The final arc of Tim Seeley's 15-issue run as writer of DC Comics' Green Lanterns, "Ghosts of the Past" is what Seeley's been building toward since the day he started. Green Lanterns #47 reaches a critical point for its lead characters Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz as they try to navigate the Green Realm inside the Ring of Volthoom, which feeds off their fear.
SYFY WIRE spoke with the writer/artist about his last arc and issue of Green Lanterns, as well as what coming next.
**SPOILER WARNING: Spoilers for Green Lanterns will be discussed for those not caught up.**
This week's Green Lanterns #47 will be Seeley's last issue. Aaron Gillespie, a graduate of DC Writer's Workshop, will write issues #48 and #49 before Dan Jurgens takes over monthly chores beginning with Issue #50.
"I'm excited to see what [Aaron and Dan] are going to do with it!" Seeley said. "Part of the job is to lay lots of toys on the ground for someone else to play with and go crazy with it. I fully believe that Dan is capable of doing an awesome cosmic thing and do cool stuff with the ideas we've presented. I look forward to it as a reader myself."
Seeley's entire run has been looking into what makes Jessica and Simon tick. It's the first idea he had when he was first offered the Green Lanterns gig, a dip into the events of what made Jessica pull back from the world.
"I wanted to find out who they really were so that when we had conflict, that was really personal, you could just see all the aspects of them as being the means of which they conquer this problem," Seeley told SYFY WIRE. "We started out peeling back the title of Green Lantern and getting rid of this big history and lore and made it about just being a normal person with your own screwed up life and you get this huge responsibility. It makes you this super cop-space god out there, but here, it doesn't really change your life.
"You're still you."
This allowed Seeley to get to a place in the story that picks up on all the threads he's set up for personal development. For Jessica, she went on a hunting trip with her closest friends only for them to stumble upon some criminals burying a dead body. Seeley then takes the reader into the ring and into Volthoom's realm, the Green Realm, taking new spins on concepts first introduced by Geoff Johns earlier in the series.
"When I first read Simon and Jessica, I was a fan reading Geoff's stuff," Seeley said. "There was an issue of JLA: Darkseid War [in which] Jessica gets sucked into this realm called the Green Realm and it's where all these cast-aside power rings go. I loved this idea and thought it was creepy, for this horror story in a superhero story.
"So I always wanted to use that so when I was offered to do Green Lanterns, I pitched it as Evil Dead in a Green Lantern story, knowing I was going to use this Volthoom's Realm/Green Realm idea. But I thought we could tie a lot of things together, as there was a mystery as to what caused Jessica's ring to be as it was.
"It made sense to me that these things would be tied together. We've never seen her friends that were killed by the mobsters, or the events that caused that. All of those things gave us a lot of texture [and] background to aspects of her life that we hadn't seen before."
To get to this place, Seeley decided to go with a villain that was unconnected to the Green Lantern Corps, as the Red Lanterns, Sinestro, and the color spectrum stories have already been explored. Seeley had no interest in treading the same ground again. That' where Singularity Jain came in, allowing the reader to get further into who Jessica is and how she developed her anxiety disorder.
"Jain is pure evil but her whole reason for crossing paths is that she feeds off that moment when a person's life goes wrong," Seeley said. "Simon and Jessica keep running into people who are criminals, who can be interesting characters because they're not necessarily evil. Often times, there's something that pushed them in the wrong direction and they made a bad choice.
"So having Jain to play off of that and manipulate that gives them more reason to encounter cool characters and some kind of primal force that she has to deal with. She's sort of big and we don't know what the rules of her are, necessarily. We don't know what her weaknesses are or how she fits into the larger DC Universe, and that makes her scarier or a little more challenging for a good guy."
Previous Green Lanterns were held up on a pedestal. Hal Jordan was this great champion, Jon Stewart too, but it's different with Simon and Jessica, who must balance their on-call heroics with their mundane day-to-day lives on Earth, which Seeley explored to help readers understand who they were.
"[Green Lanterns] epitomize the age that they developed in," Seeley said. "They encapsulate the fears of the age to a degree. With Hal, you have a '50s-'60s test pilot who's a ladies man and epitomizes that. Then you go into layered characters like Jon who dealt with racism. With Jessica and Simon, they're from an era where people are afraid of being judged for who they are in this social media age. That's what makes them so interesting and thoughtful."
There's a line in one of Seeley's early issues in which Simon describes he and Jessica as "two brown people with bad resumes." Simon and his sister Sira are Lebanese-Americans living in Dearborn, Michigan. After the 9/11 attacks, they were persecuted due to their ethnicity and being Muslim. While down on his luck, Simon is wrongly accused of an act of terrorism, which is how Hal Jordan and Sinestro's fused rings find their way to him.
The Ring of Volthoom sought Jessica Cruz out after her personal tragedy, but she does not willingly accept it. The Ring constantly talks to her and puts her through physical and psychological anguish. Hal Jordan returns to Earth to teach Jessica how to use it and, after a stint with the Justice League, goes to the Green Lantern Corps to train. Simon and Jessica are not the seasoned, larger-than-life heroes we've come to know who wield power rings, but that has made them all the more interesting.
"I needed to get the characters down so I can build and be interested in this larger cosmic universe, but I think those two characters are strong enough to do that," Seeley said. "Jessica alone I think could carry her own title; she's so interesting and relatable and a perfect entry point for a new reader of Green Lantern. Simon works really well on his own too. They're so strong that to have them playing off one another is an unlimited palette."
For Seeley, Green Lanterns broke new cosmic ground. The closest he wrote anything regarding big concept space stories before Green Lanterns was the Deadpool vs. Thanos miniseries in 2015, and so he considers Green Lanterns an education. It took him to places that he would definitely love to revisit in the future. It has also prepared him for his next big DC project: Injustice vs. Masters of the Universe with artist Freddie E. Williams II.
On the writing side, Seeley is also finishing up his last three issues on Hellblazer and is writing the five Batman one-shots Prelude to the Wedding. As for Green Lanterns, he will walk away knowing that he's informed readers about who Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz are with and without the rings.
"I'm not sure if I necessarily always understand what it is that really holds old school hardcore Green Lantern fans want, because I don't think that way," he said. "So I tend to make new stuff I like for characters. Sometimes they want stories that show how bad ass characters are and I like them to have faults and can be incompetent. So to me, I don't know if I did something that made everyone happy but I know I had a great time."
Green Lanterns #47 is on sale now at your local comic book shop. Below is a three-page preview of V Ken Marion's art.