Rewriting Green Lanterns Across the Galaxies: Interview with Writer Geoff Thorne

Plus An Exclusive Preview of 'Green Lantern #4'
Geoff Thorne

You know just how hard we ride for Green Lanterns as a fandom on this site. From comic reviews to editorials, you’ll be hard-pressed to find another site that reps the Emerald Crusaders as much as we do. Which makes this article so dope as it is an interview with current Green Lantern writer Geoff Thorne! Geoff Thorne and DC were also kind enough to give us a few exclusive images for Green Lantern #4 for this, so let’s jump right into the interview.

Omar Holmon: So my first question is, why do you hate the Green Lantern so much? Why are you putting them through so much stress? What is you doing? You’ve got them going through it.

Geoff Thorne: Oh! *laughs* Is that real? Is that the real question, cuz there’s an answer. I pitched them a story that was basically about Jon Stewart. It would have been basically a mini-series. And there is a whole lot of stuff that I was saying in the sort of the background of that story about how cosmic DC works. How I think cosmic DC works. And they were like, “Oh, we like that. Yeah, do that.” The whole thing with the power battery going away…they were gonna do that with whoever was writing the book. Now I have to be clear, all they said was, “The power battery will go dark. At some point, the Green Lanterns will not have access to the power battery for a period of time. And it’s up to you how that happens, when that happens. Is it destructive? Is it some technical malfunction? Whatever the hell it is, that’s all up to you.”

So I was like, “Well, if it’s up to me, it’s blowing up. It’s just gonna straight up blow up.” So that was where that came from, the company, but I hesitate to say it in a way that’s like, “well, I wouldn’t have done that. If they, you know…” it’s not like that. The company always has things that you don’t know about when you pitch a story. Then you have to figure out can you tell your story with that? Or is that a deal-breaker? Okay, and I was like, This is not a deal-breaker, I’m fine with that. And if you guys want me to write this whole book that actually allows me sort of an easy window to get the Green Lanterns where I want them as a writer, not as a fan but as a writer. If we’re going to tell this story, being able to blow up the battery means I don’t have to take a year to get them to a place that it would take them a lot longer to get to if the battery was still around. So that’s all that is. It wasn’t some big like, you know, let me come in with a hammer and murder all these guys, although I’ve murdered most of them. *laughs* It was just that they wanted the deck reshuffle. They wanted a more expansive franchise for the last 10 years or so for Green Lantern. So, it basically dealt with Green Lanterns. Yeah, the other lanterns, like everything they’ve done has been somewhat related to themselves, or one of the other lantern cores. And they’re like, my pitch was not against that. It just didn’t have anything to do with any of that. And they were like, “Oh, we like this. This is fresh and new. Can you expand that out?” And I’m like, how far do you want it to go? So here we are.

Geoff Thorne

Omar: In getting with that, in issue #2 when you had The Guardians of the Universe roll back their power, which we’ve never seen to this extent. Like guardians take like accountability to a sense. I mean, you know, accountability was like air bunnies on it. But we’ve never seen them say, all right, in order to be like equal, we’re gonna take away power. We’re gonna rock with the United Planets and, we’re going to take away 1,000 Green Lanterns from these sectors. Yo, this is like…this is like a big thing. To me. It was like a big thing.

Geoff Thorne: I didn’t think that was so big to me. But yeah, I see. And a lot of the fans are like, what the hell, you know, and I’m like, you never met these people.

Omar: Oh, not in a bad way. But I thought it was good because, to me, it was like an analogy for (police) reform (and police abolishment).

Geoff Thorne: These are characters that– I don’t know who’s reading this– but if you’re not a fan, the Guardians of the Universe established in DC Comics have been basically the police body for…they say the universe. That’s just the sales pitch. But for a lot of worlds and galaxies for about a billion years or more. And so when one of one set of worlds or galaxies got together and said, Okay, well, we’re going to run things ourselves. They could have been like, Oh, no, you’re not, you’re in charge of all this. You’re okay, how do we all play together nicely, and I thought the second choice was a more reasonable and logical choice… But the whole point of that is, there are things about the mythology of the Green Lantern that to me are just mythology. Yeah, people take a lot of the things that Guardians say to be true. Because they’re the Guardians, and they’ve been around longer than some of these entire civilizations have been around. The Guardians have just always been there. So it makes no sense for people who are basically trying to shepherd the universe to keep the kids from breaking the toys, keep the kids from falling off the roof, and then the kids go, “you know, we’re going to do a student council because this school is actually crazy. And I think we can help if we have our own little student body.” And then if the principal says, “No, you’re not doing that, we’re just gonna get more security forces.” That’s not a good principle. Right?

