While Green Lantern #25, the finale to the Sinestro Corps War storyline by writer Geoff Johns with art by penciller Ivan Reis, ended what many are calling DC’s blockbuster event of the year, there were a few pages by Ethan Van Sciver interspersed among the others that did something else.
Instead of wrapping up the story, they gave a glimpse into the future.
In an issue that was filled with Reis-drawn splash pages depicting a war between hundreds of the DC universe’s most powerful beings – from hand-to-hand brawls through glass-front buildings to ring-charged battles over the skies of Earth – two splash pages by Van Sciver were stuck in the middle of the story, teasing a future “War of Light” complete with strange looking creatures wearing colored rings.
And as if that wasn’t enough to pique the interest of readers, at the end of the 54-page issue, Van Sciver drew a prologue that promised another blockbuster event in 2009 called The Blackest Night.
In part one of our two-part discussion with the artists of Sinestro Corps War and Green Lantern (with Ivan Reis coming tomorrow), Newsarama attempted to get a little clarification on those few select pages from Van Sciver. And despite all the buzz about “The Blackest Night” in 2009, we found out that fans may not have to wait that long to see more work from Van Sciver – he and Johns are slated to work together before that on something else.
Newsarama: It's got to feel good to see some of this revealed to fans. You and Geoff have been talking about “The Blackest Night” for awhile now, right?
Ethan Van Sciver: Yes. We've been talking about it for over a year now. Well, actually longer than that. We've been piecing things together pretty much since Rebirth and trying to work them out.
NRAMA: Well, let's just talk for a second about this interview, because people might be expecting some great insight into the story that Ivan and Geoff are doing over the next year and a half, but you've made it clear you don't want to do that. You and I are just going to be talking about your designs for these 11 pages you did in Green Lantern #25.
EVS: Yeah. I don't want to ruin any story points. It's all so big and it's so involved, what Geoff's doing, and what Ivan and everyone involved are doing, and I don't want to ruin it. But I can tell you what I was thinking when I drew these characters.
NRAMA: OK, let's talk in general about the idea of the lanterns who would represent these colors on this two-page spread you did for the “War of Light.”
EVS: We found the idea of the seven different colors and what they meant, and then we tried to see what each of the different corps would represent and what kind of people they were.
I always call it a religion. I think of these different colors as religions. And I use that word with Geoff, and I'm not sure that he agrees. But the way I think of it is that they all sort of focus around one sort of human drive. Not even an emotion. I know it's called the emotional spectrum, but I tend to use the word "drive," because willpower isn't as much an emotion as a human drive. You have the willpower to get something done. You do something because you have will. Fear is a reason to make something happen because you cause fear in somebody, or you have fear, and that's a reason to do or not do something. Hope is the same thing.
So I believe that all of these emotions, or drives, that are attached to colors are like that. They're something that human beings would use to compel themselves to do something. And so of course we have hate, avarice, fear, willpower, hope, compassion and love. Is that right?
NRAMA: Yep. That's the list.
EVS: And then black. Black is death, I guess. Death isn't really a drive though, is it?
NRAMA: No, I guess it's the absence of human drives and emotions.
EVS: Yeah. So those are the colors.
NRAMA: OK, in this War of Light spread you drew, the art seems similar to what you did with that double-page spread in the Sinestro Corps Special, filling it with characters that you designed. I know you're constantly discussing things with Geoff, but these two pages are filled with aliens designed pretty much by you, correct?
EVS: Yes. I mean, it's all me stabbing in the dark. I think Geoff said, "Ethan, we want to see all the corps represented here." And he wasn't very specific about it this time, except to say that certain corps should be represented a certain way. My personal favorites are the Red Lanterns. I loooove the Red Lanterns. [laughs] I love to hate them.
NRAMA: Hate is what they're all about, right?
