Robinson Talks Justice League of America

With convention season upon us (both Wizard World Philadelphia and Charlotte's Heroes Con are running this weekend), it was only a matter of time before publishers started making some major announcements in terms of creative teams, special projects and new titles.

For those counting at home, DC Comics fired the first proverbial shot across the bow yesterday, announcing via its official blog The Source, that Eisner Award-winning writer James Robinson ("Starman," "Superman") and superstar artist Mark Bagley ("Ultimate Spider-Man," "Trinity") were taking the reins of the publisher's flagship title, "Justice League of America," beginning in October.

Robinson's run on the title was over a year in the making. When the British-born writer returned to comics in 2008 after a two-year hiatus, his first project announced was a run on "Superman" that is still ongoing. Shortly after, a second project was announced, entitled simply, "Justice League." The book would serve as a companion book to the bestselling "Justice League of America" series penned by Dwayne McDuffie and would feature Hal Jordan and Oliver Queen leading a team of disillusioned JLAers looking to unleash a new brand of justice on the evil-doers of DCU. The title eventually became the Mauro Cascioli-painted six-issue miniseries, "Justice League: Cry for Justice," that kicks off July 1.

In an exclusive first interview on the subject, Robinson told CBR News that when he was offered the job of writing "Justice League of America," the opportunity to further flesh out the epic tale he was telling in "Cry for Justice" was too great to pass up.

"I was very happy to be writing 'Superman' and being a part of the Superman team, but when the offer came up and they asked whether I was interested in writing 'Justice League of America,' I realized how exciting it would be to fold what happens in 'Cry for Justice' into the 'Justice League' book and sort of continue on from there," explained Robinson.

The superheroes answering the JLA roll call in "Cry for Justice" include Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Green Arrow (Oliver Queen), the Atom (Ray Palmer), Supergirl, Batwoman, Freddy Freeman, Mikaal Tomas and Congorilla.

Robinson said it was too early to reveal who would be filling out his JLA roster but it should be noted that the last time he spoke with CBR News he said of Mikaal Tomas, a supporting character from his 1990s opus "Starman," and Forgotten Hero Congo Bill, "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."

This time around, Robinson was more noncommittal, stating, "I'm not going to reveal who is going to be on the team or anything like that just yet. I think the fun of that is giving the readers some time to find out for themselves."

Beginning June 24, legendary comics writer and editor Len Wein is scripting a four-issue story arc in "Justice League of America." He replaced veteran television writer Dwayne McDuffie, who was fired from the title after issue #33.

"What I'm doing is basically picking up where Len Wein left off, getting the team through the traumatic, incredibly exciting but obviously traumatic events of 'Blackest Night' and then from that I'm going to build a new team comprising of some big names from the DC Universe and... well, pretty much, a lot of big names from the DC Universe," Robinson confirmed.

When asked if there would be any holdovers from "Cry for Justice," Robinson confirmed, "Absolutely. It won't be the exact same team but half of the team will be going into the new book. I'll leave it at that."

Currently, the JLA roster has been reduced to a team of second and even third-tier characters including Black Canary, Green Lantern John Stewart, Vixen, Firestorm, Zatanna and Doctor Light. Plastic Man is expected to join the lineup during Wein's run, too.

Robinson said the membership housecleaning had nothing to do with his anticipated arrival on the series, and was not conducted at his request, effectively giving him a clean slate for a roster makeover. "That is purely happenstance based on things that were going on before I came on. Len Wein is writing a very good four-part series which will be the bridge between Dwayne McDuffie's run on the book and mine, and I'll be picking up from little things that Len has done. They'll be beginning of the through-line that will continue throughout 'Justice League' as the new team is assembled. And it all folds into place around the world of some of the other books, 'Titans' and the 'Superman' books especially."

The writer wouldn't confirm or deny that the Man of Steel would be available for active duty come October when he takes over "Justice League of America," as he may still busy over in Robinson's other series, "Superman: World of New Krypton," which he is co-writing with Greg Rucka. He did say, however, that his work on the "Superman" title will serve him well as he begins his work on another major DCU property.

"When I took on 'Superman' after I'd taken such a long time away, I wasn't sure I was ready," Robinson explained. "And looking back on my first arc of 'Superman' with Atlas, I think I did a few things wrong there that I think I could have done a little better had the gears in my comic book writing mind been working a little better. But from where I started on 'Superman,' I think the book's got better and better, personally. I'm quite proud of that but with 'Justice League of America,' I think I am now more immersed in the lore of the DC Universe. The chains of communication between myself and the Superman writers and Geoff Johns and editors Eddie Berganza and Matt Idelson and Ian Sattler and Dan DiDio are much clearer and we're moving forward, all of us together, in a very clear direction.

"I think I can hit the ground running this time and really start 'Justice League' off with a bang and really give it momentum and make it a book that readers want to see every month."

Robinson closed by saying that he's thrilled to be working on "Justice League of America" with Mark Bagley, an artist known for producing work at an unbelievable pace, as witnessed over the past year on "Trinity" with Kurt Busiek. "In terms of his dynamic artwork and, more importantly, his consistent dynamic artwork, Mark will do a fantastic job and my hope is we will delight the fans who stuck with 'Justice League' for so long."

James Robinson and Mark Bagley's "Justice League of America" begins in October.

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