Geoff Johns' epic GREEN LANTERN #20 has paved a new path for the massive Lantern universe and, come June, new creative teams are going to hop on the various GL titles and take all of the key characters in an all-new journey. If you've been following along, then you know there's been a major change with Kyle Rayner and he's now an immensely powerful White Lantern. While the rest of the roster in GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS has yet to be revealed, we do know writer Justin Jordan will base his opening story around Kyle and the Templar Guardians. We had a chance to chat with Jordan about why he thinks Kyle's a unique character and how he'd describe the series.
Comic Vine: What’s it like taking over a title after such a huge event? Do you like having a direction already basically set in stone or does it kind of limit your options with the character?
Justin Jordan: I wouldn’t say it limits my options a whole lot. I mean, it’s kind of the nature of work-for-hire business. You can’t have, generally speaking, Batman chuck Joker into a blender and set it to puree. You’re always working within restrictions so this isn’t real different. I was actually given relatively free rein to do what I wanted with the books, working it out with editorial and all that kind of stuff. The most daunting prospect is probably just coming onto a popular property in general. I mean, Green Lantern titles tend to have fans who are really, really into the books and that’s a little daunting because you don’t want to screw it up.
CV: Were you a big fan of the Green Lantern universe prior to this or not really?
JJ: It got to be one of those things where keeping track of the books got to be kind of overwhelming for me at a certain point. Conceptually, I like the idea a whole lot, I just haven’t been able to keep up with it as much as I would like. One of the dirty secrets about comics in particular is when you start writing them eventually you run out of time to actually read them as much as you would like.
CV: Why do you think Kyle Rayner’s someone who deserves the spotlight?
JJ: He’s bringing a different kind of perspective to Green Lantern – that’s kind of been true from the beginning. They tried to go with someone who has an artistic background, who looked at things from a different point of view. You know, a fairly different mindset than someone like Hal Jordan who comes from a kind of military background. And that’s still the case and we want to emphasize the idea that Kyle, just because of his role as a White Lantern and stuff, is sort of outside of the GL key structure. This means he can look at what the core as a whole is doing from a different perspective that somebody inside it just can’t do. I think that’s an interesting way to contrast and explore the other books.
CV: You mention Kyle’s an artist. Will we see that expressed through his constructs?
JJ: Yes. It comes up a couple of times in the first two issues so that’s not something we’ll be ignoring.
CV: What’s it like trying to create obstacles for a hero who has become incredibly powerful?
JJ: (laughs) Tricky. That’s one of the things that kind of interests me about it and I kind of talked about this before when I was talking about Superboy because it kind of applies to superheroes across the board. That kind of power doesn’t give you the ability to just fix things. My go to example is yeah, you can go to a world that’s ruled by this cruel dictator and you take out the dictator… that doesn’t change the world fundamentally. All the structures that are in place to allow that are still there. If you went to Apokolips and eliminated Darkseid, you’ve still got the Hunger Dogs and all those problems are still there – you haven’t magically turned it into a paradise. That’s just not how things work and that’s the same thing with raw power. Raw power isn’t enough to necessarily make the changes you want to make. The trick with working with somebody like Kyle who has a lot of powers at his fingertips is presenting him with problems that that power just isn’t enough for. Problems that make him have to think. That present ethical and moral kind of quandaries for him.
CV: Is Kyle's supporting cast going to remain extraterrestrial or will he reconnect with his Earthly roots? Additionally, can you drop any hints about the roster?
JJ: I can tell you there is a reason for the book to be called “new guardians.” I can also tell you somebody else from Earth will be a supporting character in the book.
CV: At the moment, it seems like Arkillo and his corps have headed for the hills. Will we see them reappear in your book?
JJ: Maybe. I’m not against it. I don’t have any concrete plans for it in the issues I have sketched out right now. But I like those characters, so if I have an opportunity for those characters to come back and it actually makes sense then I am absolutely not against it.
JJ: Nope, not right now.
CV: If you could describe your NEW GUARDIANS run in five words, what would they be?
JJ: Bad-ass cosmic exploration.
CV: I’m sold.
JJ: That was four words!
CV: Would you like to add another word or do those four sum it up perfectly?
JJ: I think those four sum it up!
CV: If DC said you could add anyone to the book, who would you pick?
CV: Why’s that?
JJ: Well, first of all I love Lobo and I’d love a chance to write Lobo. And I think anyone that’s read LUTHER STRODE knows I’m clearly the guy for the job! Beyond that… kind of down and dirty visceral character contrasted with Kyle and contrasted with people in the core and the supporting cast. I don’t know that he would work as a continuing cast member but at least for a few issues until somebody got sick of him or he got sick of Kyle. I think it would be interesting to bounce them off each other.
CV: Your time with Deathstroke was unfortunately cut short. If you had more time with the character, where would you take him?
JJ: I would have liked to have developed Deathstroke’s supporting cast. One of the things that is difficult about writing a character like Deathstroke is it was basically just Deathstroke and whoever he was fighting. That’s kind of a hard way to write a book. There’s not a lot of ways to bounce him off somebody to show how they’d react to different situations. Beyond that, I would have liked to come up with interesting ways to challenge his intellect rather than him just shooting stuff in the head. I would have liked to bounce him off some of the existing heroes and villains in the DC universe – I think that would have been fun. The sales just weren’t there and I’m kind of bummed about that. I enjoyed writing Deathstroke so I wish I had gotten to do it for more than five or six issues.
CV: Likewise. That was a great finale, though.
CV: If a power ring sought out Deathstroke, which color would select him?
JJ: Yellow. Green or yellow. He’d be a weird choice for a green one but his willpower is one of his defining traits for me so I can make an argument for that. All the others I don’t think work… people like red, but I don’t view Deathstroke as a pissed off guy.
CV: Oh yeah, he’s definitely collected. Is there anything else you’d like to add about the series or your other work (SUPERBOY, LUTHER STRODE)?
JJ: I hope they’re all fun. I mean, fundamentally I want people to read comics and be entertained and I think SUPERBOY and NEW GUARDIANS and LUTHER STRODE are all doing that. At least I’m having fun writing them so I’m hoping that transfers to the reading of them.
CV: Thanks, Justin!
GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS #21 comes out June 19th.
You can follow Justin Jordan on Twitter @Justin_Jordan
Gregg Katzman is a freelance writer for Comic Vine and IGN Entertainment. This is the part where he shamelessly plugs his Twitter page in hopes of getting a new follower or two.