This week saw the relase of the second issue of Grant Morrison and Xermanico's Green Lantern: Blackstars, a three-issue miniseries set in an alternate version of the DC Universe and meant to bridge the gap between the first and second "seasons" of Morrison's The Green Lantern with artist Liam Sharp. In the issue, per the official solicitation text, "Hal Jordan and the Blackstars will stop at nothing to bend the planet to its leader's whims, and Earth's greatest heroes pull out all the stops to fight these fascists. Betrayals of cosmic consequence abound!" This all happens against the backdrop of Earth's sun turning orange -- which isn't a great thing for Superman, who is powered by a yellow sun.
Recently, Morrison joined ComicBook.com to talk about the project. We started by asking whether it was weird, since he has such a collaborative work relationship with Sharp, to explore this world with a different artist so soon.
"The whole Blackstars thing came about because Liam needed some break time to get ahead on the second season of Green Lantern. So the idea was just what can we do to fill the gap?" Morrison recalled. "So I kind of realized that we needed this little bit of time. I come up with the Blackstars thing and I was really into the Countess Belzebeth character, the vampire princess, so I kind of wanted to do something that would wrap up loose strands of season one and it just came about that we had this opportunity, so I had these three episodes I thought it would be really interesting and a very different take on what we'd be doing. It was deliberately created to give Liam a little bit of space, but I had no idea who was going to draw it until we introduced me to Xermanico, whose work I think is brilliant. And he looked at what Liam had done and he kind of adopted the sense of scale and the, you know, the creature design and all that sort of stuff. I think he's done a really faithful take on our comic, but at the same time it's in his own style. And so I'm really impressed by it. I was very pleased. I think Liam was upset. He wanted to draw all of it, you know? But we created this to give him a break and now he's pretty much finished the first issue of season two, which is probably the best thing he's ever drawn."
Morrison was one of the writers on 52, the year-long, weekly maxiseries that used the Darkstars along with the zombie-like queen Lady Styx. Morrison admitted that he was responsible for pushing that part of the 52 story forward -- meaning that while he is not the only writer to use the Darkstars in the last ten years, he's probably the most influential considering how rarely they are seen.
"I thought the Darkstars where an interesting concept," Morrison admitted. "The original one was that they were an actual alternative to the Green Lanterns, but the methods were a bit more severe, more like Dirty Harry, but when I came to Blackstars, really I wanted to tell a story about cult, and a cult ... I was super influenced by the documentary Wild Wild Country, about Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and has his acolyte, you know, Ma Anand Sheela. They were like Ra's al Ghul and Talia and so I kind of love that dynamic. And it was really inspired by that. So I took the Darkstars and turned it into a breakaway cult called the Blackstars and they're much more cultish, and they're much more for the master, for the leader and I kind of, that's what we're exploring in this, these three issues, I think."
There is a lot of ground to cover in the third issue, which Morrison says will be as big a difference, tonally and content-wise, as the second issue was from the first. But it has to both bring closure to this story and set up the next big mega-arc.
"You see a lot of stuff leading into Season Two, but this is very much how as I say, it's like the Black Mirror to the Green Lantern series," Morrison said. "It's the opposite -- it's this dark, this Blackstar version of the thing that was kind of bright, and hopeful, and positive. It's mean spirited and nasty and sneering, you know, and it kind of reflects the main character who's Belzebeth the Vampire Princess. So Hal Jordan in this, he's almost like the ... he's the Mister Spock to her Captain Kirk in this series. And like I said, very much an inversion, an upside down, a Halloween version of the regular Green Lantern book, where everything that's up is now down."
Green Lantern: Blackstars #2 is in stores now. The next issue hits the stands in January, and The Green Lantern begins its second season on February 12.