EVS: Yeah. I thought the hate lanterns would be fantastic, because who's going to put on a ring that says, you know, "You are capable of feeling great hatred" or "inspiring great hatred?" If a ring came to me and said that to me, I think I'd swat it away.
NRAMA: What’s with the red stuff coming out of their mouths? Is that what happens when you put on a red ring?
EVS: I thought the hate energy would be so strong within you that it would literally come out your pores, it would come out your nostrils and it would come out your mouth. You would just vomit red energy everywhere. Your eyes would go red and you'd just hate.
NRAMA: Anything you can tell us about the characters you drew in particular?
EVS: I created three very specific Red Lanterns on here and gave them names.
NRAMA: Can you tell us their names?
EVS: No. You’ll have to read the story Geoff and Ivan are doing to learn about the Red Lanterns. But I think the Red Lanterns are a lot scarier, they're a lot more aggressive and filled with rage, and a lot less sophisticated than an army that Sinestro would have put together. A lot more dangerous, I think. Rabid. You know, like rabid animals. And that's why I like the Red Lanterns.
NRAMA: And you created their symbols, right?
EVS: I had to create brand new symbols for everybody. I think almost everybody needed something to be developed. And you know, the basic idea of all these symbols has to be a circle, because that's a lot of what this is about. But I can’t talk about what they mean.
NRAMA: OK, next color on the spectrum is orange, representing avarice, or greed.
EVS: The orange lanterns. I can't really talk much about them either.
NRAMA: Well, it's hard not to notice that they're represented a little differently. They're all kind of glowing. That's on purpose, right? There's a reason for it.
EVS: I can't go into any more detail about that.
NRAMA: And then the Sinestro Corps, with whom we’re pretty familiar already. We’ve talked with you about them before. They’re the corps representing the color yellow and the concept of fear.
EVS: And we've already said the Sinestro Corps symbol was pulled from the original Parallax costume that Hal Jordan wore. One of these days, maybe for one of these trade paperbacks or something, I will take a picture of Parallax and do a little traced outline around his costume to show where that symbol was. A lot of people have asked me where it is.
NRAMA: That's a good idea. OK, let's go to hope.
EVS: The blue lanterns. I think my only real priority for the blue lanterns was to say that they all need to be heroic looking. They all need to look noble; they all need to look kind; they all need to look like friendly aliens. You can't have big monster aliens that represent hope, at least not to me. You know, we're just trying to establish them, and I don't know if this will represent every last one. So the few blue lanterns that I drew are superheroic looking aliens.
NRAMA: So next would be indigo?
EVS: Oh, yeah, indigo is actually interesting. Geoff asked me to draw a war featuring all of these corps, and for the life of me, I couldn't find a way to make a group of aliens who believe so strongly in compassion go to war. [laughs]
NRAMA: They don’t look like they’re fighting.
EVS: Geoff's initial thought was that they're very shaman-istic and a little like native Americans. And they don't look as high-tech as the other lantern corps do.
NRAMA: And they have tattoos or markings. They wear their symbols on their body?
EVS: Yeah, that's the idea. They wear this kind of glowing body make-up. It may mean something. It may not.
NRAMA: And the violet lanterns?
EVS: These ones were tricky because I don't want to say too much about them yet. Geoff and I spoke about the violet lanterns and whether or not men could be violet lanterns, and I thought they could be and I wasn't sure. So all I did was draw one ring of these violet lanterns and what their costumes look like. And I made them women for now. But people will have to keep reading to find out more.
NRAMA: OK, then let's just talk about how they're fighting, according to your design here. They're in a group, holding hands.
EVS: And in what shape do they hold hands? In a circle. In a ring. We'll have to wait and see what they’re all about.
So this is what we have. This is where it begins. But I think it's interesting that the great thing about all these corps is that they encompass every aspect of humanity, of life. Any one of us could look at these, at this spectrum, and decide where we would most likely fit in.
