DAYBREAK: James Robinson, Part II

In the first of a special two-part DAYBREAK, Eisner Award-winner James Robinson shared his reasoning for using the Crime Syndicate as the latest big bads that Dick, Kara, Donna, Jade and Jesse would face in the pages of "Justice League of America" and also teased that a new supervillain would be introduced today, too.

In the second half of our talk, CBR News finds out what Bill and Mikaal are up to in the pages of "Starman/Congorilla" while the rest of team battles evil versions of themselves. The one-shot was announced at NewYork Comic Con, as was a "Shade" limited series, featuring Robinson's popular, re-imagined take on the Golden Age Victorian-era immortal that he first introduced as a supporting character in "Starman" in the 1990s.

We also asked Robinson about a possible Hawkman project that may or may not have been accidentally revealed at NYCC but the British-born scribe had nothing to report. In 2002, Robinson co-wrote the first 10 issues of "Hawkman" with Geoff Johns, a series featuring the current version of the Gardner Fox creation, Carter Hall.

CBR News: Will "Starman/Congorilla" tie into the events of "Justice League of America" or is this a stand-alone story?

James Robinson: Yes, it does tie into the Crime Syndicate story but it's really Bill and Mikaal off on their own adventure. The idea was just to let the five (Dick Grayson, Supergirl, Donna Troy, Jade and Jesse Quick) show their mettle against their evil counterparts. But also, there are aspects to the Congorilla story that I've wanted to tell since "Justice League: Cry for Justice." I finally get to do that and have them do the kind of stories I think suit them, which if it's even remotely successful I'd like to do more of, quite honestly.

Can you share any details about the story you're telling in "Starman/Congorilla?"

They have to find somebody that is vital to saving the world and the safety of their teammates, and that leads to a hunt for completely disparate elements that they aren't expecting. They ultimately have to find the Fountain of Youth and to do that requires the involvement of Animal Man and Rex the Wonder Dog. So we have a couple of interesting guest stars that you wouldn't necessarily expect. At the same time, you get an awful lot of action. I don't want to say any more than that, really.

Except for whom the artist is: Brett Booth. I hadn't really seen his art for a long time. I was sure he'd done some things, I just hadn't been aware of them and I apologize for that. But the work he's doing on this book is absolutely wonderful. I'm very thrilled to be working with him after all these years. I remember seeing him around the WildStorm offices, although we weren't particularly close back when I was doing "Leave It To Chance" and "WildC.A.T.s." So it's nice to be finally work with him and it's nice to have such a fantastic artist doing this story that I've wanted to tell for such a long time.

Bill and Mikaal are featured on an upcoming cover of "Justice League of America," so you will be checking in on them during the Crime Syndicate storyline too, right?

We touch back to them briefly, just to keep their narrative going before we get to their actual one-shot but they are by no means the main players of the books, unfortunately. But that cover is beautiful. You're talking about the David Mack cover, right? It's a gorgeous cover.

Indeed. When we spoke back in 2009 as you were first forming your JLA team, Congorilla and Mikaal were two characters that you were really looking forward to exploring. Why do you think readers have responded so well to these two as JLAers?

I think the Justice League works when you have a team that you understand and expect but also have a couple of oddballs. I mean, Grant Morrison put Plastic Man into his Justice League, which was kind of like his Big 7. He added in Zauriel, which was his version of a Hawkman character, but at the same time, he was an angel. It was a very metaphysical-kind of thing that had never been done in the Justice League before. So I think that sort of slightly left field element always kind of works and I stand by that. There are people that are very traditional, but there is an argument to say that those stories have already been told. Let's have some stories that are not what you'd normally expect from a book like "Justice League of America," which has such a long history.

There was some more big news at New York Comic Con that "Starman" fans are really excited about and that's a "Shade" limited series. What can you tell us about that one?

I've written two issues and I'm writing the third one this week. It's 12 issues and one over-riding storyline that's divided into three different three-part arcs, interspersed with three single-issue, "Times Past" issues, so each arc and each "Times Past" issue will get a separate artist. We're lining up some pretty great artists! I'm loathe to tell you who they are just yet until we have every single one of them lined up and locked down, but it's a pretty stellar art group that we have on this series. I'm really taking my time with it, but you should see the first issue some time next year. Well, there is no "should see" - you will see the first issue some time next year.

While you've worked on a lot of great projects over the years, there is perhaps none that you're name is more synonymous with then "Starman." Why is now the right time to return to Opal City?

This is the perfect way for me to preserve the legacy of Jack Knight and not dredge it up and muddy it up. A good magician never repeats his tricks, so it's a good way to do that but at the same time, I get to revisit Opal City and some aspects of it, which I always felt there was more to, even after Jack Knight retired and moved to San Francisco.

Is this series set within the current DCU? And will we see characters from "Starman?"

You'll see some of the characters from the DC Universe, and yes, it's current but it's self-contained too. You'll see some of the characters that I introduced in "Superman" and from different parts of the DC Universe too, so there's that. But I think you'll be very happy with the series. I'm very proud of it. I'm proud of the outline I've come up with and I'm proud of the two issues that I've written already.

Finally, I have to ask you about Hawkman. At New York Comic Con, it looked like you may have let the cat out of the bag about a possible project starring everyone's favorite winged warrior. So point blank: are you working on a "Hawkman" book?

No comment.

"Starman/Congorilla," written by James Robinson and featuring art by Brett Booth with a cover by Gene Ha, is due in stores January 5, 2011.

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