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Interview: Robert Venditti on Green Lantern, Character Creation, and Planning Ahead

GREEN LANTERN writer Robert Venditti chats about these series with Comic Vine.

A lot has changed in the world of GREEN LANTERN since writer Robert Venditti took over and completely changed the status quo of the book. The Green Lantern Corps are no longer seen as the police of the universe. They're now seen as destroyers of the universe, since using the emotional spectrum drains the life from the universe. Venditti chatted with us over the phone about the book and what's going on.

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COMIC VINE: Have you embraced wearing a Green Lantern ring while you write the book?

ROBERT VENDITTI: I have. I wear one on every single one of my fingers. It's a little hard to type, but DC's been working with me on deadlines, so it's not too bad.

CV: So it's like that classic cover [GREEN LANTERN #49] where you're Hal Jordan with all the rings on all your fingers while you write the book.

RV: Yeah, exactly.

CV: I feel like maybe I missed something in the latest issue, but what's going on with the vials at the beginning and end of issue #29?

RV: This is the Durlan in issue #27. We found out there was a Durlan posing as a cook in the Green Lantern Corps headquarters. He sent this message to the whole universe that described the lanterns as tyrants and those kinds of things. What the vials are and why he needs them you'll find out in the next issue.

CV: This issue, we got to see the return of Simon Baz. He's watching over Hal's brother. Is he going to have a bigger role in this book in the future and what could that be?

RV: He's not just watching over Hal's brother and family. He's watching over Earth. What we saw in the GREEN LANTERN/RED LANTERN book, which was GREEN LANTERN & RED LANTERNS #28, now sector 2814 is under control of the Red Lanterns, so they are now the law in that section of space, and the Green Lantern Corps no longer is. As part of that, Hal was able was able to convince them to allow just one Green Lantern to remain on Earth to watch over but that Green Lantern can't leave the planet or else it violates the treaties they have, so that's Simon Baz. Baz now is now the Green Lantern of Earth while the Red Lanterns patrol sector 2814. Baz has a big responsibility and as part of that, Hal grabs Baz sort of as a favor because Hal has to go off to war, to watch over his family and make sure they're safe. What that leads to, we'll have to wait and see.

CV: We'll definitely see more of him, right?

RV: Yes.

CV: Speaking of fan favorite lanterns, where's G'Nort?

RV: G'Nort is going to be showing up in one of the Lantern books very soon, but I don't want to say anything beyond that.

CV: That's good enough for me.

RV: You know, it's funny. You strike me as a G'Nort guy. I would have guessed that.


CV: You and [artist] Billy Tan have created some pretty cool lanterns, including Gorin-Sunn. What's your process in character creation and how do you know if you have a character that's a keeper?

RV: That's a great question. For character creation, it's trying to come up with something that's new and different. There's 7,200 lanterns from across the universe. I want to try to reflect that. I don't want to do anything that feels similar or done before, so with Gorin-Sunn, I wanted to create a character and I thought it would be interesting to have sort of an alien race that was made of sentient energy. What would that mean? We're going to find out more about Gorin-Sunn over the next five or six issues. He's going to be sticking around as a character and we're going to learn more about his background. He can only take shape and have the form he does because of the Green Lantern ring and the backpack on his back that allows him to have a humanoid form; otherwise, he'd just be a puddle. He's the first person of his race to ever get off of his planet that's only because he's been chosen to be a Green Lantern. They all just live in this big lake.

As far as the creation from the art aspect of it just working with Billy and one of the things that he's the best at is designing new characters and new alien races, and you can see that in the really big splash pages and double page spreads he does where there will be familiar lanterns in the shot but he just populates it with all these aliens in the background and they're all these unique characters that fill out this image. It's a lot of fun to design characters with him, and we've done that a few times now. Looking at those things, you can see it's a strong suit with him.

CV: Within this run so far, what's the craziest lantern construct that you've gotten to write into a script?

RV: So far... I guess the most fun one was GREEN LANTERN #22. Hal creates a construct of a great white shark to eat a bunch of Larfleeze's orange lanterns, while some of the other recruits are being protected in a construct shark cage, and I did that specifically in that issue because that was the issue that was on stands during Shark Week. Hal strikes me as a Shark Week kind of guy.

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There are some interesting ones coming up. There's this lantern whose name is B'ox and it's an established lantern and has been around for a few years and he's basically a lantern shaped like a box. No arms, no head, no legs, no anything, but he tends to make constructs like boxing gloves or a baseball bat, but he has no arms, so I have fun with that one as well.

CV: That's interesting because in an interview I did with Van Jensen of GREEN LANTERN CORPS, he mentioned B'ox a couple times too. Is that a secret creator favorite lantern?

RV: Yeah. I was just reading some back issues and I saw him in the background, while talking to Billy. He was a character populating the background of a huge splash, so I started asking the editor's "Who is this lantern? Where does he come from?" He really didn't have any back-story, but the character does pre-exist and has had a few appearances, so I thought it would be something fun to start using this lantern now and again and have it be like a Where's Waldo. He's been in other Green Lantern books since we took over.

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CV: What type of challenges do you have taking a background character and bring him to the forefront in your books?

RV: It's just trying to make them unique and different. Flesh them out as a character and separate them from the other 7,199 lanterns. Even if a lot of it doesn't make it to the page, those back-stories help you write that character differently than you'd write anything else. Green Lantern is a book that has an extremely large cast. There are a lot of established characters I enjoy, like Kilowog, but certainly creating new characters and new villains has been a part of what we're trying to do as well and we'll continue to do that.

CV: Is there any story or plot that you wanted to use for this book that just didn't work and had to be scrapped?

RV: Not yet, but I think in a lot of ways we're still working off, I guess what have I done? 9 issues, at this point maybe it's 10. We're still in the first year with me being the writer on the book and when you pitch for a series like this, you tend to go beyond the first arc. You press things out for a good 12 to 18 months before you get green-lighted to begin. There hasn't been anything that's gotten scrapped.

CV: Since you've become the writer of Green Lantern, a lot has changed in the Lantern universe. As of right now, how much more of Green Lantern do you already have planned?

RV: Right now, we have a very firm plan of what's going to happen, across the line, pretty much through December of this year. We know exactly what the stories are. Beyond that, we know in broader strokes where things are continuing to go, but that's down the line, so we haven't gotten into specific plotting yet, so from here, we're looking at around 18 months.

Many thanks to Robert Venditti for taking the time to answer some of our questions! Make sure to check out GREEN LANTERN #29, which is in stores now!