With its dripping, green-on-black cover, it’s clear that something ominous is going on in Green Lantern Annual #1, out this week from DC Comics. When I spoke with artist Ethan Van Sciver about the book by e-mail, he said that his latest collaboration with Geoff Johns represented something of an ending (and new beginning) for this particular part of the DCU. You know how these things go–the Flash: Rebirth and Green Lantern: Rebirth artist couldn’t give away the plot of this week’s 48-page annual, but he was able to give us a little insight into how the book will lead into October’s crossover, “The Rise of the Third Army.”
[Note that all preview images are from IGN]
MTV Geek: First off, that’s a pretty ominous looking cover. Do you see this issue as a beginning or ending?
Ethan Van Sciver: It’s both! But it certainly does bring 50 years of Green Lantern stories to a conclusion of sorts. I cried. I’m crying now.
Geek: Now the solicitation details were pretty scarce. But we know this is all setting up the big crossover which starts in October. Could you perhaps give us a general sense of what you and Geoff were trying to do with this issue?
Van Sciver: It seems as though this issue represents the last embers of an idea the Guardians had being snuffed out. A lot of answers about what the Third Army represents and why are offered in this issue. And those answers are surprising.
Geek: For a few years there, GL had taken on the feel of a war comic—factions being set up on all sides, forming alliances, and generally launching themselves at everyone else. Since the relaunch, it’s been more of a buddy action story with Hal and Sinestro. Visually, how did you handle the interplay between the characters in this setup?
Van Sciver: I didn’t want to draw Sinestro differently than I ever had… I’ve noticed he’s been “youthened up” in current book, but I’ve kind of grown attached to the Sinestro that I’ve always drawn. The main difference is that he’s less angry now that he’s been accepted back into the Green Lantern Corps. And I’m aware when I’m drawing Hal and Sinestro in this new partnership that deep down, Sinestro still sees Hal as inferior. And beneath that, he sees Hal as a threat, and envies him. But working together, Sinestro hopes that he can dominate Hal, and keep him under his wing in a sense. So much of the role he’s playing now feels like a pretense to me. It’s all very subtle. I feel like I know these characters better than I do any others. I know how Hal would react to any given situation, and Sinestro as well. It makes drawing them such a pleasure.
Geek: We’re expecting to see some new characters crop up in this issue. Could you share any thoughts on how you approached their design or even some of the challenges of coming up with more designs for characters wearing the Lantern ring?
Van Sciver: I did design some new characters for this annual, but no Lanterns! I took a run at the Third Army after talking to Geoff, and then I did the final design. But it was a far different challenge than drawing a wide assortment of interesting and unique alien creatures for various Lantern corps. It was a very specific task. Geoff had them in mind fairly vividly. It was entirely his notion, and I did my best to carefully interpret his words with an image. The other batch of new characters comes as we follow the Guardians into a black hole, where they find… oh, you’ll see.
Geek: Talk to us a little about coming on board this issue. In cases like this, is it kind of considered a given that you’ll be the art guy and Geoff with as the words guy when a big shakeup is going on with GL?
Van Sciver: I wish it was a given! That would be great. But Green Lantern has had no shortage of marvelous artists who could manage this. It’s a privilege that I will always carry to have been Geoff’s first Green Lantern creative partner, and the guy who got so much of this started with him. I think bringing me back for this project is his way of saying that perhaps a chapter than we began together is ending here. Wraps it all in a neat, green bow.
Geek: Could you tell us a little about how you approached Black Hand here? In earlier issues, it felt like he was somewhat diminished in the New 52.
Van Sciver: I always played Black Hand as a pathetic, filthy, envious psychotic. But things have happened to Black Hand to change his demeanor quite a bit since then. He’s empty. Emotionless. It took a few re-dos to get that right and get on board with the new and different Black Hand.
Geek: One of the themes that’s played through Green Lantern over the years is the way power corrupts, usually ending up back with the Guardians somehow putting everyone in danger. Why does this family of books tend to keep coming back to that theme?
Van Sciver: Because this tiny group of super intellects is attempting to centrally plan the policing of the universe through tight laws, strange rituals and control over human motivations. It’s bound to go wrong from time to time, as governments do. It makes for great stories!
Geek: Let’s say this is the last time you work on a GL title (this is an odd one, forgive me) but what do you think yours and Geoff’s legacy will be on the character and his corner of the DCU?
Van Sciver: Well, I hope it isn’t. But if it is, I think I played a small but noted role alongside Geoff Johns in making Green Lantern the fresh, accessible, imaginative and well-loved franchise it’s become. My crazy ambition from the start was to help make Green Lantern into DC’s X-Men. I think we did that and more.
Geek: What else do you have coming up?
Van Sciver: I made DC a short list of characters that I wanted to work on next, and they chose the biggest one on the list! I’m working on an arc for that book, yet unannounced. And still working on that big OGN with Gail Simone! Also unannounced. It’ll be nice to be announced.
Johns and Van Sciver’s Green Lantern Annual #1 will be available on August 29th.