GUARDIANS Writer Takes KYLE RAYNER In New Direction Post-'LIGHTS OUT'

DC Comics' January 2014 solicitations
Credit: DC Comics
Credit: DC Comics

The Green Lantern characters got a rude awakening during October's "Lights Out" event — not only has their use of the emotional spectrum been depleting the universe of energy, but their ring-slinging came close to causing the end of the entire universe.

Kyle Rayner, who's now a White Lantern, came to the rescue, refilling the resource of light energy. But nobody's quite sure how long this replenished stash of energy will last — and how close the DCU is to its Lantern-caused end.

The end of "Lights Out" also brought about the promised "cosmic makeover" for Green Lantern: New Guardians, the comic starring Rayner, whom the rest of the Green Lantern universe now believes is dead.

The comic is now tackling familiar issues, but with sci-fi flavor, as Kyle is working in secret with the Templar Guardians and Carol Ferris to find an alternative to saving the world with light-powered rings. Newsarama talked to writer Justin Jordan to learn more about the future of the Corps, Kyle and more.

Newsarama: Justin, now that we've seen the new status of Kyle Rayner after "Lights Out," how would you describe the overall effect on your comic? It seems to have changed the comic's direction while really affecting Kyle.

Justin Jordan: It’s certainly affected Kyle a lot. The problem for Kyle is that, while he managed to refill the reservoir, he doesn’t know how he did it, if he did it right and if he can do it again. So he has some misgivings about the use of the rings.

So right now, Kyle and the Templar Guardians are looking for things that are sustainable, ways to help the universe without putting it, potentially, in danger. Kyle is trying to find a way to use the power of the ring responsibly.

So the stories are affected, and Kyle’s personality is a little different. He’s still shaken by "Lights Out," and unsure of what he should be doing. He knows every time he uses the ring, he might be making the universe a worse place. But he hasn’t stopped. He’s got reasons for that, but deep down he’s concerned that those are just rationalizations.

In terms of tone, I don’t think it’s radically different. Some adventures are grimmer than others, and some swing from light to dark within them. The Exuras story we’re telling now does that.

Nrama: We'll talk about the Exuras story in a minute, but first let's discuss the art on the comic. You've been working with Brad Walker on the series. What has he brought to New Guardians?

Jordan: Brad is amazing. Consistently. I keep sending him ridiculously difficult things to draw and what he sends back is always better than what I was imagining. A really good example is when I asked him to draw a double-page spread of the Entities sending the Corps across the galaxy. Seriously, that’s an awful thing to ask someone to draw, but Brad nailed it.

What’s really good is that Brad and I groove really well. We approach storytelling similarly, and that really helps in putting out a good book. Brad and Drew Hennessy and Will Quintana really elevate the book. Which makes me look good so, you know, that makes me happy.

Credit: DC Comics

Nrama: Kyle is presumed dead by the rest of the Corps, yet Carol Ferris is one of the only people in the universe who is aware of Kyle's survival. Does that mean she continues to play a role in the comic?

Jordan: Carol is in the book for the long haul. I’m plotted out through issue #34, and she’s there in every one. Carol is struggling with some of the same problems Kyle is, in what should she be doing with the power that she has? Should she be using it at all? And she’s got a problem of her own: Hal.

Carol needs to love to use her powers and so far, Hal has been that thing she loved. And she does love Hal, I think. But there’s being in love with someone and being able to live with them, and Carol has problems with the second part.

So for Carol, part of what she’s doing out there in space is sorting that situation out, and seeing if there’s another way for her to keep the Star Sapphire powers. And if you’ve been reading the main Green Lantern book, there’s a big hint about how the Star Sapphire powers work and, maybe, Carol’s future.

But, you know, she’s kind of seeking a geographic solution to a personal problem, and that tends to not work especially well. And Carol is certainly smart enough and self aware enough to know that.

Nrama: You mentioned before that Kyle is troubled by the seemingly limited resources in the emotional spectrum. We've talked to Robert Venditti about the concern among the Lanterns that they're destroying the universe every time they use their rings. Is that a short-term worry, or something that's going to be part of the book for awhile? And is it a goal of the various Lanterns — Kyle among them — to learn the truth behind what happened to refill the Source Wall?

Jordan: It’d certainly ease Kyle’s mind to know the answer to that question. But yes, it’s a continuing concern for pretty much everyone in the book. The problem for them is that, yes, it looks like using the rings will speed up the end of the universe.

