Color Scheme: DC Artist Morales Talks 'Tales of the Corps'

Rags Morales: Tales of the Corps

Ed Benes' cover to Tales of the Corps #1-#3

At a hotel near the Baltimore Comic Con last September, Geoff Johns and Rags Morales were walking together, smiling as if they'd just resolved something important.

"You remember seeing us and asking us what we were up to? We created a merger," Morales said with a laugh. "We discussed many projects, but the one that we'll be starting off with is that I'll be working on Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps. I'll be working on those three issues with Geoff. And then we're planning to work together on a future project as well."

Newsarama Note: As Morales notes, interior art for Tales of the Corps is not yet available. At the right is Ed Benes interlocking covers to Tales of the Corps #1-#3.

As DC announced recently, the three-issue mini-series Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps will begin on July 15 and will come out weekly for each of the last three weeks of July, just as the Blackest Night event begins. The issues will be co-written by Johns and Green Lantern Corps writer Peter Tomasi with art by Morales, Chris Sprouse, Ivan Reis, Doug Mahnke and others.

As Johns told Newsarama last month, basic information on the Lanterns of the seven colors in the emotional spectrum will be in the next few issues of Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps, but the Tales of the Corps series will go into "a lot more detail on a lot of these Lanterns."

"There's going to be some research on my part going into it," Morales said of drawing the many different colored Lanterns. "I've had my head wrapped around other projects, so I haven't been delving into the Green Lantern stuff as much as I'll need to now. I have a general idea of what's going on with the various colors and how their Lanterns look. But I'll have to really sit down and get into these characters and talk more with Geoff about each of the concepts."

The three-part cover by Ed Benes was revealed earlier this month by DC and features characters from all seven corps, including a never-before-seen character named Indigo. As solicitation copy says: "Bear witness to Blue Lantern Saint Walker's pilgrimage of hope, Star Sapphire Carol Ferris' sacrifice for love, Green Lantern Kilowog's courageous beginnings, Red Lantern Vice's source of rage, Orange Lantern Blume's bizarre creation, and the first appearance of the mysterious Indigo, leader of the Indigo Tribe!"

Morales said he's also expecting to work on Black Lanterns during the project. "Geoff and I have had a few conversations about what I'll be drawing," he said with a laugh. "So yeah, I'm well aware of the terror of the Black Lanterns. I know what characters I'll be dealing with, and some of them I'm very familiar with."

The artist said getting to draw cosmic stories about alien creatures and space battles will be a bit of a challenge for him, but that's one of the reasons he took the project.

"You know, it's funny. Ethan [Van Sciver] said, 'You know, there's one thing I've never really seen you do is something cosmic.' And it dawned on me that it's true," Morales said. "A lot of what I've done is more archaic and savage, like Black Condor or Turok or even Forgotten Realms, where I started my career. Even Hawkman was more about swords and savagery. But this is sci-fi, and it will be a challenge for me to figure out my impressions of things that are more science-oriented or magic-oriented rather than just brutal or utilitarian."

Morales said he's hoping that being involved in Blackest Night will also get him back into the "mix of things" at DC.

"It's always great to do something that you know the company is really counting on and the audience will enjoy," he said. "When people look back to how so much of this started with Identity Crisis, it's nice to know I was part of that springboard.

"I know I kind of spit the bit with Wonder Woman and the whole OMAC thing," Morales said of his inability to finish his work on Wonder Woman in 2006. "The reasons for that have been well documented. And it's nice to know that if you keep pushing and asking the right questions, there's an opportunity that will fall into your lap and you'll get the chance to draw something really special."

Until his Blackest Night work begins, Morales is doing two issues of Justice League of America with writer Dwayne McDuffie. It begins with this week's issue #32, and the artist will also be drawing next month's issue #33.

"JLA was offered to me as a regular series, and it was a plum opportunity, but I was already committed to work with Geoff again," Morales said. "I really wanted to sink my teeth into something that was a little more uncommon. Something that wasn't a monthly book. The chance to work with Geoff was just too tempting."

