Road to Blackest Night: Tomasi on the GL Corps & Tales

Peter Tomasi Talks Blackest Night

As the Green Lantern titles head toward this summer's Blackest Night event, things are looking grim for the future of the GL Corps.

Green Lantern Corps #37

Not only is there that pesky little Blackest Night prophesy that predicts the end of the universe, but all hell has broken loose on Oa in the Green Lantern Corps title by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason. There's a prison riot tearing the place apart, Sinestro is psychologically torturing his just-revealed Green Lantern daughter, Sodam Yat had to sacrifice himself to save others, and the Guardian named Scar is sneaking around, prodding the Guardians of the Universe to act in desperation.

And that's just the last issue.

Of course, readers should have known there were big things coming from a storyline called "Emerald Eclipse," the title of the current arc. In the Green Lantern universe, titles like "Emerald Dawn" and "Emerald Twilight" still get loyal Lantern fans talking, so all the writing was on the wall. While it may not be surprising that Tomasi is saying "nothing will ever be the same" after this story, what is surprising is that it looks like, in this case, the oft-used phrase may be true.

Working in conjunction with Green Lantern writer Geoff Johns, Tomasi is also writing the three-issue mini-series Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps, which begins in July after Blackest Night #1. Tomasi will also be writing Batman: Blackest Night, where the zombies populating the DCU this summer take a truly gruesome turn for DC's new Batman, Dick Grayson, when he faces the "Black Lantern Flying Graysons."

Newsarama talked to Tomasi about his upcoming work on the Blackest Night tie-ins, as well as what's coming up for the characters in Green Lantern Corps.

Newsarama: Peter, let's start by talking about this three-issue series you're doing with Geoff Johns that's starting up in July just for Blackest Night. What's the motivation behind doing the Tales of the Corps issues?

Peter Tomasi: Well, basically it's about fleshing out characters that haven't had as much chance to breathe with all the craziness and action that's been leading up to Blackest Night. There's only so many pages available, and Geoff and I figured it would be a great place to make some reveals about new and old characters alike that haven't been touched on so that as Blackest Night moves along, the readers will have had the opportunity to plug into the characters featured in Tales of the Corps and have a bigger emotional connection when the $#!% hits the fan.

NRAMA: What sort of things will be included? Can you give us some examples?

PT: I don't wanna give too much away, but readers will get a chance to learn more about characters like Arisia, Kilowog, Blume, Saint Walker, Mongul, Bleeze, Carol Ferris, and even the Indigo Tribe. And the art I've seen looks great!

NRAMA: Will it further the story of Blackest Night? Or is this more of a reference series?

PT: Tales of the Corps will definitely be tied into Blackest Night, and the way to look at the series is that it's basically a series of windows into characters that have been chosen for specific reasons, and those reasons will become clearer as Blackest Night spreads across the DCU.

NRAMA: How has it been working with Geoff to develop the stories behind some of the members of these other corps?

Green Lantern Corps #38

PT: It's been great as usual. Geoff and I have been working together for so many years that there's not only a shorthand, but a trust factor that allows us to keep each other on our toes and never settle for anything but the best that we can do. We talk some stuff through then we go and stare at empty laptop screens and bleed green as we give our all to the Green Lantern mythos.

NRAMA: Who's your favorite "other" color character?

PT: Right now, I'd have to say Black Hand's my favorite. I love what Geoff has done with this character. The way he's fleshed out his back-story, his motivations, all the incredible cool ass stuff that I know is on the way -- yeah, Black Hand is hands down my favorite.

NRAMA: Let's talk about Green Lantern Corps now. You're finishing up the "Emerald Eclipse" storyline. Is there meaning behind that storyline title? Is it as foreboding as it sounds?

