Today saw the release of “Justice League Annual” #1 by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, and Daniel Sampere. To call this issue huge would be an understatement akin to calling Facebook ‘problematic.’ Synder and Tynion bring back story threads from books like “The Multiversity,” “Dark Nights: Metal,” and “Justice League: No Justice,” while weaving in characters like Starman, Hawkgirl, and Martian Manhunter into a story that could define the DCU for a generation. Seriously, the events are that huge in scope.
In today’s Hall of Justice, we chat with the co-writers of the issue to discuss the scope, the featured characters, and what comes next. Be warned that some minor spoilers do follow.
This is a huge issue for so many reasons. It’s one of the biggest issues that I think DC has put out in a number of years on a pure cosmic standpoint. This affects just about every single corner of the DC Universe in one way or another. So, my question for both you guys is when you’re pitching this and you’re putting it together is there ever a point where you say this is just too much? Or is the challenge to try and get that too much into one issue?
Scott Snyder: The answer is unequivocally no because for me, I think the thing that we wanted to be established for “Justice League” from page one to now is that it’s a story that in its soap operatic way spans the entire DCU in a way that’s celebratory, but also sort of challenging. In that we want to dig as deep as possible into the origin mythos of the DC Universe and we want to push past the physical boundaries of everything you know in the DC Universe. And to do that it requires I think a kind of scope and ambition that involves all the characters, all the set pieces, all the ideas and the thing that I think we’ve tried our hardest to do with it is have that sense of grandeur and majesty and give you more than you pay for every issue. And yet really, really, really try hard to make sure that it’s character driven and resonate and intimate story as well because at the end of the day all the kind of insanity and sort of over the top elements in the book don’t mean anything if it’s not really heartfelt.
I would just also throw kind of a bone to James, in saying that he really keeps me very grounded emotionally with these characters. And I’m so proud of what we’re able to create together because I think he makes sure that this book is not just kind of I think the most ambitious and expansive book on the stands for DC, but it’s easily one of the most heartfelt. I want it to feel like it’s the heart and soul of the DCU as well.
James Tynion IV: I mean I think that’s a great answer, and I think that the other thing that when we were approaching this issue we had a tremendous opportunity having the vehicle of an annual. And I think that annuals sort of, I can go so far from it being some of the most important issues of the year to just being a side story that’s just double length and all of that plays something small. In “Justice League” and everything that we’re building, we knew this moment was coming. We knew we needed to get to this crucial moment that brought the Justice League and the Legion of Doom out to the Source Wall and resolved some of the threads that we’ve been laying down all the way back to the end of “[Dark Nights:] Metal” and “[Justice League:] No Justice.”
And we knew that we needed Starman in this role. We knew all the pieces needed to converge here. And then we realized that where they were converging was in a month when we could put an annual. And we realized this is the perfect moment to make “Justice League Annual” #1. This crucial turning point of the entire … that really launches us into 2019, not just in our book, but you see it in here this directly effects obviously the other Justice League books, “[Justice League] Dark” and “[Justice League] Odyssey,” but also the entire line. We wanted to launch the year with one of the most important issues of the entire year.Continued below
SS: The thing if I could sort of I guess underscore one thing to people reading this and I said it before, but I mean it like a kind of mantra, this book for us is creating a narrative that’s going to drive a lot of the lines. Everything from “Metal,” even before “Metal,” but really “Metal” all the way into 2020 is one big architectural plan. And the annual for us was always going to be sort of a giant keystone. It’s almost kind of a moment that really begins act two of our story and ramps everything up in a huge way. So, for us it’s one big design, it’s one big uber-narrative, even though you can pick it up arc to arc. And we want people to feel rewarded not just issue to issue, but year to year, month to month, arc to arc and so yeah, this one is a crucial sort of keystone moment in our giant meta-narrative that we’re telling all the way through 2020-2021.
When these sort of three Justice League books were pitched it was “Justice League,” “Dark,” and “Odyssey,” there was sort of this clear delineation of what each book was, but as it’s gone on it seems like all three books have sort of somewhat smushed together a bit and become a little bit more interconnected. That’s especially evidenced in James not just writing “Dark” but the scripting so many of the “Justice League” issues. So, as you guys are bringing this narrative together, how cognoscente of are you of trying to keep the three books separate? Or is that not even a consideration anymore? Is this just one mega-narrative and we all just have to deal with it?
JT: The goal is very much to make sure that each book is as satisfying experience in and of itself. And I can speak most directly to “Dark,” but “Odyssey” also plays into this, in that theses pieces have, the individual pieces that we’ve been shaping will tell the story if you are only reading one of these books you are going to get a very satisfying read. But our goal going all the way back to the creation of the Hall of Justice is the idea of all the DCU being sort of emanating out from that Hall of Justice. And we want each of these books and these characters, we want everything to feel like it’s tied into each other.
This issue, the annual directly effects, I would say “Odyssey” most of all in terms of we see that little glimpse of Darkseid and we start to understand that he may have seen some of the events of this coming and that might be why he’s over in Ghost Sector. So, we have this big architecture and I think it’s an incredibly rewarding when you see how it all comes together because we’re dealing with such big forces in and around the DC Universe. And I think as it all comes to a head, people will sort of see that the big plan really it shapes out. But we’re also still very conscience of the fact that we want everyone who is just reading one title to have a full experience, but also for people who are reading everything they are rewarded for that, too.
SS: People that read everything are our favorites.