His return to the JLA after having been gone from those characters for awhile was a little different because the line-up has changed so much recently, Morales said.

Justice League #32, page 3

"It's not the classic line-up," he said. "I'm dealing with more of the secondary characters, what with Batman deceased and Superman on call and Wonder Woman off doing her thing. The characters I'm dealing with in these issues are Vixen, Zatanna -- whom I'm familiar with, obviously -- Firestorm, and John Stewart as Green Lantern. And Dr. Light. And that's cool. I remember when I was speaking with [DC editor] Eddie Berganza about doing some JLA, he mentioned getting to draw Hawkman. And I kind of snarled at him. There comes a point where you kind of run out of ideas for a character, and having done 21 issues of Hawkman, it seems like every commission is a request for Hawkman. You don't want to run into a rut. You want to do something fresh and new. So when I had the chance to do these characters, it was a new challenge. And that's always more fun."

The artist said the JLA issues he drew concentrate on the transition of the team now that the heavy-hitters have departed, as well as the integration of the Milestone characters into the DCU.

"Black Canary is having a tough time keeping control of the group," Morales said. "Without any help or reliable input from the big corps members, she's asking herself whether or not it's worthwhile. And we'll be concentrating on the interaction with the Milestone characters. So I'm getting to draw Payback, and Blitzen and Donner, and Icon. And there's a sequence for Hardware. So there's a lot of the Milestone universe that's being incorporated right now."

Morales said it's always more fun to tackle characters he's never drawn before, and that's another reason he's so excited about working on Blackest Night. "It's different," he said. "It's every artist's ambition, to challenge himself artistically, visually, or through the story."

Turning down a regular job on Justice League was worth it, Morales said, for the chance to work on the projects he's got lined up with Johns. This mystery project that Morales is planning with Johns in the future can now be added to the announcement by Ivan Reis (also here on Newsarama) that he would be working with Johns on an unnamed project in the future.

"I don't want to jinx our next project," Morales said. "But it's probably the one character, and I guess on some level a family of characters, that we've been dying to do. Certainly for me, it's one of my favorites. We're going to go very cool and deep with the characters and the supporting cast, and make this character make more sense now than it ever has before. With Geoff at the helm, and with me and my energy for it, this is the one project I would basically lock the door and take the phone off the hook for. It's definitely going to be a lot of fun, and with Geoff it'll be a real collaboration.

"It's been handled on many occasions, but I think we'll have the final say on this character," he added.

With the evidence pointing toward Johns' collaborators wanting to work with him again and again, we asked: What's this ongoing appeal of working with Geoff Johns?

Justice League #32, page 4

"There are many things that are great about working with Geoff," Morales said. "One thing I've always enjoyed is his grasp of the universe. He always seems to bring things that are perhaps forgotten or just make positive sense of needing to be there. When it comes down to the end of any one particular book, I've always enjoyed getting to the cliffhanger. And I'd say he's probably the best at writing cliffhangers and just making you want to come back for more. So he's a great page-turner, and his pacing is terrific. And as a creator, he's one of the few people I've really enjoyed collaborating with. He's very open to ideas, and that's really refreshing. It's nice to be part of inventing something instead of just following orders."

As for the stories he'll be drawing in Tales of the Coprs, Morales hasn't started drawing them yet, but the artist said he trusts that reuniting with Johns will be something special.

"When we got together in Baltimore, it was like two old partners saying, 'Dude, I miss you,'" he said. "With all the work we did together on JSA and Hawkman, there's a partnership there. After we finished our run together on Hawkman, we went our separate ways. He went on to do Rebirth, and I did Identity Crisis, so it's just the way it happened. But he and I have a tremendous amount of respect for each other's abilities, so we know that when we get together, we're a pretty good team."

Newsarama Note: Check back later today for a preview of this week's Justice League #32

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