Green Lantern #11

As Newsarama reported on Thursday, DC is already anticipating the sales boost from an upcoming event in Green Lantern.

That's not surprising, since the title is already one of DC's best-selling comics and previously spawned successful DC events like Sinestro Corps War and Blackest Night.

Now Geoff Johns, Green Lantern's writer and chief creative officer for DC Entertainment, is admitting to Newsarama (albeit reluctantly) that it's a "pretty big story." And, he said, it "comes at the worst possible time for the rest of the universe."

Johns is already linked to another "surprise" that DC is kicking off in its Free Comic Book Day issue on May 5th, most likely involving the purple-hooded Pandora character he teased in his other best-selling title, Justice League.

Now comes news his Green Lantern comic will also have a major storyline in 2012 involving concepts he's been teasing since the title rebooted at #1 last year. While the relaunched Green Lantern has focused on Hal Jordan and Sinestro, readers have been told that the Guardians of the Universe are planning to forcibly replace the Green Lantern Corps.

As the title builds toward that event, Green Lantern is currently exploring "The Secret of the Indigo Tribe" in a storyline that began last month and continues through June. As Hal and Sinestro are whisked away to the Indigo Tribe's home world, Johns is finally explaining the mystery of the compassion-driven corps, revealing answers he's hinted for years in Green Lantern.

It's all part of a "tapestry" that Johns has been weaving since he relaunched the Green Lantern Universe in 2004 with Green Lantern: Rebirth. During his 8-year run on the title (and close to 150 issues of Green Lantern-related stories), he's introduced hundreds of characters and concepts, many of which have shown up in Warner Bros. television shows and movies.

With DC about to release next week's Green Lantern #8, Newsarama talked to Johns about last year's relaunch, the "Secret of the Indigo Tribe," and why May's Green Lantern #9 is so important.

Newsarama: Nok Nak Lek!

Geoff Johns: [Laughs] Nok Lorek Lakk?

Nrama: What did we just say to each other?

Johns: Well, you said gobbledygook. I said, "How are you today?"

Nrama: What does "Nok" mean? The Indigo tribe says it a lot. Is it "compassion be with you?"

Johns: You'll actually know exactly what Nok means in Green Lantern #9. But it might mean more than one thing.

Nrama: So does it depend on how they say it or when they say it?

Johns: It does, and the inflection. But there's more than one meaning. You'll find out in #9.

Nrama: I know in an interview we did, oh... probably years ago now, you told me that you have a list of what every single word in the Indigo Tribe language means. Everything that we've seen everybody say so far from the Indigo Tribe, there was actually something they were saying that can be translated?

Johns: Yeah, all the words have a meaning. Some of the words mean a lot of different things though. You'll see a couple words that have several meanings.

In the oath, there's a word that you'll learn in issue #9.

Nrama: All this information about the Indigo Tribe has been a long time coming. Why did it only fit right here?

Johns: It ties into the bigger story that's going on, and that will be made clear once you read the whole storyline. Actually, a lot of it is made clear in issue #9. You'll learn this secret that will make clear why this story goes with the bigger story we're telling.


You learn more in issue #8 about the Indigo Tribe, but really #9 is where you discover everything about it and how it ties into this larger tapestry of what we're doing in Green Lantern and what we've done in Green Lantern for the last several years. It all ties together, and you'll learn how in issue #9.

But yeah, you'll learn all about Abin Sur. You'll learn about all that stuff.

Nrama: Are you making any commentary on religion? Because the "compassion be with you" sounds oddly familiar to a religious chant. Does organized religion influence your approach to this tribe?

Johns: There are all sort of metaphors to the different corps and the Indigo Tribe and Saint Walker and all that stuff, so whatever readers want to find in there, you can find it.

Nrama: Going back and looking at the relaunch, I know everyone talked about it being a "soft" reboot and pointed quite often to Green Lantern and Batman as the places where not a lot of changes took place, but it's obvious this Hal Jordan is a little different. You're playing him a lot younger and a little more brash, especially in the Justice League title. But I think a lot of readers were surprised that Hal Jordan killed a Sinestro Corps member in a way that appeared light-hearted, as he made a funny comment. Did you want to show that he was a little different now?

Johns: Yeah, because Dan [DiDio] and Jim [Lee] wanted the timeline rolled back to five years, there are differences with Green Lantern. He's a little bit younger, but also, all the stuff he's been through, I think he's a lot more sure of himself. I think he's a little less patient with the stuff he goes up against.

In Justice League in particular, you know, you act a lot differently, I think, when you're hanging out with your friends than you do with a potential authority figure or enemy like Sinestro. So Hal might have a little bit more fun and be a little more loose in Justice League because, quite honestly, Batman can do the thinking for him there.

In Green Lantern, since we relaunched the book, he's at a bit of Sinestro's whim and we're about to see him try to break out of that. And that all comes from this arc.

But yeah, Hal is played a little bit differently.

With that Sinestro Corps member he killed, when Hal goes up against one of those guys, he's going to take him out if lives are at stake.

