As a kid, I was a big fan of Superman and Batman, so naturally Icollected the Justice League of America action figures.  I got Robin, Lex Luthor and Joker to go along with my two prized caped heroes, and then just to expand my collection, I got Green Lantern,  Hawkman, Aquaman.  I never got interested in those characters, partiallybecause they weren’t as cool as Batman or Superman, and from what I remember, there was never really too much emphasis by DC Comics placed on those characters, so they seemed of secondary (or even tertiary) importance.

I wasn’t surprised when I heard that DC Comics was going to have a Green Lantern movie.  With Marvel putting out movies for most of their main characters, I wasn’t surprised to see DC put things in the works for Green Lantern, especially with the recent Batman movies, Superman movie, Smallville television show with Green Lantern as a regular characters and cameos from characters like Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, Flash, Wonder Twins, and others, not to mention a huge storyline arc (and most of a season) dedicated to Doomsday.  It almost seemed natural.

Recently, DC Comics seems to have started investing in the Green Lantern character a lot more, and it wasn’t until the Scream Awards 2009 on SPIKE TV that I got an idea of just how much they were investing.

Because I haven’t been a regular comic-book purchaser in a while, I took it upon myself to track down a couple people who do have “pull lists” at their local comic book stores to get their perspectives on the current state of the Green Lantern and how we got to this point.

Which titles relating to Green Lantern are you currently reading?

Currently I read Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps. and now all of the Blackest Night tie-in books/specials.

Have those titles been around a while, or were they started recently?

The Green Lantern character/books I believe date back to the early 40’s with publications featuring the characters off and on ever since with periodic “reboots” of the series/franchise.  The current volume of the Green Lantern has been going I believe since 2005 and Green Lantern Corps since 2006.

How long have you been reading those titles, and what got you interested in reading them in the first place?

I’ve been reading the current Green Lanterns/Green Lantern Corps. series since both series began.  I actually started picking up the DC Green Lantern books back around the time that Superman returned from the ‘Death’ storyline.  His return tied into the GL books at that time, and I stayed with them after that because of the story. At the time a highly controversial storyline began that saw Hal Jordan, “the greatest Green Lantern” go rogue and wipe out the entire GL structure, leaving behind but one ring.  As a new reader I was really sucked into the stories  of this new kid trying to wield the most “powerful weapon in the universe” and fill the shoes of an iconic hero.  Of course now, a lot of things have been changed/restored since 1994 when I first started reading as a kid.

I realize there have been multiple incarnations of Green Lantern, can you shed a little light on how that works (pardon the pun)?

For a character/idea that has been around for such a long time, it has a really long and complex history, so just for the sake of “jumping on” right now I’ll try and explain the current “status quo” as it were for the book and characters.  Basically the Green Lanterns are an intergalactic police/heroic  force, established at the center of the universe on the planet Oa where a central power battery is located that provides energy for the Lantern’s individual rings.  The rings then are used as a weapon as creatively or as forcefully as the wearer chooses.  For the most part, the “incarnations” of the Green Lanterns have all been members of this force, and the human members have been the major focus of the Green Lantern books, and each one has had a distinct personality that adds depth to the types of stories told.  Recently, outside of the “crossover” stories, Green Lantern has focused on Hal Jordan while Green Lantern Corps features more of the “team” concept with the Lanterns interacting/working more as a unit.

To get a good “grasp” of the background I would suggest looking up the graphic novels of the latest series, starting with Green Lantern:  Rebirth, and if you aren’t as heavily into comics, a great film-length animated feature Green Lantern:  First Flight was recently released which does great justice to the characters/comics.  If you happened to be a fan of Batman:  The Animated Series, I really think you’d enjoy First Flight as it has some of the same writers and producers as B:TAS had.

You mentioned the “Blackest Night” tie-in books, what’s that all about?

Well, “Blackest Night” is a DC-wide cross-over event but with the Green Lantern characters at the forefront of the story – and of course the entire universe is in peril.  A great deal of foundation for the was laid throughout the GL books since 2005, specifically through the “Sinestro Corps.” war which saw the rise of The Yellow Lanterns, and the books leading up to and through Blackest Night which establish the existence and motivations of different “corps”.  For Example, the Red lanterns are those chosen who have great Rage.  Yellow Lanterns can instill great fear – in fact it was unique to see Batman being at one point targeted by a Yellow Ring – but with the name Blackest Night it makes sense that the “threat” is The Black Lanterns which are linked to death.  The Black Lanterns themselves are the physical embodiment of “dead” characters in the DC universe, which has made for some great “fan” moments but also some great storytelling moments as heroes are confronted by and attacked by former friends, teammates, and loved ones – torn between the threat they represent and the hope that somehow, someway that these individuals could be truly restored.  Of course with all of these ‘colors” involved the story is hinting that the other Lanterns will have to come together in some way to take on the threat of the Black Lanterns, but who, how, why – and what it means for the future is still very much in the air and by the looks of the sales it is very much anticipated with the Blackest Night books taking multiple spots in the top 10 selling comics the past few months.

Until recently I hadn’t heard much mention of Green Lantern at all. Has there been an increase in quality – either art / story / increased interaction with other characters (Superman / Batman) / all of the above / combination of the above?

Although the art has been good across the board for the books, I think much of the increase interest really has come from quality storytelling with writer Geoff Johns at the forefront.  Johns is notably one of DC’s “big guns” having had a recent notably excellent run on Superman as well as working on an updated Superman origin – but I would say the best job he’s done while at DC has been with the GL characters and “universe.”  I think the keys to the improved stories have been as follows.

First, he’s expanded the GL mythos greatly and in a creative fashion and created new depth to the storylines – introducing new Corps with ties to an emotional spectrum where the members embody things like Rage, Will, Fear, Greed and so on and broadening the impact of the GL characters themselves. With these multiple levels of reading you can bring in readers who like the action-packed superhero genre, but also those who might look for something a bit more Sci-Fi/Fantasy oriented.

There is also an “epic” element to the GL events now.  Johns and the other GL writers have created a sense that in a “build” book that every detail could be important, and the interactions between characters are spot on, and when it comes down to the “fights” the sense of doom and hope are created so well with story and art that you do become emotionally invested in the product.  For example a key moment during the Sinestro Corps build to Blackest Night saw the GL’s authorized to use lethal force against Yellow Lanterns – the situation was so dire and drastic that death for an enemy was now an option.

A lot of information to digest?  Yeah, I feel that way too, but I’m also interested in it.  Since I haven’t read or seen much of anything with the Green Lantern, I’m going to start with Green Lantern: First Flight.  From there, I’ll probably check out Green Lantern: Rebirth.  But all in all, I’m interested to see what the Blackest Night saga is all about, and I’m hoping to have a decent background with the character prior to the movie coming out.

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