The DC Comics-Green Lantern: A Universe At War! panel at Anaheim’s WonderCon 2014 began as moderator Larry Ganem entered the second-floor convention room and told the gathered cheering fans, “Let’s get this started!”
He then introduced the afternoon's two panelists, “Green Lantern” writer Robert Venditti and “Green Lantern Corps” artist Bernard Chang. Taking a moment to plug Batman’s seventy-fifth anniversary Ganem quickly spoke about “Batman Day,” happening on July 23, where various comic stores will be throwing Batman-themed parties and giving away Batman prizes.
Turning back to the Green Lantern universe, Venditti told the room that when he took over the flagship book he wanted to give Hal more challenges, the biggest one being saddling him with the leadership of the Corps.
“What we’ve seen him do in the early issues is try to lead the Corps the way he would in a single fist-fight,” Venditti said, adding that this approach has “tarnished” the reputation of the Green Lanterns further.
“Much like with actually police officers...a lot of places they go, people aren’t happy to see ‘em,” Venditti continued, explaining that the rest of the DC Universe is mistrustful of Hal and the Corps to the extent that many of them no longer want the Corps policing their sectors.
Recapping the events in the “Lights Out” event, Venditti stated that Oa was lost and the new Green Lantern headquarters is on the mobile sentient planet Mogo. “It was a way to bring Mogo in to be a permanent cast member in ‘Green Lantern’ and ‘Green Lantern Corps’ as well,” Venditti said.
Chang pointed out that the white and green logo on the planet was actually foliage and that the planet had to physically re-terraform to accommodate the new headquarters.
“They’re at their weakest...in terms of their infrastructure and all those things,” Venditti said. Chang added that there is even a faction of Green Lanterns who no longer use their Rings due to worry that they will fail again.
Starting with “Green Lantern” #31, the two stated that alien race the Durlans will rise to fight the Corps as part of the “Uprising” arc. Venditti also stated that a character who has been on the bench thus far will be coming into the fray.
“You are a mean person!” Ganem joked, pointing to the Corps current state as Venditti chuckled. Displaying a panel of Hal getting punched in the face from issue #30, Venditti said that the test-pilot was finally using “strategy” and critical thinking with the Corps, and he will continue to grow as a leader through the “Uprising” arc.
Touching on issue #29 of “Green Lantern Corps,” Chang laughed and called it the “Ultimate team book!”
“There are all these intergalactic villains who are now -- the Green Lanterns used to be the police force and now they’re the bad guys in the eyes of the universe,” Chang said, explaining that the Durlans, the shape-shifting alien race that will be fighting the Corps, will be involved in his title as well.
“The key is once they touch something they can absorb their DNA and shapeshift into their form,” Chang said, describing the way the Durlan powers work. “A lot of Durlans have infiltrated Mogo and the Green Lantern Corps as well.”
Venditti also revealed that the Corps will deputize a lot of their old science-cell prisoners from Oa as, when it came to a choice between the moral Corps and the chaotic Durlans, many of the antagonists preferred to side with the Lanterns.
“I can’t overstate how important Kyle Rayner is,” Venditti said, speaking next about “Green Lantern: New Guardians'” place in the Lantern corner of the DC Universe. “He’s off with the Templar Guardians...everybody else thinks he’s dead.”
“How [his return] comes around and what that leads to will lead to a story in the back half of this year,” the writer added.
Looking at the cover of “Red Lanterns” #30, which depicted the Lanterns facing off against Dex-Starr, Venditti quickly brought fans up to speed on events in that book, stating that the Red Lanterns are now in charge of sector 2814, the sector Earth resides in, and only one Green Lantern is allowed on Earth, Simon Baz.
“They do have Supergirl now, so that helps,” Venditti joked as they displayed an interior page of Supergirl in her Red Lantern costume from issue #30.
Speaking more about Supergirl as a Red Lantern, Venditti said that her Kryptonian heritage will be problematic for current Red leader Guy Gardner, who did not realize she was Superman’s cousin until she already received the Red Ring and, “Doesn’t want to get punched out by Superman!” Venditti laughed.
