Drawing the Rage: Shane Davis Talks Red Lanterns

Shane Davis Talks Red Lanterns

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The promised War of Light in the Green Lantern universe kicks off this week with an oversized one-shot by writer Geoff Johns called Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns, focusing on the violent creatures who spew the blood-red power of hate.

Artist Shane Davis teams with Johns for the issue after his run as penciler on Superman/Batman, adding his own corps of characters to the universe previously defined by Green Lantern artists Ethan Van Sciver and Ivan Reis.

Previewed in several pages of Green Lantern #25 last December, the War of Light and Blackest Night have caused a lot of fan buzz ever since. The prophesy of the impending battle revealed to readers that not only would there be Sinestro Corps members wielding fear-powered rings of yellow against the Green Lanterns, but there would be new corps harnessing the energy of other emotions.

As the Red Lanterns story begins this week, the just-finished Secret Origin arc in Green Lantern has already established a history of hatred from Red Lantern leader Atrocitus toward the Green Lanterns. And readers have also already seen Green Lantern Laira join with the Red Lanterns when she was overcome by feelings of hatred and revenge.

Now Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns introduces the emerging corps of creatures who fight with the power of hate, beginning a storyline that will continue into Green Lantern #36. We talked to Davis to find out more about what it was like to draw the violent Red Lanterns, what characters we might see, and how he designed the hate-filled creatures who rampage across the pages of the issue.

Newsarama: Shane, one of the things Geoff Johns has told Newsarama is that you're designing some of the Red Lanterns for this issue. Have you designed a lot of new characters?

Shane Davis: It's easier to say what Red Lanterns I didn't design. Atrocitus, obviously, I did not design. And there was one other fish looking guy. [laughs] And then Red Lantern Liara, I didn't design her. But I designed the rest of the ones used in this story.

NRAMA: What was the thinking behind the designs of these characters? What makes them unique in design from, for example, the aliens in the Green Lantern Corps or the Sinestro Corps?

SD: When Johns and I initially talked, he wanted to make sure they didn't feel like Green Lanterns. The more we talked about it, the more things like constructs weren't involved. We wanted to get across the idea of hate. Their auras were handled differently, and there was the vomiting, of course, where the hate just pours out of them. And there were some other things that happened with them, and that was the beginning of the design process. And then from there, talking with Johns, I found out his ideas about what it means to become a Red Lantern. And that's how I developed these characters.

NRAMA: Can you give us a hint of a couple Red Lanterns we might see?

SD: I designed a character named Bleez. And she was interesting because Johns wanted characters to look like there was a reason to feel the hate, like something had been taken from them or that they'd been scorned. So she has only one wing, as if one's missing. And Johns had a nice little back-story for that.

Vice is another one I designed who has a head that's like a vice -- one side is at the top of his head and the other is this bone that comes out from his jaw. So he's able to latch onto somebody's head and rip it off. That was an idea I had when we were coming up with weird ways to kill a Green Lantern, to separate the head from the ring by basically tearing off their heads. Vice is the ravaging Red Lantern. His alien race -- they behead things. They just clamp on and rip off their prey's head.

And then I played more with the ideas behind Atrocitus and tried to make him even more of a domineering alpha figure. He's the main Red Lantern.

NRAMA: Geoff also told us Sinestro is in this story, as it focuses on his execution. Did you get to draw him a lot?

SD: Sinestro is at the center of a lot of the story. I was really happy I got to draw him a lot because he's one of my favorite DC villains, ever since Super Friends. [laughs] He's just got that smug look like he knows more than you and that he's going to beat you.

NRAMA: And since this is a Green Lantern story, did you draw a lot of those characters?

SD: Yeah. I loved drawing Hal Jordan, and the more we talked about what was going on in the story, the more I understood him. I played around with a lot of the energy effects that he has when he's flying. And there's a whole troop of Green Lanterns that are put together in this story. I got to draw Chaselon, the disco ball looking guy. I got to draw him as an Alpha Lantern. It's no mohawk, because when he became an Alpha Lantern, he doesn't have a mohawk anymore, which is a shame, but you still get to draw a cool looking character. And I got to draw basic John Stewart, Kilowog, and a lot of the iconic Green Lanterns. Salaak was in there, and he was one of my favorites. I got to do a lot of cool stuff with them.

But mostly it was Red Lanterns, and their hate.

NRAMA: Is the title "rage" fitting for what we'll see from the Red Lanterns?

SD: Oh yeah. They're throwing up red bloody hate, so there really is this feeling of rage spilling all over the page. And they're very violent and brutal characters, so the comic has that really bloody feel about it. Some places in the story, it's weird, because I would try to make the scene a little funny. I actually got that from Guillermo del Toro, the director. In some of his commentaries, he would talk about a theory of making somebody laugh at a moment of something scary. Like somebody should chuckle a little bit before they're scared, kind of like a contrast in emotions. So there are a couple areas in this comic that you laugh and think it's cool and feel good, but other areas that you're like, "Oh my God!" I didn't want to get repetitive with the Red Lanterns just tearing people up, so I tried to spice it up in certain sequences.

NRAMA: Assuming there are multiple Green and Red Lanterns, was this a challenge for you because you had to draw so many characters?

SD: You would think so. I thought it was a lot more work than normal, because I have basically two or three armies fighting. But it really wasn't, somehow. I usually try to personally steer away from team books because I just feel like I'm not an artist who can draw a million characters on a page. Then I'm like, "Oh! Green Lanterns! Yes!" But when you look at it, it's probably even worse than a team book because there are a million characters flying through the air and shooting one another.

It was complicated because it's not just them flying. I had to think about that. It's more like they're going toward a goal, kind of like football. They're flying, but it's in a way that's more like there's a goal. That was actually really complicated in the layouts. It wasn't just people punching one another and shooting one another. It was really trying to layout who was doing what, working together, but like a football team. They're doing different things, but toward a common goal.

NRAMA: How was it working with Geoff Johns?

SD: We talked a lot and we joked around a lot. He's a really great guy. You know, it's weird, because we've been trying to work together for awhile, before I did Superman/Batman. So to me, it was really great. And I'd still like to do an Aquaman project with him or something. But I'm looking forward to working with him again one day.

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