Robert Venditti stays green with Hal Jordan and Green Lantern Corps

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Jul 8, 2016

Writer Robert Venditti is at the helm of a re-rebirth.

Although DC Comics is applying the rebirth word across its entire universe of titles, Green Lantern had it first. The 2004-05 miniseries by Geoff Johns and artist Ethan Van Sciver returned Silver Age character Hal Jordan to the top spot as a galactic space cop. But while Johns deservedly receives credit for his work on Green Lantern, Venditti’s three-year run on Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps has been a bright spot in DC’s New 52 lineup.

Now Venditti, also known for his work The Surrogates and X-O Manowar, is continuing his green phase after the publisher-wide Rebirth relaunch as writer of Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps. Kicking off July 13 -- with a Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps: Rebirth #1 special issue before issue #1 of the ongoing series drops July 27 – the title will also include ring-slingers Jon Stewart, Guy Gardner, Kilowog, and newcomers Simon Baz, and Jessica Cruz, while firmly giving the former test pilot Hal top billing. And immediately in the first arc of the series, as he seeks to find the corps and re-claim his mantle as a Lantern, he also ends up in conflict with the current lawkeeper of the universe: Sinestro.

In the following interview, Venditti discusses where the new story opens, as well as the important dynamic between Hal and the rest of the corps – and the “anti-villain” status of Sinestro. Of particular excitement for this writer, I get Venditti to weigh in on whether GL and Green Arrow might team up again in the Rebirth DCU. Then stick around after the interview to check out our gallery of images from the upcoming issue.

Since you were already working on the Green Lantern title before Rebirth, can you talk about the conversations you had with Geoff Johns about applying the publisher-wide mission to this character?

I went out to Burbank, and they explained what Rebirth is going to mean. It was something I was immediately on board for. To embrace the long histories of these characters but also give readers a brand new jumping on point is something I’m excited about. I went home that night, and the next day I came back and called Geoff and Dan DiDio with my ideas for the series, and the opening arc.

What’s the difference in your mind between the Rebirth #1 issue of this title, and the title’s official #1, which hits stands two weeks later?

Rebirth ties up everything that’s happened in the New 52, and pushes us forward to what’s going to happen. If you’ve never read an issue of Green Lantern before, you can read that and know everything to follow the series. If you have been reading, you’ll see some resolution.

When you get to #1 of the actual series, now we’re getting into the first major conflict, and what the opening arc is all about: Sinestro establishing himself as the accepted police force of the universe in the absence of the Green Lantern Corps, and Hal trying to find the Corps so they can reclaim the mantle. And that sets up our first opening conflict, which embraces the long legacy of these characters. It is Hal vs. Sinestro, green vs. yellow, will vs. fear.

Hal has been wearing Krona’s gauntlet with the power of 12 rings, and became renegade. So who is the Hal Jordan we encounter at the start of this title?

The gauntlet was starting to change him, and turn him into a being of pure will. When we open our story, that process has gotten worse. Hal, through wanting to reclaim his mantle as Green Lantern, to find all his friends with the corps absent, and to protect the universe, he makes a decision. The way he goes about reclaiming his mantle is hugely important, and will have lasting implications going forward. He believes he is the last Lantern, and he’s going to be that standard bearer. And, in typical Hal fashion, there is no job for him too big he doesn’t think he can handle. Not only will he go find what happened to the corps, he thinks he’s going to protect the entire universe while he does it. Unfortunately, standing in his way, is Sinestro and the entire Sinestro Corps who are now the established police force. That’s the conflict when we open our story.

But this isn’t just a Hal Jordan book, even though he gets top billing. Do you think of it as a team book?

I think it depends where we are in the story, and where we are within that story. By the time the first issue comes out, I’ll have 12 scripts written, and we’ll have five, six issues drawn. The way we’re handling it is you’ll have an A-plot and a B-plot, or C-plot.

All the characters suggested in the title will all be influencing one another, whether they’re aware of it or not. Much like a team book, there will be moments when one character or another is the focus. It will all be for story-related reasons, but I can’t get into more than that to avoid spoiling.

I want to get your take on the complexity of Sinestro since he’s such a big part of this first arc. He has not acted out of pure evil, and Hal has also done questionable things. So do you view the dynamic between these two as having a lot of grey?

Sinestro is enormously complex. He is a villain in terms of his actions can be questionable, but he does sort of have a point. What makes all the great villains great is they’re the hero of their own story. You have two characters both extremely dug in on their own belief system, and both trying to attack the same problems, which is law enforcement, from different ends of the spectrum. In a way you sometimes refer to a hero as an anti-hero, you could almost refer to Sinestro as an anti-villain. While you might not agree with what he does, there is a method to it, and it makes sense, and he has a point.

Something that makes him even more believable is he’s a father. You don’t often see a villain with a child. He’s the father of Soranik who used to be a Green Lantern and is now a Yellow Lantern. That relationship humanizes him. It is definitely a relationship we’ll be using a lot in the series.

How do you follow up after Sinestro in terms of threats in future arcs?

I’ll be bringing in some villains readers won’t expect. Villains that Green Lanterns haven’t necessarily gone up against before. When they do, it’ll probably be like, “Why hasn’t that ever happened? It makes perfect sense.” Those kinds of things are surprises I’m really looking forward to.

Do you want to keep this book very cosmic and space-based, or are you interested in bringing these characters into the fold with the Justice League and heroes on earth? Actually, no. What I really want to know is, will Rebirth bring back the Green Lantern/Green Arrow team ups?

[laughs] I would love to do that! Believe me, I’ve tried in the past but it was never able to work out. So, yeah. In the early going, certainly where we are in the series’ first arc, and the arc after that, is primarily space-based for all these characters. Sam Humphries is writing the Green Lantern series featuring Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz, and they’re primarily earth-based. That is kind of what separates these two titles. But they are all in the same universe, sharing the same mythology. They will absolutely be crossing paths. You’ll get Simon and Jessica in space, and you’ll get Hal and some other cool members on earth.

Hal has been wearing Krona’s gauntlet with the power of 12 rings, and became a renegade. So who is the Hal Jordan we encounter at the start of this title?

The gauntlet was starting to change him, and turn him into a being of pure will. When we open our story, that process has gotten worse. Hal, through wanting to reclaim his mantle as Green Lantern, to find all his friends with the corps absent, and to protect the universe, he makes a decision. The way he goes about reclaiming his mantle is hugely important, and will have lasting implications going forward. He believes he is the last Lantern, and he’s going to be that standard bearer. And, in typical Hal fashion, there is no job for him too big he doesn’t think he can handle. Not only will he go find what happened to the corps, he thinks he’s going to protect the entire universe while he does it. Unfortunately, standing in his way, is Sinestro and the entire Sinestro Corps who are now the established police force. That’s the conflict when we open our story.

Tease a moment in Rebirth #1 that you can’t wait for readers to take in.

There’s a splash, the second splash page of the Rebirth issue. And also the spread of the Rebirth issue. Those are both pages I’m excited for people to see for what they mean to the story, and also the way Ethan handled them. I can’t say enough about working with him on Rebirth and Rafa Sandoval. I am on the book I want to be on with the team I want to be with. I am really, really having a good time. 

Don't miss our sneak preview of art from Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Rebirth #1 and issue #1 below. And let us know what you think about the future of Hal and his space cops.