PT: Absolutely. I picked the title for a very specific reason. To me, the "Emerald Eclipse" storyline is about a certain era of the Corps coming to an end and a new one beginning. A new phase, so to speak, that has organically emerged from the end of the "Sinestro Corps War" through "Ringquest" through the "Sins of the Star Sapphire" arc and now into Blackest Night. There has been major changes in both Lantern books and these changes have evolved and pushed the story of the Corps towards a very specific endpoint that will have reverberations through the GL mythos for years to come.

NRAMA: You know, Kyle's situation right now reminds me of how Nightwing was about a year ago. It seems like just when you got Nightwing all comfortable in his series, starting a relationship and a job, he had his life taken away from him, battling for a cowl he seems to have won. Now you've got Kyle feeling the same way, all comfy with a lady friend and him feeling good about his artwork -- but solicitations indicate Kyle's world is going to burn. What's the story here, Peter? [laughs] Are your characters cursed? And what's coming next for Kyle?

Green Lantern Corps #39

PT: Vaneta, you're soooo dark! I wouldn't say the characters are cursed. I'd say that the progression of Kyle specifically has been an incredibly dramatic arc the last few years, and as much as he's found himself in a world of $%#, he's also grown in many ways and overcome extreme trials and tribulations that have been placed in front of him. Life is pain sometimes, as we all know too well, and Kyle sure as hell has had his share dumped on him, but that makes for good drama as long as the character is respected. What does the future hold for Kyle? Well, I'd say he's gonna have some good times and some bad times, especially when it comes to Natu and Sinestro!

NRAMA: Where did the idea for Soranik Natu to be Sinestro's daughter come from? Was that always the intention for the character? And what can you tell us about the role this part of the storyline provides as we head into Blackest Night?

PT: From back when I was editing the Lantern books, Geoff and I always had the idea that Natu could be Sinestro's daughter. True, it was something that might seem obvious, but sometimes you can wring a lotta drama from something that is obvious if you at least have a good angle and a good starting point for the reveal -- but in the end, we sort of put it on the backburner. There were times when we were like: "Hmm, maybe now would be a good spot for this revelation," but there came a point when we knew there was only one time and place for it, and it had to be in the run-up to Blackest Night. It really felt organic at this juncture.

Also, Vaneta, having someone like Sinestro have a daughter -- especially one who's a Green Lantern -- raises the interpersonal angst that may play out between the cast of characters as they're embroiled in this epic story, so it's anyone's guess how it all turns out. Well, that's a lie, of course, I do know how it'll play out. I just can't tell ya.

NRAMA: Yeah, it makes you wonder how is Kyle going to feel about his lover being Sinestro's daughter. Or Sinestro about Kyle being her boyfriend! Won't those Thanksgiving dinners be a little awkward?

PT: There's going to be a hell of a lot of good moments once Natu reveals that little tidbit to Kyle. I haven't gotten to that issue yet, but I'm really looking forward to writing those scenes. And let's remember, Kyle is the one who burned that Lantern tatt on Sinestro's back, so there's plenty of fun coming our way once Sinestro learns about Natu and Kyle.

NRAMA: How is what Sinestro's dealing with now going to influence his role in Blackest Night?

Blackest Night: Batman #1

PT: Yikes, that's a tough question. Sinestro has had a major role since making his presence known back in Green Lantern: Rebirth, and that presence and influence has only grown as the story has grown, so all I can say is that Sinestro has plenty of unexpected things left to do in Blackest Night.

NRAMA: What's coming up for Guy Gardner? How does he play into the upcoming Green Lantern stories?

PT: Guy is going to be experiencing specific reverberations due to Blackest Night and he'll be in the thick of it as he usually is.

NRAMA: We've seen a lot about Sodam Yat's background in your series recently, rounding out that character's history before he made his big sacrifice in the last issue. What can you tell us about what comes next for Sodam Yat?

PT: Another 'yikes' question, Vaneta! I've really enjoyed having Sodam as a blank slate. It's given me so much latitude with the character -- I could really flesh him out in my mind's eye and not worry about lines I couldn't cross. That kind of freedom is nice to have on a character like Sodam. And he's really grown on me, too, so his 'ending' choked me up, but I have to soldier on like he would've done and keep on fighting. We do know what the future has in store for Sodam, but getting there might not be what people expect.