There are certain heroes that kill. Among those are Green Lantern, who definitely has to, although he doesn't do it very often. But he does it when he has to. Aquaman sure does. And we've seen Wonder Woman do it too.

So there are heroes that, when they need to cross that line, they do it.

Nrama: In that storyline on Korugar, you dropped a clue about the Yellow Battery. I think Sinestro said, "We'll get to that later" about what exactly that battery can do. He took the Yellow Battery to Oa. Will we see the Yellow Battery again? Does it play a part in any upcoming stories?

Johns: Yes, you will see it again. And you'll learn specifically what it did to Hal.

Nrama: So much of what Sinestro's character says feels like he's bending honesty to fit his whim. How do you approach writing dialogue for a character whose words can't be trusted?

Johns: Sinestro is all about manipulation, so he's constantly in a state of manipulating people and saying what he needs to say rather than what he means.

With Hal Jordan, he's clearly much more truthful, especially about his opinion of him.


But if you cycle through the issues since the relaunch, one of the things Brian Cunningham, my editor, and Doug Mahnke and I really spoke about is, let's see Sinestro experience emotions that we haven't ever seen him experience before. So we've seen him experience pain and sorrow and laughter. Like, honest laughter.

One of my favorite scenes we've done so far in the book is when Hal's really pissed off at Sinestro and he says to him, "don't think you're better than me." And [Sinestro] looks at him for a beat, and then Sinestro just starts bursting out laughing. And he says, Jordan, you know I'm better than you. He's like, come on, enough fooling around. Let's go.

It's a sincere moment of humor that Sinestro finds in Hal's words. We don't often see that.

In issue #8 next week, we see a moment of pretty unbridled rage that we haven't seen in awhile, and I think revealing those different layers to Sinestro helps show the complicated character he is.

And that goes for Hal Jordan too. You'll see, especially in Justice League and Green Lantern coming up, Hal's going to be faced with some hard things. He puts on a good show for the Justice League, but there are some things coming up that he's going to have to deal with that are going to really put him in a difficult position.

Nrama: Sinestro did seem sincere when told the people on Korugar that he made a mistake. Do you feel like he's grown and evolved as he's gone through these experiences, even admitting his mistakes?

Johns: Absolutely. I think when the kid starts to chant, "Sinestro! Hooray for Sinestro!" and he stops, and you see him for the first time, I think in a long time, actually touch down to the ground and get on a knee and talk to the kids and say, "don't do that." You know? He knows that it's not necessarily the right thing to do yet.

He does blame himself for what happened to Korugar on a lot of levels. And he carries that entire world on his shoulders. Whether or not he should, that's a different question. But he does.

Nrama: Where's Hal's head right now? At this point, he seems like he'd rather just quit and be on Earth with Carol.

Johns: In next week's issue, you'll see him take charge. But I think Hal struggled with finding a balance in life and particularly, in Green Lantern, he's at a point where maybe he will take some time and be with Carol and get his life on Earth straight, because he doesn't have a life on Earth. It literally doesn't exist. His apartment blew up. Like, his whole life is blown up. He doesn't even own a car because he's never had to have one.

So he's been stuck in this Green Lantern world so long, and he's got to make a decision.

And that decision is coming up pretty soon, about what to do. And as soon as he does, there are other complications that go with that.

Hal's about to go on a pretty big journey. A pretty horrific one, actually.

Nrama: Going forward, we have a lot of teases about some major storylines coming up in Green Lantern. You've got some prophesies from the Book of the Black, you've got mentions of the Chamber of Shadows and a Third Army. These prophesies and hints sound a lot like the things you revealed leading up to Sinestro Corps War and Blackest Night. Are we going to see a similar major storyline and battle when the Third Army appears?

Johns: Yes. You will.

Nrama: Is there anything you can tell us about your plans for that event?

Johns: You'll see a lot more of it in Green Lantern #9.


All the threats for the Corps have been external, and we're about to get to an internal one. And it's going to come at the worst possible time for the rest of the universe and for Hal and Sinestro.

Nrama: That tease we saw of the Book of the Black had a white ring. Does this tie into a white ring?

Johns: Yes, it does.

Nrama: We've been told there's a "First Lantern" who will free the "Third Army." When does that happen?

Johns: In the future.

Nrama: [laughs] You're so vague.

Johns: I know. [laughs] How about... in the not-so-distant future. The Chamber of Shadows and freeing the First Lantern — all that stuff is coming down the line. I'm sorry. I don't want to give it totally away right now, because that's a pretty big story.

Nrama: Then let's talk about the next storyline. The Indigo Tribe story runs through issues #8, #9 and #10. What comes after that in issue #11?

Johns: In the next few issues, there are going to be a lot of intrigue and secrets revealed — and more questions asked. And it leads into the next story arc, which starts with issue #11 and is called "The Revenge of Black Hand."

And Doug Mahnke's doing an incredible job on the current storyline, and on the book, but the cover he did for issue #11 is sick. It's one of the best covers he's done. And it's Black Hand rising up out of the grave. It's really great.

Nrama: Then to finish up, I suppose the only thing to say is "Nok!"

Johns: Nok!

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