It's not surprising that a lot is happening this year in the Green Lantern universe, since there's a live action film coming out this summer and a new animated series next fall.
But the newest addition to the Green Lantern family of comics may have come as a bit of a surprise, because it focuses on the darker side of the emotion-powered corps. Earlier this month, DC announced a new Red Lanterns ongoing by writer Peter Milligan that launches in June.
The Red Lanterns will also be featured in the upcoming cartoon, so the characters are getting a lot of attention later this year. It's quite an accomplishment for characters who only first appeared in 2007 within the pages of Geoff Johns' run on Green Lantern.
Milligan is best known for writing Vertigo titles like Shade the Changing Man and Hellblazer, as well as Marvel's X-Statix and their upcoming 5 Ronin. The British writer has a knack for writing quirky and dark comics, which may give insight into what readers can expect as he explores the rage-filled Red Lanterns.
Newsarama talked with Milligan to find out more about his works on the Red Lanterns ongoing series.
Newsarama: Peter, how did the chance to write this ongoing series come about?
Peter Milligan: Simple. Geoff Johns called me one night. We have a chat about different things and he asked if I’d be into writing this series. It sounded interesting, so I said I was interested.
Nrama: Were you familiar with the Red Lanterns and the many colors of the emotional spectrum that Geoff introduced to Green Lantern? Or was it something you had to research? And what did you think of the concept when you first encountered it?
Milligan: I was aware that there was a lot going on. I’d picked up a few of the titles – mainly at conventions that I’d attended – but there was a lot of catching up to do. The guys in editorial send me a %%& load of comics, and I spent a while going through them.
As I said, the concept of The Red Lantern Corps seemed at first strange – but in a good way. Certainly a strange hero and a strange overall concept for a DCU title, which made it interesting to someone like me, who tends to veer a bit towards the strange.
Nrama: Why do you think readers have so identified with and embraced the concept of there being power in emotions, and different "wielders" of those powers?
Milligan: I think the main reason is that it manages to combine huge, space-opera vastness with some very personal and at times emotional stories.
Nrama: Out of all the different colors of lanterns, the Red Lanterns have emerged as the one that is being explored in an ongoing series. Why should the extreme "red hate" power wielders capture the attention of editors/creators/readers?
Milligan: Well, you’ll have to ask DC that, but I think it has something to do with how rage or hate pushes characters to extremes. The stories are about characters near the edge, at breaking point. Also, it is an emotion we have all felt, maybe even battled with. For this reason, it’s something we can all relate to — though most of us manage to get through life without having our blood replaced with napalm-like plasma.
Nrama: Geoff has connected the "rage" of the Red Lanterns we've met to loss. Will that be the concept behind what you're exploring? Or is there more to the "hate" they embrace?
Milligan: Loss is one important engine of rage. But not the only one, and I want to explore other causes. Pain, despair, bitterness. Any of these pushed far enough will result in great rage and hate.
Nrama: When you were becoming familiar with the Red Lanterns, what characters emerged as your favorites?
Milligan: Atrocitus himself, because on one hand he’s such a terrible bloody character — but dig a little deeper and he has a kind of morality, a kind of twisted “humanity.” I liked Bleeze because she seemed very messed up and full of napalm rage, but she’s also “hot” in other ways. And of all the Red Lantern Corps, she seems one most likely to stand up to big bad Atrocitus.
Nrama: How do you approach Atrocitus and his story? Can we as readers identify with him even though he's so hate-filled now?
Milligan: I think the answer has to be yes, at least at times: We should be by turns moved and repelled by this big brute. And that’s how I’m approaching him. This is a dark book, it has to be. The hero is such a dark, damaged character. But he has good reason to be, and there are darker and more evil forces out there than Atrocitus.
Nrama: You mentioned that you'll explore some other characters. Who else will play a role in the series?
Milligan: Bleez will be developed. She and Zilius Zox don’t see eye to eye and we’ll explore that. We’ll also be seeing a bit of Dex-Starr.
Nrama: As you build an ongoing series, what type of story are you going to be exploring and what approach? Horror? Space-hero? Villain?
Milligan: In a way, it has to be all of that. The nature of the concept means there’s a lot of horror and darkness. But amid all this death and destruction and KABOOM KABOOMing I want to inject a bit of weirdness and humor into it.
Nrama: What part of your own personal skills as a writer are you hoping to bring to the series?
Milligan: I want to bring to the book my interest in character, and in particular characters that occupy the darker and more offbeat areas of existence. Like most people I have had experience with a degree of rage and hatred and I’m hoping to tap into that to make the book’s rage human, accessible .
Nrama: This is now the fourth ongoing series within the Green Lantern universe. How closely do you expect to work with the other writers of the Green Lantern books? Or will this function on its own, never touching the other books?
Milligan: A bit of both. It’ll have its own stories that drive it but it will be very much part of this word. I see characters from the other books making appearances, and the rage will exist within the universe of the Green Lantern Universe.
Nrama: For your fans, what else are you working on right now that they might want to check out?
Milligan: I’m continuing to write and love Hellblazer. Also, I’m writing a Flashpoint mini-series – with art by George Perez – which features Shade The Changing Man and Enchantress. Over at Marvel, I have a five-part series coming out very soon. The books or chapters will appear weekly. It’s called 5 Ronin and features some iconic Marvel heroes as you’ve never seen them.
Nrama: Is there anything else you want to tell people about the Red Lanterns comic?
Milligan: Yeah. Don’t get angry. Read the comic.