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Robert Venditti on writing Green Lantern for 5 years, “no lethal force” and more

We talk ‘Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps’ with series writer Robert Venditti.

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps is coming to an end with issue #50, completing a five-year journey writer Robert Venditti has had with the character. This series has aimed to develop a rapport between Hal Jordan, Kyle Reyner, John Stewart, and Guy Gardner who have all been strong enough to carry their own books let alone a team book like this one. I was lucky enough to talk to Robert today about tomorrow’s issue #47, his reflections on writing a serial series for over 85 issues, and discuss the “no lethal force” themes in this latest story arc.

Will Guy Gardner find peace with himself during or after issue #47?

Robert Venditti: I think that with a character like Guy he’s never going to be completely at peace. It’s just not his nature. He’s had a tough go of it. The thing I find interesting and compelling about Guy is he doesn’t really see the value in himself. His background has just led him to think of his own self-worth as worthless. And the only thing I think he really feels he’s good at is taking a punch. So you know he’ll be the first one to step in front of a fist and take that punch so none of his friends have to. There’s a part of himself that feels like he deserved that punch because he’s worthless. And that’s really sad. It’s really tragic. It’s also really heroic in its own way. And that’s what I find really interesting about Guy as a character.

I came into this series at the beginning with Guy Gardner thinking, “What am I going to do with this Guy?” I had no interest in writing this character in the series. And I’ve really gone on this journey with him throughout the series to really get down to the core of who he is and figure out what makes him tick. And now he’s one of my favorite characters to write.

What is the Darkstars point of view, why are they fighting the Green Lantern Corps?

RV: They are all former police officers like Tomar-Tu (who used to be a Green Lantern) who have become completely disenfranchised with the legal system and the idea that penalties and prison terms and things like that are meant to be a means of reformation by which criminals can be given a chance to become better people. They’ve given up on that. They don’t believe that people can get better. The Green Lanterns believe and hope that we can all become better and learn from our mistakes.

I suppose it’s absolute power corrupts absolutely?

RV: They certainly don’t view it that way. I think it’s a very relatable impulse. But the difference between being a hero and a villain is putting their thoughts into action and that’s where our characters come together with this massive confrontation that we’ve been building towards.

How do you think the four corpsmen, John, Kyle, Hal, and Guy have changed while you’ve written that?

RV: For me, it went from writing a solo book with Hal to writing a team book with all of them in it. I didn’t want to do a lot of mythology building, I didn’t want to, you know, Geoff [Johns] had done so much so well on his run that I now wanted to take that mythology and bring in elements of the DCU. We’re doing that now with the Darkstars and General Zod, or Brainiac, or the Space Cabbie or any of those kinds of things. But the main focus for me was to show these four characters interacting together because in many ways the fanbase liked to have their favorite and choose their favorite Green Lantern and disregard the others. And I want to show how much these core characters have come to know each other, to be friends with each other to the point where they can function like a unit and become the four corpsmen whereas I feel like we entered this period with them all coming from their own separate books. They were all separate characters and had similar power sets and were Green Lanterns. But they were all very much apart. In this book, I really want to bring them all together and get them to that four corpsmen moment where they’re now better together than they are individually.


In issue #47, Hector Hammond puts Hal through a test. Is there anything specific that inspired this idea of his test?

RV: It was something that you can connect throughout the series. We connect various beats in the series from how the struggle is really about what it means to be a hero and how does he come to grips with thoughts or impulses that he’s had and what’s the difference between those and what the Darkstars are. Hector Hammond has become a very enjoyable character for me to write. In his own weird, twisted way Hector Hammond sees this as an opportunity to show how the real hero that Hal — again, in a really screwed up way. But he sort of looks up to Hal and he wants to be a hero like Hal. Of course he wants Hal to see he’s as much of a hero as he is. He puts Hal through some things emotionally in this issue that really get to who Hal is as a character and what drives him.

