DAYBREAK: Robinson's JLA/JSA Crossover

"Brightest Day" - DC Comics' 26-issue, bi-weekly series - is well underway with its third issue in stores this week, and CBR is tracking the event's progress with a new monthly feature we call DAYBREAK. Checking in with the writers, artists and editors pulling "Brightest Day" together, DAYBREAK will get beyond the bright and shiny stuff and keep readers up to speed with the hued happenings not only of the core title, but also the series carrying the "Brightest Day" banner, including "Green Lantern," "Green Lantern Corps," "Justice League of America," "Titans," "Birds of Prey" and "The Flash."

If you somehow missed the bestselling "Blackest Night" - the trigger for the events of "Brightest Day" - a dozen superheroes and villains were resurrected at the series' conclusion and now must traverse the DCU in effort to find out why they're back with the living and why some of their friends and foes are not.

One of those characters was Jade - the daughter of Golden Age Green Lantern Alan Scott , the twin sister of Obsidian and the former lover of Kyle Rayner - who died trying to stop Alexander Luthor, Jr. in the 2006 one-shot, "Rann-Thanagar War: Infinite Crisis Special."

Jade's at the epicenter of James Robinson and Mark Bagley's upcoming "Justice League of America"/"Justice Society of America" crossover that begins later this month in "Justice League of America" #46.

CBR spoke with Robinson about the "world-shattering, world-in-peril" story he and Bags are set to deliver in DC's two biggest team books, and the writer behind such critical hits as "Starman" and "The Golden Age" also shared news that ,while it was originally announced that he'd be writing two issues of "Justice Society of America," he's now sticking around for one extra issue to give the cataclysmic crossover one final salvo in a title that's near and dear to his heart.

You have been writing "Justice League of America" for some time now, but you have been doing it without DC's big guns: Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. How does Trinity 2.0 - Supergirl, Dick Grayson and Donna Troy - stack up?  

I think of them as a fresh, new original way to portray the trinity. A change from what we've been used to for so long. Now don't get me wrong, I love the Big 3, but at the same time I do like the freedom that comes with writing my version. I mean, I love writing Dick Grayson, because with him as Batman, there is a freedom and a spirit to the Batman persona that just isn't the same as the pathologically focused way that Bruce Wayne seems to do everything. There's much more of a lightness to him and I enjoy having that Batman to play with.

And then all of these other characters have very little backstory. I mean Jade really has the most. And so I had the freedom to...

No, what am I saying? That's not true at all. Donna has back story. Supergirl too. I think what I mean is that, with these versions having not been quite at the fore, fore, forefront of the DCU, there's more freedom to cherry-pick the aspects of their past that I want to use.

The good thing is that, with these characters, I'm free to use as much as I want or ignore as much as I want, so one of things that I've enjoyed doing, for instance, is streamlining Donna Troy and not dealing with all the confusing back-story and just making her into this really interesting character in her own right. I think in the past that she has been a second-rate Wonder Woman.  I want her to be a first-rate Donna Troy.

And then there's Jesse Quick, who has almost a completely clean slate. Congo Bill. Starman. Very clean slates, too. So I'm having fun crafting this team of my own, and also because I don't have the Big 7 and I don't have to do what you would normally expect a Big 7 adventure story to be, I can take this book into interesting directions and have guest stars and use the DC Universe and just make it into this big, fun, sprawling epic of a book that can and will go anywhere and everywhere, in lots of unexpected directions.

Last week, one of those directions was the introduction of Supergirl to the title. Is Kara along for the ride now? 

Yes, very much. I mean, I had hopes to hang onto Mon-El for a little longer, but unfortunately it wasn't to be and I had to send him back to the 30th century. Or send him on to the 30th century, I guess technically would be the correct thing to say.

But getting Supergirl instead is a fantastic boon. She had this big, rich history as a comic book character, but again has been out of the spotlight. I can focus on the areas of that past that I want to. The idea is to set up my own World's Finest team between her and Dick Grayson, where they're very much brother and sister - this super-sibling relationship, almost. It's something that no one has really had the opportunity to do before, so I'm really enjoying that, as well.

How will Donna react to this new dynamic? 

