McDuffie Confirms No "Crisis" For “JLA”

“Final Crisis,” DC Comics’ major status-quo shattering event of 2008, will actually “crossover” into only a handful of titles but one noticeably absent from its auspicious preview, “DC Universe: Zero,” was the publisher’s top-selling book, “Justice League of America.” And while the story in “Justice League of America” #21, on sale May 28, is directly tied to “Final Crisis,” superstar writer Dwayne McDuffie told CBR News after that, the two titles part ways.

McDuffie explained, “It won’t bounce back and forth. 'Final Crisis’ happens in 'Final Crisis.’ And Justice League will continue their adventures in 'Justice League of America.’ The timelines do gel. But you don’t have to figure out where everybody is every five seconds. At some point, [the events of 'Final Crisis’] happened to the Justice League and it will be pretty clear when it happened, relative to the rest of the story, particularly when the story is over.”

When asked how the two stories can run concurrent without crossing over (although it happens all the time in superhero comics) while the Trinity of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman is so prominently featured in each, McDuffie had a simple answer: “I can’t tell you the answer because I can’t tell you what’s going on in 'Final Crisis.’”

McDuffie did admit it was exciting to have two of the so-far-revealed “Final Crisis” villains, Human Flame and Libra, appearing in his book even if it is for just one issue, this month’s “Justice League of America” #21.“It’s a lot of fun. 'Final Crisis’ is a really big story for the DCU, and the Justice League should be involved,” said McDuffie, who added re-introducing the baddies will make a lot of sense.

“You’ll see how those elements tie into the history of Justice League,” the writer said. “And why it really made a lot of sense to set Human Flame up in the 'Justice League of America’ book. I didn’t know anything about the Human Flame until I read the story [in 1959’s 'Dective Comics’ #274]. He only appears one time before this, so I had his whole history. I knew everything about Human Flame after that.”

In the six-page “Detective Comics” story, Human Flame appeared as a two-bit crook named Mike who causes Martian Manhunter some grief while wearing a flame-throwing outfit of his own creation. J’onn J’onzz, rumored to be the first casualty of “Final Crisis,” defeated Mike by tearing up the ground below the criminal and flying Mike into the sky and letting the thin air snuff out the flames.

Libra, originally introduced as the leader of the Injustice Gang in the first volume of “Justice League of America,” issue #111 in 1974, also returns to the DCU proper as a supervillain in “Final Crisis.” McDuffie knew Libra better than Human Flame but did need to have his memory jogged before he wrote the character into “Justice League of America” #21.

“I had read the Libra stories a long time ago. Although, I did have to be reminded when I got the reference and started reading them. I was like, 'Oh, I had these,'” said McDuffie.

Libra’s complete story can be read in the 80-page “DC Universe Special: Justice League of America,” on sale this week.

“Justice League of America” #21 is also the first DC comic book to feature a SIGHTINGS banner. As DCU Executive Editor Dan DiDio explained in an April edition of “DC Nation,” SIGHTINGS books will be “signposts” that mark important stories throughout the DC Universe. “Consider it your GPS of the DCU,” DiDio wrote.

In the story arc that follows, a number of plot threads from his and Brad Meltzer’s earlier run on the series will be tied up. “There are two big things going on simultaneously,” McDuffie said. “First, there’s an attempt to put Red Tornado into his new body that was built for him by several of the robotics geniuses of the DC Universe. Unfortunately, somebody else gets to it first.”

And that somebody is Amazo.

“Amazo is powerful enough to give the JLA a challenge. I don’t have a super-affinity for Amazo, but there was just some plot stuff that was leftover that hasn’t been dealt with and he was one of the threads,” McDuffie explained. “And fortunately, he’s a loose thread that’s good enough to give the whole team a serious workout.

“The second major part of the storyline is what’s going on with Vixen’s powers,” he continued. “We are going to find out exactly what’s going. And I have seen a lot of people guess. And I have seen a lot of people make the same incorrect guess. I think they are going to be surprised.”

McDuffie also confirmed two fan favorites will start taking their regular shifts on monitor duty in the next arc. “Firestorm is back. He’s part of this storyline. And Wally’s back too. He will play a big role. There is a particularly cool super-speed fight between Flash and Amazo.”

The arc will also include some guest appearances, starting right away in #22. “Zatanna is there. And Animal Man will be there but he won’t be getting there until #24, actually. We had to so some shifting around,” said McDuffie, who added that Animal Man’s appearance ties into the Vixen storyline. “I loved the last 'Animal Man’ run. It’s one of my all-time favorites.

“And there’s no way somebody could have the office next to Paul Dini for as long as I did and not love Zatanna. Just the waves coming through the wall were enough,” laughed McDuffie, who worked with Dini on the animated “Justice League” and “Justice League Unlimited.” “It’s actually a lot of fun to work with both of them.”

Asked if Animal Man and Zatanna would be joining the Justice League membership permanently or if the roster would see any other shakeups, McDuffie said, “That answer isn’t the same for everybody. We’ll let you find out in the course of the story, who stays and who goes. And who survives.”

With Barry Allen apparently coming back from the dead in “Final Crisis” and Bruce Wayne apparently resting in peace in “Batman,” the phrase who survives may not be hyperbole.  

When last CBR News spoke with McDuffie, he teased the next arc of “Justice League of America” would feature the Time Stealers -- Ultrahumanite, Despero and Per Degaton -- but due to scheduling and the current arc in “Booster Gold,” that storyline has been dropped.

No worries said McDuffie, because what he now has in store for the super friends is bigger and badder than the trio of Doctor Who wannabes. “I can tease, but I can only tease cruelly in saying that I am going to give the Justice League the biggest challenge they have ever had,” said McDuffie. “They are going to run up against another organization of super-powered beings that are at least as powerful and lots sneakier and meaner.”

Asked if these “super-powered beings” are a collection of classic DCU villains or a band of McDuffie originals, the writer paused and said, “You know what, how do I answer that? I think it will be huge. Obviously, 'Final Crisis’ is going to have ripples effect the Justice League and we are going to be dealing with that and it’s under that kind of enormous pressure that I am going to challenge them a step further.”

McDuffie would love to write a second title for DC but his work as producer on Cartoon Network hit “Ben 10: Alien Force” keeps him very busy.  “I’d absolutely love to [write another DC title]. They have made several really kind offers,” said McDuffie. “But it’s very difficult for me, with the TV work, to do more than one book a month. That said, I do have a couple of limited series that we aren’t ready to announce. But I am really excited about the possibility of doing those.”

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