As my fellow nerds are no doubt aware, DC Comics are relaunching their entire line this month. Nearly all of their characters histories are being tweaked or completely rewritten. The notable exceptions to these huge changes are the Batman and Green Lantern lines, who are escaping with very little changes to their current continuity. In fact, September sees Green Lantern grow from three to four titles per month; all of which continue their stories from where they left off in August. The reasoning behind this is simple: Green Lantern sells. Since Geoff Johns took the reins of Green Lantern Rebirth in 2006 with what can only be described as an inspired take on the franchise, GL has flown brighter than ever before. Following the huge Green Lantern focused event Blackest Night, the blockbuster movie and the upcoming animated series the Green Lantern line is now stronger and has reached more people than ever.
Starburst spoke to the outgoing writer of Green Lantern Corps and upcoming writer of Green Lantern: New Guardians, Tony Bedard, about how Green Lantern fits into DC's New52 and how the character is perceived in general.
STARBURST: Let's start off with a simple one; Who is your favourite Green Lantern and why?
TONY: The short answer is Kilowog, just because he's so much fun to look at and he calls everyone a "poozer." But the bigger truth is that I'm a fan of the Green Lantern concept: that you could be chosen for this great interstellar police force, that your power ring can project whatever your mind can envision, etc. I love the sheer multitude of Green Lanterns, each the best that their world has to offer. It's inspiring to think of all those alien beings working together. And there's a sense of endless discovery in the GREEN LANTERN books precisely because there are so many Lanterns to meet and enjoy.
STARBURST: It's my opinion and the general consensus here at Starburst, that the Green Lantern movie was unfairly treated by reviewers this June (I think many jumped on the bandwagon after the first reviews). What did you think of the movie, the reaction it got and what would you like to see in a possible sequel?
TONY: You know, the movie came out right as I was battling deadlines on both our FLASHPOINT comics event and on the September relaunch, so I missed most of the hype/buzz/whatever. All I know is I literally got chills when Ryan Reynolds started reciting the Green Lantern oath during that final battle with Parallax. I'm very much hoping they'll do the full Sinestro Corps thing if there is a sequel. And I'm hoping to see a Justice League movie with Green Lantern in it, too. Until then, I'll stick to the funny-books and enjoy the Batman and Superman movies when they come out.
STARBURST: In the last three or four years Green Lantern has replaced Wonder Woman in DC's Big Three, with regards to merchandise and multi-media exposure. What do you think gives Green Lantern a certain marketability that other superheroes may not have?
TONY: I think Green Lantern's recent rise in prominence is all about the great work that Geoff Johns has done with the character over the last few years. There was always a lot of untapped potential in the character, but Geoff completely blew the lid off the Green Lantern franchise, adding things like the new ring corps and the Emotional Spectrum that empowers all those different power rings, and he did it in a way that seemed to unfold naturally from what came before. Geoff, in turn, couldn't have made it all work as well as it did without Ethan Van Sciver, Carlos Pacheco, Ivan Reis, Doug Manhke and other amazing artists. But there's a reason DC made Geoff their Chief Creative Officer. The guy knows what makes our characters tick. I also think Green Lantern is helped by the fact that he has the coolest superhero costume ever, and that it's such a visual concept that the character works great as a cartoon, as a toy, as a video game, etc.
STARBURST: Can you explain the New 52 Green Lantern status quo for fans that saw the movie, but haven't read any comics yet?
TONY: The movie established a lot of the basics: that ancient blue aliens called the Guardians of the Universe empowered the Green Lantern Corps to act as an interstellar army of peacekeepers. Hal Jordan became the first Green Lantern from Earth, eventually outshining even the great Green Lantern Sinestro, who goes on to become Hal's greatest foe. In September, the New 52 comics will be a great jumping-on point for anyone who hasn't been reading DC Comics, and each issue will re-establish everything you need to know to enjoy that particular series. But in GREEN LANTERN the big twist is that Hal Jordan has been kicked out of the Corps and Sinestro has taken his place! Over in GREEN LANTERN CORPS we'll follow two more of Earth's Green Lanterns, Guy Gardner and John Stewart, as they take on an all-new menace that is immune to green power rings. And in the all-new GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS series that I will be writing, we follow Earth's newest Lantern, Kyle Rayner, and he must pull together a new team with representatives from all the different Corps. Somehow, Kyle has to get Red Lanterns, Blue Lanterns, Indigo Lanterns, etc to work together -- something that the Guardians of the Universe see as a threat to their authority. So while Kyle will be wearing the badge and ring of a Green Lantern, he is very much off the reservation, so to speak. Not only will we discover new things about all the other Corps, but we'll see that the only thing the Guardians of the Universe fear...are New Guardians.
