Beginning next week, the new co-writers Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges of “Justice Society of America” will launch a five-issue arc which will establish the new status quo for the title and will lay the foundation for a second title in the JSA franchise, “JSA All Stars.”
Willingham (“Fables”) will stay with “Justice Society of America” while Sturges (“Jack of Fables”) will take the reins of the new series with fan favorite artist Freddie Williams II, who he previously worked with on “Final Crisis Aftermath: Run.”
CBR News caught up with Sturges late Thursday night to see how he landed on his roster of Stargirl, Damage, Judomaster, Wildcat (Tom Bronson), Thunder, Magog, Power Girl, Citizen Steel, Hourman and Cyclone and also to find out who the new guy is next to Magog on the teaser cover that DC released today, as well.
CBR News: Did you know “JSA All Stars” was coming when you signed on to co-write “Justice Society of America” with Bill Willingham?
Matthew Sturges: Yes, this has been in the works since Day One. When they hired me and Bill to do the book it was always with the understanding that we were going to be splitting the book in two.
Once split, will we see the two teams crossover between the two books?
We each have our own team that we put together. It’s a sensible sort of splitting. I hate to use the word “split,” because the JSA isn’t breaking up. It’s more like they are creating two teams. But it makes sense who is going with who. On my team, there are more the younger folks and Bill’s team has more the older generation.
Initially, we’re going to try and establish the feel of each individual book and try and really give the characters as much screen time as we can give them, which is one of the prime reasons that we wanted to do it because there are so many great characters, and it just seemed to be that some of them were not getting all the air time they deserved.
We talked a little bit about doing a JSA/JLA Annual where certainly everyone would come back together and I’m sure that Bill and I, at some point, will cook up some excuse to bring these two teams together.
So obviously, you and Bill will be exploring the split – or the breaking off into two teams – in your arc together as co-writers on “Justice Society of America”?
Yes, that’s pretty much what the story is about through it all. There’s a very serious situation. There’s a lot of battle, a lot of damage. And it’s as a result of what happens in that arc that the teams find themselves necessitating this, for reasons which I can’t tell you because it would totally spoil stuff.
You mentioned in the panel today that Power Girl is still very much the leader of this team, but will she be butting heads, or horns I guess, with Magog, another superhero that appears to have leadership aspirations?
Well, I don’t want to spoil too much because their relationship is a part of the initial plot of the series, just how they relate to each other. Not that they have a romantic relationship, which they don’t. Or do they?
But yes, definitely, they’re both leaders in different ways and they have different ideas about what that means.
What about the rest of the team? How did you and Bill pick who got who?
Well, you know, it was nice because editorial really left that up to us to decide. And we had a pretty good sense of who we wanted, in general, just due to the nature of the two teams. But there were a couple that we fought over, most notably, Judomaster was one that we both wanted because we both think she’s really cool and it’s sort of blank slate that you could do a lot of fun stuff with. So it was almost like trading in baseball. It was like, “You can have Judomaster and Power Girl but I get Doctor Fate and it all worked out. It never came to blows but we did have some discussions about it.
When we spoke after you initially signed on for the series, you mentioned Stargirl was one of your favorites. So did you fight hard to get her?
Absolutely. There’s a very important thread that starts in our first issue of “Justice Society of America” involving Stargirl that becomes the main plot of my first arc. So Stargirl is heavily featured in the first arc that I do. And what I’m going to do for each successive arc is try to bring a couple of characters forward each time to make sure every character gets some time to shine.
What else can you tell us about your opening arc?
The first story arc revolves around a classic JSA villain, one that readers, I think, will be very happy to see against the JSA again and his plans for Stargirl.
One of the fun things that we set up was that there are threads in this initial “Justice Society of America” arc that Bill and I are writing together that play into each of our ongoing series after we separate. It was all very heavily planned from the get go. Again, we knew this was going to happen from the beginning. So we put things in motion that would create ongoing mysteries.
On the cover to “JSA All Stars” #1, who is the hero just to the left of Magog?
He’s the guy who you don’t know who he is.
So who is he?
That’s a new character that I created specifically for this book called King Chimera, who I have big plans for down the road.
What can you tell us about King Chimera?
Well, he claims to be the son of King Standish, who was a master of disguise in the 1940s. He appeared in “Flash Comics” back in those days, so he’s definitely a Golden Age legacy character.
Will “JSA All Stars” tie into “Power Girl” and the forthcoming “Magog” ongoing by Keith Giffen and Howard Porter?
Yeah, absolutely. One of the things that we really want to do is to have kind of a JSA family. Keith and I right now are juts sitting down to talk about a JSA annual that is sort of a crossover between “Magog” and “JSA All Stars.” And he and I are writing that together.
Is the title “JSA All Stars” a nod to All-Star Squadron?
We went over a couple of different titles and “JSA All Stars” just seemed to make sense for a lot of reasons. Initially, it goes back to “All Star Comics” from the 1940s where JSA first appeared. There was actually a miniseries called, “JSA All Stars” by Geoff Johns and David Goyer and then of course, there is the All-Star Squadon.
But when it came to coming up with a title for the book, we knew it had to have JSA in it. But what comes after the colon? And we just kept coming back to All Stars. It just seemed like the only appropriate thing to do.
And you’ve got Freddie Williams as your artist, correct?
He is fantastic. He’s so good. We were working on “Final Crisis Aftermath: Run” and Freddie and I just hit it off. We talk on the phone a lot. And we have a lot of similar ideas and similar goals about what we want from the book.
He’s really fast, so I have to write really fast to keep up with him. He works entirely digitally, so his process is really fascinating to watch. And he just wrote a book that DC is putting out called “The DC Comics Guide to Digitally Drawing Comics,” which I really can’t wait to read.