Green Lantern Corps Writer Van Jensen Interviewed by Comicosity

on November 27, 2013

Van Jensen

Green Lantern Corps writer, Van Jensen, has appeared on the Comicosity show The Hangout. He answers a number of questions and offers some interesting insights on Green Lantern Corps, John Stewart, and… the relationship between Green Lantern and Hawkgirl! The interview can be found here:
THE HANGOUT featuring Van Jensen

I asked one of the hosts to ask Jensen a question regarding the relationship of Green Lantern and Hawkgirl, and it got through. It’s actually the very first thing he’s asked. The question I posed is in direct relation to a couple articles on this website, so it’s nice to see it addressed by the writer.

According to Jensen, there are no plans in the immediate future for the Green Lantern and Hawkgirl romance to carry over into the comic books. That’s not an ultimate bummer to me, as I expected as much, and have been greatly enjoying Green Lantern Corps comics as they are since Van Jensen took over writing duties. It is really cool to see a writer address the scenario, though. He also says it’s not entirely ruled out from happening, so that’s nice to know.

Another point of interest is that Van Jensen is fully aware that John Stewart, in comics continuity, has not advanced for the past twenty years (barring the GLC issues to Jensen’s credit). The character’s life has been one big stagnant ball of tragedy, which is especially silly, since Gerard Jones wrote a big, sweeping epic all about John Stewart moving on, in the glorious Green Lantern: Mosaic series. For some mysterious reason, that story, and the huge developments within, were utterly ignored by future writers.

I appreciate that Van Jensen is advancing the character, and recognizes that his fans don’t want to read about a constantly sad and moping guy with barely any personality, which is what Peter Tomasi and Geoff Johns gave us for years and years.

The interview also goes over Green Lantern Corps #25, which is an issue I appreciate even more since re-reading it. Interestingly, it was Robert Vendittit’s idea to tie in John’s mom with the Detroit Riots. Score one for Venditti!

Well, HG/GL shippers, it looks like fanfiction, fanart, amv’s, and precious episodes of Justice League and Justice League Unlimited are the best we’ll get for the time being. However, take heart that the idea of bringing that romance into comics is not completely out of the realm of possibility. Van Jensen has a story of his own to tell, and who knows where it might lead.

Van Jensen

I think there is something that should be recognized that I’d like to throw out there, though, that is related to this subject, though not a direct response to anything. It’s more of a general musing.

The cartoon fans and comic readers are not totally different people, especially the fans of characters like Green Lantern John Stewart and Hawkgirl Shayera Hol, who are, perhaps, more known for their exploits in cartoons than in comics. Justice League and Justice League Unlimited were -and continue to be- watched by millions and millions. Some of those people are comic book fans, or people who got into comic books because of cartoons like those. I would venture to say that John Stewart on JL/JLU is the definitive version of the character, not only because that interpretation is excellent and well accepted, but also because it’s the one with the strongest and broadest impact, which basically brought John Stewart out from being an incredibly niche character, to putting him on the map to the general audience.

I get that comic book writers have to tell their own stories, and should not be entirely beholden to something from a completely different medium and continuity. Where I think DC has gone wrong on a number of occasions, though, is acting like, “These are the comics. Those are the cartoons. This is us, and that is them, and we are different.

I think it would do DC good to pay attention to successful concepts introduced in the cartoons, which usually have much larger audiences, especially concepts concerning characters whose fanbases may be primarily due to those cartoons. In all fairness, DC does pay attention sometimes, hence why John Stewart was brought off the bench in 2003 or so in the comics, and given his Justice League visual design.

But that’s why I’ve always been a champion of HG/GL being brought over in comics, at least to some degree. It’s such a large aspect of the most recognized and successful interpretations of those characters, that it seems like a waste and missed opportunity to completely ignore it, especially when there is a fanbase eagerly waiting to see it acknowledged.

All that said, I have a lot of faith in Van Jensen’s handling of John Stewart. He definitely has done his research and knows the character inside out, and it’s been a blast seeing someone who understands the character so well taking him on such great adventures.

Above Green Lantern/Hawkgirl fanart by Kittie47.

