The following is an exclusive interview with the new writer of Green Lantern Robert Venditti. Venditti takes over the GL title and will co-plot Green Lantern Corps with series writer Van Jensen. This interview below is an edited transcription of The Green Lantern Corps Podcast episode 127, brought to you by TheGreenLanternCorps.com
Venditti discusses his favorite Earth lanterns, Hal’s new role post-Johns, secret scenes in future issues, Carol Ferris, new lanterns, keeping continuity, the John Stewart/Joshua Fialkov controversy, Charles Soule & Van Jensen and of course there’s some vodka talk!
Frankie: Okay so we’re going to ease you into the episode. The only question that I’m going to ask you Robert is Now that you are pretty much the head writer of Green Lantern and the co-plotter for Green Lantern Corps is there any chance that I personally will see Evil Star?
Robert Venditti: [Laughs] Any chance you’ll see Evil Star? Not in the immediate near term, I guess I would say. I came in with a definite plan with what I wanted to do with the book in terms of what my pitch was and what I felt what the natural course for what the book should be after Geoff’s run when “Wrath of the First Lantern” ties up. I just sort of decided what the next thing would be and then the outcome would be after that and the outcome after that and after that. So I kind of have in my head, roughly around 12 issues right now. And I say twelve but in comics that could be 10 or it could be 16, you know things are very fluid. I kind of have in mind what I think of that first year the book is gonna be like. It’s going to be a lot of new stuff I would say. A lot of new lanterns, new villains, new challenges and things like that.
F: Sounds fantastic! I’m glad you have a lot of this planned out and you know where you want to go with this. Now I’m going to hand it over to Andrew. Andrew, give him your questions.
Andrew: Hey there Robert. Just diving in here, coming off of Geoff’s long long run. It’s been big events and cliffhangers, double splashpages and twists and twists. I think to be honest, a lot of us have been overdosed with a big sense of event fatigue. So how do you feel about the road behind you, meaning the last two-three years or immediate past, and how will you be approaching the road ahead differently? For example, how much of what you will be doing will be tying up Geoff’s loose ends and how much will be a new beginning?
R: I would say it will definitely be a new beginning. I would say that I’m not tying up any of his loose ends. I don’t know if he’ll even have loose ends out there, you know? I came to the book…I don’t know how much you know about my background but I didn’t grow up reading comics, I read my first comic book in 2000, and I was 27years old. So I’m not a writer whose steep in continuity of ANY character and I like to think that if there was a time where I thought that would be a detriment to me. I like to think that it is an asset now because it allows me to come in and have a fresh take on things and just approach them as stories in and of themselves and not really look at them in terms of long continuity. Before I got the gig writing X-O Manowar, I literally had never heard of the character before. I had never heard of Valiant Comics before.
With Green Lantern, I had heard of it but with general pop culture knowledge. I didn’t know a lot about the continuity and those types of things. So really I just researched it to see what the broad strokes were and see what ideas came to me from doing that. It was after I sort of crafted my pitch, and knew what I wanted my story arc to be that I then went back and grabbed and read about 200 issues of Green Lantern at this point to get a sense of the voice and the particulars of characters and all those kinds of things. I don’t know that I’m really tying up his loose ends, more so it’s just dealing with something that I was reading about with what the Green Lanterns were, the emotional spectrum, and something that just leapt out at me that I thought would be a very interesting story to tell. In terms of crossovers and events, I guess an event would be something that brings in all the books in the DCU? Is that kind of what you’re saying? Like a “Blackest Night” kind of thing?
A: Well, it could be like a “Blackest Night” or something even smaller like “War of the Green Lanterns” or any of these other events that would encompass all the books and writers. Make things freeze and “Oh now we have to do this big event.”, and things getting paused on the development of the individual series. Does that make sense?
R: Yeah, okay, I see what you’re saying. In terms of huge company-wide events, I mean coming into a book like this, I wouldn’t even think that I would be involved in something like that. [Laughs] As the lead writer of Green Lantern, as it was explained to me, you want to have a cohesion between the books, especially with Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps. What happens in one, would happen in the other. Really little moments like that. I, myself, am not looking to be the kind of writer whose telling other writers how to write their books, you know? I’m very much about letting them each have their own distinct voices.
I think they have really unique takes on the books with what they’re going to do with them but there will be those things that carry over. I think part of that will be this logical extension of where things are gonna be. If you this character, Hal, who’s gonna be the leader of the corps, those are things that are going to be somewhat run through Corps to the main title. As far as my being co-plotter on Green Lantern Corps, really Van is doing all the heavy lifting there. I’m just trying to help with the transition. Help get him acclimated to the plans we have going forward. Really the ideas and concepts.
