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Interview: Van Jensen and Bernard Chang Discuss the Present and Future of GREEN LANTERN CORPS

The creative team behind GREEN LANTERN CORPS talks Godhead and where the series is headed afterwards, as well as a look at the cover to GREEN LANTERN ANNUAL #3

In the midst of the second act of the cross-over Lantern event, Godhead, John Stewart must rise to the occasion to take on the New Gods and work with beings who he would hardly consider friends. Writer Van Jensen and artist Bernard Chang took a few moments to talk to us over the phone about the second act of the event, where Godhead is heading, the color work of Marcelo Maiolo, and what's happening after Godhead is over. We also have a look at the cover of GREEN LANTERN ANNUAL #3 below.

There are some spoilers from the latest issue of GLC and Godhead in this interview.

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COMIC VINE: For the folks who haven't been reading, what's been going on in Green Lantern Corps during the Godhead story?

VAN JENSEN: The New Gods, for the first time, have asserted their control for our universe. They have sought out one of the rings from each of the different corps, in their pursuit of the Life Equation, which is this mysterious power which resides beyond the Source Wall and that's put into direct conflict with the Green Lantern Corps, so in issue #35, we saw a team of Green Lanterns led by John Stewart face off against a New God by the name of Uggha that ended badly for the Green Lanterns. Also, the Green Lanterns, in GREEN LANTERN #35, got their butt kicked by Orion, near the Source Wall.

CV: In the most recent issue [GREEN LANTERN CORPS #36], John Stewart joins the Star Sapphires at the end of the issue. How is this going to play into the larger picture of Godhead?

VJ: Part of this is John doing what needed to be done in order to get his troops to safety and that's sort of the immediate aspect of it. For the longer term, for John, this is a really important moment for really discovering something about himself and the strength within himself that's gonna bond him in a way. Something that all of the Lanterns are planning is that the single ring is not useful against the New Gods, who are just incredibly powerful, so they're having to create these awkward and uneasy alliances and they're having to seek out these new weapons in order to take the fight to the New Gods. And launching a counter-attack is the next big act of the cross-over. What we're seeing is the Lanterns, in a lot of different ways, rally together to try to find some means to defeat the New Gods. We're seeing Hal Jordan forced to team up with Black Hand and the Green Lantern Corps trying to forge an alliance with the Sinestro Corps and all of that is going to continue and escalate.

BERNARD CHANG: Besides, John looks good in pink.

CV: Yeah, he does. So far, it seems like Act II is more "the enemy of my enemy is my friend"

VJ: Yeah, absolutely. One of the things this allows us to do is really explore the mindset and motivations of the different corps as they come together and the different leaders of the corps. It is certainly not going to be a clean and easy road for them. There are more than a few surprises in the months to come.

CV: What's the appeal of the New Gods and New Genesis?

BC: As a lifelong comic book reader, Jack Kirby's legacy, in comics, has been influential to any fan. Obviously, the New Gods are on the top of that list. Pete Woods came in and redesigned the characters and technology and environments and did a wonderful job at that, so visually, all the books, especially this crossover, looks amazing, purely on just a design basis, playing off what Kirby had originally done. The designs are so great looking at them, but by the end of drawing every issue and having put in all the details, I'm cursing at Woods. Also, a lot of shout-outs have to go to Marcelo Maiolo, who does colors on the book and really brings the visuals to life. Van will write the words, I'll put in the lines, but Marcelo really comes in and closes the deal on all the issues. It's a fun experience for me. I've never drawn the New Gods before, prior to this but it's an interesting take, New Genesis with its architecture and technology and the blend of the original stuff and modernizing it along with looking at what Cliff Chiang did in the issues of WONDER WOMAN. There's definitely a lot of influence coming in from that as well.

VJ: Like Bernard said, these are just some of the biggest characters and the most revered characters in the history of comics. I think that in some way it's imposing, sure, but as a creator, when you get the opportunity to work on something big like that, you don't have any choice other than trying to rise to the occasion. I speak for everyone involved, writers, artists, editors, we all really respect source material and we all spent a lot of time going back over it, studying it, and thinking a lot about it. At the same time, we wanted to craft the best story we could possibly craft and I'm really proud of the work that's come out of it. It's certainly daunting but it's been a hell of a lot of fun.

