Back at WonderCon, Scott Snyder talked about how his “Justice League” book was going to bring a classic element of the team back for the first time in years: The Hall of Justice. For fans of a certain age (like me), the Hall of Justice was a key part of the Justice Leauge, whether through Super Friends or the revamped ‘One Year Later’ comics of the mid-00s. The Hall of Justice feels like a pure distillation of all that is hopeful and joyous about the Justice League – plus, I had the toy as a kid.
Yesterday, I got a chance to talk with Snyder about the Hall of Justice, how it informs the tone of the book, and what his favorite part of the Hall is. Check out “Justice League” #1, out June 6, featuring art by Jim Cheung.
Why bring back the Hall of Justice?
Scott Snyder: Well, for me, what I want to do with “Justice League” is make it a) the best book on the stands, but b) the way I think I do that is making it connective, making it ambitious, all of those things. For me, I think the thing that we haven’t done enough of with “Justice League” over the last decade has made it connect, make it connective. I love the storytelling that’s gone on in the book from other writers, other artists, but what I miss about it was the sense of it being a hub for the whole DCU. That every great story happening in other books was reflected in Justice League, and once in a while, “Justice League” would drive story forward on those books, when those creators on those books felt the story warranted it.
For me, the Hall of Justice, in a lot of ways, it takes me back to my love of Super Friends as a kid and it has this tremendous pull on my heartstrings just because as a kind of visual, but more importantly, I realize as a symbolic way, it perfectly stood for what I want “Justice League” to be: grounded on earth, the Hall has public areas where people can go in and sort of be inspired, and find their own hero.
At the same time, it has these secret portals in it, the Hall of Justice itself, which connects you to Justice League Dark, Justice League Odyssey. One other team we haven’t announced yet, as well, but we’ve hinted at already, and that you’ll see characters like Green Arrow come and go from the Hall of Justice. You’ll see Atom, Ryan Choi, working in the med lab in “Justice League.” You see Vixen in issue one. You see Animal Man in issue one.
I want you to feel like “Justice League” is a book that effects, connects, and celebrates the entire DCU. For me, the Hall of Justice is just the perfect emblem of that. That’s why I felt like it wasn’t just a kid’s toy to get to bring it into continuity in a big way again, but it felt perfect for the sort of mission statement of “Justice League.”
“Justice League” to me is also, if we’re talking like connections and being connective, for me it’s the culmination of a number of years of storytelling at DC. I pitched for “Justice League” or asked if there was a chance of taking it when I pitched “Dark Nights: Metal.” For me, “Metal” sort of raised all these new questions about the DCU itself, as a physical structure. The Dark Multiverse, Barbatos, the World Forge, the break in the Source Wall. All that stuff then sets up “No Justice.” “No Justice” shows the characters how the universe is bigger, more wondrous, more terrifying than anything they understood before, so they need to find new formations they need to reform. They need new leaders. They need new mission statements.
There you get these three books: “Justice League,” “Justice League Dark,” “Justice League Odyssey.” From there, the story in “Justice League” itself really takes all of the stuff that you’ve seen so far, Barbatos, Dark Multiverse, the World Forge, the Omega Titans, from “No Justice,” Braniac. All of this stuff cycles right back through “Justice League.” You will see Batman revisit the Dark Multiverse.Continued below
You will see, you know, characters from “No Justice” that you meet in later issues I can’t give away yet come back and effect the story. The same way the Hall of Justice, I want to feel like this kind of central, beating heart. This hub of the DCU where anyone can visit, but it has special, secret, you know, passageways and things hidden in it, for a corridor that you don’t know are coming or are there. I want you to feel like when you open “Justice League” and you see that Hall of Justice it also says, you knew it was coming when you got to the end of “Metal,” because you saw the blueprint. You understand why they think it’s the right methodology for the Justice League as a team when you read “No Justice.”