A: Okay, that sort of brings me to my next question. In the past, Geoff, as the writer of GL and it being the flagship of all the titles, was the defacto showrunner, even Red Lanterns, and his hands were every which way. As the new writer of GL, does that fall to you or are we looking at a scenario where it falls back to the editor? Who is the closest to a GL showrunner right now?
R: Gosh, I don’t know. I think the editor is definitely the one calling the shots. Matt Idelson is a really good editor and Chris Conroy who’s the Associate Editor, who I work with on Demon Knights. Both super sharp guys, and I would say the direction is coming from them in terms of coordinating the books and those kinds of things. We’re not really getting direction from them in terms of “Here’s what you need to do in this book!” We’re not having that kind of thing and I’m not telling them that either. We’ve had meetings, the lantern writers, where we’ve talked and its a two-way street. I have ideas, and other people have ideas as well. We found a way to make them all work. I try to be very upfront from the beginning that this is a Green Lantern TEAM. While I’m the guy writing Green Lantern, I don’t want to be the guy telling other people what to do in their books.
So I guess to give you an example of that from my personal life, and I apologize if this is a longer answer than you wanted. When “The Surrogates” got adapted to film, people asked me “Well, how much involvement did you have in the film?” The answer is none, because I didn’t want any. I didn’t want to be a guy who screenwriters, directors and producers felt was managing their creativity. They’re creative in their own light and so I let them do what they wanted to do. I’ve already told the tale that I wanted to so let them do what they want, and I’m not going to be someone sitting on their shoulder drawing them a road map. So that’s kind of the approach I’m taking to this Green Lantern group aspect as well.
A: I would that’s a welcome approach. Now as the CCO is Geoff pretty hands off at this point or is he chiming in at all?
R: Geoff is an awesome guy, you know. I’ve talked to him, he’s super cool, he’s super down to Earth. You would never know just by talking to him that he was one of the most significant writers of his generation. He’s just a regular guy, but a great resource. Right now, I think he’s still focused on wrapping up what he wants to do but he definitely knows what we want to do. All those discussions have taken place. I intend to use him as a great resource because nobody knows these characters like he does. Actually, as I’ve gone back and was reading his entire run, I was struck by the wonder and the imagination and the epic scale of everything that he did.
It’s really a pretty extraordinary thing. I hadn’t really read anything like that before. A lot of it I think is what, in their best moments, what comic books can be. He’s able to balance action and humor and character and plot and all these things. I definitely look forward to bouncing ideas of his head and talking things with him.
A: Alright. Now one of the good things I’ve seen in the GL family of books lately post-reboot, to Geoff’s credit, is that they’ve pretty much survived the New52 with much of the history intact. With just a few changes, here and there but more or less the last 30 or 40 years are intact. At least the biggest bullet-points are there, Emerald Twilight, apparently it happened, but it’s not really clear. There are changes with characters outside the GL sphere, like Hal and Ollie, that’s gotta be different now but within it, like John Stewart and Kyle, it seems all there. Is this something you’re going to run with as well or is your stance more, “Let’s have a fresh beginning and take advantage of the reboot.”?
R: No. I’m not looking to come in and throw dynamite onto everything! I guess I’m keeping the history intact. I would say that the beginning is a fresh jumping on point. You know? But not in the sense that I’m doing away with anything.
A: That’s about all out of me.
F: We’re going to go to Brandan. Brandan, give him your sweet questions.
Brandan: Sweet, sweet questions. You’ve said plenty of times in plenty of interviews before that Hal Jordan is going to be the guy in this book and that you are creating many new characters and some new lanterns as well. My question is being as Hal Jordan has shared the spotlight for so long with Sinestro, with Simon and before that it was John Stewart, how big do you plan on letting this cast grow in the Green Lantern book?
R: That’s a good question. I would say, when I talk about new lanterns and things like that, I’m talking about in terms of supporting cast. Not of somebody sharing or being co-lead with Hal. There will definitely be conflicts and challenges unique to Hal and very focused ON Hal and the new cast of characters around him, be that heroes or villains, are going to be sort of engaged within those conflicts, if that makes sense. As opposed to somebody that’s in there helping Hal deal with those conflicts in a way that a co-lead would, if that makes sense.
B: Yeah, yeah. Do you plan on giving us any names for these new characters? Just to whet our mouths?
R: [Laughs] Let’s see, aah…Gosh I don’t know. That’s one that can get me in trouble, let me think about it for a minute.
B: Give us somebody who dies!
R: That would be even worse! As soon as you’d see him, you’d know! No, I don’t think I should give it to you right now. They probably don’t want me to do that yet.
B: Alright, fair enough.
