Kyle Rayner is back as a solo Green Lantern again this summer, with the one creative team who could really do him justice.
In August, writer Ron Marz will reunite with artist Darryl Banks for DC Retroactive: Green Lantern - The '90s #1. And they'll revisit the Kyle Rayner who won a whole generation of fans.
Created by Marz and Banks in 1994, Kyle Rayner is the Green Lantern who succeeded Hal Jordan. Despite Jordan's return in 2005, Rayner has stuck around, and he's still an important part of the Green Lantern universe.
Newsarama talked to Marz and Banks about the reunion, and we asked what they think about the new Green Lantern film and DC's Retroactive comics.
Newsarama: How did the two of you working together come about?
Ron Marz: They called me first, and they offered me the gig. And my first question was, well, is Darryl going to draw it? Because that would be a huge carrot for me to sign on. And that was the plan. As far as working with Darryl again, I couldn't ask for a better situation.
Nrama: Darryl, did you have to clear your schedule to do a little bit of Green Lantern again?
Darryl Banks: In all honesty, I can't say I cleared my schedule, because I keep a pretty busy schedule. I would have loved to have been able to clear my schedule. It's more like just staying up a little later, 'cause this is an opportunity I wasn't about to miss. Never have I wished that I had a clone of myself more than right now.
I got an email from the editor, Ben Abernathy, introducing the Retroactive line they were putting together. Immediately, I said yes! But I thought, Lord, how am I going to do this? But I wanted to do it. And I'm about six pages into it so far, and I absolutely love it. It's like getting the whole band back together.
Nrama: Ron, what's the story going to be in this issue? It's set in that time period, right?
Marz: It's set in that time period, but I didn't want to do something that was so specific to a particular issue. I didn't want the audience to have to have read our run on the book from front to back to be able to enjoy the story. So it's set during, for lack of a better term, "our" era of DC. But there's not an overly specific point where it's set. It's not taking the place between two issues or, God forbid, two panels somewhere.
It's a battle story. We just wanted to tell a good story with the characters that Darryl and I worked on for, well for me it was seven years, and for Darryl a little bit longer than that.
Nrama: Was the story something you came up with for this line?
Marz: Yeah, DC just said, what story do you want to tell? And that really left the whole thing wide open for me to just come up with whatever amused me. So from that aspect, it's a real boon to be able to get that kind of opportunity, to do a story that you're not connecting to any other story. There's no crossover aspect. It's just, tell the story you want to tell.
Nrama: So what did you come up with? What kind of things will we see in the issue?
Marz: I don't want to reveal too much, since it's only one issue. It's a character-driven story with a lot of special effects.
But we'll see the JLA headquarters on the moon. We'll do some stuff in space, and we'll do some stuff in Manhattan. I tried to make sure, location-wise, that we got in all the touchstones from our run.
Hopefully I've accomplished what I've set out to do, which was to tell a story that anybody could plug into and enjoy, but to make sure it has the aspects that people were attracted to when we were doing our run.
Nrama: Were you a little bit rusty on these characters? Or is it like riding a bicycle?
Banks: I understand the bicycle reference, but with me as an artist, I'd been out of comics for awhile, so my dynamic for how I handle work in general has changed so much from when I was doing comics. It just comes so much easier for me now. It's funny -- with all the plates I'm spinning and juggling now, and I'm still able to work on this. Back then, all I did was comics and I could barely keep up. I've often said I can't wait to get another shot at doing something comics related. The Darryl Banks of 2011 could burn the '94 one with ease, and not just speed-wise, but I feel like artistically I've grown. And I've been really chomping at the bit to showcase it, and this affords me the opportunity.
Nrama: Do you think your style has changed?
Banks: I don't know if I'd say that the style itself has changed. I think it's more my approach. Back in the '90s when Image was in prominence, the market was artist-driven. I think I was paying so much attention to who was hot and how I could incorporate that into my work, and always looking over my shoulder. Now I draw what I draw and concentrate on telling a good story with intelligence and drama.
I don't know that I would say my style, visually, has changed that much. But I'm probably not the best judge of that, since it's me. I think we'll have to leave that up to others.
Marz: Yeah, you can't see the forest for the trees, man. To me, I think your style has matured. It's very obviously still your stuff. People who show up to the book looking for that will very much get exactly what they're looking for. But I think, just from the pages you've done so far, I think your style has matured, and you've refined yourself a little bit.
It's interesting for me, because we haven't done anything together for 11 years. So it's really interesting to me to have us go back and do this, and insert ourselves into that earlier time period, but with -- hopefully -- the maturity and frankly, I would hope we've both gotten better at what we do over those 11 years.
