Interview: Robert Venditti Takes a Dark Turn in GREEN LANTERN

Hal Jordan is coming to the end of his rope, dragging his comrades across space to face Black Hand and feeling his back against the wall — literally. With today’s Green Lantern #46, we see the conclusion of Hal’s first adventure semi-solo since the start of writer Robert Venditti’s run, and the scribe stopped by to share a few thoughts on the journey, and about what’s ahead as Hal returns to Earth.


Cover by Ethan Van Sciver

Matt Santori: You’ve brought Black Hand back in issue #45 and have pulled him through to issue #46. Tell me a little bit about why you felt he was the character you wanted to bring back into the book.

Robert Venditti: I’ve always liked Black Hand as a character and really appreciated what Geoff Johns was able to do with him in the revamp in his run. He’s primarily been an Earth-based character, even though there were a few issues here and there set out in space. I thought it would be interesting in the wake of “Godhead,” where Black Hand is a pretty big player, to mess around with the more cosmic aspects of his character, putting him out in space.

You know, in his own sick, twisted way, he’s kind of sympathetic and really fun to write. He’s just this lonely guy who wants to hang out with his friends, like any of us do. Only, what he calls friends are dead things. But I think there’s common ground there, with him feeling alienated and alone. He just wants to find a place to belong.

It’s something fun for me to write and for Hal to come up against in the wake of being on the run. The Green Lantern Corps is gone he’s got his huge problem to deal with as Black Hand is turning everything around him to stone. So, before he can get to anything else, he needs to fix that because planets are dying.

MSG: That’s an interesting tension, too, because Hal really had this clear mission at the start of this storyline that didn’t matter anymore once the Corps disappeared.

RV: Yeah, of course he wants to solve the mystery behind the Corps’ disappearance, and he’s on the way to go do that. But first, he needs to go do this other thing. He picks up this bounty hunter and drop him off with the authorities on the planet of the guy he kidnapped. But once he gets there, that whole planet has been turned to stone and everyone is wiped out. Then the bounty hunter’s friend shows up, so Hal has to deal with that. And then there’s ANOTHER planet turned to stone.

Interior pages by Billy Tan.

Interior pages by Billy Tan.

I mean, there used to be cops everywhere in the universe in the form of the Green Lantern Corps that could handle these kinds of things, but they’re gone. So, before he can solve that mystery, he needs to deal with the immediate concern. He’s not going to be the guy that just says, “Yeah. Your planet turned to stone. That sucks, but I have something else to do.” He’s never going to turn his back on a situation where he’s needed by other people. That’s a big underlying conflict in Hal as he goes up against all these other characters, whether it’s Black Hand or Sonar in the next arc.

Hal has always been this guy who wants to do everything himself, but ironically, now that the Corps are gone, that becomes untenable.

MSG: There’s an interesting interplay in your entire run about the Green Lanterns standing up against gods — the New Gods, Relic, and the Source Wall. What’s been your thought process on that dichotomy?

RV: DC has a very rich and deep well of cosmic mythology, and a lot of the cosmic characters are very overpowered and godlike in what they do. But I think that the Green Lantern Corps — and Hal as the best of them — is sort of godlike themselves in what they can do, right? They make things from nothing, just using their imagination. Hal has the most powerful weapon in the universe, which is amped up even more because he’s got Krona’s gauntlet with his own power battery hooked into it. We know that’s more powerful than a dozen Green Lantern rings.

He’s an uber powerful guy, so it wouldn’t be entertaining to me to have him fighting guys who are trying to knock over a bank. The threats that he would encounter would be these large scale, nigh omnipotent threats. Hal would not only just deal with them, but he’d seek them out, because he’d know that he’s the guy who can deal with them. It just speaks to his character that the range of his villains is so powerful. I mean, that’s his day-to-day.

Interior art by Billy Tan

Interior art by Billy Tan

MSG: So, it’s all the more interesting that you’re headed back to Earth and hitting on a villain who’s always been much more human. What can we expect to see with Sonar coming up?

RV: This is the story I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. With Sonar, we’re revamping his character a bit. Sadly, there’s no more tuning fork gun or anything like that. But the core concept of the character still holds. Sonar is still from a very small, Eastern bloc country named Modora. He’s a very politically-based character in terms of his motivations. This is going to be a different kind of threat for Hal, and we’ve really amped up what Sonar is able to do with his sonic powers.

But it’s also a threat that poses a particular type of challenge for Hal, because for as all-powerful as Relic or the New Gods are, those are still things he could see and hit in the face with a construct. Sonar represents a very different type of villain for him. He’s not out in the wide open where Hal can see him. He’s operating in the shadows and is more of an insurgent type or style of villain. And that’s just not something Hal has really had the experience dealing with.

Interior art by Brett Booth

Interior art by Brett Booth

MSG: Switching gears for a second, I can’t pass up a chance to ask you about Wally West over in The Flash. In the last issue, we see Wally take a prominent role in the story, saving the day with his own invention. Can you give me a sense of where you’re at in developing that character?

RV: Yeah! I love Wally as a character. I love that big brother-little brother relationship. The interesting thing about that is, speaking from experience, adults learn from children as much as children learn from adults. That’s what’s so great about the Barry-Wally relationship. We’re going to see that develop and have some really, really cool things happening with Wally in the future. People are going to be able to look back at a certain point and see that everything we’ve done with the character has been part of a long-form story for him.

MSG: Awesome. Thanks so much, Rob, and thank you for the big kiss last week in The Flash #45 as well!

RV: Ha ha! Yes! I think it was a really interesting take that a lot of critics had on that. I liked the way that we were able to develop Hartley and Singh’s relationship and have the tension be more about them being a costumed criminal and a police officer. We’re real happy with how that came out.

Robert Venditti’s latest issue of Green Lantern, #46, is available in stores and online today from DC Comics.



Related posts