R: I will say that in the preview image that…
B: The initial Billy Tan image?
R: Yeah, the initial Billy Tan image that came out. Two of the new characters are on that image!
B: Okay, so I’m a really big Carol Ferris fan. More than Hal, more than Guy,Kyle, all of them. Carol is…
Eric: More than reasonable, you should say. [Laughs]
B: Carol is my heart and as much as I love her, she makes some pretty terrible decisions involving Hal Jordan. How do you view their relationship and how do you view Carol in general?
R: I think Carol is a great character as well. There are big plans for her in the Green Lantern line and I think that when you read issue one, you will see a scene between her and Hal that if I’m hearing your question correctly, that you’re going to like. It’s gonna be a scene that reading her as a character and understanding her as a character, I just felt this is EXACTLY what she would do in this scenario.
B: Aww, you’re tugging at my heart strings right now.
B: It is very much appreciated, I’m glad she’s on your mind. Is she a central character to your book or is she more of a Justin Jordan character?
R: I would say she is a central character to the line, but…yeah, it’s more than one book.
B: Okay, great! Even better. How much of Charles and Van’s writing will they be picking up on from Joshua’s plans?
R: They are doing their own things, you know. There were certain plans that were already intact sort of line wide, for the direction as far as things were going to go, and were sort of markers that were laid down. When you come in on a work for hire gig, you don’t just come in and do whatever you want. Editorial kind of says to you, “Here’s a general sense of how we want things to be. Go.” And that’s kind of the fun of working for a work for hire job rather than creator-owned, which I’ve done in the past. You can do whatever you want, which of course is very freeing but it’s a different kind of creativity to be able to work inside a set of constraints. So to come onto Green Lantern, where you have continuity and things like that and you’re not just making everything up as you go, it forces you to be creative in a different way. There’s certain elements that are going to carry over, but in a larger sense, they are entirely different takes for both of those books.
B: Okay, hopefully it’s just as exciting and hopefully this isn’t a touchy subject. You’ve stated before in interviews that you, Justin Jordan and Joshua Fialkov were good friends before the announcement that you were taking over the lantern books, so I’m wondering how is your relationship with Charles Soule and Van Jensen?
R: I believe what I said, just to get that correct, I didn’t really know Joshua before we started working together. We became friends afterwards, and we still are. What I probably said is that I’ve been a fan of his writing. He’s a west coast guy and I’m an east coast guy, so I had never even met him until we started working on Green Lantern. He’s a good guy. Van, is somebody that I’ve been good friends with for probably about 8 years now. He lives in Atlanta where I lived and he and I are real tight.
And Charles is somebody I’ve gotten to know recently, and he’s a super sharp guy. We got to meet at the DC summit and we did a good amount of talking there. Had some really long conversations about stories in general before he was involved in the Green Lantern books. Just a really sharp guy, and I can see myself having a really great relationship with him. And Justin I already know pretty well from our books at Valiant.
B: Is that relationship with Josh on any bad terms? You’re still good?
R: Yeah, we’re fine. Everything that happened there and I don’t even know if I know exactly what did happen, because I only speak about things which I was actually in the room when it happened. You know what I’m trying to say? [Laughs] Its had no effect on our relationship at all. I haven’t seen him since then, again I’m a east coast guy and he’s a west coast guy, but I have no harsh feelings about anything. Every writer has to make a choice for what they think best for their career, and that’s totally fine.
B: Yeah. You mentioned that you and Van were good friends, did you lobby for him to get the Green Lantern Corps gig?
R: I didn’t lobby for him to get this particular job, but I’ve been working with DC for a while and I’ve known editors and writers over there even longer and whenever somebody asks me for recommendations, people that I think could be good that “haven’t been discovered yet” Van is always a name I put in with everybody. So, he was a name that I talked with DC about months and months and months ago, and so when Green Lantern Corps opened up they asked me if I thought he would be interested. He has a pretty good skill set that I think applies specifically to Green Lantern Corps, because he’s pretty young guy, he’s only 30 years old, and he’s already done a lot of things in life.
He was the editor of his own magazine for several years. Not his own magazine, he was the editor of the Georgia Tech Alumni magazine for several years. Which is a magazine that had a lot of cutting edge technology articles and things like that. He also was a crime reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, basically covering the police beat. Listening to police scanners and going out in the middle of the night to report on the crime, and things like that. These are all things that I thought would make him pretty good in terms of skill sets for Green Lantern Corps. I think those are the things that got him the job, and like I said, me coming on as co-plotter is just really to help him with the transition. With the circumstances being what they are, getting him caught up to speed on everything and I can tell you within a few short months he seems like a natural thing to do.