Looking at the “Red Lanterns” line-up, Chang and the audience laughed again as Venditti labeled Dex-Starr” a, “kitty with rage issues!” He also explained that deposed-Red leader Atrocitus and Dex-Starr were in the midst of trying to create their own, new Red Lantern Corps.
Venditti then teased that many of the plot lines across the book will be resolved by August, including “Uprising,” which will see the Lanterns not only fighting the Durlans but the alien races duped by the Durlans into thinking the Corps is evil.
“‘Uprising’ is the first long-form story I came in...and it’s going to spin-off into another long-form story,” Venditti said, adding that there were big changes for Hal and Jon Stewart ahead.
Chang and Venditti then praised their fellow artist and writers on the other Lantern books, Chang stating, “There’s a great camaraderie with the whole team.”
“There’s a lot of good stuff in this head,” Chang added, patting Venditti’s head as the audience laughed.
“In #31 we’re starting a new thing where I’m going to do a role-call at the beginning of every issue,” Chang continued, explaining that he draws so many characters he felt it would be clearer.
The panel then threw the floor open to the audience for questions, laughing as the first came from a fan who asked what they thought of the “Green Lantern” movie. Venditti confessed he never saw it while Chang stated he enjoyed it, and the design sense that was put into the movie when it came to showing Oa and the myriad Lanterns.
“Even though it’s sci-f and an alien planet I want it to be realistic, I wan authenticity,” Chang continued, speaking of his own art style and telling the audience that he began in architecture, and worked as a Disney Imagineer, and the idea of “function follows form” is one he adheres to in his artwork.
“When [‘Red Lanterns’ writer] Charles [Soule] and I came down and worked out 2814 changing hands...the idea to put Red Lanterns in charge of Earth’s sector was to crash them into the rest of the DCU as they had been on the fringe,” Venditti said to a fan who wanted to know more about the thought process behind giving Earth to the Reds.
“I’m considering adding four new characters every issue so Bernard has to draw fourteen hundred and forty [characters], I haven’t decided,” Venditti added as the room cracked up.
The next audience member asked Venditti what work he had done before DC. Venditti cited his work on “X-O Manowar” for Valiant and mentioned his work on DC’s “Demon Knight.”
“My first book was called ‘The Surrogates,’” Venditti said, “But that book ended up getting adapted into a movie with Bruce Willis.” Venditti added that he felt the movie opened doors for him, and was called by Valiant directly because of the book and movie.
A Green Lantern cosplayer asked if they had any plans for Ion, the entity.
“Ion was one of the entities that went through the source wall...so the giant fish-looking thing, there’s a place for that but not here,” Venditti said. This led to a follow-up from another fan asking if Parallax refusing to go through the source wall at the end of “Lights Out” meant that that entity would return.
“It’s no accident that you picked up on that and now there’s a Sinestro series,” Venditti said, confirming that eventually readers will see what happens to Parallax.
A Saint Walker fan asked if there plans for a Blue Lanterns spinoff, especially in light of their disappearance at the end of “Lights Out.”
“It’s a crisis of faith right now...what Walker’s journey will be and his relationship with Mogo...will be part of the story I mentioned in the end of this year,” Venditti said.
A young boy asked Chang who his favorite Corps member was.
“My favorite is Jon Stewart,” Chang said. “I think over the last ten issues I’ve gotten a good sense of who he is, his mannerisms...he also happens to be one of the only African-American lead heroes over all of the comic book industry.”
Ganem asked Chang to describe the craziest alien he had to draw. “There was one with a long snout and an eyeball at the end,” Chang said.
“There’s a Lantern named B’ox, and he’s just a box,” Venditti said as Chang laughed. “His doesn’t even have hands, he’s making hand-related constructs with no hands!”
“That’s the beauty with Green Lantern; the limit is your imagination,” Chang said.
The last question came from a “Flash” fan who wanted to know if Barry Allen and Hal Jordan will meet in the comics any time soon.
“Man, that’s the question I get asked a lot!” Venditti laughed. “We don’t want to ram the characters together to just see the characters together...it’s not something that is going to happen in the immediate future, but is something we’ve talked about.”
Ganem then thanked everyone for coming out, ending the panel amidst a round of audience applause as Green Lantern fans rushed the stage to shake Chang and Venditti’s hands.