Much like the "Justice League" animated series on Cartoon Network, the comic book companion series "Justice League Adventures" received mixed reviews in it's first year, with a rotating set of writers, and while that same creative mixture remains intact, the second year of both Justice League series has received much more positive feedback. Chronicling the adventures of Earth's mightiest seven heroes, DC Comics' "Justice League Adventures" received a shot in the arm from writer Jason Hall, whose work on issue #20 has drawn acclaim, and will be returning with February's issue #28. Hall spoke to CBR News about his previous work and how it feels to be back with the "Big 7."
"It goes without saying (but I'll say it anyway) that I'm excited to be doing another issue," says the writer of Dark Horse Comics' "Crush." "Editor Steve Wacker was really happy with my first issue (the Psycho Pirate story 'Emotional Baggage' in #20), so he asked me to do another one -- and I was more than happy to oblige!"
There can be no doubt that Hall's positive experience with issue #20 helped contribute to his excitement and apparently, he received praise from all sides and a reprint in the new "Justice League Adventures" digest size collections. "Reader response to 'Emotional Baggage' was great -- and very rewarding. I love hearing what readers think, and many of them left some very nice comments on the Toon Zone and DC message boards, with some readers wishing that the story could be adapted for the JL Animated Series, which I thought was high praise indeed! I've got a bit of a following from the nice folks over at Toon Zone, especially with my 'Animated Universe' stories, and that's certainly neat to see.
"I think readers who are fans of the show and of comics in general like to see solid 'Justice League Adventures' stories that feel as though they matter and are part of the continuity of the show (I know that's what I like to see!). So I try to make sure my stories feel like an actual episode and don't come across like some 'kiddied-up' version. I also think many comic readers enjoy stories that deal with or hint at certain character relationships or storylines established on the show, as well as nods to both past 'Animated Universe' continuity and just DCU continuity in general. And I love that stuff myself. But you also have to make sure the story can be enjoyed by anyone, even those who aren't familiar with the show or past continuity, and I think my two stories so far fit the bill. A solid story is the most important aspect. And then all the references and nods are the icing on the cake for those readers 'in the know' -- and done in a way as to not alienate casual readers. It's always a fun challenge to try to pull that off, but I think I've managed to do it. If you look carefully at the first two pages of 'Emotional Baggage' (#20), you'll see a number of references to 'The Crisis' in the narration (since the Psycho Pirate played such an integral part), as well as visual nods to past 'Animated Universe' continuity (particularly from the Superman cartoon). But if you're a reader who doesn't know anything about that, you don't feel as though you're missing anything. The story itself reads the same either way.
"So all that being said, with #28, I can say that I think any reader is going to be treated to a solid and exciting story -- and fans of the Legion's appearance on the Superman Animated Series, as well as those fans of the LSH in general, are going to have an extra special treat!"
The second season of "Justice League" has seen a growth in episodes featuring a select team of the seven members, battling an updated version of a classic DC foe and this story will be no different, with Hall pulling out all the proverbial stops. "Just as I created an 'Animated Universe' version (and backstory) for the Psycho Pirate in my previous story -- in this one I do the same for the villain Kilg%re. The story deals with both the good and bad sides of technology in society -- and how perhaps the world is becoming too dependent on it. It's actually a topic I feel strongly about -- and it's interesting to write a story where you identify more with the villain than the heroes! (Though that's not to say I agree with the villain's actions...)
"The JL members featured in the story are Flash, GL, Hawkgirl, and Wonder Woman, though Superman and Batman also take part in action. There are specific reasons as to why I chose those characters (some of them having to do with the story and others having to do with The Legion), but readers will have to wait to read the story to find out!"
Many Legion of Superheroes fans are probably hoping their team isn't too marginalized in the story, as their animated appearances are few and far between, the aforementioned "Superman" episode, an issue of "Adventures in the DCU" and a reference in "Justice League Adventures." Rest easy Legion fans, with Jason Hall in charge, the Legion will be front and center! "I've been a huge Legion fan for years. I started reading LSH at the end of the Levitz/Giffen run and immediately went back and got as many back-issues as possible. I really enjoyed all the Levitz/Giffen collaborations and I absolutely loved the Giffen 'adult' Legion series that took place after the '5 Year Gap' (I was the only person at my comic shop who could keep all the story/continuity stuff straight!). I know a lot of people don't like that run on the book, but it's one of my favorites. You really got your money's worth with those stories because they were so dense and involved.
"I enjoyed the Legion's appearance on the Superman Animated Series, but, like many, wanted to see more. So I took it upon myself to make it happen! (Sort of like I did with Nora Fries in my 'Gotham Adventures' story and continuing in my upcoming issue of Batman Adventures). And since we saw Saturn Girl, Chameleon Boy, and Cosmic Boy in the Superman cartoon, I wanted to focus on some of the other members briefly shown on that episode, as well as exploring more of the futuristic world of The Legion. Readers who aren't familiar with the LSH will get a keen introduction to their future world -- and those who are fans of The Legion will have a lot of fun spotting all the nods to the LSH's rich history."
With all this discussion of continuity, logic would seem to dictate that Hall is being kept apprised of upcoming adventures in "Justice League," but reveals that he doesn't know much more than the fans reading this article. "The comic writers don't really know anything about the future plans of the show. It's pretty much up to the editor to keep track of that -- and he'll let you know if something is already being done on the series or if you can't use a particular character or deal with a certain bit of continuity because it's coming up on the cartoon."
A writer does not make a comic alone and joining Hall on "JL Adventures" are Min S. Ku and Ty Templeton. "It's fantastic," he says of his collaboration with the artists. "I'm a huge fan of both of theirs, and I think Ty's inks are really going to compliment Min's fantastic pencils. I can't wait to see the finished artwork. I've seen Min's pencils for the entire issue and they are amazing. I provided a lot of research and links on The Legion for him in the script, and he's done an amazing job of capturing their world in the 'Animated style.' He's also added in a few neat little background character moments in the art that really add to the characterization."
If you want more superhero adventures from the pen of Jason Hall, you'll get that, along with a variety of other high profile projects. "Currently, I've got the Rocket Comics book 'Crush' coming out from Dark Horse, as well as a couple more 'Star Wars Tales' stories. For the DC 'Animated Universe' fans, I've got a follow-up story to my Mr. Freeze tale from 'Gotham Adventures #51' coming up next year in 'Batman Adventures,' which just may feature the long-awaited reunion of... well, that would be telling! It's being drawn by the talented Kelsey Shannon. I also have a short two-part Golden Age Sandman story coming out next year that I'm very excited about (as he's my favorite Golden Age JSA character, and 'Sandman Mystery Theatre' was one of my favorite series of all time). I've seen Eric Wright's artwork for the first part, and it's aces!"
But does that mean more "Justice League Adventures" from the "Pistolwhip" co-creator? "Editor Steve Wacker seems to be very happy with my stories so far, which is always nice to hear, and has told me he definitely wants to work with me on the book again, so I hope to continue to write for the series whenever the opportunity is there," reveals Hall. "I'm a huge fan of the 'Animated Universe' and love getting to dabble in it, and add to it, as much as possible. I've got a number of ideas for future stories. Stay tuned!"