STARBURST: Are there any essential storylines that new readers should pick up or will the past be recapped as the new stories go on?
TONY: One of the guiding principles in the "New 52" relaunch of the DC Universe is that every one of these new books will be completely accessible to new readers. It's the best intro to this pantheon of characters since they first appeared so many years ago. Pick up any book from Superman #1 to GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS #1 to BLUE BEETLE #1 and you're going to have everything you need. We have the greatest heroes, the most memorable villains, and a whole universe full of cool concepts and places. Of course, once you check out some of these new books, you may want to go read some of their previous adventures, but in September all DC Comics will be "come as you are, no experience necessary." It's the ground floor, and you're invited.
STARBURST: Since the expansion of the Green Lantern line after Rebirth, there has been a great deal of shared story (Sinestro Corps War, War of Light etc.) that has run through the GL titles. Is this something that will continue after the relaunch or have crossovers been discouraged?
TONY: I think each series will be given a chance to stand on its own and find its own unique feel, but that doesn't mean we won't see crossover stories later on. For now, though, enjoy a fresh take on some of the best-known characters in history.
STARBURST: With deadlines now seen as immovable by DC Comics, how far in advance have you planned your stories? Has the change of attitudes that have come with the New52 changed the way that you approach writing?
TONY: I try to have everything planned about 6 months ahead in terms of a general outline. As for full scripts, I've completed the fourth issue on both of my series, if that gives you some idea of how far ahead we run. I don't think this relaunch has fundamentally changed my storytelling approach, but it has spurred me to step up my game. I have to compete with 50 other series produced by some very good comics creators. I think the sense of friendly competition is bringing up the quality level across the board.
STARBURST: Could you pick three other New 52 titles that you are excited about reading?
TONY: I've already read the first issues of GREEN LANTERN and GREEN LANTERN CORPS, both of which were excellent. The others I'm looking forward to most include ACTION COMICS #1 by Grant Morrison and Rags Morales. I'm a big fan of both those guys. Also curious about GRIFTER #1, written by an up-and-comer named Nathan Edmondson who did a great espionage book at Image called Who Is Jake Ellis? And I'm looking forward to Geoff Johns' and Ivan Reis's AQUAMAN, because I'm a huge Aquaman fan, and this looks like it may be the character's breakout moment, from the same team that made Green Lantern the biggest franchise at DC.
STARBURST: You've written both Green Lantern Corps and now New Guardians starring Kyle Rayner. What is it about Kyle that is appealing to you as a writer and a fan?
TONY: Kyle is the most accessible, most normal, most empathetic Lantern in the Corps. He's not some fearless hero or badass warrior when he gets his ring, he's just a normal twenty-something struggling to make ends meet, and even though he proves himself worthy of the honor, he's still just a regular dude. Being a commercial artist and cartoonist, he finds that his visual sense and boundless imagination make him a natural at ring-slinging and coming up with cool energy-constructs. He's also sensitive, as artists often are, but this emotional core will prove crucial as he seeks to master the whole emotional spectrum, from Red Rage to Violet Love. Kyle also has an origin unlike any other Green Lantern, which you'll see in GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS #1. He is unique in the Corps, and he's the only Lantern in any Corps with a prayer of pulling together a team like the New Guardians.
STARBURST: The title New Guardians and events at the end of War of the Green Lanterns suggest that this group may be at odds with the Guardians of the Universe. Are they operating unsanctioned? Can you give any clue as to the mission of this eclectic mix of ring-slingers?
TONY: Kyle and his group are definitely at odds with the Guardians of the Universe. The precise nature of their mission will remain mysterious at first, and it's doubtful that you could really call them a team. Is there such a thing as an "anti-team"? But that's all part of the fun, as Kyle finds that controlling his companions makes herding cats look easy.
STARBURST: There are four Green Lantern #1s starting in September. What will readers get from Green Lantern: New Guardians that they won't see in the other three books?
TONY: GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS will reveal new details about each of the other ring corps, continuing the expansion of the Green Lantern universe. It's all fresh material -- undiscovered territory. And as you explore this new terrain with Kyle, you're going to fall in love with this unassuming young artist with the heart and vision to take on the oldest and wisest beings in the universe.
The New52 Green Lantern comics are released as followed: Green Lantern #1 & Red Lanterns #1 on 14th September, Green Lantern Corps #1 on 21st September and Green Lantern: New Guardians #1 on 28th September.
And this summer’s under-rated Green Lantern movie is released on Blu-Ray and DVD on October 17th in the UK with an additional 14-minutes of footage.