This article contains spoilers for The Green Lantern #12.
Grant Morrison is a legend. He has been writing comics for 30 years, and shaping the DC universe for almost that entire time. Morrison has reinvented Superman multiple times, redefined Batman, wrote a Justice League that was so huge that it redefined how creative teams approached team books, and reconstructed DC’s entire multiverse out of nothing.
Liam Sharp has been a comics pro for as long, and he was one of the architects behind building the post-Rebirth mythological worlds of DC, redefining Wonder Woman’s pantheon and then using her to bring Celtic and Irish myth to the DC Universe for the first time. Put the two of them together on a Green Lantern book, with a legion of space cops armed with rings that can do anything they can imagine and you’d half expect our reality to get rewritten, right?
“Underneath it all is a very simple police procedural,” says Morrison.
The final issue of The Green Lantern has wrapped, closing out a series of one off stories that, taken separately, are that police procedural that Morrison and Sharpe set out to do. But when you read them together, the consistent, slow build to the climax of issue #12 is masterful, and the ramifications for the broader DC Universe are staggering. That a comic that has a crew of Green Lanterns from parallel universes rewriting the universe with a Miracle Machine to defeat Antimatter Hal Jordan can seem restrained is a testament to the storytelling skill of the creative team.
“The gag of it was that we set up this massive, multiversal story, with thousands of characters and really in the last issue we’re just constrained to a crazed old nutcase with a bunch of Green Lanterns stuffed in jars,” Morrison tells us. “We’re having to deal with a crazy old coot. And I liked the aspect, because it didn’t go to be the big crisis on multiple universes. Not yet. But we did one issue with those multiversal characters to just kind of set everything up for the future.”
A huge part of what made The Green Lantern so effective was the art team. Sharp’s linework is the best of his career, art that felt like someone took a bunch of Wally Wood, Neal Adams, and Jim Starlin art, threw it in a blender with some old copies of Heavy Metal, and topped it off with a dash of R. Crumb. That was a conscious decision, Morrison told us. “We were looking at things from specific periods like 1950s science fiction covers or pulp covers…comics from the ‘70s that we grew up with, and science fiction and black and white anthologies.”
Sharp said Starlin’s Warlock was a particularly big influence, but that all of those classic creators are there. “It was definitely older influences, to keep it from anything that we’ve seen in the last 20 years, because you couldn’t really compete with those sorts of massive, multi-Armageddon stories that Geoff [Johns, who has spent much of the last 15 years as the definitive Green Lantern writer] had done previously,” Sharp said.
That desire for a classic art feel to the series led the team to work with colorist Steve Oliff and colorist Tom Orzechowski. Oliff is a pro’s pro, so good at coloring that he was chosen by Katsuhiro Otomo himself to color Marvel’s Akira imports in the late ‘80s. And Orzechowski has lettered nearly everything over the course of his career, but Sharp says it was Orzechowski’s work on Warlock in the ‘70s that made him such a crucial “get” for The Green Lantern. “This book is great because everyone wants to tweak stuff up until the very end. They want to make it as perfect as possible,” Morrison says. Sharp adds, “everybody gets a little say right up until literally hours before it goes to print, where we can all offer feedback about lettering and coloring and anything. It’s open to everybody to have a say.”
Yet, even with those classic influences, the most stunning parts of the art in the series are Sharp’s layouts. “When I get the scripts, decoding what Grant’s written is part of the fun and it gives me huge pleasure and then it’s the case of okay, how can I do this in a way that is really clear, but also fun,” Sharp says. At varying points in the story, the art takes us from inside Hal’s ring to outside the edge of space, and Sharp’s layouts matched the tale – sometimes, a single splash page with panels flowing along the Green Lantern insignia, and sometimes a two page spread of Hal flying fist-first into antimatter Hal’s face.
“We like to give value for money so you can have a few re-reads and pick up new details,” said Morrison. They succeeded: the first season has 13 standalone issues (counting the Annual), telling single stories that weave together to build a huge narrative and rewards the hell out of multiple readings. Season two starts later this year with a name change reflecting the momentous events of The Green Lantern #12. The new book – Green Lantern: Blackstars – hits on November 6th. All that Morrison would tell us about it is “This is quite different. And we get to have some fun with it.”
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