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Interview: Charles Soule on RED LANTERNS

Writer Charles Soule discusses some of the finer points of his run on this series and what it is building up to.

There's been plenty of big changes in the world of the Red Lanterns since writer Charles Soule took over. The group is split and they're all currently after one, powerful new lantern: The Judge. Soule talked to us over the phone about the series and what we can expect in the upcoming months.

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COMIC VINE: Red Lanterns are split between two factions at the moment. On one side, there's Atrocitus and Dex-Starr and on the other side is Guy Gardner, Supergirl, and Bleez. While the split feels natural where we're at now, why originally split up the Red Lanterns?

CHARLES SOULE: The basic thinking behind this was that Atrocitus had set up something he liked. It was a good feel for him. He was the high-priest, over-lord. No one could tell him how to do his job. It was his own, personal cult. He saw it as a religious calling to help the Earth through rage. Then Guy Gardner waltzes in and is like "whatever man. I'm going to beat you, steal your rings, steal your entire corps from under you and basically leave you for dead. Not only am I doing to do all that to you, but I'm also going to change your entire corps, which you created and own, and make it into this fun, free-willing, space-biker gang thing." It's insult to injury. Everything that Guy has done completely opposes how the Red Lanterns should work.

Part of that is a meta-commentary on the way the Red Lanterns should be. Should they be one or should they be the other? They are a fun, cool concept that works well as a space-biker gang, but there's also something to be said for the severe, scourge of the universe cult thing. I felt like whenever you get into a big battle, if you can make it as personal as possible, the better it's going to read. That's what I wanted to do here. You can see the point of view from both sides. Guy has built something and turned it into something of a family. He really likes these people and thinks something good can be done with them. Whereas Atrocitus feels like this is sacrilege left and right. This holy thing he made is being twisted and turned into something horrible. So you can see both sides of the coin and now it's about putting them against each other and seeing who wins.

CV: Last issue, we saw a new Red Lantern: The Judge. What makes this character so dangerous? Why do we have Guy Gardner and Atrocitus racing to get her?

CS: One of the things that makes her incredibly powerful is that she is not emotional about her rage. She is someone, as we saw in issue #30, she served on her home planet for 90 years. During that time, she went from a young idealistic judge, who thought she could create change, who could have justice on her planet, to someone who blocked all possibility of justice taken away. She the a symbol of what was right on her planet, but because of the corruption that had taken over everyone and everyone there, she could no longer do that. She just had to sit there and watch and get angrier and angrier and angrier as hope and justice left her planet, which means that for a lot of the Red Lanterns you've seen before, they got angry because of one, quick thing that happened to them: they lost a family member, they were hurt, they were burned alive, something terrible happened to them and a ring found them.

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Now, with the Judge, she has has 90 years, 9 decades, of growing anger and it's this cold, intense rage that's she now able to access when the red ring finds her. She's so emotionless about it that she's able to suppress the madness to a certain degree. She can still speak and things like that, which aren't normal for Red Lanterns, but you put all that together, you got a very unique, very interesting perspective on what it is to be a Red Lantern and it makes her incredibly powerful. Now, here on two sides of an upcoming cosmic battle, not only do you want to get the strongest people on your side, but you want to keep the other people from getting them, so it's really a race to see who can grab this lady first and turn her to their side and help win this upcoming battle.

CV: The Judge is a really cool character and Alessandro Vitti is doing a fantastic job on this book. When it comes to your character creation with Alessandro, what is your process?

CS: Well, it depends. Some characters, you're just like "I need a new Red Lantern here. This is basically what I'm thinking, to Alessandro and Jim." Sometimes, I know they're essentially going to be cannon fodder. They're going to be gone in an issue or two, so I don't put too much thought into it necessarily. Let their imaginations go. The problem with that scenario is that they design unbelievable, beautiful characters that I say "Oh man. I can't get rid of this character. They are too cool." So it happens over and over again. I have a sense of the role the character is going to play, in a story. It's rare that I just make somebody up and see where it goes. But that often does change when I see them, particularly things like, in some of the other books I write that have a lot of new characters pop up, sometimes I let the artist design it and I sort of think up the powers once I've seen what they've done. Like I said, it depends where I start.

CV: There is a good supporting cast in this book. Who are you having the most fun writing?

CS: They're all fun in different ways. I'd be lying if I didn't say Zilius Zox was one of my favorites. I think that probably comes through in the writing. I think Rankorr is a lot of fun. One of the things that's easy to do when writing a team book is to forget about the relative age that people in our storyline, so Rankorr is a brand new lantern. He hasn't been one for very long. He's been through some amazing stuff, but he hasn't really seen space, he hasn't met all the other super-heroes, guys like Batman, and to write him is almost more wide-eyed and idealistic. Then you have somebody like Skallox, who was kind of a gangster, thug, enforcer, before he became a Red Lantern and he's been a Red Lantern for a long time. We've seen him for years in the Red Lantern books. They're going to have different takes on what is happening, which I think is interesting. Zilius Zox is just a weird, ball-shaped dude with gigantic teeth, who is awesome and he's with Guy Gardner, a buddy he really relates to, who he kinda clicks with immediately, and that was Zilius Zox. He has a lot of fun lines for a reason.

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CV: Where did the idea for the Red Lantern ship come from, since all of the Lanterns can travel on their own?

CS: First of all, it's because space ships are awesome. I think we can all agree on that. Second, I really wanted them to have a home base, some place they can hang out. When I came onto the book, all they really had was the surface of Ysmault, a barren planet with a blood lake and a lantern and that's all there really was. There was no house. There was nothing. Giving them a setting, sort of solved that problem for me. I'm a firm believer in character development through location or setting. Ziulus Zok is kind of the gearhead and likes to work on the ship. Skallox was excited about all the weapons inside the ship that he could play with. Bleez likes to look at data and run the computer stuff. Then of course, you have Guy Gardner who has a bar, which he's always known for liking bars and all that so it kind of all comes together. You can develop characters by the things they do at their location. Now, if they're just on Ysmault with the rocks, it's harder to do that. But, I just like sweet space ships.

CV: Thanks a lot Charles.

CS: Thank you so much.

Thanks, once again, to Charles Soule and make sure to check out RED LANTERNS, issue #31, part three of Judgement Day, is available at your LCS!