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CV: Bernard, you brought up Marcelo and you guys, as a team, are doing some fantastic work. How closely are you two working together on this book?

BC: Marcelo and I have been working together for a few years now. We started on DEMON KNIGHTS, prior to GREEN LANTERN CORPS. I think we began starting a great chemistry back and forth. For the most part, I let him roam free and do what he wants. Occasionally, there may be some minor notes prior to. Coloring is really on Marcelo's shoulders and he does an amazing job even bringing in his signature, monotone panels that really heighten. He started doing those, I forget what issue, in the GREEN LANTERN CORPS run.

VJ: Issue #28

BC: Based off of that,what I'm drawing now, I keep that in mind. There's a scene or shot here or there where that may accentuate that moment. I think we've... we're playing the triangle offense and one person passes to another and the other shoots, and at the end of the day, we're scoring a lot of points with the creative team that we have.

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CV: One of the stand out pages in this past issue was John Stewart holding the sword and Marcelo does the flat color over it. He uses it sparingly, but here it really sets the moment.

VJ: You can't say enough about Bernard and Marcelo and the work that they do. That page is a perfect example. There's no huge acts there. There's nothing that's so big and so momentous that it grabs you by the seat of your pants. It's all in the subtly of the action and so everything from the first panel to the last panel, everything flows in an organic way and all of the moments are really carried through both by the structure of the action and how it flows and also the subtle characterization. The panel where John with his construct hands grabs the sword and John is completely calm, totally not freaked out and Kilowog has this little, almost like he's gasping. Those are moments that Bernard and Marcelo they brig them to life. It takes what could be a completely forgettable moment and turns it into something. For me, it was one of my favorite pages in the issue. It really pops and it's absolutely because of the art.

CV: Looking down the line, the Lantern books have all been very involved with each other for quite a while. After Godhead is over, will Green Lantern Corps be on its own, storywise for a while?

VJ: GREEN LANTERN CORPS is going to be very much a singular story, coming out of Godhead. It's going to be an exploration of this idea that we've been seeding a little bit over the past year that the Corps has been wrapped up with these huge, monumental battles for years, really, from the First Lantern to Relic onto the Durlans and then the New Gods and one of the things that we're exploring is that with the corps wrapped up with these singular threats is that's diverted their attention from their stated purpose which is patrol the universe and keep the universe protected. If you imagine a city where all the cops in the city have been focused so long on particular place, what happens to all the other neighborhoods where there are no police officers? That's going to be the central idea of this next arc. The universe has largely been without Green Lanterns for sometime now and a pretty significant group of threats have taken hold in that time.

BC: I was pushing for more Star Sapphires. I've been updating my wardrobe to include a bunch more colorful clothing. I have pink pants, a pink shirt, but you know, we'll see how it goes.

CV: Would you ever wear anything as skimpy as the Star Sapphires wear in your personal life?

BC: Well, at home, yes. Right now, I'm actually pantsless. Good thing this is not over Skype.

CV: Green Lantern Corps deals just as much with the relationships of the corps members as it does with being space police. How important to you two is this balance?

VJ: I feel like character is essential to any story. What you want is a good balance where the journey of the characters and the relationships plays a central, integral role both inside the plot but also with the larger plot, there's an exploration of what's going on with the characters. With John Stewart, this is this giant event of Green Lanterns battling New Gods but in many ways, this issue is a culmination of a character arc for John that's been going on for a year and a half now. Anything that I ever work on I'm going to strive to carry that through.

Thanks to Bernard Chang and Van Jensen for taking the time to answer our questions and make sure to check out GREEN LANTERN CORPS and Godhead, currently available at your LCS. Take a look at the cover to the upcoming GREEN LANTERN ANNUAL #3 by Ethan Van Sciver.

Cover to GREEN LANTERN ANNUAL #3 by Ethan Van Sciver
Cover to GREEN LANTERN ANNUAL #3 by Ethan Van Sciver