B: Steering more in to controversial topics, you recently came out and stated quite clearly that there were no plans on killing John Stewart. Why do you think there was so much backlash just to idea of killing John when superheroes die every year? And Green Lantern is no safe place either? 3 of the 4 Earth lanterns have already died.
R: I can’t really say. [Sighs] I said there were “no plans for Van and I.” You know? Like I said, I don’t want to speak to what happened before that. But what I can tell you that something…He was already not going to die before anybody on the internet even knew he was ever possibly going to die. All the outrage and all the reaction by that time, the situation had already been resolved. [Laughs] It was a lot of consternation, which is great, I mean fans react to characters and I think that’s awesome. But in this case, I think a lot of people that got upset or worried that he was going to get killed off, it had already been decided that he wasn’t by the time they knew about it. I understand that fans love the characters and that they are attached to characters and I think for a lot of people John Stewart is Green Lantern because of the “Justice League Unlimited” cartoon and things like that. I don’t have any problem with that.
I can remember when I was watching the first season of “Game of Thrones”, I don’t know if you guys watch that, but I got to the episode where Sean Bean…Do you guys watch that because I’m getting ready to spoil it? [Laughs] I got to the scene where Sean Bean got killed and I was really mad! I was like “What the heck just happened?! I’ve been following this guy all season and I really like this guy and he gets killed!” It really angered me.
So I understand that, and I don’t take any offense to it, its totally fine. I think its great that people are so invested in characters, that they do care about that much. It just resonates with people. It resonates with Van and I as well, and that’s one of the reasons why we never had any plans to kill him.
B: Three more questions and I’m out of your life. A lot of writers, a lot of artists like to stay up all night drinking coffee and there some that prefer the sweet sweet taste of vodka. Which guy are you? Are you vodka or are you coffee?
R: Actually I don’t drink coffee at all. Caffeine just totally freaks me out. Caffeine gives me the shakes almost. Nor am I a big vodka fan. [Laughs] Morning drinks I guess I would say hot tea. For an evening drink, I’d go for more a Jack and ginger ale.
F: My friend, you and I should have a drink. Jack and ginger ale is a great mix, it always compliments whiskey.
R: Yeah, I’ll tell you what. There’s a ginger ale that they sell, as far as stores go, in the state of South Carolina, and so I get whenever I pass through South Carolina. You can probably buy it online. It’s called Blenheim, B-L-E-N-H-E-I-M. If you like Jack and ginger ale, you should order some of that. It’s a really, and it sounds confusing, but really it’s a spicy ginger ale. The ginger is really strong. If you put the Jack in there, it’s really good. You should give it a shot.
F: I’m gonna give it a shot, the moment I order myself some. Thank you!
B: Alright alright, wrapping up here for me at least. I know you couldn’t give away characters names, so this might be a bit of a stretch, can you please please tell us the title of the first Green Lantern arc?
R: Absolutely not. [Laughs] I definitely can not. No, the title would be too revealing I think.
B: Okay, well then let me get back to my roots, which is Carol. As excited as I am for this scene of yours in the first issue, which I can’t thank you enough for, I have to ask if you’re taking a stance on superhero deaths and saying “We don’t have any plans on killing John.” Does that set us up for failure? As far as expecting high high impact stories where Hal is on the brink of death and Carol is strung up by her neck or something viciously dangerous. Does making a stance or statement like that takeaway from the suspense? As a writer do you feel that you’re locked in a corner now that you can’t raise the stakes too high anymore?
R: No, I don’t. And I’ve never said that I was against death in comics or superhero deaths or anything like that. I just said “Van and I never had plans to kill John Stewart.” You know? That’s a pretty specific statement. So no, I don’t feel like I’m pigeonholed in any of those kinds of ways. I do understand what you’re saying though. I think in general, in terms of comic books anyway, its just the nature of a Superman book. You know Superman is not gonna die and if Superman does die, he’s gonna come back. So to that extent, I think that’s something that runs through a lot of superhero books honestly. And that’s part of the challenge! How do you build that drama? How do you build up conflicts and give them weight? I think this first sort of month or arc that I’ll be doing on Green Lantern, it will trade through October, it will accomplish a lot of what I’m talking about. I guess stay tuned.
And as far as John Stewart, the only reason why I really made that statement, and I thought a long time about it, it took me several days to put something on Twitter, because as you can tell from this interview, I don’t really talk about plot points very much. I want the story to be the story. But it was such a big story and I could see that everybody was getting upset about something, and I understand why they were getting upset, but in this instance, it wasn’t warranted. Because they even knew it was a possibility, it had already been decided that it wasn’t gonna happen. I guess, I don’t know, I almost feel bad that some of these people were so bothered. [Laughs] Over something that Van and I, and where we were at in the Green Lantern books, wasn’t even true by the time everybody had ever heard about it. Again, I’m not speaking to anything that happened before that because I’m not gonna put words in anyone’s mouth. I’m not going to get caught up doing that, I can just speak for what Van and I and what our conversations were and that’s probably why I said something.
