When DC launches its new line-up of books in June, Green Lantern may have the same creative team, but Hal Jordan, his life and his supporting cast will be very different.
SPOILERS Ahead for all those who haven't read Green Lantern #40.
In this week's Green Lantern #40 by writer Robert Venditti and artist Billy Tan, readers learned that Hal has taken off his ring and has stolen Krona's gauntlet to become a wanted man in an effort to make himself the scapegoat for the universe's anger at the Green Lantern Corps.
After a brutal fight with Kilowog — one that was that was both action-packed and heartbreaking — Hal got away with Krona's gauntlet and left the Green Lantern Corps behind.
It's the latest surprise in a month that's sure to be loaded with cliff-hangers and drastic changes for DC's characters and titles, as the company takes a two-month break from its regular line. For two months, DC's comics will be replaced by the weekly event Convergence, but they'll return in June with brand new directions — and several new titles.
In the Green Lantern universe, June sees the launch of one new comic, Green Lantern: Lost Army, written by Cullen Bunn with art by Jesus Saiz. The book will effectively replace the current Green Lantern Corps and Green Lantern: New Guardians, which both finish their runs later this month. Besides the return of Green Lantern, the only other GL book will be Bunn's Sinestro, which will return in June with #12.
So what comes next for Hal in Green Lantern, now that he can't work with the Corps? How does this tie into the character's return to the Justice League? And does this mean Venditti's no longer working with the other Green Lantern writers — er… uh… writer, Cullen Bunn? Newsarama talked to Venditti to find out.
Newsarama: Rob, we know now, after Green Lantern #40, that Hal is a wanted man by the Green Lantern Corps — or is at least no longer with them. What does that bring to the title now? And why did you, as a writer, want to move in that direction after what Hal's been through so far in your run?
Rob Venditti: Primarily, I think it's a huge conflict for Hal to have to undergo, but I also think that it's something that's very in keeping with his character, if you think of who Hal is, and who he's been historically.
Here, he is the leader of the Green Lantern Corps, and whether through his own fault or the old guardians or whatever-have-you, people don't want the Corps as a police force in the universe now.
So it's not an uncommon thing, when you have an organization, whether it's a corporation, government entity, police force or whatever, if things start to go wrong, the leader takes the fall for that, and it gives everybody a chance to start over, even though the organization is still pretty much made up of the same people.
Hal is very much the kind of hero that if he can take all the pain at the expense of everyone else, he's going to do that every time. That's just who he is. He's the guy who's always in harm's way, he's the guy who's always taking the punches, the one who's always making the tough decisions and always making sacrifices for the sake of those he cares about.
So it just felt like a natural evolution of where he would be, given the story.
This is something we've been planning since very early in the run, just after "Lights Out." We've known this was the direction the series was going to be heading to.
Nrama: Hal just returned to the Justice League title. Does this tie into that? Or are you just going in different directions in those two books?
Venditti: That's one of those things where I can't get into what's going on in another person's book.
I know the answer to that. But that's not an answer that would affect just my book, it's somebody else's as well.
Nrama: OK, that's understandable. How much can you say about how this affects the book in June. Is Hal still the star of Green Lantern?
Venditti: Hal is going to continue to be the lead of Green Lantern. It's just going to be a new direction for the book. And like I say, this is something we've been planning for quite awhile, even before I personally knew anything about Convergence or a two-month break, or the new look DC, where books would take a pause at #40 and come back at #41 — before any of that, this was always the direction the book was going to go.
It just worked out really well, in the sense that when all those developments happened, this already fit in really well with that.
It's been a very long-form plan with Green Lantern, from the day I took it on. I knew there was going to be "Lights Out." I knew that there was going to be a confrontation with the New Gods in "Godhead." So we've been planning what the direction would be.
So yeah, Hal's still going to be the main guy in the Green Lantern book. We'll be looking at the Green Lantern mythology and looking at him as a character from a very different angle.
And as we found out in #40, he still has the ability — even though he's no longer in the Corps, and he doesn't have a ring anymore, because he left that behind, he took Krona's gauntlet, which was a very early prototype weapon developed before the rings. It has its own backpack battery, and it's sort of its own enclosed system.
