As Robert Venditti begins his final storyline on Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, the team will be challenged by a new version of dangerous Darkstars.
The "Darkstars Rising" story, teased in the final issue of Dark Nights: Metal, will follow up on story threads that Venditti has been weaving into the series since all the way back in issue #8, showing how Tomar-Tu's subplot explodes into an all-out war between ideologies about enacting justice.
The first few issues of the arc will be drawn by Ethan Van Sciver, Clayton Henry and Brandon Peterson. Then Rafa Sandoval will draw the final three issues, including the oversized issue #50 that ends Venditti's run.
With "Darkstars Rising" kicking off in this week's Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #42, Newsarama talked to Venditti about the end of his run, the theme in these final few issues, and what readers can expect from the oversized final issue #50.
Newsarama: Rob, this may be the last time we're going to talk about Green Lanterns. This is the beginning of your final story arc, right?
Robert Venditti: Yeah, this is the last big storyline we're doing. It's divided up into three smaller arcs. So there's going to be a two-part prelude in #42 and #43, and an arc that takes up the next four issues, and then the final part of the story, which is its own separate arc in the last three issues.
So we've got three different acts to this big story.
Nrama: Being a double-ship book, even that number of issues may go quick. Let's talk about the final story you're telling. It feels like you're exploring the idea that there are different ways to think you're being a hero?
Venditti: Yeah. An easy way to say it would be, even the villains are heroes of their own story.
Our character who is the villain of this arc, in a sense, is Tomar-Tu, who becomes the first of the new Darkstars. And he ends up deputizing many, many other Darkstars to join him.
His story is one we've been following all the way back since issue #8 of the series. He's a character who has been a Green Lantern for a long time. He's the son of one of the most famous Green Lanterns of all, which is Tomar Re. He's one of the original Green Lanterns, going back all the way to the Silver Age.
And Tomar-Tu had captured a serial murderer from his home world. And the serial murderer surrendered but was gloating about how he knew he would escape one day, and he would commit more murders and it would be fine. The Green Lanterns, he said, have people going in and out of their prisons, so this villain knew he would come back to kill another day.
And Tomar-Tu, in that moment, he killed this criminal who had surrendered himself.
That ended up becoming a major plot point in the series and led to the breaking apart of the Green Lantern Corps and the Sinestro Corps. And Tomar-Tu ended up going to jail in the Sciencells.
Well, now, he's been freed, and he's taking his brand of lethal justice to the stars.
He thought that when he entered the Sciencells, what would happen with him is what the Green Lantern Corps always hopes would happen, that villains would see the error of their ways during incarceration and become reformed and earn that second chance. All of us do wrong, and we all have a chance to make better from that.
But Tomar-Tu's point of view is, I'm in jail with all these criminals, and all these killers, and all these people from across the universe, and I don't know why any of them are alive.
So when he gets out, he's going to start exacting that lethal brand of justice with the rest of the Darkstars.
The theme, I would say, these difference approaches to law enforcement and punishment, with one based on reformation and another based on criminals deserving to be executed because they can't be reformed.
Nrama: How is this going to fit with Hal Jordan? Is he the other side of this coin?
Venditti: To give you an idea of how we've been seeding these kinds of things in the whole series, we had an encounter in issue #30 and #31 where Hal Jordan went to Earth and had an incident with the Kroloteans and Hector Hammond, and he was teaming up with Superman for that story.
And Hal spoke aloud this notion that he has while looking at Hector Hammond, who's such a dangerous entity, in a prison cell. He says to Superman, does it ever cross your mind that maybe we should handle some of these situations and resolve them permanently once in a while, because the bad guys always have a way of coming back around?
There's kind of a quiet moment between then and Superman says, no.
And Hal says, no, me neither.
But I think it's a natural impulse for someone, even a hero, to think about those things when you're faced with the absolute worst that humanity, or sentient life in the wider DC Universe, can do to each other.
What makes a character a hero is that they don't fall prey to those impulses.
That's the difference between the Darkstars and not just Hal Jordan, but Guy Gardner, John Stewart and Kyle Rayner. For each of them, it's a bit different how they approach this idea of the Darkstars and what they're battling against, and what they think it's going to take to achieve victory.
Nrama: I would assume John Stewart might have a little different idea about this because of his background, right?
Venditti: Absolutely. He's been a Marine Corps sniper. He's lived on the other end of that gun. It was military service, but that's not how he wields his Green Lantern ring.
One is called war, and the other is law enforcement. And he sees the difference between the two. And he knows how it feels to be, for lack of a better term, that executioner from a distance.
So this is a personal story for him as well.
For Guy Gardner, he comes at it from a different perspective too. We know what his background is with his father and the abuse he suffered as a child. What kind of anger does he carry with him, and does he in some way relate to what the Darkstars are trying to achieve, because his father, in many ways, is the lowest of the low?
It touches on all of the characters individually. That's what's been fun about this series, to be able to look at the themes and what it means to be a hero and a Green Lantern through all these different perspectives as opposed to just one.
Nrama: Why are the Darkstars such a formidable foe for the Green Lanterns?
Venditti: Yeah, the Darkstars are a pre-existing concept, but we're bringing them back. We're very much looking forward with them. This is a much more formidable force. They have a new design and new capabilities. And beyond that, as we'll see in #42 and #43, while the original Darkstars were a creation of the Controllers, this situation is going to be different.
And the way in which that is different, which I don't want to give away and reveal yet, speaks to the sheer power that they have. And even beyond that, there's the strength that they have in numbers, compiled from law enforcement officers across the universe who are tired of the same things that Tomar-Tu is tired of - this idea that criminals break out or are let loose and beat the legal system in some way. There's a bunch of individuals who see this as a way to fix that problem.
There's also, in the wider universe, the victims of crime who quite naturally might feel a sense of vengeance, for lack of a better word, that they want a more final justice for the people that have harmed them and their loved ones. And so all of that makes these Darkstars formidable not just in a battlefield/tactical sense, but also in an existential sense.
Nrama: I know you've been seeding things about the Controllers, and now the Darkstars, and as you said, the situation with Tomar-Tu. Did you always know this would be a finale?
Venditti: Certainly not from the beginning of the series, but I knew this was a story we were going to get to. It was just a matter of where it would work in. Things are always shifting in a double-ship book.
But things just really worked well for this series to be the finale, knowing we were coming up on issue #50 and then coming out of Dark Nights: Metal.
Talking to Scott Snyder and DC about what was going to happen in the last issue of that series and what the wider repercussions for the DC Universe were going to be, we already had this Darkstar story we were working on that dovetailed very nicely with that.
It's always nice when you end up at a spot and it feels like you planned it the whole time, even though it might not have gone all the way back to issue #1. But yes, we did seed this into the series - the murder of a criminal by Tomar-Tu, and as you mentioned, the Controllers in #36, and that moment with Hal and Superman in #31.
So it is something that we've been doing all along.
And as we go through this final storyline, you're going to see how we bring back so many elements that we've encountered throughout the series, back in for this big finish that we have.
And those are really the kind of stories that I love to tell and the way that I love to finish my run on the book. It's very similar to what I did with X-O Manowar when I reached #50 and it was my last issue on the series. I reached all the way back to issue #1 and brought in something from almost every single arc along the way.
I think it's just the way my mind works, that I'm able to fit those pieces together and build up to that big finish.
We have a lot of big moments that we're going to call back to throughout these final issues, and with the great artists we have, it's going to be quite a sight.