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GREEN LANTERN/ALIENS

Ron Marz pits DC's cosmic defenders against Dark Horse's deadly Aliens.

By Edward Gross     September 06, 2000

Ron Marz believes in responsibility. The proof lies in his exclusive contract with CrossGeneration Comics, which he made sure had a clause allowing him to complete work he'd previously committed to for Dark Horse Comics. Interestingly, that same sense of responsibility dramatically informs one of those projects, the upcoming four-issue Green Lantern/Aliens mini-series written for both Dark Horse and DC Comics.

Prior to joining CrossGen, Marz spent seven years writing the exploits of Green Lantern, specifically Kyle Rayner, the Green Lantern who succeeded Hal Jordan after Hal had a nervous breakdown and killed the Guardians of the Universe and the entire Green Lantern Corps. He's also dealt with the Aliens before, having written the Batman/Aliens crossover, and his additional credits include the Batman/Tarzan crossover as well as the current Star Wars mini-series Star Wars: Darth Maul based on the popular Sith Lord.

Deadly Beginnings

The mini-series, a seeming no-brainer given Green Lantern's natural science fiction bent, is a project Marz has wanted to do for quite some time. 'It actually was something I'd mentioned to DC a number of years ago,' explains Marz, 'probably right after we did Batman/Aliens. I thought Green Lantern vs. Aliens was an even easier fit than Batman. At that point, DC wanted to pursue other crossovers, which essentially meant they would do Batman and Superman, but they weren't interested in any of the second-tier heroes.'

Flash forward a couple of years. Marz was in the midst of writing Batman/Tarzan. Dark Horse editor Phil Amara approached him and mused off-handedly, 'When you're done with Batman/Tarzan, we're going to go right into Green Lantern/Aliens, right?' 'I kind of replied, 'Uh....what?'' laughs Marz. 'Apparently, in the ensuing time, DC and Dark Horse agreed that Green Lantern/Aliens was a go, and I was sort of the last one to know, I guess. It was just sort of a natural assumption that I was doing it, which I was more than happy to do.'

Ironically, perhaps, the mini-series represents probably the last time Marz will write Green Lantern for the foreseeable future, thanks to his new CrossGen commitments. 'At the moment, this seems like my last stab at Green Lantern,' confirms Marz. 'I don't know if I'm going out with a bang, per se, because, to me, going out with a bang means something drastic, like killing Kyle or giving the ring to somebody else. With Green Lantern/Aliens, I'm going out doing what I tried to do in every issue of my run: I want to give the reader their money's worth and tell a good story.'

The story begins in the past, with the Hal Jordan Green Lantern, the Green Lantern Corps and the Guardians of the Universe encountering the Aliens. After a savage battle, Hal decides to let the Aliens live on a faraway planet where they won't be able to do any more harm--presumably. Naturally, years later the Aliens become a threat again, and this time it's the Kyle Rayner Green Lantern who has to clean up the mess of the past. And for a time, he has to do so without the aid of his power ring.

'One of the things that really appeals to be about Green Lantern is the cyclical nature of the concept,' says Marz. 'Superman or Batman are very specific individuals--only Bruce Wayne can be Batman, only Clark Kent can be Superman. But Green Lantern is whoever has the ring. I like the notion of Green Lantern having a lineage to it; the mantle being passed down from generation to generation. So it seemed appropriate to set Green Lantern/Aliens over two generations and use it as an opportunity to play with both Hal and Kyle.'

In addition to making it generational, Marz initially was interested in making the series a three-way crossover as well. 'I actually toyed with the idea for a while of having this be a Green Lantern/Green Arrow team-up, Hal and Ollie in the past and Kyle and Conner in the present,' says Marz. 'I eventually went away from that just because I thought there wasn't enough room to do all of those characters in four issues. From that point, I decided to focus on Hal and Kyle and do a story in which you sort of know what you're getting in to: your hero's in trouble, the aliens are trying to kill him and the hero has to figure out a way not to get killed. These things aren't rocket science.

