Grant Morrison is utilizing the “whole cosmic playground” of the DCU for his new Hal Jordan-focused series The Green Lantern debuting this week. And although the story and plot structure resemble a TV police procedural, the concepts and characters will be as varied and imaginative as Morrison fans have come to expect.
“It’s old school science fiction,” Morrison told Newsarama. “I haven’t really done a lot of that stuff - you know, the space opera style, like George Lucas going to different planets where they have Art Deco architecture and flying cities. It’s kind of something like that that I haven’t done before.
“I’m scouring every ancient DC book going back decades for aliens and planets that haven’t been seen for 50 years, 20 years, 10 years,” Morrison said. “So yeah, we’re definitely delving into the entirety of the DC Universe in a way that I don’t think anyone has for awhile.”
The writer said that although Earth plays an important part in the story - which makes the series sound like it’s more “grounded” - The Green Lantern is actually going to spend a lot of time in space.
“The difference between ‘grounded’ and ‘everyday space cop procedural’ is vast,” Morrison said. “I mean, it’s grounded in the sense that these are the day-to-day cases for the Green Lantern Corps. So they’re not about the end of the universe. They’re not about entire systems dedicated to the destruction of your values, going up against you in constant war.”
The Green Lantern will explore the life of a space cop, combining “normal” everyday tasks with the unique twists that come from the DC cosmic universe. “Every day, there are things like interrogations,” he said as an example of a cop’s sometimes mundane duties. “But in this, you’re interrogating a giant spider. When you blow up to this scale, it’s kind of like All-Star Superman, which I always just said was about an ordinary guy but it’s blown up to this ridiculous epic scale. When you do that with Green Lantern, you get this mad, incredibly colorful, kinetic universe that I think is a really good parallel with the madness we’re living in right now.
“When you start playing with different planets and their cultures, and especially going back to ones that haven’t been visited a lot or some that haven’t ever been visited before so you can go back and play around with them,” he said, “then there’s a lot of fun to be had in the DC Universe.”
Morrison said when a story is less about dire circumstances or the end of the universe, there’s also more of a possibility for humor. “I love the fact that there’s room for Monty Python-ish humor in it again,” he said. “You know, it’s a lot weirder. It presents a universe that’s bigger and stranger, I think, which is fun.”
That idea of a police procedural doesn’t just apply to the story content in The Green Lantern. It’s also the inspiration for the structure, Morrison explained.
“It’s kind of like Doctor Who. I’ve been watching TV and getting a lot of structural ideas about how seasons work,” he said. “So we kind of used that model, where the stories are not quite stand-alone, because they’re sort of modular, but each one, you get a kind of story. But there are also hooks that go through and there’s season finales.”
Morrison admitted he might also have been influenced by the fact that he’s been working in television for the last couple years. “All of that has bled over into the stuff that I'm doing now. This kind of reads like a TV show, I think. We've planned it out as seasons, and we have the season arc and the mid-season finale, and I’ve hooked in everything they do in television.”
The writer also credits his time in television for the fact that he’s already working on The Green Lantern #10 before the first issue comes out. “I'm so glad that I'm ahead on my deadlines,” he said.
Although procedurals tend to be one or two episode stories, Morrison said there will also be ongoing plotlines that begin to intertwine more closely to the shorter main plots. “There’s kind of three strands going,” he said, “that become more and more dominant. So it’s building toward something.
“But we’re hoping it will be something that’s a bit different from what you usually see,” Morrison said. “It’s not building toward intergalactic war or anything that we’re familiar with.”
Morrison said the title of the comic book - The Green Lantern - also has its roots in serial police procedurals.
“The Green Lantern basically refers to the Green Lantern, the essential power battery, that doesn't necessarily refer to Hal at all,” he said. “It actually came from a movie in Britain called The Blue Lamp. It was a police movie, a very early police series, and it gave rise to sort of a famous 1960s police drama which ran for 200 years. It ran until the gang died on the job, basically.
“The Blue Lamp is the police lamp that hangs outside all the British police stations,” Morrison said. “So, I just thought, it's The Blue Lamp… The Green Lantern, it's the same thing. It's the science fiction version of that concept. So, it was very much, we wanted to have that The Blue Lamp, The Green Lantern, and so it does, it refers to the concept, rather than to the man.”
The “cop” approach to The Green Lantern will also include Morrison’s take on the Guardians of the Universe. “The Guardians have often been played as, you know, out-of-touch geriatric characters, but we want to play them as actually, these beings have been around since the dawn of the universe,” he said. “They have an intrinsic understanding of what is right, in the sense of what needs to create an organization, more freedom - they understand it in ways that we don't.
“So the Green Lantern is not following some code of law that has been drawn up by some guy - they're following a code of law that follows the fundamental principles on how the universe was created. We really want to go into that in a way I don't think has been done before; to show that there's more to this,” he said. “This isn't a bunch of law enforcers who just arbitrarily decided it was wrong to cross that way, or wrong to run through a red light one day, or wrong to be this person. They know the rightness in things, they know the wrongness in things, and they like to try and correct it for the evolution of the universe.
“So it's very different, yeah, it seems like a police force, and the more we get into the actual philosophy, the more weird and more alien it becomes.”