@’s by Robert Venditti
XO-MANOWAR/GREEN LANTERN Writer!!!
AMBUSH BUG (BUG): All right, so I am here at C2E2, 2013 and I’m here with Robert Venditti. And you’ve been writing XO-MANOWAR from Valiant. You’ve been kicking ass on that book and you just announced that you are taking over after Geoff Johns on GREEN LANTERN. How’s the con going for you, first off?
ROBERT VENDITTI (RV): It’s going good. It’s my second time being at the show. Last year was my first C2E2 and it was the first time I ever set up with Ian and was signing stuff, so it’s cool to come back after a year to see how many books and how much stuff and all the new fans and things, so I’m really enjoying it.
BUG: At that point, was that the first comic you ever wrote? Was that XO?
RV: Sort of. I mean the original version of THE SURROGATES was a five issue mini series and honestly I don’t think anybody knows that. It was mostly sold as a collection. The sales on the individual issues were very small. Other than doing a new MARVEL PRESENTS story and a fill in issue of IRON MAN, that was the first for hire stuff that I had done.
BUG: Very cool. So a year into XO and it hasn’t been a slow year, I mean it’s definitely been action packed, but it feels like we are just getting to him fighting the spider aliens and going to "Planet Death" and all of that stuff. What do we have to expect over the summer for XO?
RV: Well basically what we are doing now, he’s going to Loam and he’s fighting The Vine and in the first issue I set up maybe twelve or so plot lines and some were obvious, some less so, and by the end most of those are going to be resolved. So that happens Issue 14 and we’ve started Issue 15 where there’s a whole new long full story arc with a whole bunch of plots, some obvious, some not so. We’re going to start that second year of story again. We definitely know where things are going and it’s going to keep getting bigger. Some body asked the other day if I’m worried about it not being bigger. I’m not worried about that, but what I am worried about and always worried about is executing it. The ideas are there and it’s going to be bigger, but it’s just a matter of us getting the story on the page the way we want to.
BUG: How far in advance do you guys have this planned out? XO is pretty much the flagship title for this company.
RV: That’s a good question. It works in two different ways. We do have a long term plan, but for example the first year of XO-MANOWAR, that was all part of my pitch and I knew what that was going to be, but Ninjak wasn’t a part of that, so we also keep them malleable, so that we can bring in other things, but I would say roughly about a year.
BUG: So you don’t plan on going anywhere from XO? You’re very comfortable here?
RV: Very much so, yeah.
BUG: Good, that’s great to hear.
RV: I think it’s kind of cool that… You asked me about GREEN LANTERN earlier, the XO-MANOWAR armor is the most powerful weapon in our universe and the Green Lantern ring is referred to as the most powerful weapon in the DC universe, so I don’t know if anybody has ever written two of the most powerful weapons at the same time. I think that’s kind of cool.
BUG: All you need is the Infinity Gauntlet at Marvel and then you’ve got it all.
RV: Or Thor’s hammer, I guess. I don’t know what the Marvel version is.
BUG: Very cool, so let’s talk a little bit about GREEN LANTERN. Did you get the call? Did you pitch them? How did that go down?
RV: Yeah, they called me and asked me to pitch, but it was a very long pitch process and went on for several months and culminated with me having to go to the DC offices and actually pitch verbally with one of the execs, which I’ve never had to do before and I’m not like a verbal pitch man, that’s why I’m a writer and not a talker. So it was a bit nerve wracking, but they ended up liking my ideas and now it’s just a matter of, again, execution. Hopefully we can tell the story we want to and the fans like it. Obviously Geoff is a huge act to try and follow. He can’t really be followed.
BUG: How do you deal with that kind of pressure going into this?
RV: Honestly I’m not even going to try to compete with him, because I can’t. So I’m just going to tell stories the way I tell them, the kind of stories I like to tell the way I like to tell them and hope that people like it. Really that’s all I can do. If I ever try to compete with a particular person or whatever, then you lose what makes you unique. If you’re too focused on one thing and not on what you should be doing yourself. Like I say, you can’t compete with him. He wrote the book, uncontended, on these characters, so that’s a tough thing to follow.
BUG: Have you worked with Geoff on trying to make the transition kind of seamless or is this more like he owns it and you sort of…
RV: Yeah, a little bit of both. I knew even before I started doing my pitch, I knew where things were going to leave off with Third Army and all of that, so I kind of knew what I was going to pick up with doing, so I did have that kind of information, but working a lot with the editors and things like that. It’s a big undertaking and it’s a huge challenge and I’m nervous about it, but I’m having fun with it.
BUG: I’m sure you’re going to kick ass on that one too. Is there a different way you are approaching GREEN LANTERN? I mean both of them do a lot of stuff in space. What’s the big difference between the two characters to you?