The idea of no lethal force is a huge part of this arc. Is there a message here you’re trying to relay as in social commentary about real-world police?

RV: I don’t know if I’d go that far. I wouldn’t say that I’m making that kind of direct correlation. I have friends who are police officers. You know, sometimes you have to use your sidearm in the line of duty. And that’s unfortunate, but those things do arise. Not being a police officer myself I would never presume to know what that argument is like from their perspective. For me, it’s more about the belief that people can always become better. No matter what we do, no matter the mistakes we make (and we’ve all made them), we can always become better people. And really that’s the philosophy that drives a lot of what I write about. I just think if you get to where the Darkstars are and you give up on that idea that people have the capacity to become better. I just don’t know what will get you out of bed in the morning, you know. People can always become better and there is more good than there is evil out there and that’s more what this story is about than any of those other elements.

This series has always had epic visuals. How do the aritsts pull it off? Is there a communication and a dialogue that goes back and forth to get that epic giant space idea?

RV: I’ve been lucky to work with very talented artists on this series. Since we’re talking about issue #47 right now — to have someone like Fernando Pasarin come in and do an issue… he has done so much work and become such a part of who these characters are in previous runs. These are very talented artists that understand the concept and can engage and get a sense of the story that we’re going for here. We’re not doing a lot of fighting in bars in this series or hanging out in alleys or anything like that. It’s a very large action-oriented series with a large cast and that is not the easiest thing to draw. There are so many characters in this series, too. All the power sets of these characters have involved constructs. We try to make unique constructs for each character that fit their personality; very complicated thing to be able to do especially on a double ship schedule. And to be able write the series for 51 issues and work with the artists that I’ve been able to work with who have brought their own creativity and their talent to it, who in turn then challenge me to up my game as I’m writing — it’s really the best of all possible scenarios. I feel very fortunate to have been able to work with them.

Rafa Sandoval, Jordi Tarragona and Tomeu Morey have drawn the most issues of this series and have been there since issue 1 and will be there with me to close it out with issue #50. We’ve done so much together as a creative team on this run and I really feel like we were able to hit a groove where it’s a very fluid conversion in terms of the script to the art and you really get confident in that groove and no matter how crazy of a thing you come up with (and we’ve come up with some crazy things), they’re going to come at it and bring such a level of creativity and skill to it. There are still a couple more pages that have to be turned in for #50. We are ending big. The way [these guys] are able to handle the big action, but also the small quiet moments, they do it all so beautifully. And I think readers are going to enjoy what they see.

This August marks 5 years writing Green Lantern for you; how have you grown as a writer writing these characters?

RV: I came into this series not just being really new to Green Lantern, but being new to comics in general. When I started writing Green Lantern #21 I’d done maybe a half dozen issues of X-O Manowar and a few issues of Demon Knight and that was the sum total of my serialized comic book work. Now I’ve written 200 and something comics. So to do an 85 issue journey with these characters I’ve learned a ton about not just writing superheroes but writing in general. I would like to think that if you look back and look at whole run and read it from beginning to end you would see not just an evolution of the characters but also an evolution of me as a writer.

Would you say you write scripts faster now than you did five years ago?

RV: Oh definitely. Yeah very much so. I can pretty much sit down on a Monday and start a script and on Friday mail it off. I think working on three series at once is a pretty good workload because it’s not three series a month, it’s more, because a lot of the times you’re juggling artists. I think at one point on Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps I was writing for four different artists writing for four different arcs all at the same time. Out of order. It takes a lot of planning in your head to keep it all straight. You have to be able adjust to accommodate things like a Dark Nights Metal tie-in issue or something like that. But largely the series is ending up right where I wanted to be. You could see how I kind of planned it all out. There are always things to be better at and improve on. But one thing that I am good at is that kind of long-term planning where I’m able to know where I’m gonna be and then manage different arcs with different artists all at the same time and keep it all moving forward so that everybody’s always working.

You can pick up Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #47 digitally here.

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