Dan Jurgens has been writing and drawing for DC Comics since 1982 and has created several iconic characters, such as Booster Gold, Doomsday, and Cyborg Superman. He was a key contributor to the Death of Superman story in the early 90’s and wrote the Zero Hour crisis. I sat down with him at Comic-Con this year to find out more about his plans as he takes over the Green Lanterns book.
Dan, you’ve written a lot of stories for DC. What’s the last Green Lantern character you wrote before starting on this new series?
Well the funny thing is I have never written Green Lantern directly before, but I’ve made these contributions to the Green Lantern universe. Because, if you go all the way back to when we did the Death of Superman, I was the one who said let’s blow up Coast City and make that part of our story with Cyborg Superman and everything. Which is then what started pushing the dominoes over as far as the changes for Hal. And most notably, then, we did Parallax as part of Zero Hour which really introduced that character to the world. So the last one I would have written? I think it would have been incidents where I just did Hal here or there popping in. Maybe it would have been Guy Gardner in Justice League quite some time ago.
So in the new book, what is the piece of the Green Lantern mythos you’re most excited about working on?
Well I think I think what fascinates me about the Green Lantern Corps is the fact that there is this army of them. And when you think about it, it’s sort of like an army of troopers all having the same machine gun. In this case they have a ring. And so what we’re playing with in the story is the concept of: what is trust? And when it comes to a Green Lantern ring, it’s like if you go up to a very tall skyscraper and you stand up on the top floor and you lean against the glass…for most people their knees get a little wobbly, right? Yet you have faith and trust that the glass is going to hold, even though you also have a little doubt. So let’s say you’re wearing a ring, especially when you’re a newer Lantern like Simon or Jess, what is it that gives you faith that when you’re at 5,000 feet that ring is going to hold you up? When the ring starts to talk to you and say “This is this” and “This is that”, what gives you faith that that is true? Just look at us and the way we interact with our phones and computers, and we get frustrated. What happens when the rings say something that’s wrong? So it’s all about how do you trust your fellow Green Lanterns, how do you trust the ring, and what happens if the messages start to get garbled and messed with by an outside source?
Are you going to touch on what the ring is? Like how it works, technology or magic? It sounds like you’re kind of leaning in that direction.
Somewhat, yes. I don’t see any way that it isn’t a fusion of both. Obviously some people say that magic is just technology that hasn’t been invented yet. But for me I think there has to be a clear cut element of technology to it. With a hint of maybe something more, but I’m not 100 percent sure what the something more is.
What role the Guardians hold in your Green Lantern world? How are you playing them?
Well in issue 50 we end up with one of the Guardians dead. And for a Guardian to die in that way is such a big thing because we think of them as immortal. We think of them as something that is almost infallible. And so we end number 50 with a dead Guardian. We have Simon Baz, almost standing over the body with a smoking gun in his hand. And right away we start to play with the question of doubt. Yes, Simon has a story about what happened to the Guardian. But if the rings start telling other Lanterns “That’s not true”, then what? So right away we’re playing with all these different things that really go down the road of: what does it mean to be a Corps? How much faith do you have in those who tell you what to do and how much faith do you have in those around you?
What is the biggest non-human Green Lantern that you’re enjoying playing around with?
Mogo is fun.
Mogo is fun. Mogo is, in a slightly different way, quite essential to the story. We’re also using Penelops and the world of Penelo because that has to be an important aspect of this. I’ve always loved Kilowog so I’ve got to use him. And I think you’re going to see a little more now how Simon and Jessica fit into the tapestry of the overall Corps.
Are you guys really going to have a title called Green Lanterns and one called The Green Lantern? Won’t that be confusing?
I don’t think it is. I’ve read what Grant is doing, I’ve read his first few scripts and I think they’re going to be different enough that people will certainly understand that the books have a bit of a different flavor for sure.
Any plans for a crossover or any interplay between the two books?
Oh no. Right now I’m just trying to get the first story done and out because it’s really about trying to understand who these characters are.
What’s interesting about Jessica?
I find Jessica interesting because — and this is where a lot of my questions of trust and faith came from — we think of her as someone afraid to leave her apartment. And then you get to the point where she is wearing a ring and comfortable enough that she will fly out. I mean, if someone gave you a ring and said you can fly with it, you’d float off the ground, get up ten feet and go “No, I don’t dare go any higher”. Yet here’s someone who went from being afraid to leave her apartment to flying through outer space. And that is such a huge feat because I think that would be hard for any of us. And I find that fascinating to play with. How does she interpret the rings, how do they interpret her, where does she go with it?
Speaking of fear, are you bringing in any of the other colored lanterns to explore the emotional spectrum?
Not really, no. Part of it is that if I start to bring it in I’d get lost. Even yellow brings in a lot and opens the door to everyone else. I really want to focus on Green Lanterns now because we are going to have something of a surprise coming in the story anyway, that will start to introduce the concept of the other colors. But for the start it’s just Green.
What Green Lantern creator made the biggest impact on the world and the things that you’re using now? Who made the toys you’re playing with?
I probably have to start with the source material, with the first issues we saw. The world of the Green Lantern has grown so much, though. Denny and Neal kind of humanized Hal somewhat. And then we came back and it got into the galactic expanding thing. What Ron Marz did with Kyle is important. I love Kyle. I have Kyle in this story as well. And obviously you can not do any of this without being aware of what Geoff Johns did during his run. Not only did he do the Rebirth story that brought Hal back, but then he expanded so many of the concept of the Corps itself. As I work with the Corps I certainly have to be aware of the rest of it.
You mention Kyle. He’s been the torchbearer. He’s been Ion. He’s been the White Lantern. Does he hold a special place or stand out from the rest of the Corps in some special way in your series?
I hope he does. What I always enjoyed about Kyle was a certain sense of irreverence that he had. I always see Guy as being more antagonistic whereas Kyle, for me, it’s about that youthful irreverence. Sometimes as we saw the Guardians and even the rest of the Corps they were just so stolid and dry. And Kyle helped to loosen that up. So I want to be able to touch on that.
Do the different Green Landers use their rings in different ways? Is that something you are exploring?
Yes. And that will be part of the complication that comes through this story. For example, in writing John Stewart. If we are to imagine that John Stewart is an architect, to me, anything he conjures up should be a little more formal in structure and a little more developed in the nature that an architect would come up with. I think that’s really important. So because of that, I think it’s always important to consider what would those things be. Even if we start to think of Penelops on an aquatic world where everybody basically has tentacles, he’s not going to make a fist in armor that’s going to punch someone. He would do something very different than that. It might be something with tentacles that would wrap them up. I think there would always be differences among the structures.
After you’ve killed a Guardian where are you going with the story?
Let’s just get through the first one first. It’s eight issues, we’re running this arc through issue 57. And the aim is to tell the best possible story we can.
Do you have anything else you want people to know about your run?
Yes I do. One of the things that is so much fun for me is that Mike Perkins and I have wanted to work together for a long long time. It’s great to finally be able to work with Mike. He’s doing great art on the first couple of issues. Because we’re twice a month we need someone else as well and Marco Santucci is coming in and he’s doing great work. But to be able to work with Mike Perkins after all these years of saying we have got to do something together one day. It was great to finally get that done.
Dan’s Green Lanterns run started earlier this month with issue #50!