NRAMA: After the sciencell riot, solicitations say "Oa burns." What's coming for Oa and the whole of the Green Lantern Corps? How will this story be important to their future?

PT: Let's just say that Oa and the Green Lantern Corps will never be the same once Blackest Night is over. And I don't mean this in a simply cosmetic way. These stories, from Rebirth on, have been shaping the Corps mythos for years to come. Nothing is standing still in these titles. It's a great time to be a Green Lantern fan, sure, but the GL books, in my mind, are what good comics are all about: great character stuff coupled with great action, not just on earth but in space, and the status quo of the books is always changing, always evolving, so the titles never feel like they're running in place. I truly feel that any comic fan who hasn't sampled these books is really missing out on something.

NRAMA: Is there anything else you want to tell fans about Green Lantern #37 and #38 as "Emerald Eclipse concludes?

PT: Lots of big character moments, a new law, and a hell of a lot of action as we transition into Blackest Night when the veritable crapola hits the fan in a big way!

NRAMA: Then let's talk about Blackest Night. Is there anything you can tell us about what story is going to be told in each of the three comics involved, particularly Green Lantern Corps?

PT: Since Blackest Night #1 hasn't hit the stores yet, all I can say is that there's a big canvas here and we've taken great pains to make it all feel like one big, epic story. All three books are tied together in very specific ways. This isn't a scattershot of one or two lines in an issue referring to the big event. It's all interwoven, and by reading each of the titles, you'll get a grander scope of it as well.

NRAMA: You're writing the three-issue mini-series Batman: Blackest Night, which the solicitations said includes the "Black Lantern Flying Graysons." Is this as creepy as it sounds?

PT: There's some scary ass stuff in it. Batman and Robin have to deal with some serious issues as they face loved ones not only coming back from the dead, but trying to kill them. Gotham is in a bad way, and I'd like to say it's always darkest before the dawn, but that isn't always true. The horror that infects Gotham brings the Bat Family to the breaking point, and we're going to see them on the edge like we never have before. I'm getting to write a favorite character of mine, Deadman, so that alone is a blast.

NRAMA: We just found out that Green Lantern artist Doug Mahnke is sharing a studio with Pat Gleason. Are you guys adding any extra security to that location? And what's it been like working with Pat, and are you going to be challenging him going into Blackest Night?

PT: I'm always challenging Pat Gleason and he seems to be always up to the challenge and surpassing it. It's a hell of a lot of fun working with Pat. We're always on the same wavelength and his work never ceases to amaze me. There's only a few artists out there who can pull off the simple human moments, be it in a facial reaction or a body gesture, and be able to kick ass in the action scenes too. Pat is one of those guys. And he's the quiet man. Look at the work he puts into the book and then think of this fun fact: from GLC issue #18-39 (which is the one he's working on right now), he's had a total of four fill-ins. That's 18 issues out of 22, and they've all shipped on time. Try and find another artist who's doing what he's doing and putting out a monthly book that's even close to quality and ratio.

And yeah, Gleason and Mahnke are cellmates somewhere in the middle of the country. They are the Lantern artistic hub, the central power battery of Minnesota! I can't think of two better artists to be working on the GL Books right now, and I'm sure they're trying to one-up the other as they work on their pages. We've also set up guard towers with machine guns and laid out land mines around the perimeter of their studio. It's not only to keep people out, but it's also to keep them in. [laughs]

NRAMA: Anything else you want to tell fans about Green Lantern Corps as the series heads toward Blackest Night?

PT: I really hope the readers enjoy Green Lantern Corps, Green Lantern and Blackest Night (with some stunning art by Ivan Reis!) because we're trying to give the audience some unexpected twists and turns that will continue to push the envelope in the DCU and the Green Lantern mythos! It's going to be a hell of a summer and fall!

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