When writer Tim Seeley got the gig on Green Lanterns, he not only wanted to make sure it was character-focused and showed the challenges of becoming superheroes, but he also wanted it to be the "more progressive" Green Lantern book.
As Seeley put it, "there's a reason that it's a man and a woman, that it's a Muslim guy and a Latina."
In Seeley's first Green Lanterns storyline, which kicked off in October, the writer not only portrayed the lead heroes struggling to find jobs on Earth, but Seeley also attacked the issue of xenophobia during the pair's mission on another planet.
In his next story, Seeley juxtaposes the characters' challenges finding dates with an inter-planetary human trafficking story that involves the misuse of a dating app for superheroes.
But among the daily challenges of the heroes — and the other-worldly progressive themes — Seeley is also developing an explanation of what makes Simon and Jessica unique as Green Lanterns. For Simon, it's related to his power to heal, while Jessica's got a mysterious relationship with her ring.
In this first installment of a two-part interview, Newsarama talked to Seeley to find out more about the writer's approach to Green Lanterns, why he thinks it continues what writers have done before with Simon and Jessica, and when readers will find out more about their mysterious ring powers.
Newsarama: Tim, now that you're a few issues into your run and finishing the first storyline, what were some of the things you wanted to establish about Jessica about Simon as you started on Green Lanterns?
Tim Seeley: The thing I took from the book before I started — and I'm not sure everyone did — but what I thought Geoff [Johns, who co-created both characters] set up and from what [former Green Lanterns writer] Sam [Humphries] was doing with it was that this is the Green Lantern book that's about the people that have the job and not really about the Corps or the history.
I think Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps should be about things that involve the larger institution and things that involve the Guardians and all that mythology that comes with it.
But Green Lanterns should be the book about people who are average, everyday people who have to deal with this job.
Nrama: So is that how you distinguish it from the other Green Lantern book?
Seeley: Yeah, if the other book is sort of, you know, Star Trek meets police stuff, then this one is going to be like a Spider-Man story. You know? It's going to be the young hero dealing with power and responsibility and what that entails.
And it also, I think, has to be the more progressive Green Lantern book. I think that's what Geoff originally wanted. There's a reason that it's a man and a woman, that it's a Muslim guy and a Latina. All those things, I think, are what makes this book unique and makes it different from the other Green Lantern title.
Nrama: Is that the reason behind some of the themes you're exploring — like this storyline's plot about two life forms sharing a planet, and the next storyline, which has a sort of human trafficking-type story?
Seeley: Yeah, I really wanted to dive into that stuff. I wanted it to be more rooted on real-life issues.
But I wanted it to be very character-based and about the things that Simon and Jess would deal with that we could all relate to, but that are also specific to the kind of people they are — that Simon is a Muslim guy in America in 2017 and that Jessica is a Hispanic woman in America in 2017 — but also be about them specifically. They are people with interesting, unique personalities. Simon's kind of impulsive and brash and that's what makes him who he is. And Jess is very cautious and very sympathetic to people.
All those things had to be tied into a unique approach to the book, which is what I hope I pulled off.
Nrama: You also inherited this strange power that Simon has to heal — this "light." Are readers going to find out more about the power he has?
Seeley: Yeah. I mean, he's the miracle worker — there's a specific story about what it is that makes Simon a unique Green Lantern.
One thing that's been a part of the Green Lantern mythology forever is that each Lantern is a little bit different from another one. It's in the way that they generate their construct, but it's also in the powers that they have and what place they take in the larger Green Lantern Corps.
We'll definitely explore that.
To me, I wasn't super-interested in explaining why right away. But I definitely think there should be a responsibility and a weight that comes with being able to do that.
Nrama: That kind of came up in the story that just ended.
Seeley: Yeah, part of this storyline is that Simon saved this girl's life, and then that inserts him into the politics of this planet no matter what he does.
He chose to let her live.
Nrama: Yeah, and that might not have turned out so well. Let's talk about the mystery behind Jessica — her ring. There was a scene a couple months ago where her ring appeared to take some sort of a human shape, implying that — I don't know, that it has some type of awareness? Was that it? Will you get back to that?
Seeley: That's one of those things, when I took over the book, I was like…I'm going to explain this. We're going to have a reason for this.
And I came up with something I'm really proud of. I think it's kind of twisted, but I've never seen it directly done with a Green Lantern character before.
So we'll get into it in the next arc a little, and then the arc that follows that one is basically me explaining Jess' relationship with her ring — an explanation that ties into her "secret origin."
So I think it will surprise people.
Check back soon with Newsarama when we talk to Seeley more about Green Lanterns, including what's coming in the next "human-trafficking" story arc and whether readers can expect more superheroes like Simon's friend Night Pilot.