B: Fair enough, alright Frank, you want to take over again?
F: Excellent questions from Brandan. We’re gonna move on to Colton. Colton, give him whatever you have.
Colton: Alright. I know you’ve worked in comics for a while, but with your recent work with DC how does this compare with working at Top Shelf? Is one better than the other? Is it just two different types of things?
R: Its different in a lot of ways. In terms of visibility for one. Top Shelf is a small press publisher, and they do mostly black and white sort of indie comics. The stuff I did for them was some sort of genre, but [DC] is a much bigger apparatus in terms of Top Shelf is being run by one editor for the whole company, which is Chris Staros and DC has multiple editors. There is a more of a process to things whereas Top Shelf was you wrote your story then editorial would come back and give you comments on it. With DC, because it’s a monthly book as opposed to an original graphic novel, you’re turning in scripts before the whole story is done, and you’re turning it in in chunks as opposed to doing the entire thing and getting all your comments at once. Monthly comics is obviously a different thing from graphic novels in terms of pacing, and reintroducing with each issue.
C: What are you most excited about as you’re coming onto the Green Lantern books?
R: I guess the stories I have in mind. I’m really excited about the stories we’re going to tell and I feel like they’re risky stories. So I don’t know if I would sit here and say to everybody, “Hey, I’m gonna knock it out of the park!” because its certainly not the case. If you’ve ever talked to a writer who asks like they know everything, then you’re talking to the one writer that does not know anything. I’m excited about the stories we have and they’re risky and they’re challenging and I’m looking forward to seeing if we can execute them the way I hope to.
C: You’re going to be writing Green Lantern and co-plotting Green Lantern Corps. Is there any pressure to follow such long runs or do you just feel confident in the story you want to tell?
R: Yeah, I can’t even think about stuff like that. If I try to compare myself to Geoff Johns run or those kinds of things, I mean those are really hallmarks runs. I think a lot of people are sort of, when they heard that I was going to write Green Lantern, like it was time for me to spike the football or something. Its really like “No, I just caught the football ten yards deep in my own endzone and I’ve got eleven guys trying to take my head off the other way.” [Laughs] I’ve got a long way to go before I can spike the football. I just try not to look at it or compare myself to other stuff. I’m just gonna tell the stories I like to tell and that I know how to tell and hope the readers respond in a good way.
B: That’s a great analogy by the way. That was very impressive.
R: [Laughs] I appreciate it.
C: One thing that I wanted to ask, and Brandan’s questioning inspired me to ask. With Green Lantern and especially Green Lantern Corps, I noticed that there were a lot of characters that were introduced almost to immediately die and we barely got to learn anything about them. I’m wondering, for characters that may or may not die, will you be creating characters that are just fodder for death to add drama or would you be willing to develop them before they go so we feel emotion about the death?
R: That’s a great question and I will say that…let me answer this carefully…The early issues of Green Lantern will speak to that very topic. Let me put it that way.
C: Oh! Very interesting, nice little tease there.
R: I mean you’re literally talking about something I noticed myself when I read. I knew it was something that I wanted to do. Something that I wanted to explore.
C: Of course. It’s not that it was any specific character. Just theoretically sometimes in the future, 10-20 years.
R: In terms of what?
C: If you were to use some characters that it wouldn’t be just for the sake of death. That you could build them up and expand them as characters. To me, that’s kind of important part of a character. A character can’t be thrown under the bus, just for the sake of being thrown under a bus.
R: [Laughs] Sure, I really can’t answer the question anymore specifically than I already have because it’d give away what I think is probably one of my favorite moments that I’ve written so far. But I will tell you that it happens…the scene that I’m talking about, happens in Green Lantern #23.
C: I don’t mean to press so hard, it’s just that as interviewers we have to push a little so we can give something to the fans. My last question is not really Green Lantern related, but with you taking over Demon Knights, a book I rather enjoy, from Paul Cornell, what do you say differs your run from his? Any interesting tidbits you could tell about it?
R: That’s a good question. I never thought about that before. I definitely tried to maintain the voice and that sort of great blend of action and humor he had in the series. What am I doing differently? I think that I’m using the horsewoman character a lot more. That was a character that he created. I’ve done some things with her in terms of expanding her skill set; I don’t know if that’s the correct terminology, giving her more of a focus and giving her powers more of a focus. Sort of explaining more about why she’s called “Horsewoman”.
