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EXCLUSIVE ART: Gene Ha Illustrates “Justice League” #20

by  in Comic News Comment
EXCLUSIVE ART: Gene Ha Illustrates “Justice League” #20

Next week, DC Comics’ “Justice League” #20 will be welcoming a surprise guest.

The publisher has revealed to CBR News that the single issue story, featuring classic villain Despero and billed as a prelude to the upcoming “Trinity War” crossover, now features art by Gene Ha, who draws pages 1-11 and 18-22, as well as work by Andres Guinaldo, Joe Prado and Rob Hunter on pages 12-17. The issue was previously solicited as being illustrated by regular team of Ivan Reis and Prado.

Ha spoke with CBR News about the issue, explaining that his second “Justice League” fill-in for writer Geoff Johns (after the previous issue #7) is a result of his “Johnny On The Spot” status at DC of late. “I should say that there’s not a real strategy to what books I’ve been working on at DC,” he explained. “I’ve really been pinch hitting depending on what editors need. I don’t feel like I’m part of the greater arc they’re trying to build here so much as they bring me in when they want to bring me in. But I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve done. These are fun, creative stories, and Geoff Johns is just insanely good at constructing stories so that the climax and the twists and turns of what the characters are feeling just line up perfectly. They’re things of beauty that way. I really enjoy drawing his stories.”

With the return of Despero, Ha is getting to stretch some widescreen action muscles he doesn’t always get to use, but the artist is changing his approach in more ways than one. “I definitely enjoy getting some variety in what I get to do. The other thing you’ll notice is that there’s a lot of crosshatching in this, which is something I haven’t been doing lately. I feel like whenever I work on a new book with a different writer — or sometimes just a different issue with the same writer - I tend to reinvent my style to suit what the story wants to do. So when I was drawing Despero, I tried to get that three-dimensional, gradated feel to his muscles. I wanted his face especially to just be bulging out of the page, and it’s been huge fun.”

In CBR’s exclusive preview pages, new Leaguers Firestorm, Element Woman and the Atom go through a trial by fire. “This is is definitely about that,” ha confirmed. “It felt a lot like the kind of stuff I really loved about the very best issues of the ’70s and ’80s Avengers I grew up with. Crazy things can happen, anyone can show up, and then they’re part of the team. You always had a feeling the writers could do horrible things to these people, so there’s a great feeling of excitement and suspense to it all.”

Overall, the artist doesn’t have a list of characters, iconic or obscure, that he’d like to draw. “I’m really quirky this way in that I’ve got writers I really want to work with. Geoff Johns is somebody I wanted to work with for a long time, and if you look at my career, it’s been this history of tracking down writers I love — especially ones I grew up with since I was a kid - and then trying to get a script out of them that I can draw. It doesn’t matter what the character is or specifically what the story is as long as the writer is brilliant and as long as he’s really excited about telling the story. If I always follow that principal, I’ll always have fun.”

As for Ha’s next project, the artist revealed he’s taking a brief break from regular comics work. “At this point, at the end of C2E2 I actually started my sabbatical, and I won’t be working for a while. I’m going to start off by taking some personal time, sharpening up my skills and learning some new ones such as how to use all the stuff on my computer I never learned to use. Then after about two months of that, I’m hoping to start on a creator-owned project — maybe something by Zander Cannon. He’s one of those writers I love working with.”

“Justice League” #20 ships on May 22 from DC Comics.

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