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Sina Grace finds commonality with Green Lantern's Simon Baz for 80th Anniversary special

(Image credit: Ramon Villalobos/Rico Renzi (DC))

Following recent anniversary celebrations for Catwoman, the Joker, Robin, and Wonder Woman by DC, the publisher now turns its attention to another long-lasting character and accompanying franchise: Green Lantern.

June 23's Green Lantern 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular will focus on the many people who have held the Green Lantern mantle over the decades including Hal Jordan, Alan Scott, Kyle Rayner, Guy Gardner, John Stewart, Jessica Cruz, Simon Baz, and even Sinestro. The anthology has an all-star creative line-up with the likes of Sina Grace, James Tynion IV, Geoff Johns, Robert Vendetti, Ron Marz, Mariko Tamaki, Ivan Reis, Gary Frank, and Mirka Andolfo contributing to the stories inside. 

Ahead of the book's debut, Newsarama spoke with Sina Grace about his Simon Baz-centric short with artist Ramon Villalobos in the anthology, discussing why the writer connects to Simon Baz, what he would like to see from the Green Lantern franchise moving forward, and if there’s room in the market for multiple Green Lantern titles.  

(Image credit: Image Comics)

Newsarama: Sina, over the decades we’ve seen the introduction of many Lanterns.Why did you want to write a story for Simon Baz for the Green Lantern 80th Anniversary? 

Sina Grace: My editor Andrew Marino suggested I take a look at the character and see if I had a story to tell with him. A rule I always follow is to trust an editor’s instincts over my own, because I usually think I’m not “good” enough to tackle certain heroes. That was the case with Simon and the Green Lantern mythology as a whole. 

After reading practically all of the Green Lanterns series, I felt like there was a corner of Simon’s world I could speak to ⁠— not only growing up Middle Eastern in America, but also being a person who could have chosen to let fear dominate my decision making. Simon’s so strong and so vulnerable at the same time. I loved getting in his head.

Nrama: What can you tease about your short story and the anthology as a whole? 

Grace: With my short story, I can tease that if readers loved the great mixture of human drama and Lantern lore a la the early Kyle Rayner stuff, then they’ll be pleased. Artist Ramon Villalobos and I had some long talks about the kind of Green Lantern stuff we dug growing up ⁠— and the early Kyle years slapped for both of us. So, for every page that there’s an amazing fight scene, we also snuck a page of really down-to-earth character drama and humor. 

(Image credit: Liam Sharp (DC))

I haven’t seen the complete issue yet (my comp copies are literally supposed to arrive within hours of me writing this response), but based on some larger conversations I had with editorial, I know that the goal for the anthology as a whole is to really celebrate the universality of Green Lantern’s core qualities. No matter who you are, no matter what planet you’re from, you have the capacity to shine as a beacon of hope and bravery to those around you. 

My story had a very literal direction, given that Simon’s family is constantly confronted by bigotry, but I think the message applies to most any reader. 

Nrama: What type of stories would you like to see for Baz moving forward? 

Grace: Simon is a tough-ass dude, and I think it would be great for him to try and open up a little bit, and prove he’s capable of a life that isn’t weighed down by the baggage of his origins. It wouldn’t be an easy journey, but I think Simon Baz is capable of building a life where he’s an excellent superhero, an involved family member, and a thriving member of society. There’s a very big “what’s next” hanging over the character’s head, I feel.  

Nrama: Why do you enjoy the Green Lantern franchise?

Grace: I love tackling heavy stuff in my comic books, and I love showing characters grow and evolve over time in a series. All the best Green Lantern stories are marked by each hero’s growth and battle to persevere on an internal and external scale. Plus, the visual language of how the rings’ powers manifest is just… *chef’s kiss* It allows for the artist to go wild and stretch their imagination, which then makes for some of the most visually compelling storytelling out there. 

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(Image credit: Ramon Villalobos/Rico Renzi/AndWorld Design (DC))
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(Image credit: Ramon Villalobos/Rico Renzi/AndWorld Design (DC))
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(Image credit: Ramon Villalobos/Rico Renzi/AndWorld Design (DC))

Nrama: Do you have a favorite Green Lantern story? 

Grace: All the stuff with Hal Jordan going nuts and his descent towards becoming Parallax ⁠— that's my jam. Kyle Rayner’s era in the Justice League was also like a 'moment' for me. Watching Jessica Cruz find her inner roar makes my heart warm. 

Nrama: Do you feel like we need more Green Lantern books on the market?

Grace: I think we need a handful of Green Lantern books out in the market, because I personally love it best when a Lantern is here on Earth, doing human stuff ⁠— balancing a life while trying to save the world. 

I also think Green Lantern and Green Arrow-type team up books are really fun, too. Then there are the folks who love the galactic/ Corps stuff, and there should be like one of those books monthly and like an annual event series. Seriously, there’s a Green Lantern concept for every occasion and every reader!

Nrama: Would you like to write more Green Lantern stories in the future and for which Lanterns?

Grace: It would be so much fun to play in the Green Lantern world some more, and add some more flesh to an existing character, or try and come up with a new chapter for the mythology! I feel like I’ve kind of shown my hand in terms of which ones are my favorite Lanterns, but I also would totally accept the challenge of taking on everyone’s lovable wise-ass, Guy Gardner! DC Editorial, you’ve got my number…