Writer Robert Venditti was known chiefly, until recently, as the author of The Surrogates from Top Shelf Comics, a book that eventually went on to become a movie starring Bruce Willis. The acclaim from The Surrogates brought him to Valiant Comics’ X-O Manowar, and now DC Comics has given him the task of taking over Green Lantern following Geoff Johns’ incredible nine year run on the title, one that made Green Lantern a fanboy favorite. I was able to chat with Venditti at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con about taking on Hal Jordan after arguably the character’s most popular run ever.
Nerdist: I guess my first question isn’t “is there pressure coming off of Geoff Johns’ epic run on Green Lantern,” but just how huge is that pressure, coming off uch an insanely popular run on the title?
Robert Venditti: Yeah, it’s obviously a really big project, and those are enormous shoes to fill…shoes that can’t really be filled, you know? I mean, Geoff wrote the book on these characters – literally. So for me the challenge is to just come into this project, and tell the stories I want to tell, they way I want to tell them. The objective isn’t to try to outdo him or anything like that, because that would just be silly. But yeah, it is a big project and it is a huge challenge, which is why I chose it. I like to do something different with every project, something that challenges me in ways that I haven’t been challenged before, and hopefully that’s how I grow as a writer and as professional.
N: In this new status quo you’ve set up for yourself in Green Lantern, Hal Jordan is kind of the leader of the entire Green Lantern Corps now, in a way. If the Green Lantern Corps is this huge set of space cops, for lack of a better word, does that make Hal kind of like “Commissioner Jordan” now?
RV: Sure, that would be a decent enough way to explain it. For me, it was just looking at a conflict that would really allow me to showcase who Hal Jordan is as a character, and with Hal being the kind of guy who is a fighter pilot and goes and does all these daring things in the air, and he’s very heroic in his own way, that all works for him when he’s the only person he has to worry about. But put him in a position where he is in a leadership role and where he has an entire Corps where their lives are on the line based on the orders that he gives down, that puts him into a conflict where it puts him against his own nature. So how does he perform, or over-perform or under-perform in that environment?
N: When Geoff Johns ended his run on the title with issue #20, at the end of the issue, he had a sort of epilogue set in the future, where we discover the ultimate fates of not only Hal Jordan and Carol Ferris (they get married and grow old together), but also the other Earth Lanterns, all told via the Book of Oa. Do you feel beholden to keeping a course set towards that future, or do you feel that it’s something you can ignore as just “one possible future” and chart your own path for these characters?
RV: To me, that particular example that you are citing isn’t something that has to be ignored or not be ignored. To me, that scene as its presented to us as readers is not some unassailable vision of the future. It’s the future as it is recorded in the historical document that is the Book of Oa. Well, the Book of Oa is just like any historical book, is written by people with an agenda. And we find out in that very scene that pages have already been torn out as to not reveal certain things. So to me, those things could happen…and they could also not happen, but it’s not like a target that I have to shoot for.
N: How do you intend to play out Hal’s relationship with the other members of the Corps, especially his fellow Earth members, now that they are essentially his employees?
RV: Well, that’s kind of the conflict that we’ve been talking about, especially in regards to the other Earth Lanterns. How is Hal’s leadership style different from John Stewart’s style? Because Hal is a fighter pilot and John is a Marine. Those are two very different mentalities and approaches to leadership. And Guy Gardner was a policeman. So that’s what allows us to make these characters really different and unique from one another. And then we put them in this unique situation and see how they all operate.
N: Do you plan to continue to use Simon Baz (the recently introduced Arab-American Green Lantern) or do you see him as Geoff’s character, and are letting him use him primarily over in Justice League of America?
RV: I did have plans for Simon Baz as part of my original pitch for the Green Lantern title; Green Lantern wasn’t just going to be what my ideas were for Hal, but what my ideas were for all of the characters across all of the books. So there things that I would like to do with Simon Baz, but those are things that are a little bit more down the road, and won’t be in the immediate near-term.
N: So what are your feelings about Carol Ferris? In your first issue, you had Hal and Carol break up again. Is her relationship with Hal something you just see as being played out, or do you have plans for her?
RV: I think Carol is an amazing character, I love her, and I feel like what happened between her and Hal (Carol dumps him) in issue #21, is just something that I feel like a woman who is as strong and commanding as her would do. And just because her and Hal are on the outs at the present moment doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have a key role to play in all of the Green Lantern titles, and not just to Hal and the main Green Lantern book specifically.
N: One of the biggest contributions to the Green Lantern mythology from Geoff Johns was the creation of the other Lantern Corps, the Blue Lanterns, the Indigo Tribe, etc. Now that you’ve taken over the book, are we going to continue to see the other multi-colored Lanterns, or do you wanna keep things focused on Oa and the Green Lanterns for the present?
RV: The other Corps, that is all part of this amazing mythology that Geoff created, and it is just so grand in scope and scale, and just full of imagination, and I’m not looking to pretend that this stuff never existed. Everything that we do is just the next logical step of the Green Lantern mythology, that pays service to all the stuff that came before, including the other Corps, we’re not looking to start everything from scratch. We are very much building on everything that was done before.
Robert Venditti’s Green Lantern #23 is in stores now. What do you think of Green Lantern under its new stewardship? Where do you want to see the book go? Let us know in the comments below.