When you start reading “Justice League,” you realize there are things in that Hall of Justice. There are rooms you don’t know about. There are trophies in that case that will play a huge part going forward that continue the story that you started reading in “Batman” through “Metal,” through “No Justice,” and now in “Justice League” and “Justice League Dark” and “Justice League Odyssey.”
Let’s talk about these portals for a second. We know that Hall of Justice is the hub. Where is Justice League Dark located? Is it in the same physical space, or does the portal literally bring people to a different space in the world?
SS: It actually brings you to a different space in the world, but they do actually have a base within the Hall of Justice as well, but because of things I can’t give away that are in issue four of “No Justice,” the decision making about where they should be changes. There’ is a portal within the Hall of Justice that leads specifically to Justice League Dark, and there’s one that leads specifically to Cyborg and Justice League Odyssey, where they fly around in a flaming Braniac head, like a giant Braniac head with flames painted along the sides.
I don’t want to give too much away about the physical basis of those teams because you’ll see at the end of “No Justice,” how they decide, set themselves up.
With the Hall of Justice, there’s this sense of, like you said, people coming and going, heroes working in different corridors, that sort of thing. Will your “Justice League” run be bringing in lots of different characters, or is there going to be more of a set team that operates out of the Hall of Justice?
SS: I want you to feel there’s a core team. The core team is the team on the cover, you know, Hawkgirl, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, John Stewart Green Lantern, Flash, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, with Martian Manhunter as the Chairman, but that said, I want you to understand that every single arc, they’re going to go to characters in the DCU for help, for answers, sometimes to help those characters. Everybody from Mera to Dr. Fate to Swamp Thing, you’ll see a lot of those characters actually in the first issue, but I want you to feel like this is a book where you might wind up back on Thanagar talking to Shiera. You might wind up in Skartaris talking to the Warlord, all of that stuff.
For me, it’s connected to the whole DCU, but I don’t want you to feel like anybody can join the team. Part of my goal is to show you why these characters are the right characters for this story and for the book right now. Even if the roster changes. I mean, who knows? I will say to the readers out there, you never know who will die or who will quit or who will you know, turn into something else. You’ll have to wait and see, but these characters are very dear to me.
I spent a lot of time with the other guys and girls on the teams talking about why this should be the Justice League, getting their opinions on it, all of it. For me, the other thing I’d say is, the Hall of Justice is very much the mission statement of the Justice League itself. It’s my mission statement about the book, but it’s their mission statement from Martian Manhunter. He is the character who physically, literally and figuratively connects our characters with telepathy. He brings them together and makes them see each other and hear each other, and feel each other out there when they’re on a mission.Continued below
In that way, if the Hall of Justice is about connectivity, then it has its opposition in the Legion of Doom, and sort of that base is an echo of that base, and we even drew these different symbols, not giving too much away, but you’ll see in the first issue, I made up these different symbols that are actually based on the architecture of the Hall of Justice and the Legion of Doom and they look quite similar. It’s almost one thing when you invert it. The semicircle with these lines going through and this small triangle at the bottom. When you flip it, it looks like the Legion of Doom. When you turn it one way, it looks like the Hall of Justice.
The Hall of Justice, to me, really represents their idea of what the Justice League should be, and that they feel that our nature as humans. It might be something that sometimes can be very ugly, but what is Justice if not a system of right and wrong that we impose on the natural world? We say, “We’re going to punish wrong and we’re going to reward right.”
Well, that’s unnatural. Reaching higher than, you know, the natural world asks us to. If that’s the case, the Hall itself reflects that. It has these beams that go above the semicircle that circumscribes who we are. On the other hand, there’s the Legion of Doom. Doom in its original form, meant fate. It didn’t have menacing connotations; that’s the root of that word. Lex Luthor and the people on the Legion of Doom – this is a spoiler but Luthor is leading them – essentially decide that we should embrace our nature for reasons they see in the Source Wall. “No Justice” has him have an epiphany where he realizes, we should embrace what we are. We should embrace what’s in our DNA. We’re meant to be these predatory things, and what’s on the other side of that Wall? Everyone thinks the wall has kept us safe from it, well actually, it kept it safe with us.
