DC's A-list heroes to form 'heart' of relaunched <i>Justice League</i>

Even as filming begins on The Dark Knight Rises and production gears up for Man of Steel, DC Comics appears poised to transform a relaunched Justice League into its flagship title.

The new series, by superstar creators (and DC executives) Geoff Johns and Jim Lee, kicks off a sweeping editorial shakeup that sees the publisher restarting its entire superhero line in September with 52 No. 1 issues that will introduce "a more modern, diverse DC Universe," with many characters sporting changed origins, ages and costumes. It also marks the beginning of same-day digital release for all DC Universe books.

As Comic Book Resources reported late yesterday, the 52 titles are believed to include Superman by Grant Morrison, Hawkman by James Robinson and Philip Tan, Birds of Prey by a writer other than Gail Simone, Green Lantern by Johns, Teen Titans by Fabian Nicieza, Justice Society of America, Wonder Woman that bears little resemblance to J. Michael Straczynski's truncated run, and the previously announced Aquaman by Johns and Ivan Reis. We can likely add to the list the delayed Batwoman by J.H. Williams III, W. Haden Blackman and Amy Reeder (both because the series has been in production for a long time and because DC is reaffirming its commitment to diversity with such characters as Jaime Reyes/Blue Beetle, Cyborg and Kate Kane).

But leading the charge is Justice League -- no "of America" this time, just Justice League -- a title that will feature, at its core, DC's A-list superheroes: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash and Aquaman. The team roster, USA Today reports, will ultimately boast 14 members -- judging from the cover of the first issue, Cyborg, and not Martian Manhunter, will round out the traditional Big Seven -- but the focus will be on those iconic characters. Now with their flipped-up collars, new 'dos and revamped origins.

"The approach is very much about who they are behind the masks and how they interact together and how these personalities mix," Johns told the newspaper. "With the world's greatest superheroes, how does that team actually work? Do they all get along? Being able to pull together and see how that relationship is forged and continues to grow has to be at the heart of that book."

Cyborg, who was very briefly a team member in the current Justice League of America, will apparently play a key role in the relaunched series. "He's a character I really see as the modern-day, 21st-century superhero," Johns said. "He represents all of us in a lot of ways. If we have a cellphone and we're texting on it, we are a cyborg — that's what a cyborg is, using technology as an extension of ourselves."

That appeared to be reinforced on Twitter by Lee, who listed the redesigned Cyborg among his favorite characters to draw.

Given Lee's schedule and track record, doubts immediately surfaced online as to whether the artist can maintain a monthly title. However, Lee seemed to address those questions late yesterday with a tweet: 'Justice League was my favorite book as a DC Comics fan-fave era was the 100 pagers for .60cents w/art by Dick Dillin. I won't f*#k this up."

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