But, and this is an important but, it’s absolutely true that the rings have saved the universe multiple times. So the answer isn’t just, "stop using them." Knowing whether or not the reservoir can be recharged again and whether it was recharged fully last time would go a long way to resolving that problem.

And yes, you will get some of the answer about that and what happened to Kyle beyond the Source Wall in the next year or so.

Credit: DC Comics

Nrama: Will there be an effort to rebuild the other corps that were wiped out? Or to revive Saint Walker? (Is there hope for the blue?)

Jordan: All I can tell you is that there are, indeed, plans for Walker. Not necessarily in New Guardians, but Bro’Dee has not been forgotten.

Nrama: The Templar Guardians are very different from their previous Oan cousins. How would you describe them now, and what's their mission? How does it drive your story in the coming months?

Jordan: The Guardians, current and original recipe, have always wanted to protect the universe, to make sure that life can continue. It’s right there in the name, even. That’s why they created the rings to begin with.

The Templar Guardians are still trying to do that. They are looking for other ways to protect the universe, if the emotional spectrum isn’t the answer. But they haven’t been worn down by billions of years of trying to do this. They are still, in that respect, much like the Guardians were when they made the first rings.

In the book, they’ve got a couple of goals. They are still learning about the current state of the universe, they are trying to find a way to guard it without putting it in further danger and they’d like to know what happened beyond the Source Wall and what it all means.

Nrama: These Guardians have indicated that they believe the Corps is not the solution, so they're finding a better way. That doesn't bode well for the Green Lantern Corps, does it?

Jordan: Hah, probably not. And as we’ve seen in Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps, the same problem is coming up internally for the Corps as well. But the answer here is not necessarily what you expect it to be.

Nrama: OK, now let's talk about Exuras. We've been introduced this "paradise" that can only exist at the expense of others. I assume there are bigger themes you're exploring with this idea?

Credit: DC Comics

Jordan: Yep. I mean, the Exuras thing is a not-particularly-veiled metaphor for the U.S. using up such a disproportionate amount of the world’s resources while much of the world’s population struggles to survive. And honestly, that idea, of the few living in extreme luxury while the rest struggle, is kind of fractal – you can apply the same criticism to the 1% versus the 99% in the U.S.

Now, hopefully, that’s all wrapped in a fun adventure story that doesn’t feel like me beating people over the head with sociopolitics.

Nrama: Are you going to continue to pose these types of universal questions?

Jordan: We are. I am taking, more or less, the Star Trek technique, where we use science fiction conceits to mirror and look at stuff happening in the real world. Which is something I think sci-fi is really suited for. The next one is about media manipulation and how variable what we call history really is, and the one after that is about how religion can be exploited and corrupted.

And if any of the readers just nodded off or eye-rolled themselves into unconsciousness, I always try to make sure stories are entertaining above all else. So our media manipulation story also has an alien being pounded into the ground by his beard.

Nrama: We've been introduced to what looks like the first post-"Lights Out" villain, Nias Den Throden (the alternate version of him). What were your thoughts behind this character? What does he represent? Is he important to the overall story?

Jordan: Alt Nias, which is the half-assed name he’s referred to by in the script, is definitely the villain of the piece. But the thing about Alt Nias is that he’s right. Maybe not in what he does, but he has absolutely, positively, been screwed by Nias the other Exurans. He can look at Nias and see what his life might have been, and now with certainty, that’s what his life would have been.

So I’m sympathetic to the guy’s position.

He’s definitely important to the Exuras story, and that does have ramifications to how Kyle looks at the universe.

Nrama: As Kyle pointed out in the last issue, there are still a lot of questions about how he "refilled" the source wall — included the question of what it means that Parallax wasn't there. Will those questions be answered?

Credit: DC Comics

Jordan: Eventually. Some of them fairly soon, some of them later on.

Nrama: So you guys have an end game in sight for all these mysteries?

Jordan: We do! I know, I was surprised too.

Nrama: How does all of this affect Kyle himself?

Jordan: Kyle needs to figure out what it means to be White Lantern and what he’s meant to do with that power. Answering the questions about the reservoir and the Source Wall is going to be a big factor in that.

Nrama: Is there anything else you want to tell fans about Green Lantern: New Guardians?

Jordan: If you want big cosmic action with a sci-fi flavor, this is the book for you. We’ve got big things coming.

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