I think Donna's a big girl, and it isn't like her relationship to Dick is going to be any less. The thing I like about this team is that everybody on it has lost someone in some way. Dick obviously lost his parents. And for now, anyway, he's lost Bruce Wayne. Supergirl has lost everybody except for Superman after the events of the 100 Minute War. Jesse Quick lost her father. He's "dead" dead now, not "lost in the Speedforce dead," and then to make matters worse she had to see him yet die again, so to speak, in "Blackest Night: JSA." In the course of the arc of the JLA/JSA crossover, we'll see that even though Jade has had to move on from Kyle Rayner, she's sort of not over him yet. But there's nothing she can do about it. She's had to move on, but she's still sort of lost that love. Bill and Mikaal have both lost people, or in Bill's case gorillas, that they loved in "Justice League: Cry for Justice." Donna was reminded she lost her husband and her baby during "Blackest Night." So they've all lost something. They're very much a family, sort of helping each other in that way, supporting each other. So that's something I like, as well, very much.

As much as you're known for your comic book writing, you're equally known for your great passion for comics of the past. With all the work you've done in comics, is writing a JLA/JSA crossover still extra special? 

Absolutely. And getting to write all of it was a really great thrill. And having Mark Bagley drawing all of it so there could be a consistency to the art, as well as the writing. You might be surprised by some of the unexpected guest stars that I throw in there, as well. It's a big epic story.

I guess that's what JLA/JSA crossovers allow - and are expected to provide - big epic stories.

Absolutely. One of the things that I resolved to do with all my Justice League stories is make them big, world-shattering, world-in-peril stories. And it isn't like they go into with a "I hope we can do this even though we're the scrub team" attitude, either. They're the Justice League of America, so that's how they see it. That's how Batman and Donna Troy see it. And that's hopefully how the readers will see it too before too long.

You just called Dick, Batman. Do you ever slip up when you're referencing Dick, or is he very much Batman to you? 

He's Batman to me. And he will be Batman until, well, I don't know. If he ever stops being Batman, I have no idea. I don't think anyone but Grant Morrison and his editors and maybe Dan DiDio know who or what will be Batman, but I certainly don't.

You mentioned Jesse Quick earlier. What role will her marriage to JSA's Hourman have to this story? Does it put them odds or does it bring the teams together? 

They're going to both be in this adventure, even though Hourman is a JSA All-Star and no longer on the main team. But they'll be in there and we'll see their relationship. I love the fact that they're married. I mean, the thing that writers always seem to do with couples in comics is immediately divorce them and give them marital problems and I actually think that's crap. Not every marriage is doomed to failure. As far as I'm concerned, and it's up to the Justice Society writers to deal with, as well, but as far as I'm concerned, they're a happy couple and it gives us a really organic crossing over point between the two teams whenever and wherever we can do it.

What are the major differences between the two superhero teams and what roles do you think the JLA and the JSA play within the modern DCU? 

Well, the Justice League of America is the team. It is the big DC Universe superhero team that fights the big threats. With the Justice Society, it's more a community of heroes that sort of takes on threats as they present themselves, but I don't feel like they are the first one that is called when the world is in danger. And yes, it's more about training new heroes, but from what I can see at the moment, with the two teams, that's sort of gone away a little bit.

But in terms of the book itself, the linking aspect to my crossover obviously is the return of Jade, the fact that's she's brought the bulk of the Starheart with her, after for so long there just being a small part of it on Earth. And the fact that it's corrupted Alan Scott and that Obsidian is a factor in this too. The two superheroes [Jade and Obsidian] represent the light and the darkness within the Starheart and within Alan's powers, so obviously they'll both be a factor in the upcoming crossover in ways that might surprise you. And the finale might surprise you, too. I think, it's a very satisfying ending, but also a slightly unsuspected ending that will occur when all of this finishes. I think fans will be happy.

With the big budget movie in production and the CG animated series just announced, not to mention Geoff Johns' massive story that he's been telling with Hal Jordan since the launch of "Green Lantern: Rebirth," Green Lantern has never been more popular. How much fun are you having putting the spotlight on Alan Scott for a change - the Golden Age Green Lantern? 

It's a lot of fun. I do have this affinity for the Golden Age characters. I love the fact that I get the honor, I guess, after all of the work that has been done with Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps and everything else, I'm the one that gets to clarify the powers and the world of Alan Scott and Jade and Obsidian, which is this somewhat ancillary aspect to the Guardians of Oa.