No, James really put it well. I mean, I would just say one of the joys of working at DC the last couple of years has been being able to build this kind of big architecture with creators that I really love working with both as friends and as creative partners. And I’ve never done something like this before. When I was on “Batman,” I was always afraid I was going to get kicked off after every arc. So, each arc was really singular and was meant to be sort of its own really individuated volume. As I got towards the end of that run, things became more propulsive and a little bit more accumulative. And I understood the role of one story to the next, but with this, with this sort of architecture we’re building something that’s really a three year story essentially, not just over the 50 issues of “Justice League.”Continued below
But what James said about Darkseid, spoiler alert, he is in the Ghost Sector for those reasons. You know what I mean? And what’s happening in “Dark” ends up playing back in big ways into “Justice League.” And I think one of the great things about this annual is that it sort of shines a light on how designed everything is by making sure you see, hey if you read “No Justice,” look there was a plan for how those characters met or in the uber story the Omega Titans this is why the Entropy Titan died. This is how Kendra’s role in the story is elevated, all of this sort of dates back to some of the stuff you read there. If you haven’t read it, that’s fine too. But this is the point of one of the great things about this moment in the story, the annual is that we’ve done enough building in “Justice League” and the other books that this is where we can start to reveal some of the blueprints. And we can start to give answers and revelations and call-backs to a lot of this stuff that we couldn’t show but were part of the bigger tapestry at the very early stages of the story. Now we want it to be like every single issue you’re getting not just answers and revelations, but also bigger reveals about how the mystery is going to progress and link into things you saw before.
I would just also say, these issues, 16, the annual and 17 which [are coming out] last week, this week and next week, are like a three sort of fist punch of revelations this way. And big plot movement in the story. This is a really crucial moment for us. Again, it is almost the beginning of the big second act of our story where everything shifts and turns. So, if you read all three over the course of these three weeks I think you’ll see the whole series really transforms and shifted into a different gear.
One of the things I’ve been really enjoying about the way the Justice League particularly is put together is that there are a number of characters that are getting spotlight moments. Kendra, John, Starman, J’onn, who we haven’t really seen in the spotlight in the last couple of years. So, when you guys were putting together the story did you know that you needed these players for these bits of story? Or after you had the team in place did you say, oh no, this is how the story is going to work because now we have John, Kendra, et cetera there?
SS: I was going to say just for “Justice League,” no. It was set up from the beginning. Each character really represents a different kind of emotional and psychological approach to this huge kind of urgent, cataclysmic kind of situation they find themselves in which begins with this Source Wall breaking and then a part of it falling to Earth. For us that meant … and we laid that out very early, we almost did a kind of white board with different colors for the different characters where Kendra is very much about having been deceived by Barbatos and having kind of not understood her own origin for so long. She’s really about the truth at all cost. She wants to find out her own origins, she wants to understand her role in the story.
Martian Manhunter, on the other hand, is very focused on being a responsible leader. He’s focused on protecting the team and sometimes that means protecting them from the truth as badly as he wants the truth. Superman is hope and faith and has this kind of sense that totality has to have a good heart in some ways because he believes that the universe itself is beneficent. Batman is skeptical and that brings them to a head. So, in that way every character has a big role to play, kind of in the giant theater of the story. And we wanted to make sure that some of the characters that don’t get spotlit traditionally, such as Martian Manhunter, John Stewart, Hawkgirl really have equal billing to Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.Continued below
JT: Yeah, and the story that we’re building that obviously comes to a head in a big way here is the relationship between Martian Manhunter and Hawkgirl. Which is something that we’ve seen little hints of and pieces of growing and built and now it’s all coming to a head because now they’re at this huge revelation point that Scott was talking about. They’re learning things about themselves that are changing the very fabric of their being. And that it is a really, really rough emotional state and no one is going through it in starker terms than Martian Manhunter and Hawkgirl. So, that’s bringing the two of them together in a really interesting way.
In this sort of large mega-narrative we see so much happening. In this issue particularly we two things that I wanted to really briefly touch on. We see sort of the entire Fourth World sucked away at the end of the issue and we also see a glimpse of the House of Heroes, some “The Multiversity” throwbacks. I’m not looking for any spoilers here, but can we expect to see more from those two settings in the future?
JT: Yeah, I will say the New Gods stuff I would say we’re going to see most strictly in the immediate short term. I point people towards Odyssey because that ties into what Dark Side is up to in the Ghost Sector. But those are pieces that we will of course be dealing with ourselves down the line. And in terms of “The Multiversity” characters, the Multiversal Justice League going on, there is a plan. We are … I think you’re going to see those guys sooner than you think.
SS: Just to add to that also, I mean, that rings true for every sort of character that you see enter the series really at any point. But on top of that the kind of ways in which they’re going to come back, we’re not throwing people in just to be like, hey look it’s “DC One Million,” they’ll be back. You know what I mean?
But the other thing I’d say, that extends to characters that are part of this meta-story, such as the Omega Titans from “No Justice,” but also characters from “Metal.” So, “The Batman That Laughs,” obviously that series even though it feels stands alone and is its own beast, will have consequences that wind up playing a tremendous role in this bigger story that we’re telling across the DCU. But, Barbatos, the Dark Knights, it all plays a really big role coming up. I’m spoiling everything. But a lot of all these characters that have circulated in everything from “Metal” to “No Justice” to “Justice League” to “Justice League Odyssey” to “Justice League Dark” to “Hawkman,” it’s all part of one story we’re trying to tell across multiple books. So, yes 100%, you’ll see everything come back.