First things first, give us a little background on “Lights Out.” How long has the story been in the works?
Robert Venditti: The Relic “Villains Month” issue was actually one of the first issues that I wrote. I can’t remember, but I think I wrote Green Lantern #21, and I wrote Relic # 1 right after that so the origin of the character would sort of be laid down and you could know who he was and what he was all about. I think if you go back and you read the early issues of all the titles, after you’ve read the entirety of “Lights Out,” you’ll realize how many threads we started setting up really from the very beginning of the creators switch-over.
In Relic’s “Villain Month” issue we see some kind of classic DC set pieces, like the Source Wall and the Hand of Creation. Was it challenging to pick up a book with such a rich mythology like that?
RV: Yea, you know I don’t come from comics – I started reading comics in my late 20s, and I’m not very steeped in the mythology of any comic book. I know about the characters, what most people know from a sort of general pop-culture immersion, whether it be Christopher Reeve’s Superman movies or the old Batman TV show, so concepts like the Source Wall and the Hand of Creation were not things I was familiar with at all.
They were all things that came up during my discussions with editor Matt Idelson and Chris Conroy. Before I even knew what the Source Wall was, somebody just said the phrase “the Source Wall,” and as soon as that phrase was uttered, it just sort of was like, ‘Ok, well what if there’s this source where all this light comes from?’ and what happens if that reservoir gets depleted, and a lot of the story line just came out of that.
Oa seems like it’s not in great shape, the Blue Lanterns are all dead, and the entities from the central power batteries are all missing and dying – it kind of seems like the whole lantern universe is crumbling down around them. Are we going to see some pretty lasting changes after “Lights Out” ends?
RV: Yes, there are gonna be very long-term lasting ramifications of “Lights Out,” not just in terms of what it means for the Green Lantern line of books, but also in terms of what it means for the wider DCU as a whole. One of the things that Van and myself – and Charles Soule, who writes Red Lantern and Justin Jordan who writes Green Lantern: New Guardians – one thing that we really tried to do in all of our discussions across all the books is to make each character have a very significant role in the crossover that only that character could perform, and also to have a lasting impact in each of the books coming out of this. So yeah, it is going to be an event that will definitely leave a lasting impression.
Can you say whether or not we’ll ever see the Blue Lanterns again?
RV: Umm… how do I want to answer that? You know, there will be more Blue Lanterns, yes. How that happens, and who those characters are, all that story remains to be seen. A large part of what “Lights Out” is all about is building on this great mythology that Geoff Johns put down over the course of his run, and really using that as a foundation for our stories. The Blue Lanterns are such a huge, central part of that, we wouldn’t want to leave them out of it.
Talk a little more about Relic. What inspired his creation?
RV: It all started out with discussions back when I was in the pitch phase for Green Lantern between myself and Matt Idelson and Chris Conroy. The idea was for a character who was from the universe before ours, and really that was all it was, and just over time hearing things like the Source Wall and coming up with the idea for the reservoir, it just all developed into him being this character who came from the universe prior to ours who had this theory that a reservoir for the emotional spectrum existed, and that the reservoir could be depleted, that when that happened it would have very bad effects on the universe.
Nobody would listen to him, and they just sort of said he was a crackpot, because they’ve got cities built out of light and their whole civilizations are revolving around use of the emotional spectrum, one way or another, so he was a voice that nobody really wanted to listen to, and their universe ended up being destroyed. So it was just trying to create a character that would be sympathetic to the reader. They would understand and he started out as somewhat of a hero in his own right, but for the way he was treated, the way he was ignored, he has now decided to take this rather villainous turn, and now that he’s in our universe he’s trying to get rid of all the Lanterns in order to, in his mind, save our universe. We understand his motives even though his methods are probably pretty abhorrent.
Is it challenging introducing such a powerful new character to a universe with so much history?
RV: It is a big challenge, but to me that’s the fun part of the job. To think, I got to create this character with Billy Tan that ended up becoming one of the “Villains Month” one-shots, then I got to create an entire universe and destroy it in twenty panels. Those kinds of opportunities don’t come along very often, and so for me it’s just been a tremendous amount of fun and I’m just really enjoying it.
In the first chapters of “Lights Out,” we see that the central battery is on its last legs and that all the power rings are left are quickly losing juice. How are the Lanterns going take down such a huge force without these weapons that have become a crutch for them?
RV: Relic, by being a scientist who is an expert on the emotional spectrum and devoting his life to studying it, in a roundabout way ended up figuring out how to combat it and defend himself against it. He’s become this extremely tough nut that the Lantern Corps are unable to crack. That’s a large part of what the crossover’s about.
Van Jensen: Superheroes are at their most interesting when they’re in a situation where the default use of their power can’t defeat whatever threat or villain that they’re up against. This is exactly that, the Green Lanterns are facing a situation where their inherent powers are borderline useless or even counterproductive. When you cant use your basic abilities then it’s up to how smart you are or how creative you are to try to come up with a solution. That’s been a lot of, I think, what makes this such a good story, and what made it so much fun to write.
RV: Yeah, and Van came up with a great solution of his own that people will see in Green Lantern Corps #24.
In Green Lantern Corps, we’ve been introduced to a few new Green Lanterns, such as Feska and Maro. Are we gonna see more from these new Lanterns? Are they gonna become series regulars?
VJ: In my mind, they already are series regulars. When I came in and took over writing on the book there had been some pretty major changes through the end of the last run, so it was a good time to bring in some new characters. I sort of use them as a way to catch readers up with what the status quo. After the Third Army and the First Lantern, the name of the Corps has been tarnished throughout the universe and the Corps is in pretty rough shape. They’re really struggling to rebuild, so it was a way to introduce Lanterns that are just a lot different.
It spun out of an idea that Rob had. So many lanterns have been recruited and killed that the universe doesn’t have a lot of a-list recruits any more, so what we’re left with is kind of like the Bad News Bears… people who have willpower, but it’s not in the sense of them being big heroes. They have different kinds of willpower… non-traditional, I guess you’d say. It’s been fun to be able to throw them into that world and to put them in situations where they’re also forced to grow and evolve. They’ll play really major roles, both in “Lights Out” and in the books going forward.
Of all the Green Lanterns in all of history, who are your guys’ personal favorites?
RV: You go first, Van.
VJ: I don’t know that I would say these are absolute favorites, but I just wrote an issue where I threw in this guy, Oliversity, who’s basically a space snake and has all kinds of control over his venom, so he can bite people and do different things based on the different venom that he can inject them with. The idea of a giant space snake as a Green Lantern struck me as pretty cool.
RV: For me, I really love Kilowog. I think he’s a good character, he’s a lot of fun to write, and Bernard Chang does an amazing job of drawing him. There’s a couple of other Lanterns as well that I’m a huge fan of, but I can’t really say who they are because one of them in particular is going to be very central to “Lights Out,” so for me to tell you who that is would be a pretty big spoiler.