For readers not familiar with the Starheart, can you give us the Cliff Notes version of the concept?

The Starheart was all of the chaotic and evil energy in the world, and that includes some elements like magic, all of that stuff. So that was all contained by the Guardians of Oa in the Starheart, and it required an equal amount - the fact that I know all of this from memory and say it on the phone while I'm walking the dog is crazy - but it required an equal amount of the Guardians' green energy to contain it. All of this merged together to create the energy of the Starheart, which is part magic, part elemental, part Green Lantern power. It's sort of a bit of everything, and when you have that much of it on Earth, obviously it's going to affect it in a very dramatic way because Earth is a giant elemental orb.

So Alan Scott, prior to this, has had his own way, with an amazing degree of will, to control this chaotic, elemental force and use it for good, but the amount he's had control over, which he thought was the sum total of the Starheart, now he realizes that he has only been controlling a fraction of it, so things are very different for him now. And that's why, for the next five issues, everything is topsy-turvy.

Was Jade a character you wanted to bring back, or did DC kindly request that you make her a part of Justice League of America and, in particular, this storyline?

I did ask to have her come back. I've always liked Jade. I've always been quite a fan. It shifted in a direction where I sort of lost interest in the narrative, but I was a big fan of "Infinity, Inc.," when it first came out. Jerry Ordway was doing the art and everything else. I've always had an affection for her and I've always felt that she's been underwritten.  I mean, sure, she has a history, she's certainly been in enough teams and done enough things and been with Kyle Rayner for a very long time and was even a Green Lantern for a while, but I always felt there was still a lot of potential for her. When she was killed during the Rann-Thanagar War, I felt that it was a waste of the character. And when the idea came about of me having my own kind of "7" characters and doing my own thing with them, her name came up and it just felt like the right person to add to that team.

Is it your plan to stay on both titles post-crossover? 

This storyline is part of a much bigger picture that I have worked out with Mark Bagley and my editor Eddie Berganza that we'll unfold over the next couple of years. So the Starheart and everything about it is just part of what will become a much bigger story as things go down the line. This is just the start. But it's a finite series that has a beginning and an ending to the story.

I was originally staying on "JSA" for #41 and #42, but now - just to give the Justice Society a bit more of a coda - I'm staying for #43 too. At the start, the ending was all in "Justice League of America" #48, and it just felt like the Justice Society didn't get their fair shake at the end.

And then there is a single-issue I'm really excited to write, "Justice League of America" #49, and then we go to #50, which is where another big arc will start. It's another big, epic story involving everything people will want to see in a Justice League story.

I was actually working on a couple of the beats today - I took a break from working on JLA/JSA crossover for a little while, and I was thinking, "Wow. This is a huge story," so I think people will be thrilled by it and you'll see heroes and villains from the DC Universe that you may not expect.  

You mentioned your seven characters, but we haven't talked about two of them yet: Congo Bill and Mikaal Tomas. What does the future hold for this unlikely dynamic duo?

I'll be honest with you, in #49, I was going to do a solo story kind of focusing on them, but at the last minute, because of "Brightest Day," I realized it was probably best to focus on Jade a little bit more. So #49 is going to focus on Donna and Jade as they have an adventure in San Francisco, which is going to be their new home. And it's where I live, so I'm going to be representing the city. And then Bill and Mikaal - my own Blue and Gold - you will absolutely be seeing them in the future. I have a lot of things planned for them and one of the things that I'm having fun doing with Bill is that I am slowly building up his entire life, from being born in 1897 or 1898 to Scottish gamekeepers in Scotland. So that's his heritage, and I've come up with all of these things that he's done in his life. I'm never going to actually list them in chronological order, but over the course of all his appearances, if someone is interested enough, a few years from now you could probably put Bill's life in order from the day he was born until present day. The guy has been around for more than 100 years, so he's lived a hell of a life and he romanced a lot of beautiful women and done all of these things around the world., etc. He lets it slip out in #44 that he spied for the Canadians when he was in Prussia in WWI, and there will be other things that we'll be revealing along the way.

And if you want to know what his voice sounds like, he sort of sounds like a guttural, bestial version of Sean Connery's voice.

"Justice League of America" #46 is on sale June 30.

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