He’s like, “let me loose with my guys and I’m going to show the people of earth why they should choose Doom and not Justice.” It really is a question in the book, are you going to enter the Hall of Justice? Do you turn that knob and go into the Hall of Justice, or would you rather visit the Legion of Doom?
What’s your favorite little Easter egg we should be looking for in the Hall of Justice?
SS: There’s a lot of Easter eggs. There are a lot of Easter eggs. The spread of the Hall of Justice is like, probably my favorite page, honestly, when Jim Cheung turned it in. It’s so perfect and it walks you through theHall. There’s one part where you see the trophy room, and I would say that some of the trophies are mentioned in other books. That’s one of my favorite Easter eggs, but there are Easter eggs throughout. It really is. There are Easter eggs when you get to the Legion of Doom as well that are set up from “Metal,” and when you saw Vandal Savage beginning to construct that structure there.
I would have to say, what’s my favorite Easter egg? I would say the things in the trophy room are probably my favorite, because they have meaning to me, and you hear them mentioned elsewhere and they harken back to some of my favorite stories. Some of the ideas I got to discuss with Grant Morrison, some of them are things that point to stories in the past in the trophy room, and some of them are things that are actually, we have planned. They have purpose going forward.
It’s pretty fun. I love the narration about the trophy room is my favorite part, because we narrate. I’m trying to have a different style where I want it to feel grand and majestic, you know, so I’m narrating omniscience, which I’ve never really done in a comic before. It’s a third person, omniscient narrator, like old school, Len Wein, Jim Starlin, I want that grand feel, and they’re talking about a trophy room and they’re like, you know, “Everyone’s favorite place in the Hall of Justice is the trophy room,” and then it lists some of the trophies and you’re looking at them and it’s like, “The government was concerned about how safe they were, and it was like a committee called Batman in and asked him. How could he be so sure that these things were safe? And it says: One Senator Quipped, ‘And don’t say, Because I’m Batman.’Continued below
“In response, Batman said, ‘If you’re worried about it, why don’t you give it your best shot?’ At which point if you slow down the footage, it’s possible to see Batman’s face make what some people theorize is his version of a smile.” That’s my favorite panel in the whole thing. I know everyone also thinks that I’m going to make it like, there’s that meme that’s like, “Justice League. It’s Batman and his Bitches,” and that stuff, and everyone keeps thinking that I’m going to make Batman the lead and everybody else follows him, but to be honest, Batman really takes a bit of a back seat in this one. He’s my comic relief a lot of the time, as you’ll see.
From page four, I won’t give anything away, but page four you’ll get a sense of how the other characters kind of bust his balls and how in a lot of ways, I want him to understand that on the Justice League, he might sometimes be a little bit too big for his britches, and that there are other characters that we really want to celebrate, too. Not to say that he doesn’t get some incredibly bad ass parts. Wait ‘til you see. There’s an issue I won’t give away, but where he’s alone in the Hall of Justice, and something happens where he has to take everybody on. It’s going to be awesome, but that said, it’s a chance to foreground other characters too. Just like the trophy room in the Hall of Justice, we want this to be a place where you can wander through and find a story, essentially when you open these pages, that points to all the great stuff in the past, that you see it takes you somewhere brand new, and includes all these characters that you’ve loved and introduces you to new ones.
It’s a giant soap opera. This really is the book that I’ve been waiting to write since I was five years old. Batman will always be my favorite character. I mean there’s no secret about that, but this was the book that I dreamed of writing, and if I retire on this super hero story, I want it to feel okay. I want this to be the one that’s like, this is my giant DC opus, and I have a two year plus plan for it, and it was built over the last two years with “Metal” and “No Justice” and “Batman” and all of that stuff. Everything that you’ve been seeing build happens here. I really, really am excited. I wouldn’t bring in these characters. I wouldn’t bring in the Legion of Doom and the Hall of Justice if I didn’t feel like the story not only warranted it, but demanded it, because of how big it wants to go.