Oa, by the way

The four Green Lantern line writers playfully refer to themselves as “The Four Corpsmen.” This is quite charming for me, as I am a big fan of classic NWA and WCW professional wrestling, and The Four Horsemen are a very important part of that. In tribute to them, I thought I’d post this video! Just try imagining that the individuals seen in this video are Van Jensen, Robert Venditti, Charles Soule, and Justin Jordan.

4 responses to “Green Lantern Corps Writer Van Jensen Interviewed by Comicosity”

  1. Hudson Faber says:

    1) I am really loving the 4 Corpsmen. Van Jensen and Venditti have a special place in my heart for the care they are giving to John, but I also like where the other authors have taken the other books. Take Red Lanterns for example. It’s never been better. I really like Guy Gardner now.

    Also, the 4 Corpsmen is a hell of an awesome pun. These guys sound like a lot of fun. They probably have the most fun of any family of titles. The Batman family is a massive undertaking with a lot of eyes on it. The Superman family titles are not very strong on the whole. The Justice League is mostly a loosely connected set of titles. But these Green Lantern writers really feel like buds who are getting a lot of creative freedom since there is no movie pressure on them. It’s great to see them get along. I think their titles are stronger for it.

    2) I definitely think DC should take lessons from the cartoons. Like why isn’t Aqualad in the books? He was great on Young Justice. So was Bumblebee, who was also on Teen Titans. She’s a pretty awesome female character. Where’s Mal Duncan? Miss Martian? Rocket? Icon? Black Lightning? Static? Apache Chief? El Dorado? Samurai?

    Why isn’t Superboy as cool as he is in the cartoon? Why isn’t John Stewart a Justice League founder? Why isn’t Flash a jokester? Barry Flash and Wally Flash are both funny in the cartoons.

    DC really should take better notes on that stuff.

  2. Maggie says:

    I liked the HG/JS romance, but I also liked him with Vixen too. It’s rare to see a black couple at Marvel and DC so I hope once they establish whether Fatality really loves him or not that they stick together. The only black woman I remember JS dating was Tawny Brown and she was very stereotypical. It was like the author (believe it was Englehart) had never talked to a black woman before. Really annoyed me when I was reading his run.

    • Desh says:

      Yeah, the Fatality relationship is interesting. I’m not against it. I think I’ll always prefer John Stewart with Hawkgirl the most, because that relationship had so much depth and a perfect build up in the first two seasons of Justice League. I admit that in Justice League Unlimited, the ‘will they won’t they’ thing started to get a little out of hand, and both characters became a bit too defined by their relationship.

  3. anonsaga says:

    The John Stewart-Shayera Hol relationship is the emotional core of JL/JLU and the most memorable superhero romance ever. Every time I watch that classic scene (you know the one), and John’s face lights up as he begins to see the beautiful woman underneath the mask, I remember just how incredibly well Timm, McDuffie and company built that scene up. The entire relationship seemed to touch many people on a personal level, too. All anyone has to do is look at the tons (seriously, tons) of fanart and videos dedicated to it. It’s easy to see why fans of the show would be disappointed that the relationship wasn’t brought to the comics.

    However, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing…

    There were many elements to the relationship that made it particularly special — the organic way the relationship developed, its interracial subtext, and that these two people were from different worlds (literally). However, a large part of the magic the first time around was also that the audience didn’t know it was going to happen. That element wouldn’t be present if it was done again. And speaking of doing things over again, it would be a mistake to retell the story the same way it was told in the animated series. But… if the story ‘was’ retold, I think many of the same elements from the original could be reused as long as the circumstances were different. The question is how to go about changing those circumstances. This is problem #1.

    The JL/JLU animated series developed both John Stewart and Shayera Hol as fully independent characters which I believe was to the benefit of their relationship. John had his issues with the Corps, insecurity, and leadership; Shayera had her issues with faith, duty, and the fallout of her betrayal of both the Justice League and her people. If the relationship is brought to comics, I believe it is essential to both John and Shayera that they remain independent characters in their own right. Otherwise, it would create a situation in which one is almost entirely defined through their relationship with the other – something that happens to female characters in comic books far, far too often. This is problem #2.

    Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing the relationship brought to comics (since I think the Green Lantern-Star Sapphire thing is cliché) but I don’t see it working well unless, 1) both characters exist in the same universe, and 2) Shayera’s comic book counterpart gets the same kind of development that John Stewart’s comic book counterpart has.

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