Letters to TLRH #1 Nov 8, 2012 20:54:28 GMT -5
Post by Susan Hillwig on Nov 8, 2012 20:54:28 GMT -5
Notes from the Road: The Key
It may seem hard to believe, but there are genuine, in-continuity connections between Jonah Hex and the Green Lantern Corps. The first came about in 1982 with the publication of Justice League of America #198-199, wherein Hal Jordan and a few other Leaguers traveled back to the 1878 to mix it up with Jonah and his Western buddies. On the surface, putting Hal and Hex together seems an odd pairing -- it’s made clear in the comic that GL doesn’t share Jonah’s “kill ‘em all and let God sort ‘em out” attitude -- but both of them also have a strict moral code, and are willing to break rules if it means helping folks out. Oh, and they both get scads of women. We can presume that Hal’s actions during their brief time together must’ve impressed Jonah to some degree, because three years later, when Crisis on Infinite Earths #3 comes out, he immediately stands down the minute he recognizes the Green Lantern uniform worn by John Stewart (for those too young to remember, Hal had quit the Corps right before COIE began). For an ornery coot like Hex to show Stewart respect simply because he bears the same symbol as Jordan is unusual, and it’s a shame that we get very little interaction between the two, because I’m sure the conversation would’ve proved interesting. It was that mix of shared history and implied respect of the Corps that made me decide to include Green Lantern in what would become “The Long Road Home”. But unlike the finished product, the original outline called for Kyle Rayner to be wearing the black-and-green togs. Green Lantern: Rebirth had just begun to hit the stands, and since the outcome was somewhat murky, I decided to go with the current GL and add a third ringslinger to Jonah’s checklist.
With the “guest star” decided upon, I then had to figure out how to get GL to 2050. Since most instances of accidental time-travel involve large amounts of energy, the best notion I had was an explosion of an experimental device -- in an early draft of the story, this was referred to simply as “the generator” -- plus I got this wild idea in my head that, in order to raise the difficulty level, GL’s ring would be non-functional for most of the story. Because I like to keep things in my stories grounded in reality somewhat, I contacted my friend Bill, a fellow comics reader and serious science junkie, and gave him a challenge: “I need an energy source that’s not only powerful enough to pierce the space-time continuum, but will also knock out a Green Lantern ring temporarily.” That’s when he told me about quantum vacuums and the Casimir engine, a theoretical device that doesn’t actually exist in the real world yet, but sounded like the sort of thing a scientist in the DCU could whip up.
Once we had a way there, I started outlining what would happen once our GL got to the future and came across Hex. The original plan called for Jonah to rescue Kyle from some fracas, after which Jonah would begin to fill Kyle in on where he’d ended up, as well as inquire about the two Lanterns he already knew. This version of Jonah was the usual badass that he’d always been, dominant and in control, with the added twist of the cowboy knowing more about the situation than the hero does for a change. This Jonah wasn’t exactly happy to be trapped in the future, but he was dealing with it, and had even become part of a ragtag community that had set up in an old warehouse, which was an elaboration on where we’d last seen him in Hex #18. It had been a while since I’d read any of that series, so before I got down to any long-form writing, I pulled out all the issues and skimmed them, making notes along the way. I also grabbed those two JLA issues so that I could integrate any necessary info from them.
And that’s when I realized my mistake. This one important fact, laid out before me plain as day. There was no way I could write the story in the manner I’d been outlining it, it was literally impossible. At the same time, though, the mistake I’d made gave the story a whole new dimension, one that required a casting change: Hal Jordan had to be the one to get tossed into the future, not Kyle Rayner. Hal’s previous experience with Jonah would be a major plot point, as well as an agitator for the bounty hunter, who most certainly wouldn’t be in control of the situation. For the story to work, Jonah would have to be on the verge of falling apart, knocked lower than we’d ever seen him before, all because of a long-running paradox in his life, one that got exacerbated by his stint in the future. Call it “Fleisher’s Constant”.
You’ll learn more next issue, but until then, let’s peruse the letters, shall we?
- Susan Hillwig