With the Green Lantern titles spinning in a whole new direction post-Converence — with the Corps missing and Hal Jordan playing the role of renegade — readers might expect smaller threats to the universe, since there's no cosmic police force anymore.
Nothing could be further from the truth, according to Green Lantern writer Robert Venditti.
In July's Green Lantern #42, drawn by regular artists Billy Tan and Mark Irwin, readers found out that tiny stone-like fragments are floating through space and turning everything they touch into stone — including entire planets. They're connected somehow to Black Hand, who also has the not-so-Midas touch — presumably because of his interaction with the Source Wall in the recent "Godhead" storyline.
At the same time, Hal Jordan is also dealing with the absence of the Green Lantern Corps, and he's picked up a few supporting cast members for Green Lantern. Newsarama talked to Venditti to find out more about the surprising new cast members and what readers can expect from the challenges Hal will face with Black Hand, Relic and what's coming up in Green Lantern.
Newsarama: Rob, #42 indicated there were ramifications of Black Hand's participation in "Godhead," particularly what happened to the Source Wall. Are these little floating pieces part of the Source Wall?
Robert Venditti: We're going to find out exactly what's happening in issue #43. But yes, it would be correct to say there were definitely ramifications to the events in "Godhead" where Black Hand actually interacted with the Source Wall. He was the first person, that we know of, to ever interact with the Source Wall and not become fused to it, and not even just that — he actually raised beings off the Source Wall that had been fused to it for countless millennia.
So that's a very significant event, not just in Green Lantern, but in the entire history of the cosmic part of the DC Universe. Of course there are lasting ramifications from that. We want to make sure it has the kind of weight it should. And when something like that happens, big things are going to result.
Nrama: At the end of #42, it looked like Black Hand is going to be one of the main antagonists for this storyline?
Venditti: Oh yeah, definitely. It's a different look on Black Hand and his power set. He was an instrumental figure in the "Godhead" storyline. I found him a really fun character to write, because he's completely insane and completely creepy, but in this weird way he's also pathetic. He just doesn't want to be by himself. His version of that is to surround himself with resurrected dead people. So definitely a creep factor to him. But he's also a pretty complex character.
We also haven't seen him in cosmic settings very much either, so this is an opportunity to do things with him.
He's just one of the huge challenges that Hal's going to be facing as he finds himself as sort of the last Green Lantern in the universe. The Corps has disappeared. There is no more police force. And in the middle of it, he finds out that entire worlds are being turned to stone for some reason.
So he's got to find a way to deal with that while also trying to find the Corps and other things that come up as well. So in a lot of ways, he's the last man standing.
Nrama: He said something about seeing it before. Does Hal suspect this has something to do with the Source Wall?
Venditti: I would say that's accurate.
Nrama: Let's talk about this new direction so far. Are these two characters that he picked up going to be part of his cast going forward, since one is under arrest and the other has no home world?
Venditti: Yeah, they will be part of the cast, as will Darlene the ship, who is obviously where they're all living and traveling out of, but is a character in and of herself, in that she has an A.I. and doesn't really get along with Hal all that much.
So yeah, they're going to be cast members of the book.
Basically, you have Virgo, who is a royal who was taken from his family by a guy named Trapper to be sold into these gaming pits where people pay money to see others get killed by beasts — sort of a Gladiator situation, with Virgo being the prize that people would really want to watch get killed, since he's a royal and there are a lot of criminals that hang out there.
Hal rescued Virgo and figured he would take Virgo back to his home world with Trapper, and that Trapper would stand trial and pay for his crimes, because even though Hal's a renegade in the eyes of the universe and is somewhat of a villain, as readers know, he's a hero. And he's trying to get by and be a hero as best as he can given the circumstances.
But he shows up at Virgo's home world and finds that it's been turned into stone. So now he's got Virgo and Trapper on his ship, and he's got to figure out what to do with them.
That's just one of the many things that Hal's going to be dealing with, on top of all the other conflicts he's got in coming issues.