What you want is to nurture in the kids’ self-governance. So that’s kind of how I feel like the guardians have to look at all the rest of life, like, you’re all kids, you’re trying to be grownups, this is a good try. Let’s see how far you can take it. And to help you, we’re not going to be the bosses. We’re not gonna ‘you don’t get to run, if you want to do it got to do it right.’ Don’t come running to us as referees, we’re just going to be an equal partner, you know, and in good faith. And it said in the beginning of issue one, some of the people are like you guys have 7200 of these people running around with these rings on that can do anything they want them to do. They have no restrictions, except what the Guardians tell them are restrictions. And they used to not be able to kill, like that used to be a heavy restriction. And then something really bad happened. And they were like, Okay, you guys can kill. Now go! And they never took that back. So now you got all these people running around with a weapon that can do lethal force and can do anything they think of. And I’m like, that’s all a lot of trust. If I was one of those nations, I’d be like, that’s, I mean, I know you guys say you’re cool and everything but that Manhunter thing where they wiped out a whole galaxy. That’s on you. That was one of your screw-ups. I know you apologized. However, just in case you screw up again, how about we dial it back? And I thought that would be a reasonable request to be made. It’s made off-screen obviously. And the Guardian saying yes to that is also reasonable. They are reasonable beings. Like they, you know, are reasonable immortal beings. So, let them try it.

Geoff Thorne

Omar: I friggin love it, man. I mean, we were just like fanning out about that in the slack. And I can jump into Green Lantern #4 now because you were talking about DC Comics’ cosmic mythology. Off the jump in this issue, you mention John Stewart’s ascension to being a human Guardian. I feel like that has been dropped by the wayside for dumb long, because it was a big deal when Kyle became Ion with the whole embodiment of willpower, whatever. When talking about Kyle’s new status, John was like, “I mean, I kind of know what that’s like.” but that’s never actually dove into, and it’s not really been touched upon. To see that mention off jump, I know you’re foreshadowing towards more of that.

Geoff Thorne: Yeah, well, I found that’s the problem that we have in the real world, the creator of the comic book that we’re both referencing (Green Lantern: Mosaic) is a pedophile and is currently in prison for that. And that means it’s a problem for the company to do much to sort of promote that because that question will keep coming up, and any form of baseline reporter who does even a little bit of research will be like, “what the hell?!” But at the time, nobody knew that, and one of the most significant periods in the story of the character of John Stewart was that run. And also, if you’re going to take horribly problematic people that have been part of something you love in antiquity, then you never go into the movies. You’re never watching a TV show. You’re never wearing any shoes. You’re never eating any food. I, as a writer, all I’m looking at is the story, right? William Shakespeare was a sexist and a bigot. Shakespeare, greatest writer in the English language, was a bigot. You can tell because when you read his work, he’s clearly a bigot, but we don’t throw him out. We don’t throw out the stories. Yeah, so I’m not saying that that writer is as good as Shakespeare is…absolutely not. But if you’re going to tell a story about a character and then there’s this chunk of it that you’re supposed to ignore, I’m like, I’m not doing that. Why should him being an idiot and a scumbag hurt my ability to tell a story? Oh, so yeah, everything that’s ever happened to John is relevant is basically from my point of view.

The thing that just happened to DC Comics, this whole Death Metal event reshuffled the deck across everything in DC Comics so basically the fallout of the Death Metal event was everything that has ever happened to DC Comics now is true. What it means in practice is the writers can now have access to 100% of the stories that have taken place, pre-crisis, the first crisis, and also all of this craziness that happened between the various crisis crises. And now, so to me, John’s a very rich character and that opened the doors and all the aspects of his past. I didn’t have to use any of it. But it’s all there for me to use. And he’s unique. He ascended, like the Guardians ascended him, right. Also, something people don’t realize. The rings generally choose the ring bear. Yep. Right. So, I’m in Green Lantern and I die, or I quit. My ring jumps off my finger and goes and finds you, “Omar, would you like to be a Green Lantern?” “Sure, I would.” Boom, you’re now the Green Lantern of this sector. The Guardians chose John. Okay, that’s a big story point to me. Something to ignore? No, something to use. So this story isn’t just coming out of Mosaic, but Mosaic is definitely part of the story. It’s part of John’s story, like everything that’s ever happened to John.

