Green Lanterns, launched in June as part of "Rebirth," has established its two lead characters - both relative rookies to the Green Lantern group - and is now ready to explore the mystery of the Phantom Ring.
Written by Sam Humphries with art by Robson Rocha, this week's Green Lanterns #9 kicks off the new storyline, "The Phantom Ring," after revealing that an unknown and seemingly dangerous character is after the powerful ring, constructed long ago by a rogue Guardian of the Universe.
Green Lanterns stars Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz, both tasked with protecting Earth while also fighting their inner demons (and dealing with other Earth-based drama from time to time). The crime-fighting odd couple will now face a greater challenge, but one that Humphries is reluctant to spoil.
Newsarama talked to the writer to find out more about the Phantom Ring and what else readers can expect from upcoming issues of Green Lanterns.
Newsarama: Sam, now that you've established the two lead characters in their roles for the story, can you reveal what you felt was important to convey about them in previous issues, up to this point?
Sam Humphries: The legacy of Green Lanterns is all about courage over fear. Jessica's fear comes from within, but the source of Simon's fear is external. How they confront and overcome their fear illuminates who they are as characters.
For Simon and Jess, using the ring has shown them they have the potential to be true heroes. That's the deal with a power ring. And the same is true for the Phantom Lantern. Those who wear the Phantom Ring will learn things about themselves that they can never, ever forget.
Nrama: Why do you think readers can relate to these two characters?
Humphries: The response to Simon and Jessica has been incredible, unlike anything before in my career. Both of them are on the green side (sorry) stepping into big roles - the Green Lanterns of Earth. And I think that's a major key to their appeal - you get to experience this amazing, intimidating experience through new, fresh eyes. It's a new take on a classic song.
Fans really seem to have connected with them, and I think that comes down to both of them having very relatable emotional cores. Who hasn't felt anxiety, or been afraid of what others think of you? The first person narration doesn't hurt, either. I'm giving away all my secrets here. Bless up.
Nrama: You've shown that the Phantom Ring is powerful, but what can you tell us about its power and why it's unique?
Humphries: There are big surprises in Green Lanterns #10, when we start to see the ring in action.
That's also when we see what the ring does to you when you put it on.
Nrama: I'm guessing it's not good?
Humphries: If I told you now, that would ruin the surprise.
What I can tell you, straight from the mouth of Rami, the Rogue Guardian, is that the Phantom Ring lacks a safety feature. Nearly every power ring in the universe chooses its bearer based on their virtues, their soul. Not the Phantom Ring. Anyone can pick it up and wear it at any time. Which makes it the most dangerous power ring in the universe.
Nrama: We've seen that there's someone on Earth searching for the Phantom Ring, which is pretty surprising… When will we learn more about that? Can you tell us more about it?
Humphries: Great question. I can't wait for everyone to read Green Lanterns #9 and meet this character - or should I say, re-meet him! It's someone who plays a small but pivotal role in the legacy of Green Lantern. We've picked him out of the past, elaborated on his personal history and motivations, and put him on a collision course with Jessica and Simon. He's not a retcon or a reboot - just a character I found in the stacks. I looked deep into his eyes, and he screamed at me - "Tell. My. Story." How could I say no?
I'm curious to see if any of the legendary Green Lantern experts out there can figure out who he is in advance. All I'll say is he's only appeared twice, previous to issue #9. Once, pre-Geoff Johns era, and once during Geoff Johns' run. He qualifies as obscure, but when people realize his place in history, they're gonna lose it. In the best way.
Nrama: Let the guessing begin. So what type of story does the Phantom Ring allow you to explore?
Humphries: Issue #9 lays it all out on the table. Without spoiling anything, I'll say: legacy, doubt, heroism, relentless dedication, entitlement, and lies. Oh, and stone cold retribution. What a killer. Let's see, anything else? Oh - pizza. Everything I write is influenced...by pizza
Nrama: What's coming up then, specifically, in Green Lanterns #9?
Humphries: This is a really special issue, one of my favorites of the series. We've been spending a lot of time setting up Jessica and Simon as characters, and in their status quo of the Green Lanterns of Earth. It's been a blast, but it hasn't given me the opportunity to dig deep into the history of DC Comics. This issue is like The History of the Earth Green Lanterns...as told by an outsider.
But the best part by far is Robson Rocha's art. His first few issues on the title were incredible. But these pages are outstanding. We cover over a decade of DC history and he draws it all. From Hal Jordan to the Justice League (twice!) to the dark depths of a broken soul. Just beautiful work. Everyone will be fighting over Robson after this issue, and he deserves it.
Nrama: Can you describe what's coming up in the next few issues until the end of the year?
Humphries: We're going to explore the history of the Green Lantern Corps. All the way to the beginning...and even before that. We're going to talk about things that happened ten billion years ago...bad secrets never, ever die. Simon and Jessica are about to figure that out the hard way.
Also, Batman becomes a Green Lantern. Wait...what? That's already happened? Really. Huh! Well...we'll do ten issues with G'nort, I guess.
Nrama: We've seen that there's going to be a "Phantom Lantern." How would you describe that threat?
Humphries: This is the biggest new Green Lantern villain in a long time, and a character with the potential to be Simon and Jessica's Sinestro. This arc is just the first inning for the Phantom Lantern. We've got big plans for him.
And if that wasn't enough, the Phantom Lantern comes with a second, possibly even greater threat, lurking in the shadows. It's definitely someone we've seen before. Maybe he's the Sinestro to Rami, the Rogue Guardian. All I can tell you is that they've known each other for a long, long time... And one of them wants revenge.
Nrama: How does this story tie into what's happening in other Green Lantern titles?
Humphries: You'll see in the final chapter of Phantom Lantern.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell readers about Green Lanterns?
Humphries: It's the best comic of all time. (Never give me an open mic.)