Nrama: We've seen in solicitations for the next couple issues that Relic is going to be involved. Is that because, the last we saw him, he intended to investigate the Source Wall? Is it because of his connection to that?
Venditti: Yeah, Relic is going to be in #43. When we last saw him, he was one of the beings that was broken free from the Source Wall by Black Hand. He's always been fascinated with the Source Wall and what lies beyond. So this is a very significant event for him.
He is one of the smartest (if not the smartest) people in the entire DC universe, when it comes to matters of the Source Wall, because he comes from a previous universe, where he studied it.
So he's somebody that Hal can potentially go to for answers.
But at the same time, he's somebody who doesn't like Hal very much, so that's something that Hal's going to have to negotiate. How can you find out the information that you want, not just about the Source Wall, but also potentially about where the Corps went, from someone like Relic.
Nrama: The promotional copy for the September issue has a tease about a "new menace from Thanagar." Is this a revamp of something readers might have seen before, or is this a brand new concept?
Venditti: This is a completely new thing. A lot of what we're trying to do with the cosmic universe in the DCU — not just in Green Lantern, but across books like Sinestro, Lobo, Omega Men — what we're trying to do with a lot of these books is build out the universe, add new concepts, but also do it in a way that builds on what's already there.
So we get a sense that we're all inhabiting the same space, all these books — not to say that they're all interlocked or that you have to read them all to understand what's going on, but you get the sense that they're all hanging out in the same universe.
And so#44, because of plot developments that will happen in #43, are going to mandate that Hal has to take a detour to deal with something that's more of an immediate emergency to one of the members of his crew.
And to do so, he's going to come across a gang of Thanagarian marauders. I don't know how else to describe them, except to say they're not typical Thanagarian. They have a very particular way that they operate their criminal enterprise, and it comes across in their design, which Billy did a really good job with.
It's a completely new team of characters. It's fun to do those types of things — to take the idea of a Thanagarian and turn it into a marauder and see what you come up with, and to add something like that to the DCU. That's what all of us are trying to do across the cosmic books.
Nrama: The Green Lantern Annual #4 in September looks like it's more of a flashback, since we don't know the origin of Darlene and a lot of the other things that showed up in June's issue.
Venditti: Yeah, we'll find out some of the backstory. This idea to have Hal on the run in the universe was originally going to have him on the run from the Green Lantern Corps as well, so we were going to do stories about that. But now that the Green Lantern Corps has disappeared in the Green Lantern Corps: Lost Army book, this is going to show you a flashback to his earliest days of being on the run when the Corps was still around.
You'll also see things happening in the current timeline, as we're building those threats. But you'll also see a glimpse of some of the things that he ran across in the earliest days, and what his reputation is becoming throughout the universe, now that he's a renegade.
Nrama: We've seen a couple issues of this new direction, although there have been a couple of surprising twists and turns. There were really different cliffhangers on the first two issues. Can you give us a sense of what's coming up in the rest of 2015?
Venditti: Yeah, basically, we're going to see what the universe is like in the absence of the Corps, with Hal being the only one out there wielding the green light as a force of good.
Again, a lot of the people in the universe, because of the way he's portrayed himself, are going to think he's a villain, but we as readers know he's a hero. And he's trying to continue to do the right thing in that kind of environment, and do it all alone.
And just like what happens in the real world, if you woke up one day and the police force was completely gone, something would come in to fill that vacuum. So what is that going to be like? Who are the people who are going to come in and try to be law and order now. And what are their motives? And how do they feel about Hal, the last remnant from the previous police force, still being out there?
So there are a lot of conflicts coming up. They're all going to be intertwined, even if it's not necessarily apparent right away. But I'm already deep into writing this new storyline; I'm farther ahead on Green Lantern than I have been since I came onto the title, and I've always been pretty far ahead. So it's all plotted out and mapped out in a way that it will all come together and will hopefully continue to build on each issue for the reader.