Omar: I feel like I’m in a TED Talk right now, man. Oh, I see you got John’s hairline right.

Geoff Thorne: *laughs* That’s the artists! Tom (Raney), Marco (Santucci), and Dexter. They have been crushing. They have been crushing this book, man. And, and the colorist, the two colorist we’ve had are great. The art team is really making this book just come alive for me. I know some people are a little bit like, “Why do we have two different artists and two different colorist?” I’m like, but they’re two different sections, and I wanted different tones.

Omar: Since we got Green Lantern Jo (Mullein) on the cover for Green Lantern #4, how much fun are you having writing Jo?

Geoff Thorne: I was really nervous about it. I made them ask N.K. Jemisin if it was okay. It’s hard because I’m effusive. When I like something, everyone knows I like it. (Omar: SAME!) In our entertainment business, people often think of that it’s fake. When I don’t like something, I’m quiet. So you can always tell what I’m talking about. Right? What happens a lot of the time is when a person who’s writing in one medium, when they come into comics, they think ‘oh, I’m gonna kill this,’ and many a screenwriter, many novelists has had their butts kicked trying to write comics. Like Yo, sorry about it. That’s not what she thought was it? But N.K. Jemisin and Jamal just came in and murdered this thing.

Geoff Thorne

The company said, “we would like you to bring Jo into the main continuity. I was like, “Are you sure you want me to do that?” Like, I’m not in her weight class. That’s like, we would like you to go fight Mike Tyson. “Are you suuuuuuure?” So I was like, make sure it’s okay with N.K. Jemisin, and they’re like, that’s adorable that you think it matters what the writer thinks. We’re the company but I was like, “please, just for my own feelings. At least let her know that I’m interested in her input.” I don’t want to break this beautiful thing. They said “She’s cool with it. She’s got a lot on her plate, and she’s cool with you running it.” Alright, so in the writing of it. I had just one thing, I said I don’t want to break this toy. N.K. Jemisin built a really nice character.

Omar: You’re writing Keli Quintela (Teen Lantern) as well. And it’s interesting. I really liked the switch between how John was talking to Kelly softly to prepare her for the field, and now Keli is actually in the field with Jo, who is not soft with her *laughs* at all.

Geoff Thorne: And that’s not going anywhere. That’s not going anywhere. That’s a thing I wanted to do that’s different. I wanted to show different personalities. But yeah, that was something the company wanted me to do. I was like, hell yeah, as long as— I mean, I was less eager only because I didn’t want to hurt it. I didn’t want to be the guy who screwed it up, because that’s gonna be somebody, and I didn’t want it to be me. And the same thing with Teen Lantern.

Geoff Thorne

Omar: Okay, last question. I feel like you kind of answered everything as well. I just really appreciate it when a writer makes the deaths of characters a big thing. A Green Lantern’s life span is about four years, and you’re showing us why right now. You really brought the series back on some real rap raw shit.

Geoff Thorne: I’m trying to write a science fiction story using Green Lanterns. The thing also is, on Earth, Green lanterns are seen as a superhero, but they’re not superheroes. They’re a bunch of very brave people doing an incredibly dangerous job with technology that they personally don’t understand. There’s no repair kit. There’s no instruction manual. The ring tells you how it works, I guess. And you get some training. But they’re depending on a technology that they neither built nor understand at all. And then going out into this galaxy that most of them know nothing about in order to do what they’ve been told. You have to sort of impose justice and order on the lawlessness of the universe. That’s a big job, but I don’t know that it’s a heroic job every time. That’s getting tested in this book, and the way you test that is you test the people not the rings. You don’t test the rings. They’re just tools. Who are you? Why were you chosen? You have a strong will? Sorry, that’s not good enough for this. Not anymore.

Check out our reviews of Green Lantern here, including Geoff Thorne’s galaxy-changing run.

Cover Image via IMDb

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  • Omar Holmon is a content editor that is here to make .gifs, obscure references, and find the correlation between everything Black and Nerdy.

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