When Peter Milligan hears the words "event" or "crossover," his heart usually sinks like a "big heavy sack of porridge."
But not this time.
Milligan, who writes Red Lanterns, promises that the upcoming Green Lantern event, "The Rise of the Third Army," is a good one. And he's utilizing the threat of the Third Army to explore some character-driven stories about his characters.After this week's Green Lantern Annual #1, readers found out that the Third Army is a group of humanoid creatures who have no heart, no mouth and — most importantly — no free will.
But most horrific of all is their ability to turn anyone into a member of their heartless hoard. And they're currently on a mission to eliminate Lanterns of the Emotional Spectrum, including the Red Lanterns.
As we approach the "Third Army" event, we're talking to the creators behind the Green Lantern books (click here to see our interview with Green Lantern: New Guardians writer Tony Bedard).
Today we ask Milligan about how Atrocitus and the Red Lanterns react to the threat, and why they get the Manhunters involved.
Nrama: Peter, now that we understand the true nature of the Third Army as introduced in the Green Lantern Annual, can you summarize the threat the characters in your book will be facing during this event?
Milligan: On one level, the Red Lanterns are under the same threat that all other organic creatures driving by will face: annihilation. But maybe The Red Lanterns face a different kind of threat too. The Third Army seem to negate everything they are, or stand for. The Third Army don’t feel rage. They just go about their deadly way like a disease. For a creature like Atrocitus, who has built his credo and his life on the principles of rage, this is anathema.
Also, for Atrocitus, the discovery that the Guardians are responsible for The Third Army forces him to face once more the pivotal event that changed his life: the massacre of sector 666. It’ll also force him to hitherto unimaginable ends in an effort to save his corps. The storyline will force Rankorr to face what made him, too. And to wrestle with demons and questions that he’d rather not face.
Nrama: So from a philosophical standpoint, you're saying the lack of "will" in the Third Army is particularly threatening to a "rage-driven" Red Lantern?
Milligan: The Red Lanterns are driven by a will: a raging will for vengeance and retribution. So the Third Army represents their opposite. It’s clear that these groups can never co-exist: one of the will have to be destroyed.
Nrama: Let's talk about the structure of this story. Does Red Lanterns tell one story that readers can follow without buying all the other Green Lantern books during the "Rise of The Third Army" event? Or do they literally cross over?
Milligan: All right. In some sense, the Red Lanterns are undertaking their own stories, and they make sense by themselves. But I think reading the other books will make the actions of the Red Lanterns – particularly Atrocitus – a richer experience.Sometimes the story is going to literally cross over. But at the outset, Atrocitus and the Red Lanterns are on their own, and they feel on their own. They’ll have to figure out how to fight this strange and deadly new threat.
And when Atrocitus realizes that the Red Lantern Power Battery is still underpowered (they’ll need all the juice they can get to fight the Third Army), it’s down to Atrocitus and his corps to try to do something about.
Nrama: You mentioned some of the struggles that Atrocitus will face in this story. How does this allow you to explore further the story of Atrocitus in particular?
Milligan: It’s going to push Atrocitus into some very interesting areas. It’ll force him to do things he couldn’t have imagined doing—and even bring him to a place where he questions whether – after all this time – rage is really the answer.
Nrama: What other characters are highlighted in the story?
Milligan: Rankorr plays a big role in this story line. Atrocitus realizes that to fight the Third Army they could really use Rankorr’s constructs. But his constructs are shaky. Rankorr still hasn’t got full control over this power. The only way he is going to get this control is to find ultimate vengeance on his “rage giver”: the thug who killed John Moore/Rankorr’s grandfather.
Only when a Red Lantern has hunted down and brought retribution to his rage-giver does a Red Lantern achieve his full potential.
Dex Starr will also feature. He too has an opportunity to get some pay-back…against Midnighter Dex Starr still harbors a simmering rage at that punch that Midnighter landed on him.
Nrama: Can you describe why the Manhunters become important to the story in Red Lanterns?
Milligan: I don’t want to give away too much here, but suffice to say Atrocitus comes to the conclusion that this long-dead army might be useful in the war against the Third Army.
Nrama: There's indication that we'll meet a Manhunter android who is powered by "Blood Magic?" What can you tell us about that idea?
Milligan: The Manhunters that Atrocitus finds on Ryutt have been sleeping for centuries. The old science of the Guardians cannot wake them. So the equally old blood magic of the inversions will be used to animate them.
Nrama: This betrayal by the Guardians has been building for months and readers have been anticipating it, but what's the response from the Red Lanterns? Haven't they been aware for awhile that something like this was coming from the Guardians?
Milligan: Generally, the Red Lanterns are too busy raging to go in for a lot of forward planning. But it’s true that when Atrocitus realizes that the Guardians might be behind the Third Army, it’s with a sense of inevitability. Of course, he’s always hated the Guardians, and always presumed they were evil. It’s everyone else that’s been wrong. Finally, they’re catching up with him!
Nrama: About time! What can you tell us about the story in issue #0? How does this fit with the origins we've seen before for the Red Lanterns?
Milligan: The main canonical points – Ryutt, Manhunters, massacre of 666 – are of course all there. And so is Atrocitus – or Atros as he was then – with his family. But I think what we get from this telling that we might not have seen before are emotions. And the things that this man – Atros – lost in his terrible journey to become Atrocitus.
Nrama: How much does the #0 issue play into what happens with the "Rise of the Third Army" event?Milligan: We don’t see the Third Army in [issue #0]. But it sets up the kind of man Atrocitus is, and it establishes very strongly what his attitude is towards the Manhunters, which allows us to understand just how desperate he must be to go back to Ryutt and re-activate the murderous buggers.
Nrama: Overall, what should readers expect from Red Lanterns over the next few months?
Milligan: Really emotional, intense and powerful stories that drag our characters into places they don’t want to go, and never thought they’d have to go.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans about Red Lanterns and the "Third Army" event?
Milligan: Normally, my heart sinks like a big heavy sack of porridge when I hear the word “cross-over” or “event.” But this really is a good one. And I love what it’s doing to the Red Lanterns.
- TONY BEDARD Explains NEW GUARDIANS Future Post-GL ANNUAL
- GEOFF JOHNS Opens a Pandora's Box in 3 Key DC Titles
- JUSTICE LEAGUE #12 Spoiler Review: Makes Perfect Sense
- Who's Who in the New JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA