The new writer for Green Lantern Corps intends to "paint" John Stewart's character more fully than he's been portrayed in the past.
According to Van Jensen, who begins co-writing the book with June's #21, that fully painted portrait includes the character's history as a soldier and architect, but it also adds humor and fun — and even some romance — as John Stewart becomes the training officer for a new batch of Green Lantern recruits.
The Corps will face new and old threats, as the Green Lantern universe is confronted with the much-hyped new villain Relic, as well as an attack from the Durlans, a group of shape-shifting beings from the planet Durla.
And the cast of the Green Lantern Corps will be experiencing what the writer calls "a fairly significant shakeup" after the Green Lantern universe experiences turmoil during recent events.
The Guardians are no longer in charge, but Hal Jordan takes over as leader instead. And Guy Gardner becomes part of the Red Lantern Corps, a story being written by new Red Lanterns scribe Charles Soule..
Beginning in June, Green Lantern Corps will star John Stewart, "Fatality, Kilowog, Salaak, Soranik Natu and a few others," Jensen said. "Each of them has a new role in the Corps, and the adjustment won't go smoothly. And then the Corps is in desperate need of new members, so we'll be meeting a lot of rookie Lanterns."
Jensen, who's co-writing Corps with Green Lantern writer Robert Venditti, takes over the book just as all the Green Lantern titles get new creative teams in June. It will be Jensen's first work at DC, having won critical acclaim as the writer of the acclaimed indie series Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer.
Jensen and Venditti will work with artist Bernard Chang, but they begin their run after some internet buzz made fans concerned about editorial plans for the Green Lantern universe. First, DC announced that Joshua Hale Fialkov would write Green Lantern Corps and Red Lanterns, but he left both series before his first issue was even published. Then an internet rumor started to spread, alleging that Green Lantern John Stewart was going to die, and that's why Fialkov left — a rumor that caught such fire among fans that Venditti had to publicly denounce it as false.
"We never considered killing John, and no one asked us to," Venditti told Newsarama.
So what's the future for John Stewart in this lead role? And why are the Durlans such a threat? Newsarama talked to Jensen to find out more about the future of the Green Lantern Corps.
Newsarama: As we've discussed before, this comic concentrates on John Stewart. We know that Hal is going to be the leader of the Corps, and John Stewart is in charge of training. Can you describe the role that John plays now?
Van Jensen: John is definitely the central character of this book. And the status quo of the Green Lanterns and with the Corps has changed really significantly. Hal is in charge, obviously. And for John, he sees a Corps that's really struggling, and that has a different place in the universe. It's viewed a little more warily by the universe, because the Guardians have caused so much destruction.
And the Corps has been pretty much decimated by the Third Army and the First Lantern, with this non-stop series of the Corps getting wiped out. So we have a lot of new members coming into the Corps. And just a very, very different status quo.
John has an interesting background in that he's both an architect and has military experience. So he's uniquely suited, with his background, to playing a very key role in facing all the questions and uncertainty about rebuilding the Corps. There are a lot of questions about training the Corps, rebuilding the Corps. Even just thinking about what the mission of the Green Lanterns will be going forward, now that they aren't relying on the Guardians for guidance as much.
So through all of the big questions and uncertainty, John's going to provide some leadership going forward.
Nrama: You mentioned that there will be a lot of new members, and since John's the training officer, are you introducing a lot of new members to the Corps in this book?
Jensen: Yeah. Issue #21 will see four new members. There are also going to be some new members coming in in Green Lantern #21. And that's been a really exciting thing, and it's something that I had dreamed about as a kid creating new comic book characters that people could read. And so getting the chance to do that has been really exciting.
And one of the things that I think has been kind of fun is that I'm playing with the new idea that being enlisted into the Corps is not exactly viewed as an honor. You know, I talked about how the Corps is viewed a little differently than it used to be, and in the past, to be recruited into the Green Lanterns was, for the most part, was always an exciting thing and a great privilege. But now it isn't viewed in the same way. So recruits are coming in with a little different perspective than they've had in the past.
Nrama: Will any of them be new takes on Green Lantern members that we've seen in the past? Because so much of the New 52 is new takes on old characters. Or are these all new?
Jensen: The ones that we're introducing so far are 100 percent new characters. It's always kind of hard to avoid similarities, just because so much has come before, but this isn't a revamp of an existing character.
Nrama: What villains are they going to be facing?
Jensen: I don't want to spoil too much, but there have been some teasers out there for Relic, which is a big new villain that's going to play a very big role in the Green Lantern universe. And there's a great, high concept behind Relic that, when people come to learn that character and the background behind it, I think people will be exciting by what's going on with that.
And then, in Green Lantern Corps specifically, we're going to see a couple villains — I should say "groups" of villains — who have not had a big presence in the New 52 but have a pretty long legacy of fighting with the Corps, who are going to make a big resurgence. A good idea of what's to come will show up in Green Lantern Corps #21.
Nrama: We've been told in the solicitation for issue #23 that the Durlans are going to attack.
Jensen: Ah, OK, well I guess that's out there, so we can talk about it. Yeah, so the Durlans will be one of the main villains that will be out there. And it's a bit of a new take on them.
But they're a really fascinating race with a strange history. Their powers are kind of a neat analog for the Green Lanterns, because, you know, the Green Lanterns' ability is only limited by their imagination and what constructs they can create with their ring. And the Durlans, of course, rather than having a ring to create a construct, they sort of are their own construct. So similarly, they use their imagination and their power to turn themselves into whatever weapon they need, and "weapon" defined very broadly there.
And also, [the Durlans] are a race that's very much based on deceit. And so they're not simply shape-shifters. Their entire culture is based on deceit. And so they're going to be coming after the Green Lanterns in a way that I don't think we've ever really seen before.
Nrama: You've told us in the past that we'll also see Fatality, Kilowog, Salaak, Soranik Natu and a few others. What role does Fatality play in the book with John at the center? Is their relationship continuing?
Jensen: Fatality plays a pretty central role. [She and John] embarked upon this relationship in recent issues, and it's something that, for John, is going to be a bit of a struggle just because John's a character that has such a horrific past. So much tragedy in his background. He's working to put that behind him, but it's not always easy, especially something as extreme as the destruction of a planet. That kind of blame is hard to get over.
So the two of them, they're really trying to forge a relationship together, and Fatality is very much committed to that. But then on Fatality's side, she's a Star Sapphire, so she's very committed to love and a more peaceful existence. And being in the Green Lantern Corps doesn't exactly jibe well with an existence of love and peace. So there's some conflict there of Fatality not really supporting John continuing in his role with the Green Lanterns and the Corps.
Nrama: So you're juggling conflict in his personal life with the conflicts he finds both in the Corps and through the villains.
Jensen: Yeah, exactly. It's really key with comic books to always stay focused on the characters and to be very attentive to the larger story arc and the journey that they're on. You know, what they want, what they're afraid of, and sometimes those are the same things.
With John being at the center of this book, we'll really be exploring that with him.
But even side characters, we really want to focus on what's going on with them, what they're after, how they're developing, how they're dealing with the new status quo — those sorts of things.
Nrama: If John's the new training officer, what's going on with Kilowog? He was usually in that role.
Jensen: Kilowog will be around, but in a very new role. One that's a particular challenge to him and something that is a really interesting development for that character, and has some nice humor to it as well.
So I don't want to spoil it, but it will be a lot of fun for long-time readers.
Nrama: You mention humor and fun, and I know your Pinocchio title had quite a bit of humor. Is this Green Lantern Corps title going to have humor woven into it? With Guy, I could always see humor, but with John, it's got to be a little tougher, isn't it?
Jensen: There's definitely going to be humor. And the thing with John that I want to bring out is that he's a well-rounded person. He has a humorous side, he has a serious side, and he does have a fun side.
I think his character has not been painted as fully in the past as some other characters, so we really want to explore all the sides of him. And not just kind of leave him as that stern, good soldier type, but show him as being a lot more than that.
Nrama: Is there anything else you want to tell fans that you're hoping to do as you start next month?
Jensen: We're forging ahead with some exciting new stories, while also being very focused on the past and very faithful to the great history of the Green Lanterns.