Although Hal Jordan is coming back to Earth for the next storyline in Green Lantern, a cosmic threat will be converging upon Hal — an adversary that writer Robert Venditti calls "surprising" — for a showdown in the title's issue #50.
Venditti also promised that there are plans for Hal Jordan to be interacting with the Green Lantern Corps again, even though current stories have separated them — with the Corps lost on the other side of the universe and Hal acting as a solo renegade with no ring.
Over the last few issues since the title started its "renegade" story in June, Venditti and regular artist Billy Tan have established a new supporting cast for the series — non-Lanterns who are traveling with him in a sassy spaceship named Darlene. Newsarama talked with Venditti to find out more about Hal's upcoming visit to Earth, what he'll encounter there (and which Batman he'll meet), and what's coming up in 2016 in Green Lantern.
Newsarama: Robert, this week's Green Lantern #46 is the big showdown between Black Hand, Green Lantern and Relic. Is it also the conclusion to this storyline?
Robert Venditti: It is. Yes. This is the conclusion of the storyline that was kind of stewing in the background ever since Green Lantern Annual #3 when Black Hand interacted with the Source Wall and was able to raise some of the beings off the Source Wall for the first time. But also, much to his horror, he found out that some of the Source Wall had actually sort of infected him and impacted his ability to raise the dead and do the things that he finds fun.
So this is the end of that storyline, but it is part of a larger storyline that will be playing out in some of the other Green Lantern titles as well, in ways that I can't really say.
But it's integral to the overall arc that Hal finds himself in now, and other stories are going to continue to build on it.
Nrama: Let's talk about the other Green Lantern books, because there's been a bit of a shake-up over the last year. Green Lantern Corps and Green Lantern: New Guardians ended this year, and now we find out that Green Lantern: The Lost Army is ending soon. I know there are other books — and a new one on the way — but can you talk about the plans for Hal within the grander Green Lantern universe?
Venditti: Yes, he will. Lost Army is ending at #6, but there's already been announced a new storyline picking up where Lost Army left off, Green Lantern: Edge of Oblivion. So those characters are going to continue to be a part of the overall mythology as their journey is followed and their efforts to get back to our universe.
But yes, Hal will absolutely be encountering all of them again. In the future, they will interact again.
Nrama: The next storyline has Hal going to Earth, although there are a couple loose threads from the last storyline — specifically Relic and the Gray Agents. You've also established a group of supporting characters for Hal over the last few issues: the sassy spaceship Darlene, the bounty hunter Trapper, and the displaced alien Virgo. Are these other character involved in Hal's adventures on Earth?
Venditti: They are actually going to separate for a bit. Hal is going back to Earth. The last time he was on Earth, in Green Lantern #29, he left Simon Baz in charge of Earth and his family.
Now, with the entire Green Lantern Corps gone, and Hal has finally been able to deal with the situation with Black Hand, he's going to go back home and check on his family and make sure everything's OK if Simon Baz is missing.
He's not going to take Virgo,Trapper and Darlene with him, because he's trying to maintain a low profile, being on the run the way he is. Aliens and spaceships on Earth tend to draw a little bit of attention.
For awhile, Virgo and Trapper and Darlene are separated. They are going to run into something that will come back around post-Green Lantern #50, when they're all reunited.
And we will see things come to a head with the Gray Agents you were speaking of, which are self-appointed law enforcement officers who want to fill the vacuum left by the Green Lanterns. And they feel that if they're able to take in Hal Jordan, they will have the authority to become the new law enforcement. Of course, it's not something they desire for completely altruistic reasons.
So there are a lot of elements in play, and even though Hal's going to separate from his crew for a little while, it's all going to come back together post-#50.
Nrama: OK, but in the meantime, when he's on Earth, I know one of the things he's going to encounter is Batman. But solicitations indicate that he realizes things have changed a little bit. Does that mean Jim Gordon Batman?
Venditti: He will be encountering Batman. As for which Batman that will be? I guess you'll have to read Green Lantern #47 and find out.
Nrama: What other things are he encountering on Earth? There's a little hint in this week's issue of something he might come up against. Is this a street-level story?
Venditti: No, not at all. He's going to be encountering a revamped version of Sonar, which is a classic Green Lantern villain.
We've kept a lot of the original core concepts — Sonar is a guy from a small, Eastern bloc territory called Modora. He believes it should be its own sovereign nation, and it was at one point in history, but it is no longer. He has a group of individuals around him who think it should be a sovereign nation as well. That's not the current geopolitical climate. And so he has built sort of an insurgent organization around him that he's going to use his expertise with sound technology to try to advance his own political agenda.
So it's not going to be a street level villain. It's going to be a villain who really challenges Hal in a way he's not used to. He's used to fighting Sinestro or Black Hand or Relic or the New Gods — things that he can see and hit in the face with a construct.
This is going to be a villain who is out there in the shadows, that is trying not to be seen, that is attacking soft targets rather than confronting Hal in open space. So it's a very different sort of villain for him that's really going to challenge who he is as a hero. And making it all worse, his city and his family are in the crosshairs.
Nrama: I know you've had Billy Tan on the book the last couple issues, but then you've got Martin Coccolo coming on for awhile. Is that a permanent switch, or just some time for Billy to move to future issues?
Venditti: Yeah, Marty Coccolo has worked on the book several times in the past. Most recently, he worked on Green Lantern Annual #4 and Green Lantern #44. But he's been doing fill-ins and things like that ever since I came on the book.
So he's going to be doing the primary "A" storyline of the Sonar arc that's going to happen in #47, #48 and #49. But Billy Tan will be contributing pages to those issues as well, because in addition to what Hal's confronting with Sonar on Earth, there is another cosmic threat that is building and is going to be converging on Hal's point. And Billy is going to be drawing the pages that deal with that, as well as Green Lantern #50, which will show that confrontation.
Nrama: You've certainly teased a lot about something big coming in #50. Anything else you can tell fans about that issue or what else is coming up in Green Lantern?
Venditti: Definitely check out #47. In addition to what we're doing with Sonar, which I think is going to surprise some people, the final splash of the issue, I think, is going to really, really surprise people. And that will give you a hint, as far as what I was discussing with this cosmic threat in Green Lantern #50.