In the second issue of my run, she gets a new horse because the previous horse had been killed, and you end up finding out that you would think she’d end up getting some horse, but it looks like…I’m trying to think of some famous horse, Secretariat! Some super fast horse or whatever, but she ends up picking this chubby little bit broken down squabby horse that was pushing a mule in town’s center. Like a workhorse as opposed to a battle horse or a speed horse. The reason she picks this horse is because she doesn’t pick one for skill so much as for conversation. Because she relates to horses better than she does with people. So she ends up talking to this horse, who’s the only character in the series that calls her by her real name which is Sarah. Everyone else calls her Horsewoman as if she never even told them her real name. I think that will explain a lot about the character and some other things that I’ve been enjoying writing about it.
C: Sounds really interesting, I can’t wait to read it. I think that is it for me Frankie if you want to send it along.
F: Alright Colton! I’m going to move it Eric now. Eric, give him some of that sweet nectar, you call…something.
Eric: Something. Yeah I call it something. Hey Robert, thanks for doing the interview, I really appreciate it. I wanted to say that I was one of those guys that was a die-hard Demon Knights fan and I was very depressed about the whole turnover so that Horsewoman confrontation and the fact that you like Game of Thrones makes me feel a little bit better about the situation. Speaking for Demon Knights fans, keep it amoral. I think that’s what we like on that title. So that’s all I can say.
R: Are you still reading it now that I’m writing it or no?
E: Yeah! I’m still on it, its just that I was a little crushed. I was crushed. [Laughs] Nothing against your writing, I think that everyone liked Surrogates and X-O Manowar is pretty cool but Demon Knights was one of those titles that when it was announced, people started launching petitions saying “Please don’t cancel it!” before the first issue came out. But yeah, I’m pretty happy with what you’re doing so far.
I did want to ask about Green Lantern stuff, going back to Andrew’s question in the beginning, he was asking about the idea of stringing along these big events. For me its kind of about, “What is the character about?”, and nothing against people who really enjoy Geoff Johns’ run, but some of us kind of got a little irritated by the superhero-y aspects of it when the idea that the Green Lanterns are kinda like cops in space and they’re a paramilitary unit. Is the direction going to change? Is it more of a superhero book for you? Or are you thinking of it as a science fiction? Are they actually going to recognize that they are an organized group as opposed to just dudes in costumes? Do you know what I mean?
R: Yeah. Definitely. A lot of the conflicts that Hal is going to have to deal with early on, and these are things that I’ve talked about before in other interviews, is that he’s gonna be the leader of the Corps. And to speak very specifically to your question, Hal is the kinda guy that is just a test pilot. He was a fighter pilot in the Air Force, now he’s a test pilot which is obviously a very brave and difficult thing to do and in its own way, very heroic. If you go to the Air Show with your kids and they see the pilot flying over the beach and they think they’re heroes. Its a solitary thing, so as risky as a guy is and the chances he takes, not just as a test pilot but I think as a character in general, the sort of brashness and riskiness that he has about him, that’s great when he’s the one guy, but when he becomes the leader of the Corps now, how does he reconcile all that? Because now, if he does anything brash or risky, its not just his that’s on the line, its everybody.
He’s not the kind of guy that necessarily wants that responsibility otherwise he wouldn’t have been a test pilot, he would have been a platoon sergeant. There will definitely be a sense that he’s part of a larger group as a Corps and that’s going to be one of the conflicts that he has to deal with. How does he reconcile his innate nature of being this go-it-alone guy with the fact that he now has to be the leader of the group in order for them to stay together, has to be the corps. I would say its gonna reflect on both of those things.
E: Sure sure. I guess one of the things that I think one of the complaints of Geoff’s run was that he seemed to sort of try to rectify when the New52 was launched was Hal doesn’t spend a lot of time on Earth. In terms of “Hey what does he do with his apartment? How does he pay for food?” and things like that, sort of world building questions. I’m kind of interested, and I guess you can’t say too much about what is exactly going on, but are we going to be seeing less of Hal on Earth? Is he still going to have an apartment? Or are we going to be saying “Oh he’s pretty much got a new full time job!”
R: In the immediate near future of the series of the series, yes, he’s going to be off Earth much more because he’s gonna be leader of the Corps and dealing with conflicts that are not Earth based. But again, a little bit of this ties into the scene that I was talking about earlier with him and Carol Ferris in the first issue of the run. The nature of the job is that he’s going to be off-world for the majority of the series, at least from the outset.
