Bryan Hitch grew up watching “Super Friends,” and every issue of his New 52 “Justice League of America” run over the past year was a love letter to the iconic animated TV series. His passion for the world’s greatest heroes must have been obvious to Dan DiDio and Jim Lee, too, as DC Comics’ braintrust tapped Hitch to write the flagship “Justice League” ongoing series as part of the “Rebirth” era, which launched this week with the introductory one-shot he also illustrated, “Justice League: Rebirth” #1, to be followed July 20 by a new “Justice League” #1, illustrated by series artist Tony S. Daniel.
Banded together from 77 years of continuity, the new Justice League roster features an updated version of the classic lineup with pre-New 52 Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman front and center. Barry Allen returns as The Flash and Aquaman is there too, but Cyborg replaces Martian Manhunter like he did in the New 52, and there is not one but two Green Lanterns: Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz.
Hitch shared his thoughts on the new lineup with CBR News and talked extensively about the implications of the original Superman joining the Justice League of America, as well as the changes that the two new Green Lanterns make to the team dynamic. The celebrated comic book creator also teased the importance of Wonder Woman and Aquaman’s friendship to the series and that while he has no immediate plans for the Legion of Doom, if he can find the right story, he would love to tell it. As for the Watchmen… You’ll have to read on to find out.
CBR News: Lois has a line in the first issue that, for me, sums up the series: “It wouldn’t be much of a Justice League without a Superman.” I know there have been some great runs with the world’s greatest heroes without Superman before but, honestly, if you are writing a series with the big guns, Superman has to be front and center. Beyond his obvious superpowers, what does the Man of Steel bring to the Watchtower?
Bryan Hitch: In this case, years of experience the other one didn’t have. It’s also a new dynamic for the team as, though he looks exactly the same, it’s not exactly the same man they knew. When it comes down it too, those obvious super powers change the nature of what the team can and can’t do. In the first arc alone, Superman is needed because there’s something only he would have even a possible chance of surviving and that none of the others could have pulled off. Strong as she is, even Wonder Woman couldn’t have done it and there’s a question of whether even the Green Lanterns’ power rings would have been capable. It was a job for Superman and that level of thinking shouldn’t be seen as an aside, it’s a key part of the group dynamic and why it wouldn’t be much of a Justice League without him.
Beyond his years of experience, are there other major differences between the original Superman now living and operating in the DCU and the New 52 Superman that recently died in the pages of “Superman” #52? Will you be exploring those differences in “Justice League”?
There are differences, yes. There are obvious ones, like him having a family and completely different life experiences. His parents lived longer than the New 52 Superman’s did; he died and was resurrected, he fought different versions of familiar villains. He’s also been in the background for years, watching them. He knows them, they don’t know him and that’s a new relationship to explore. All of this is rich material to explore.
Oh, they’ll certainly be there, especially Lois. That’s his trinity now. It’s a fundamental shift in the understanding of the character. We’re all used to his hugely altruistic ideals and heroism, his selfless acts, that ‘big blue boy scout’ label. There’s also been a suggestion that he’s a hard character to empathize with. I disagree with that but what this situation with Lois and Jon does is change why he saves the world. It’s not just about selfless and general heroism. He’s saving it for them to live in. To a degree they are refugees in this world, the second time for Kal-El but to boil those incredible acts of heroism down to making the world safer for his family is something we can all understand. It effectively makes him much, much more human and sets him a step back from that messianic idea that’s unfortunately pervaded his mythology in recent years.
Do you enjoying writing the family dynamic?
Yes, very much. We have a large family so it’s easy to understand and there’s emotion to it you need to underscore all the big stuff. Without that it’s just noise.
Batman is keen to have Superman join the Justice League — but it’s Batman, so there’s always a reason. In “Justice League: Rebirth” #1, the Dark Knight tells Cyborg and Flash: “I want him close until we can figure out what’s really happening.” While we get a new Superman with Rebirth, Batman never changes, which I think is a good thing. What is it about Batman’s Batman-y ways that makes him so important to the Justice League?
He’s a connective tissue. It’s easy to say because he’s so damn cool and that’s certainly true, he is but it’s obviously more than that. He’s very, very smart and looks at the world differently. That same mind that helps make him the world’s finest detective allows him to see connections and patterns the others don’t. He’s the ultimate out-of-the-box thinker and for that alone he’d be earning his place on the team but in pretty much any fight, one way or another, you’d put your money on The Batman. Plus, he’s pretty damn cool. [Laughs]
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