The Arcane Comics Panel Room at the Eighth Annual Emerald City ComiCon was absolutely packed with fans during Saturday afternoon’s "Green Lantern: The Future is Bright" panel from DC Comics. Things were delayed slightly as panelists Geoff Johns, editor Eddie Berganza, writer Pete Tomasi, and artist Pat Gleason waited for "Green Lantern" penciler Doug Mahnke to make his way up to the dais. While the attendees sat expectantly, Tomasi – who was wearing a Red Lantern ring – started to pound on the table, mimicking the throbbing beat of an active heart. "The Red Lanterns are coming!" he joked.
When Mahnke finally made his way up to the front of the room, the crowd burst into applause. As Berganza rifled through a slideshow designed to refresh the room on recent "Green Lantern" continuity, there was more applauding and cheering at each successive image. The cover to the upcoming "Green Lantern" #52, featuring White Lantern Sinestro, brought the volume in the room to a fever pitch. This portion of the panel was unfortunately quite brief, but before Berganza turned it over to the fans for a question-and-answer session, he previewed a page from next week’s issue of "Green Lantern Corps" which compelled the audience to issue a load collective moan. It depicted Green Lantern Kyle Rayner being attacked by a zombified creature coming out of a refrigerator. Any die-hard Green Lantern fan – or someone at least peripherally aware of comics trends in the ‘90s – will no doubt recognize this as an allusion to Rayner’s dead girlfriend Alex DeWitt, who was infamously stuffed into a fridge after her murder. It goes without saying that apparently her character is being exhumed as a Black Lantern. The slideshow was capped off by a fleeting glimpse of some new "Blackest Night" action figures from DC Direct. Pictured were Black Lantern Hawkgirl, Star Sapphire Wonder Woman, and Blue Lantern Barry Allen.
The panel’s audience attendees brought forth a wide variety of questions, with the majority of them focused on logic and minutia related to the power rings as depicted in the "Blackest Night" miniseries. Some of them did elicit some exciting revelations from Johns, who said that fan-favorite Red Lantern Dex-Starr (AKA the murderous, blood-spewing housecat) will have his own origin story, and that "he’s actually from Earth." He also said that the "New Guardians" arc coming up in "Green Lantern" will explore some of that series’ cosmic characters attempting to adjust to permanent residence on the planet Earth. "[Red Lantern] Atrocitus finds solace in the New York City subways," Johns said.
Johns also proffered some news related to his bi-weekly "Brightest Day" miniseries, which will spin out of the events in "Blackest Night" #8. "'Brightest Day' is not just a banner…it’s a story. It’s about second chances. Some work out, some don’t." Panelist Pat Gleason, who will be departing "Green Lantern Corps" when writer Peter Tomasi moves on to pen "Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors," will be providing some interior art for "Brightest Day."
A fan asked Johns why he chose the character of Black Hand as an antagonist in "Blackest Night." "If Sinestro’s the dark mirror of Hal Jordan, Black Hand is the exact opposite [of Jordan]," the author explained.
Another attendee wanted to know if Orange Lantern Larfleeze would have an oath similar to the ones for other corps. Johns said that Larfleeze’s oath will be revealed in an upcoming issue of "Green Lantern." He also stated that future "Green Lantern" storylines will further explore Space Sector 2814, and that the Cowgirl character will once again rise to the fore of the title. He has plans for a variety of new villains, and in response to a fan’s question about how long he plans on staying with the "Green Lantern" title, Johns said, "I like to tell big stories, and I’m going to be telling big stories for awhile."
"Do you have another five-year plan [for 'Green Lantern']?" a fan asked.
Johns smirked and said, "It’s a little longer than five years."
Conversely, there were some things fans are clamoring for that apparently may never come to fruition. Johns revealed that he has no further plans for the "Black Ops" members of the Green Lantern Corps, and Peter Tomasi said that there will be no back-up feature in "Green Lantern Corps" as previously advertised.
While there were some fun teases at things coming down the pike (Johns seemed coy on the subject of an animated film adaptation of his "Sinestro Corps" storyline), the panelists made an effort to keep the tone reflective. As such, they spent a good amount of time discussing the success of the “Blackest Night” miniseries. Johns restated that he believes "Blackest Night" is "all about emotions." Tomasi felt that the storyline reaped great benefits with regard to DC Comics’ pantheon of characters.
"Each of the Black Lanterns illuminates the characters we’ve been writing for so long," he said.
One of the panel’s most puzzling questions came from the writer Mark Waid, who had surreptitiously taken a spot in line for the mic at the front of the room. "I have a question for Geoff Johns," Waid began, poking fun at the fact that most of the questioners had focused their attention on Johns instead of the other panelists. Waid asked if Hal Jordan would be having any more adventures in the 58th century – a reference (in true Mark Waid fashion) to an obscure Green Lantern story from 1961. Curiously, he also mentioned Barry Allen, who didn’t appear in the original John Broome story to which Waid was referring. Johns answered "yes," and the entire interaction seemed steeped in playfulness, as if Waid knew more than he was letting on and was nudging Johns into giving some hints at future "Green Lantern" plot points.
As the panel rushed to a conclusion, Johns provided a final piece of info on what to expect in upcoming issues of "Green Lantern": the recently deputized lanterns (Wonder Woman, Mera, etc.) will for the most part revert to their normal superhero identities, but maintain strong ties with their respective corps. The room rewarded Johns and the other panelists with one last thunderstorm of applause, before mobbing them all for autographs, photos, and handshakes.
Check back to CBR across the weekend for more news from Emerald City ComiCon 2010!