Since the renaissance of DC Comics cartoons that began with "Batman: The Animated Series" in 1992, Warner Bros. Animation has experimented with a variety of different heroes and formats to bring the World's Greatest Heroes to life. "Justice League" (later retitled "Justice League Unlimited"), for example, was an action-packed series focused on the core members of the League, while its successor "Batman: The Brave and the Bold" was a comedy with a rotating cast of heroes. At Comic-Con International in San Diego, producers Butch Lukic, Alan Burnett and Jim Krieg spoke with CBR and other members of the press in a roundtable interview session about the JLA's next evolution in "Justice League Action," which blends a high-octane approach with humor and a huge selection of characters from throughout the DC Universe.
Though "Justice League Action" will be the first animated series in ten years to star the full League, Lukic said that the initial plan was for something entirely different. "Originally, we were supposed to be doing another Batman series, but me and Alan got together with the whole team and then eventually, a week later, it was suggested we do a Justice League show instead. There was a gap between a new series [and the last one], plus the new movie is coming out. So we got the go ahead to do a Justice League series.
"But there was one catch," Lukic joked. "It's gonna be 11 minute episodes. It's gonna be a nightmare."
"We wanted to do a show for kids, to appeal to boys in particular," Burnett added. "At first, the show was a lot more action-y than it turned out to be, because as we got more into it, we found that the action played better with some comedy, some character quirks. So it is, in a way, an action show with comedy. But the action's always serious, the fighting's always serious. We ended up producing a show that I think is going to get a lot of kid attention. It's a show that parents can watch along with their kids."
Burnett said that at least one of the "DC Comics Trinity" -- Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman -- will feature in each episode, but the overall cast is considerably larger. Lukic said there are 152 characters appearing in Season 1, of which about 60 are superheroes, 40 are villains, and the rest supporting characters -- "sub-villains and all that."
John Constantine "is in quite a few early episodes, and Demon," Lukic said. "Space Cabbie -- DC wanted him involved in the series, and he turned out to be a good choice. We definitely can go a lot of places with Space Cabbie."
Lukic promises an Apokalips/Darkseid story that has not appeared in comics, while Krieg said other plots would be "stolen" from other media. "Some were loosely based [on comics]. There's an episode that was Alan's favorite comic book from when he was a kid, and we found a way to adapt it into a multi-part episode."
"It's one where they have to disguise themselves as each other against the Brothers D'Jinn," Burnett said, adding that the villains were called The Demons Three in the comics. "If they said their name as they were casting a spell, then they would cast their spell [and the heroes would lose their powers]. But if they said the wrong name, the spell wouldn't have any effect. That's why they wear disguises. I loved it as a kid."
"I really like our haunted house episode," Krieg said. "It's set during Halloween and has kids dressed up as their favorite superheroes. That's probably my favorite so far; it was written by Paul Dini."
As to what other characters may be appearing, "I think you're going to find that many DC stones have been turned," Krieg said. "We've pulled out those worms and put them in the show."
"Who you think might show up in the Superman family will show up," Lukic added.
"Justice League Action" debuts this fall on Cartoon Network.