This week, writer Robert Venditti wraps up more than five years (and 85 issues) in the Green Lantern franchise with Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #50. Concluding the current "Darkstars Rising" storyline, the issue also puts a final bow on what ended up being a lengthy run for Venditti through much of the New 52 and into "Rebirth."
Newsarama talked to the writer about his time on the series, what he hopes he's accomplished for fans of the "Four Corpsmen," and what he learned from Hal Jordan and the other members of the Green Lantern Corps.
Newsarama: Rob, you've been writing Green Lantern characters for years now, mostly following Hal Jordan. How do you think Hal has grown under your watch? He seems more connected to the power of will, and he's visited Emerald Space. How do you think he's grown, and were you surprised by the journey you took with him?
Venditti: I was surprised. The most fun parts about writing, regardless of who the characters are or what the story is, it's always those moments when the characters surprise you.
I know that sounds weird, because it sounds like they're alive, but it does happen. The story will go in a certain direction and a character will do certain things that surprise you and you didn't even see it coming, even though you're the one who writes it.
Those are the most fun parts. There were definitely surprises along the way.
For Hal, I think his growth was more a maturation, in some senses. He started out as leader of the Green Lantern Corps, thinking he'd be able to take it on and take his singular approach to combat and apply it on a corps-wide level, and that didn't work out very well.
So it's about each of the characters, not just him, but each of the characters learning what their individual strengths are and what they do best. And that serves everyone around them.
And there are certain situations where Hal Jordan is 100 percent the guy you want to have wearing the ring, charging into battle and doing those things, but there are other instances where you would want it to be John or you'd want it to be Guy or you would want it to be Kyle.
What I've tried to do throughout the whole series is build stories that show off exactly how they all use their willpower differently, even though their power sets are the same — where they get that willpower from, how they use it and how they use it to its fullest potential, and how that differs from each other.
For Hal, it's really been about learning those things about himself. I would say that's one way that he's grown.
Another way would be in his understanding of his father's death and how he's coped with that, and the impact it has had on him, with self-realizations there as we've seen certain things throughout the series, whether it'd be issue #7 or issue #10 or I think issue #28, or even this current story arc. Seeing and realizing how his father's death shaped him, in some ways very positive, which I know sounds paradoxical to say, but he was able to take lessons and things away from that huge event in his life and shape it in a way that something similar shaped Tomar-Tu in a very negative way.
Those would be a couple of the ways I think he's grown across my run.
Nrama: Do you think you've grown as a writer? Because I have to tell you, as much as people have enjoyed your Green Lantern work, I think you've really nailed the launch of Hawkman.
Venditti: I appreciate that. I'm having a great time on Hawkman.
But to your question, yes, I would hope so. I think if you go back and look at Green Lantern #21, which was my first issue, I'm going to take a guess here, but I want to say that at the time I wrote Green Lantern #21, I'd written maybe 12 monthly comic books in my entire life. You know?
I was a very, very new writer and I was coming in after Geoff Johns, who had done a hundred plus issues of just Green Lantern, plus all the other things he'd done, you know?
And so for me, since then, I've written another 200 comic books, whether they be Green Lantern or X-O Manowar or whatever it is I've done, and I'm always trying to improve with every issue. And that will never end because it's art. It's not math. You're not going to solve the answer. There is no answer. You're always going to be learning, you're always going to be growing, you're always going to be improving. And that's certainly my goal when I sit down to write every issue.
I think if you read Green Lantern #21 and then you read Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #50, and there's 85 issues in between, you can certainly see a lot that's changed and a lot of the ways that I've grown as a writer, not just writing in general, but writing Green Lantern specifically and writing superhero comics, writing within the DC Universe, all those things.
That's something I take a lot of pride in, because ultimately, that's the goal in everything I do is to grow and get better.
Nrama: Does this issue also tie up some loose threads from your run?
Venditti: We've already put the bow on things the way we wanted to for quite some time. There are always going to be threads that don't really get closed. In monthly series, there's ideas for storylines we had that we seeded, and some of those may have been obvious and some of them not. You never know which ones you're going to pull on and whether you'll change thoughts and need to go in a different direction. So there are some things that won't be completely closed, but I don't even know if readers will know, because a lot of times, I'm the one who seeds them and I know what those threads are.
But in the same way that you wouldn't have realized where we were going with Tomar-Tu back when you saw him in issues #8-12, you wouldn't realize there's going to be a Darkstars story. The threads don't really become obvious until you do pull on them.
Other than that, I feel like what we've wanted to do with the characters and where we ended up here at #50 is right where we wanted to be to tie everything off and give everybody a nice send-off.
Nrama: We talked about Hal, but as you mentioned, you've been highlighting the "Four Corpsmen," as you've called them recently. What do you think we can learn from each of those characters, or more specifically, what do you think you've learned?
Venditti: I think we can learn the same thing from all of them: Be the best you that you can be.
Guy Gardner trying to be Hal Jordan would be disastrous. Hal Jordan trying to be John Stewart would be disastrous. I think we saw that somewhat when Hal spent his time as leader.
So be the best you that you can be.
They all have the same power set, and it's all driven by willpower, but the way they get to that willpower is vastly different. Hal's is by gut reaction, trusting his instincts, and thinking on the fly. And that works exceedingly well for him. John Stewart's the opposite of that. It's much more about lining up all his pieces so that when he hits you, it will be complex and well-thought-out and well executed, and that's how he does it. Guy has his own way of doing it. Kyle has his own way of doing it.
I think that's ultimately the lesson you can learn from all of them.
And also, there's the Guy fans, there's the Kyle fans, there's the Hal fans, there's the John fans. The Green Lantern fanbase kind of picks their favorites. But one of the things I wanted to do with this series was to show how much love and respect these four characters have for each other, and how much they recognize that the differences in them make them unique, but together they become the Four Corpsmen.
Hopefully, readers who read the series who came into it being just a fan of one of the Green Lanterns end up finding out that they really do like Guy, Hal, Kyle and John in the same way that the characters all have that respect for each other.