NRAMA: People are already doing that on message boards – placing themselves in a group. But going back to this picture for a second here: None of the colors have humans from Earth, right?
EVS: I don't see any.
NRAMA: Does that mean there won't be any? Or do you know?
EVS: Well, it may well be that certain Earth beings would get rings. But we wouldn't tell you that. Yet. You should have asked Geoff. [laughs]
NRAMA: Damn! I should have! OK, and you drew the introduction of the prophecy. The spread before this.
EVS: Yeah, I wanted to make sure I hinted at the different symbols there and all the different shaped lanterns, but not really reveal it until the next page.
NRAMA: Oh, yeah. The lanterns are a little different looking from each other, aren't they?
NRAMA: And at the end. You drew The Blackest Night tease.
EVS: The last few pages. I just want to say, notice the symbol on the black rings. It all comes together. Everything ties together. It all means something.
NRAMA: Geoff told us to look at those. It sure looks like a certain character's symbol on those rings.
NRAMA: This has been going on since waaaay back when, hasn't it?
EVS: Go back and read Green Lantern #5 and #6, for those of you who are just jumping in. And give yourself some clues.
NRAMA: Did you draw #5 and #6?
EVS: I drew #5. The great Simone Bianchi drew issue #6 before he defected to Marvel to draw Wolverine and Astonishing X-Men.
NRAMA: At that time, were you aware, when you were drawing #5, what was coming?
EVS: Yes and no. It was all evolving. The ideas were there. It's like with Sinestro Corps, when the idea started way back as just an idea, it was just clear that he would form an opposing army to Hal. But then the Zamorans already existed, and all this stuff kind of fell into place. We were chatting through all of this, even back when we were doing Rebirth, and these revelations would just happen. That was happening all along.
And that's the way Geoff works. That's the way his stories are. It all builds on what's already set up, and it just steam rolls that way until it all ties together into one magical present, tied up with a pretty bow.
NRAMA: So Geoff has this revelation about something, and it will all be explained eventually, but we find out that there were clues all along?
EVS: Yes. It's amazing how well all this was put together.
NRAMA: And you're working with Geoff on The Blackest Night?
EVS: I don't think we want to say too much about how that project's being done, but I'm involved.
NRAMA: And you're still doing an issue of Justice League like you told Newsarama in Chicago, right?
EVS: Yeah. I'm working on that now. It’s going to be Justice League #20.
NRAMA: And you know, every time Dan DiDio has you on a panel, he says something about you doing Plastic Man, and there's a lot of buzz about it. A lot of fans miss Plastic Man. Point blank, Ethan: Are you doing Plastic Man?
EVS: I might be. Dan has actually said to me now that we're ready to go. For a long time, my ideas for Plastic Man were kind of looked at as, "Where are we going to put this? How is this going to work with what plans are already in place for the DCU?" But suddenly, everything has sort of come together and Dan has agreed to make the changes that I thought should be made in the character. And he's saying that whenever I want to do it, I can come do it. It's a matter of time. So at some time, I would still love to do Plastic Man, but I've got obligations now. I don't have the time right now. I had my window of opportunity, and I missed it a little bit.
NRAMA: Obligations? What are you doing after Justice League?
EVS: Right after Justice League, I have something else I can't talk about.
NRAMA: Not Blackest Night?
EVS: I'm going to immediately start another project that is not Blackest Night. It's another huge thing with Geoff Johns. I cannot tell you anything about it.
NRAMA: Hmmm. Since you can’t talk about that, let’s go back to this Blackest Night tease. Besides telling us to go back and look at some key issues, can you talk at all about what's coming? The dead will rise? Is the term “zombies” correct?
EVS: No, I really can't say anything else about that.
NRAMA: OK, then just as a final question related to the design of this last page: Whose hand is that coming out of the ground? Or is it just a generic dead hand?
EVS: Ah... that's a good question. We'll see. It may be a generic hand. Or it may be someone you know very, very well.