So he still has the ability to wield constructs and do all these things that make him Green Lantern.
He just doesn't have the ring.
We are going to be doing some different things. There's going to be a lot of surprises, and a lot of things that I think are going to be unexpected when we come back with #41 — not just for Green Lantern specifically, but even in the other titles in the Green Lantern line.
But it's all part of a much larger plan that connects in ways that I think are going to catch people off guard.
Nrama: That was something I was wondering about, was how much you're working with Cullen Bunn, who's now doing the two other Green Lantern titles. Right? There's just two other ones?
Venditti: Sure, yeah. And you know, It is a thing where we are coordinating. But it's not going to be as intertwined as it has been.
When I was brought on to write Green Lantern, it was with the idea that the books would be very linked and there would be a very tight continuity between them. And the annuals would be capstones on events, where all the characters from all the books would have roles to play.
The new direction coming out of Convergence is going to be for these books to be much more self-contained.
Hopefully, it's going to be the best of both worlds. If you're reading all three, you pick up on these threads and see how they're tied together, but if you read them individually, they stand completely alone in that regard. It's something we worked really hard on.
But yeah, Cullen and I are working with each other, and we do know where we're going with our respective titles.
And it is all building on stuff that has come before, so if you're been a reader, you'll pick up on a lot of those threads that go back years. But it's also going to be very new and very self-contained so that new readers can pick it up and immediately come into it.
That's kind of what I mean about this new direction for Hal. It's something that was going to be the endpoint of this first long-form story arc, of him being a leader. And now he's going off on a new long-form story arc. And it just happened to fall around the same time that these breaks were going to be happening, with a new direction in June. So it all ended up being pretty fortuitous, in the way it came together.
Nrama: There was a tease a few months back, that Hal would be without his ring. But I don't think anybody anticipated that he'd still be able to use the power of the emotional spectrum. This is still the emotional spectrum power he's using, right?
Venditti: Very much so, yeah. The gauntlet is a pre-existing item in the DCU. It's not something I created. It was created by Geoff Johns. So it's something we've seen before. And it was established that it was in possession of the Corps on Oa, so of course it would have transferred to Mogo when they set up a new base there.
So I think if you look at the arc, since me coming on with #21, the very first time we see Hal on Oa, in Green Lantern, he's in the evidence vault.
And here we are at #40, the very last time we see Hal on Mogo, their headquarters, he's in the evidence vault.
If you see how the relationship with Kilowog developed over these last few years, you can see, going back, that it was all leading up to this.
I spent a lot of time building up their friendship and showing them as being, really, the best of friends who rely on and trust in each other. And in some ways, they're both cut off from their own background: Kilowog is the last of his kind, while Hal of course isn't the last human, but he is cut off from Earth in the sense that he's not patrolling that sector anymore, and he's not able to return there. So they really bond in this friendship.
And when you see what happens in #40, and where that goes… I mean, these guys are the two best of friends, and they're putting their bodies on the line for each other, taking the hards hits so that the other can succeed.
It was an issue that I was very proud to have written, and I think Billy Tan did an amazing job on it. Same with inker Mark Irwin and colorist Tony Avina, and Dave Sharpe, our letterer, and the whole creative team.
I feel like, if you go back and read those 20 issues again, and you wind up at #40, you can see how much all those things were put into place a very, very long time ago.
Nrama: Then to finish, Rob, doo you want to just summarize for folks what they can expect from Green Lantern when it picks up again in June?
Venditti: There are a lot of new things coming — not just in terms of Hal having a gauntlet now instead of the ring, but new characters are going to be introduced, a new supporting cast, new concepts, a lot of new things that I want to say have never been done before, or at least I don't think it's been done, but it's definitely something that hopefully will be new and unexpected, but not unexpected for the sake of being unexpected. It fits in with the character and the arc that we've been developing for him all this time.
And I'm having a lot of fun writing it. I'm already five issues into it. And I hope you enjoy reading it.