E: I do want to say also, I had seen that you read like a couple hundred issues of Green Lantern to kind of get into it. Some of the older stuff and some of the Geoff stuff, and I’m not a stickler for continuity in any way shape or form, but I’m kind of curious as to how much of the older stuff is going to inform you? One of the good things about the New52 is that it kind of opened up “freedom”, and as Andrew said he appreciated the continuity staying intact, I sort of had the opposite effect. I thought after so many years and so many impactful storylines, there were a lot less breathing room for the characters. So I was hopeful that when they announced that a bunch of new writers coming in, not that I dislike the old writers, because its kind of like you guys are getting a brand new reboot.
How much of the old stories are going to inform it? Do you have a kind of timeline of things that did happen? Like Emerald Twilight when Hal went crazy? Is there like a Bible for what did and didn’t happen and how do you reference it? Are things going to be clearer or are you just going to kind of just go on the assumption that everyone knows what up, Geoff’s stuff happened and everything else is kind of up in the air?
R: I’m going to try to. It’s obviously a very long and sprawling continuity and I’m going to try to be as accurate with everything that I can be. But I’m going to swear I’m going to have 100% success in that. In terms of a bible or something like that there isn’t really anything like that. I took a lot of notes when I was reading and I actually sit down to write any book, when it’s something that’s work-for-hire, I sit down and take all of the issues and put them down on the table in front of me and I flip through them. I look up different things and different moments and try to fact-check everything as much as I can. If there’s a question that I have or get stumped about, there’s guys at DC that can help me chase it down. I tend to be a stickler for not contradicting things, so I do want to try to adhere to that.
E: Yeah, I say throw continuity in the garbage if you can. [Laughs] But I see where you’re coming from, yeah. You might as well toss out the baby with the bath water on that I think. Like you said, its a couple of decades worth of stuff so I’m not going to mind too much if some of the more questionable things kind of go out the window. How interactive are the other lanterns going to be? Are we finally going to have a sense of autonomy between titles? Is this like t.v. where there’s a showrunner and you all are in kind of a room and let each other know what’s up? Or are you just doing your own thing and your editors are keeping track so you don’t step on each others toes?
R: I think its a little bit of both. The titles stand on their own for arcs, then they’ll come together for an arc, then they’ll go back on their own for arcs. I think that’s probably what the overall plan is in terms of what DC is looking for the future from the books. I’m guessing, I’ve never been in a group situation like this before, but even at Valiant if you want to have a character show up in your book, you have to make sure he’s not appearing somewhere else to contradict that. So of course editorial is keeping in mind those types of things but I think even the sort of general feel of each of the four titles are going to be distinct from each other. In terms of the types of stories they tell, even though they are all Sci-Fi in the sense that they are all dealing with space and alien races, I think that in terms of concepts they are different genres within Sci-Fi. I think each of the titles is going to kind of focus on its own unique Sci-Fi genre.
E: Cool. Is there going to be a done-in-one stories? Are you varying the size of the arcs and things like that?
R: My September issue is a done-in-one. Wait, let me make sure that’s right…Yeah, September is a done-in-one.
E: That’s great! How do you guys do the pitch? Now that you’re in DC, and you’ve worked with Demon Knights and I guess you were going to take over Constantine…now that you’re under DC’s umbrella, how does the pitch process work? Especially with the increased scrutiny over editorial, not to open any closets or whatever, how does it work? With something like Green Lantern which was run by the guy who’s Creative Officer of the company? Is there an extra level of layering the pitching or are they letting you run with your stories?
R: I would say the only additional thing in terms of pitch process for Green Lantern was with other books that I’ve run, I’ve typed up my pitch document and start off with a general sense of where I think the title or the series could be about. Then I talk about characters: This is Hal Jordan and this is the type of character he is; This is Carol and this is the type of character she is. Then I talk about teams. What I want the teams of the series to be. Then I go into specific storylines and arcs and things like that. And that’s sort of my general pitch now. I guess the only way the Green Lantern was different is that I put the document together in the same way but for every other story I’ve just emailed it in, with Green Lantern I had to fly to New York and do it verbally. My verbal pitch was identical to the printed pitch. I guess they just wanted to hear me say it. I think they wanted to just ask me questions and see what responses I had to them.
B: Was that before the summit?
R: Yes. That would have been in December, I think.
B: December? You’ve been on this book since December?!
E: December was only a couple of months ago, Brandan.
B: The announcement was last month!
E: Brandan, you’re not the first guy they tell about it, I’m sorry to tell you.
R: [Laughs] Yeah, we kept it quiet which I was happy about.