'So,' he continues, 'I decided I wanted to attack the story in the sense of, 'How would Hal react to the Aliens? What would a hero of that era do versus how Kyle would react to the Aliens? What would a hero of this world do? Is it the same thing, or has the notion of heroism changed some way between the Silver Age and the present?' Beyond that, I also wanted to use a lot of cool aliens and wanted the Green Lantern Corps to be there, because that was one of the Green Lantern toys I never got to play with. What also intrigued me was the fact that Green Lantern/Aliens is somewhat of a tongue-in-cheek reference because the whole Green Lantern Corps was made up of aliens from Hal's point of view. It was a neat aspect, because I got to play with all the good toys. But, really, the contrast of Hal to Kyle was much more important in the overall sense of the story.'

Heroic License

According to Marz, that contrast became the central focus of the series, providing a multi-faceted look at the notion of heroism. 'I see Hal as sort of the quintessential Silver Age Hero,' he says. 'He's the square-jawed might for right kind of guy, and very much a guy who always does the right thing. Whereas Kyle is very much more of a modern-day hero with feet of clay, which to me is really the opposite end of the spectrum to Hal. Really, what the crux of it came down to was a Green Lantern with a power ring facing a horde of Aliens is not really much of a contest. The ring can do anything, so the Green Lantern isn't really in that much danger from the Aliens as long as he's got his ring.

'For me, the story became about the choices the hero makes in that situation. What do you as a Green Lantern do? Do you decide to wipe these things out because they're vicious and nasty brutes, or do you recognize these things as life forms and feel that you have to save them? That decision is faced by Hal and Kyle within the four issues. Much to my surprise, they handle the situation differently. Without giving away the ending, my original intent for the story was that maybe the concept of heroism has changed somewhat, but the core values are the same whether it was Hal or Kyle. But when I got to the last issue, I found that my story was telling me something completely different.'

Although Marz won't give away the ending and reveal exactly what that difference is, based on what we know about the characters--and the fact that Hal does allow the Aliens to live in his part of the story--one can assume that Kyle might ultimately take a more violent, and decidedly more final, course of action. In many ways, this scenario serves as a commentary on our modern view of action heroes. These days, many heroes are perceived as wimps if they let villains live, unlike the old days when Batman or Superman would put the likes of Lex Luthor and the Joker in prison at the end of each subsequent battle, knowing full well it would only be a short matter of time before they escaped once again.

'I certainly intended it to serve as a commentary,' says Marz. 'In comics, I think that once in a while you do want to see Batman drop the Joker off the side of a building. The vast majority of the time that doesn't happen, and the heroic act is to step back from that line. But, boy, I'm sure everybody thought it was really satisfying when, in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Batman is breaking guys' bones and leaving them shattered in the street.

'I guess that's that vengeance aspect to our heroes, as well, which we don't like to acknowledge. But it's there. Generally, I think it's society that has become more accepting of this, and I don't know whether it's good or bad. Sometimes there are real evil bastards out there that do need killing. I'm certainly not a huge proponent of the death penalty, but on the other hand, if the victim was somebody that I knew and loved, what would I think then?

'Despite what I'm saying, I hope the issue is not in peoples' face so much in this story that it detracts from it. But at the same time. I do hope it's a subtext that people end up thinking about. I always think that pop culture tends to be, to my mind, a mirror to what's really going on out there. I think it reflects more of what's going on out there than it forms it. Like the violence in video games has a lot more to do with how violent society is than it does with making society more violent.'

Parting Blows

To date, Marz has pitted both Batman and Green Lantern against the Aliens. In his mind, the differences between the two struggles are akin to the different viewing experiences of Ridley Scott's Alien and James Cameron's follow-up, Aliens.

'The biggest difference was scale,' says Marz. 'Obviously with Batman, if you do a story with hundreds of Aliens, Batman gets killed. And DC generally frowns upon that. The Batman story ended up being more of a haunted house story, like the first Alien movie, with a finite number of aliens and spooky corridors. Green Lantern/Aliens was very much more a war movie and very much like Cameron's Aliens. It has to do with the relative power levels of the characters involved.'

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