RV: Yeah, they’re both sci fi and they have both the element of cosmic to them, but I would say less so for XO-MANOWAR. I think there’s a lot more that separates the two characters than makes them similar. Eric is a fifth century Visigoth in modern day and he has no sense of modern ethics and modern fighting and the rules of war and Geneva conventions, like he’s going to put a grenade in your chest and blow you apart from the inside. Hal Jordan is a much different guy. He’s much more of a hero, hero, you know? I see what’s different about them more than seeing what’s similar and for Eric a large part of the book, even though he’s on Planet Death now, a large part of the story is him being on Earth. The whole point is for a fifth century Visigoth, modern day world would be as alien to him as space would be to us. I always envisioned Eric as being more of an earth based character, even though right now he is in space. He’s definitely going to be coming back to earth.
BUG: I love the aspect of his character where he is just so direct and he doesn’t beat around the push. “Kill it,” that’s like his number one solution for everything. I love that he took the fight to the alien world instead of just waiting for them to attack.
RV: It’s insane, right? He thinks he can attack a whole planet. I really think that if you took a guy with his mindset from the era that he lived when warfare was just running into the enemy and hacking them into as many pieces as you could before they killed you and you gave him something like the XO-MANOWAR armor, this is how he would behave. He does not have the experience of seeing the evolution of ethics that coincide with the evolution of weaponry, right? He went from sword, to nuclear bomb in a second. There’s no ethical change for him, so that’s what I find really fun about the character. He could kill people in these outrageous ways, but it’s in keeping with what he would actually do.
BUG: If you could, in one word, give us a hint of what to expect in XO in the next year, what would it be?
RV: Wow. There are a lot of words I could give you, but I don’t know which one editorial wants me to give you. (Laughs) I would say, “Heavy hangs the head that wears the crown.”
BUG: Can I ask about GREEN LANTERN? Do you have one word to sum up that? One phrase?
RV: It’s a really ambitious story. We are not coming out of the gate playing it safe. We are taking a lot of risks and hopefully people will respond in a positive way.
BUG: Do you have anything else, or are these two things pretty much taking up all of your time?
RV: That’s pretty much what I’m working on right now. I do have some other things that I shouldn’t talk about yet, and DEMON KNIGHTS too.
BUG: Very cool. Can we talk about DEMON KNIGHTS? From the very beginning I thought it was a really cool title and dealing with the history of the DC universe. Is it going to stay that way? I know it ties a little bit, maybe, to STORMWATCH. Is that still going to happen?
RV: Our next arc, which I’m working on right now is more about a distant quest to recover the holy grail set down by Merlin back in Issue 4 where you got the backstory of that. So yeah, it is still going to be this fantasy story set in that era. To some extent it will thread through to what’s going on in the current DCU, but more in terms of items and artifacts than in terms of characters, if that makes sense. You have a lot of these important artifacts in the DCU, so we are going to see the roles some of those play as opposed to characters.
BUG: Is there a lot of pressure to make these stories resonate into the present day or are you just given free reign to have some fun?
RV: It is kind of like free reign. The great thing about it the continuity is there to the extent that we want to use it or not, so we could do our own thing, but if we want to tie it in like have a team go to Themiscira and see Hippolyta and that kind of stuff, we can do that, but we don’t have to. It’s really a unique title in that way.
BUG: As long as you don’t blow up the earth.
RV: Yeah, I can’t blow up Themiscira, but yeah.
BUG: Very cool. Well thanks a lot. I’m a huge fan of your work and I can’t wait to see what you’re going to be doing to the GREEN LANTERN and I can’t wait to see where XO goes, it’s great.
RV: I appreciate it, man.
BUG: Thanks a lot, have a great con.
RV: You too.
BUG: Check out all of Robert's monthly books; DEMON KNIGHTS and GREEN LANTERN from DC Comics and of course, XO-MANOWAR from Valiant Entertainment!
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of AICN COMICS for over 12 years & AICN HORROR for 3. He has written comics such as VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS THE TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, THE DEATHSPORT GAMES, & NANNY & HANK (soon to be made into a feature film from Uptown 6 Films). He has co-written FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND’s LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (to be released in 2013 as a 100-pg original graphic novel). Mark wrote the critically acclaimed GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK from Zenescope Entertainment & GRIMM FAIRY TALES #76-81. Look for GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK: LAST OF THE SPECIES available in February-July 2013 and the new UNLEASHED crossover miniseries GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS WEREWOLVES: THE HUNGER #1-3 available in May-July 2013! Follow Ambush Bug on the Twitter @Mark_L_Miller.
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G