E: I did want to ask about the four lanterns. I assumed that you were going to be sticking with just mostly Hal but you are involved in Corps. We’re traditionally used to seeing Guy and John in that book. Do you have a, I don’t want to say ranking system, for the lanterns…but each creator has its favorite. Do you have a favorite? Obviously you’re kinda stuck, but with you figuring out the Hal character, you should. How do you feel about the other lanterns? Is there a justification of having four Earth lanterns? Are the books going to have a separate identity? I’m kind of worried about Kyle myself, with the guy being on the back-burner for so many years, you know? I’m wondering where they fit in to your plans for the character.
R: Yeah well I didn’t get stuck with Hal. In the beginning when I got into the pitch process and they asked me whether I wanted to write Green Lantern, they just wanted a pitch from me. Whoever the Green Lantern was going to be, they just wanted a pitch from me. About whoever I thought the Green Lantern should to lead the main Green Lantern title. It made the most sense to me that it would be Hal, based on what I know what is going to happen between now and the beginning of my run. So that’s how that ended up. In terms of the other lanterns, you said there’s four, but there’s five now, including Simon Baz. You asked me about Kyle, do you want me to rank them in terms of how I like them?
E: Yeah, I assume you would be reluctant to say that, but yeah if you don’t mind.
R: Lets do it this way, not in terms of if they are good characters but in terms of a character that I as a creator relate to. Which is very different, there is a lot of great characters in comics that I don’t really relate to and I don’t think I’d do a good job at them. I would say its Hal, John, Kyle, Guy and then Baz only because he’s so new. The other guys I feel I know so much better. You know that guy better than some foreign exchange kid who just got transferred into twelveth grade.
E: Yeah, just project onto him. He’s a blank slate. “Oh this guy’s the new kid, he’s my best friend!”
R: In terms of power, he’s got a really really significant role to play coming up in the next few months.
E: Great, that’s cool. I’m curious about Baz too, because I think Baz is at this point where people like Baz too. He’s interesting. He seems a little conspicuously removed a bit from some of the titles. I mean, obviously he’s still on the Geoff book, the Justice League of America book, but obviously he’s not going to be headlining the Green Lantern title. Is he going to be involved in the title? Or is there like plans within plans that can’t be spoken of?
R: Yeah I would say plans that can’t be spoken of, but definitely plans. And like I said, I like him too. I feel bad that I put him in last place there but its not for any reason other beyond necessity. He’s just kinda new and you don’t know him as much as the other guys. But yeah, big big plans for him, but plans that can’t be discussed.
B: Well, just so we’re clear, we’re putting Carol before all of them, right?
R: [Laughs] Naturally! As far you know? Yes!
E: You’re staying on X-O right? That’s not going anywhere?
R: Yes. Yes.
E: That’s good. So you’re on Demon Knights, X-O, Green Lantern. Anything else you can tell us in advance to maybe give Brandan a little excitement in his life? Any new projects on the back-burner?
R: [Laughs] No that’s pretty much it for right now. I’ve got something pretty big, creator-owned, that I’m working on but I’m not ready to talk about that yet.
E: That’s great.
B: I was going to ask…Rags Morales mentioned online that he’s doing, I believe issue 24, and there are two parts to this question. Is Billy Tan going to be on the book after that and I heard this issue was all splash pages, can you confirm that?
R: [Laughs] I can neither confirm nor deny such accusations.
B: [Laughs] Okay, will Billy Tan be rejoining the book?
R: As far as I know, Billy is going to be on the book for a very long time, yeah.
B: Okay. Was there any consideration for any other artist. I know that we’ve become attached to Doug Mahnke, who’s been here about 30,000 years now.
R: [Laughs] Yeah, I don’t know. You’d have to ask the editors that. Its not like they ask me those kinds of questions. They sort of make those decisions themselves. So yeah, I can’t really say but in terms of Rags being on the book, there’s a very very specific story centric reason that’s the case. Its not like a schedule thing, like Billy couldn’t keep or anything. Its got nothing to do with any of that. Its just something that I imagine will be announced pretty soon. It just hasn’t been yet.
B: Interesting, very interesting.
E: Yeah, cool. I think I’m all set.
F: Alright. I guess it has been complete. Hopefully you enjoyed all the questions asked of you Robert. Hopefully it wasn’t too intrusive and hopefully you enjoyed giving us all those small tidbits that you were allowed to give us.
R: [Laughs] Hey man, I gave you fair warning.
F: No doubt! Don’t say we weren’t prepared for that. I’m very glad we had you on the show and hopefully we’ll have you again when your run has started and we’ll be able to discuss that part in its fullest detail.
R: Absolutely, yeah. Sometime after October I think would be a good time for that if you guys are interested. They’ll be a lot of stuff to talk about by then.
And the rest was gentle pleasantries between the new writer and the Podcast. Thank you for reading. Venditti’s first issue of Green Lantern releases in June.