Over the past two days, CBR News has spoken with Eisner Award-winning creator James Robinson about writing "Superman" without the Man of Steel and "World of New Krypton" where he has more Supermen then he knows what to do with.
In this final installment of a three-part series, Robinson talks about his upcoming "Justice League: Cry for Justice" six-part miniseries, featuring art and covers by painter Mauro Cascioli ("The Trials of Shazam").
Driven by the deaths of Batman and Martian Manhunter during "Final Crisis," Green Lantern and Green Arrow assemble a proactive Justice League including Supergirl, Batwoman, The Atom (Ray Palmer), Freddy Freeman, Congorilla and Starman (Mikaal Tomas). The team is poised to finally wipe the smiles of the faces of evil operating within the DC Universe. And Prometheus' face is one of the evilest.
CBR News asked Robinson about his newly formed dream team and what makes this motley crew tick. We also picked up a few odds and sods about a few other projects the writer's working on out the limelight and under the shade.
CBR: "Justice League: Cry for Justice" was first announced as an ongoing series way back in March of 2008 at WizardWorld: Los Angeles. Are you happy it's finally coming out and fans will finally be able to get their hands on this book?
James Robinson: Yes, I am actually. And I'm glad that it's ultimately a six-issue miniseries because I think it makes it more special and unique. The art is gorgeous. The guy is amazing. It's so exciting to see the painted pages when they come in. And the thing about a lot of miniseries is that they might as well be Elseworlds. They have no repercussions to the big picture. No matter how good they are. That's goes for graphic novels too. Very few of them have any resonance beyond the story that they are in. Whereas with this one, it's a gigantic ending, bigger than you can possibly imagine, it's something that will have a ripple effect on the Justice League and to a degree the DC Universe for quite some time.
Was that why the decision was made to change this from an ongoing series to a miniseries?
Working towards a true ending, even though like I said, there are some ripple effects and things will spin out of it, it does make it feel like, especially with this artwork... well, you just can't follow up from this artwork. When you see it, it is so beautiful. It's so beautiful that the idea that it's something that has a beginning and an end just seems to work artistically.
Dwayne McDuffie has taken to the message boards to explain the difficulties of writing "Justice League of America" without the heavy hitters. Now you get to come in and take this really eclectic bunch and tell a big story. Why not just roll this story into "Justice League of America?"
Again, I don't want to say too much but once readers have read the series, they'll see that it was unique and off in its own world enough that it couldn't have been just in "Justice League of America."
Have you already completed the scripts?
I've completed more of it than I have to write. [laughs]
Can you tell us anything about the story?
I feel like you just need to see it. I think telling you anything, there's so many twists and turns, and characters in it. Just wait and hopefully you'll be surprised by it.
The team that you came up with is interesting. You have blended some icons like Green Lantern and Green Arrow with some more obscure characters like Congorilla. Now that you've written it, are you pleased with the team you pulled together?
Very much so. The characters all work in terms of not just how they interact but ultimately, by the end of the story, the roles that they're meant to play in terms of what needs to happen. It's falling into place really nicely. And I'm having a great deal of fun writing the adventures of Mikaal Thomas and Congo Bill, Congorilla.
Those are the more obscure characters. Coming out of "Cry for Justice," do you see larger roles for Mikaal and Congorilla within the DCU?
My hope is that I'll be able to do something with them when this is over, yes. You can never confirm or say for certain anything that's going to happen but it's my hope that I'll get to write them more in the future.
Can you speak a little about the two characters in the book that need no introduction, Green Lantern and Green Arrow?
That relationship is me trying to do my take on the classic Yin and Yang that's Hal and Ollie. It began with Denny O'Neil and when it's good, it's good. As I said a long time ago, I kind of write the dialogue like it's me and Geoff Johns talking to each other. And I still do that. There is a sort of humor to it while at the same time the stakes are very high. And it can be very serious.
When we last spoke, you mentioned you were excited to write Ray Palmer, the Silver Age Atom, because you thought he didn't have much of a personality. Does he a personality now?
Yes. By the end of the book, you'll see his strengths and his weaknesses. At the moment, I defy anybody to tell me what is Ray Palmer's personality? He's the most unlucky-in-love guy ever. And that's about it really. So we have a little bit more of a sense of who he is. And how far he'll go for Justice and that sort of thing. It will make him more of a compelling character.
And what about Freddy Freeman?
You'll see his potential as Shazam realized as the Captain Marvel on Earth. He is a very specific role to play in the story too. You'll see that followed during the course of it.
Will he be referred to as Captain Marvel or Shazam in the series?
Uh. I think that's best left as a surprise.
Rounding out the cast, you have Supergirl and Batwoman. They're not Superman and Batman but what role do they play in the series?
Batwoman is really a bit of an enigma. She really starts to shine in the fifth issue. She's in the periphery of the book for quite a while.
And she's the same Batwoman that Greg Rucka is writing in "Detective Comics?"
Yes, exactly. And Supergirl wants justice. Her father has been killed. She's living this covert life on Earth. She wants help in order to find more of answers surrounding her father's death and that leads her to the Justice League and their quest for justice as things start to come together to a degree.
What you first see with her is not necessarily what you get at the end. So I am looking forward to readers having one perception of her at the start of it and by the end of it, they'll be thinking something completely different.
Does the absence of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman allow some freedom when writing a Justice League story? Or is it a hindrance?
I don't know really. I think it's an honor to write Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. And I think involving them in a big book is a very exciting thing. No, I wouldn't say it's a plus or a minus. It just is what it is. These are the characters I have and I get to write Green Lantern, Green Arrow and The Atom. These are characters I grew up loving. And I also get to re-invent Congorilla and tell a story using one of my "Starman" characters. So to me, it's some of the most fun I've had in a long time. And the art's gorgeous.
"Justice League: Cry for Justice" could be the event book of the year and yet with all the other massive stories DC is putting out, it's kind of slipped under the radar. Is that an enviable position to be in?
I think at the end of it, you'll think, "Wow. This is quite a ride." But I'm more than happy that for now the onus is taken over by "Battle for the Cowl" and "Blackest Night" and all of that stuff. I just want this book to be a pleasant surprise for readers.
Does "Justice League: Cry for Justice" crossover into any other books or maxiseries?
It's such a roller coaster and it takes place over such a short time period that it doesn't really bleed into any other books but it will definitely reverberate into other books by the end of it.
Again, last time we spoke, you mentioned a special Justice Society project you were working on and also something about a possible series featuring The Shade. Are either or both of those projects still in the works?
Well, The Shade appears in the Justice Society book in a supporting role. So yes. But at the moment, with all the Superman stuff, I've gone back to the Justice Society story periodically, and I'm still doing it, but at the moment, I just don't have time to do it. And thankfully, DC has given me kind of an open deadline on it. And then, my goal would be at some point towards the end of the year, doing a Shade miniseries that would explain his origin but again, these are things that can wait.
At the moment, meeting my deadlines, being professional and getting these books out on time is my priority. I'm part of something where we've taken a lot of responsibility and I have to honor that and to be professional and just try to satisfy everyone's needs in terms of this big opus we're doing.
Thanks for your time, James.
Well, thank-you, Jeff. And to the people who do read these books, I really do appreciate it. These books do need your support. And for people buying them, especially in these tough economic times when everyone is watching what they spend their money on, I truly and really do appreciate it.
The 40-page "Justice League: Cry for Justice" #1 goes on sale July 1 from DC Comics.