And I think it's obvious Darryl has. He was obviously no slacker in the first place. But the stuff he's sending me is really breathtaking. It's really lovely stuff. It gets me juiced up to do more stuff after this together.
Banks: One of the things I've always liked about working with Ron is that -- and I don't know if it's because he grew up around artists or he lives in proximity -- but he's a writer that thinks very visually. So often, I work with writers who think about how it's going to sound, but his scripts are very visual. I don't have to sit and try to figure out what he's saying. I feel like we're telling a story together.
Like I said, I couldn't say yes to this fast enough. Even though my schedule didn't necessarily warrant it.
Nrama: Darryl, we usually talk each year at Mid-Ohio Con, and I'm always asking what you think of the current Green Lantern comics. But this year, there's a Green Lantern movie. What do you think of the live action version of what you got to draw for so long?
Banks: It had to grow on me; I'll be honest. At first, I wasn't so sure about it. But as the ring creations got more interesting, I liked it. To me, that's what separates Green Lantern from other heroes. There are plenty of energy-based heroes or characters who can fly. You've got to get into what the ring actually does. You have to think in terms of the public seeing Green Lantern for the first time. They may have heard the name, but this is probably an introduction to a lot of people.
I really liked the more recent trailers that have Hal creating the gun and everything. I saw that and I thought, "I remember doing a panel where he did that very same thing!" Not that I'm trying to imply they saw that, but the coincidence was not lost on me.
I also liked the fact that the creature they're going up against is Parallax. As Ron will probably tell you, that's a little ironic, because DC didn't like that name at first.
But to answer your question, I like what I'm seeing now. Not originally, but it's grown on me. And I like the fact that they're not dumbing it down. We're getting Oa. And we're getting the Corps, with all types of aliens. Even the ones in the comic that looked human-like have been made to look even more alien. And I love that, just to show a difference between the species and races, but they all have the commonality of the Green Lantern power.
Nrama: Ron, what do you think of what you've seen?
Marz: I'm excited. Green Lantern is cool because it's a very malleable kind of concept. You can do outer space stories with it, you can do superhero stories with it, you can do stuff on earth. It's very elastic in terms of the storytelling.
But to me the obvious way to go in terms of a movie is what they've done, which is turn it into a giant space opera. Green Lantern was always a special effects book, even 30 years ago. The difference being the kind of special effects you could show in a comic were things that you generally couldn't reproduce on the screen, because the technology wasn't there yet. Now, finally, movie technology has caught up with the kind of stuff we did in comics with a pen and paper. So now that you can show anything you want in a movie, it's an obvious way to present the property, as this huge space opera. So hopefully, that's what's going to make it different from all the other superhero movies coming out this summer. This is going to be the Star Wars cantina scene of superhero movies.
Nrama: Then to finish up, what do you think of the whole concept of the Retroactive comics?
Marz: I think as a whole, comics do too much looking back and not enough looking forward, but to me, there's something kind of cool about this whole Retroactive thing.
They're all one-and-done stories. There's a sense of honoring the past. I think there's room for that. I think comics always run the danger of wallowing in nostalgia too much. Comics -- especially superhero comics -- are a nostalgia-driven business, in a lot of ways. And I think if we do too much of that stuff, we shut ourselves off from attracting a new audience and pulling in people who have maybe never read a superhero comic, but go see Green Lantern at the movies and think, wow, this is cool and maybe I'll pick something up.
But I think that as long as you have the forward-looking stuff, there's room for this kind of nostalgia stuff. And I hope that, going forward, comics continue to do both.
Ultimately, I'm just really thankful to be working with Darryl again. As fond as I am of Kyle, I'm a lot more fond of Darryl.
Banks: Well, thank you!
And I would just add that people should keep in mind that Kyle Rayner first came into being in the middle of the '90s, when gimmicks and foil covers and all that were the norm. And there were a lot of things being tried to boost sales.
To me, at least with what Ron and I are doing, this Retroactive shows that Kyle wasn’t just a gimmick. He's a legitimate, fleshed-out character who's still around to this day. I always wondered how many years it would be until he'd be killed off, but he's still around. That kind of proves what I already knew, that he was a very good addition to the Green Lantern mythos, and he has an enduring charm about him that even other creators can pick up on.
The Retroactive is signature Kyle Rayner. You'll see similarities to how he relates to the Corps and fits with Hal Jordan, but this will show what makes him unique, what makes him such a likable character who has survived so long.