol Ferris. Is her "large role" going to be a result of the ring she got from the Star Sapphires?

GJ: The last we saw Carol Ferris, as it is now, a violet ring smashed through her airplane's windshield as she was flying. And then we saw an Origins and Omens that takes place after Agent Orange where Carol's M.I.A. So what Carol's doing between now and then is revealed throughout Agent Orange. If you read Green Lantern Corps and saw the Star Sapphires, you saw that the Green Lantern rings do not forcibly take the people that they approach, they ask. Unlike the red rings which just grab you, or even the green or orange or yellow. All the other rings force themselves upon you. The violet rings act very differently. They ask. They offer.

NRAMA: So Carol has a choice to make?

GJ: Carol has a choice to make.

NRAMA: The other person in Hal's life who's obviously going to play an important part going forward is Sinestro -- and it's more than just as the leader of the Sinestro Corps. Will we see more about his daughter coming up?

GJ: I’m handing that scene to Pete, who will be picking up on it in future issues of Green Lantern Corps -- which, I’m sure you’re all reading too. And you'll actually see, as the books get closer to Blackest Night, there will be more threads zipping between the books like that. I'm picking up on some Star Sapphire stuff in Green Lantern, and Pete's picking up on the Sinestro story.

NRAMA: With the Origins and Omens, Scar is dropping a lot of hints about "feeding his children" and "once he is here, I will have a new calling." Are those hints and others in the Origins and Omens back-ups going to play into Blackest Night?

GJ: Scar is the narrator of that stuff, but most of the Origins and Omens all pertain to their own separate books. When I talk about Scar specifically saying, "he's coming" and "feeding him," that will all play into Blackest Night. But those Origins and Omens tales are really for each book and their individual stories, as they should be.

NRAMA: Can we talk at all about the Origins and Omens that you've written?

GJ: Sure!


NRAMA: In Adventure Comics #0, Scar says something about Superboy. Are we going to see that in Blackest Night?

GJ: If you want to follow that, you should read Legion of 3 Worlds #4. And then Adventure Comics #1.

NRAMA: Does Lex Luthor play into that? Because Lex Luthor was going to play a part in Legion of 3 Worlds, right?

GJ: No, you saw a scene where the Legionaires went back in time in the last issue and got a strand of his hair. But that's it.

NRAMA: Then let's talk about the Origin and Omens in Green Lantern. When does this take place?

GJ: That takes place after Agent Orange, just prior to Blackest Night.

NRAMA: The stuff we see at the end -- the montage of things that will happen in the future -- are those things that will happen in Blackest Night? Or afterward?

GJ: A little bit of both.

NRAMA: Can we go through and address each of these?

GJ: They speak for themselves, I think.

NRAMA: I know you really wanted to focus on Agent Orange. But a lot of people are really fired up about Blackest Night.

GJ: I am too.

NRAMA: Dan DiDio told us you're in New York working on this already. What's the status?

GJ: I’m working on it now, pages are in.

NRAMA: Are you overseeing the whole story, even the stuff you're not writing?

GJ: I'm overseeing everything having to do with Blackest Night with my editors Eddie Berganza and Adam Schlagman. And then, of course, I'm doing Blackest Night and Green Lantern, and there will be other things that touch upon Blackest Night. And obviously, Green Lantern Corps by Pete and Patrick Gleason.

NRAMA: We've talked about all these various characters in the different corps, but will there be a Secret Files issue about them?

GJ: In Blackest Night #0, there is information on all the Corps. We'll be getting into a lot of the details about all the different Lanterns over the next few issues, and there will be another place where we'll be getting into a lot more of the detail on a lot of these Lanterns during Blackest Night. That will be announced soon.

And again this is a place where you can create new things. New characters, new concepts and new worlds. That’s why I believe Green Lantern is going to continue to grow within the comics and beyond.

Check back tomorrow for a special Green Lantern announcement here at Newsarama.

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