WC10: Spotlight on James Robinson

Sunday afternoon in San Francisco, DC Comics editor Eddie Berganza ("Justice League of America") welcomed the crowd to WonderCon, and introduced James Robinson to loud applause from the crowd.

The discussion began right away with Berganza asking Robinson about the impetus for him becoming the regular writer of "Justice League of America." Originally, Robinson had pitched a spin off Justice League book, featuring a more proactive team, instead of the usual "reactive" superheroics. Time quickly became an issue for the writer, and he realized he would not be able to commit to an ongoing, and that Berganza had the idea to take the opening story and turn it into a limited series, which became "Cry For Justice." Then, as luck would have it, the regular "Justice League of America" title needed a new writer, and by that point, Robinson had the free time to make the commitment.

The writer revealed more behind the scenes information about "Cry For Justice," explaining that originally, DC wanted to get rid of most of their fictional cities (not Metropolis or Gotham obviously). He disagreed with the idea and didn't do it, feeling the fictional cities of the DC Universe should be embraced; they make the fictional world more unique.

Eddie Berganza chimed in that a place like Star City is just a generic Seattle, it's not unique like Metropolis or Opal City. The same can be said for Hub City, the Question's hometown. It was decided in the end that if they were making a big push to make Green Arrow a character to watch, then they should do the same for Star City.

Robinson then discussed his work on the ongoing title, mentioning that he made a mistake putting so many characters on the team at first, "I can't do it like Geoff [Johns] with JSA." He had wanted a mixture of his favorite characters, characters from his "Cry For Justice" series, some "graduates" from the Titans, and some members from the previous lineup. He realized his mistake, and decided to focus on a smaller group of heroes that he considers his "Big 7," especially after most of the members he chose had to leave due to being busy elsewhere (i.e. Mon-El returning to the future, Starfire joining the R.E.B.E.L.S., Green Lantern being busy elsewhere, etc).

The new lineup, he revealed, will be Dick Grayson as Batman, Supergirl, Donna Troy, Jade, Mikaal Tomas as Starman, Congorilla and Jessie Quick. The membership will remain the same for at least the next two years worth of stories.

He elaborated on each character, explaining that Dick and Kara will be the new "World's Finest," as Dick takes on a brotherly role to the young heroine as she struggles with the fallout of "War of the Supermen."

Jade joins the team during the JLA/JSA crossover coming up, and the Starheart (the source of Jade and her father Alan Scott's powers) will play a big role in the "Brightest Day" DC Universe. The writer described the character as "my new Jack Knight." Also, Jade and Donna will become roommates, and will move to San Francisco to work in photography.

In issue #44, Donna will debut a new lasso with its own unique power different than Wonder Woman's golden lasso. The issue will feature the character battling Etrigan the Demon.

Mikaal and Congorilla are the new "Blue and Gold" of the DC Universe, and Robinson mentioned that he has decided to make Congorilla Scottish. "Just picture a giant golden gorilla with Sean Connery's accent." He further described Congorilla as being born in 1898, is the son of a Scottish gamekeeper and was once a member of the IRA.

Jessie Quick will also join the team after the JLA/JSA crossover. He included the character because he was always such a fan of the character's father, Johnny Quick. The writer made sure to mention that he has no plans to upset the marriage between Jessie Quick and Hourman. He promised there would be no cheap plot device to break them up.

While that is the set lineup, other characters and heroes will continue to show up as needed. Dick Grayson is a tactician who is not afraid to call on others for help. Gypsy and Dr. Light were both said to show up again in the title.

Issues #44 and 45 of "Justice League of America" act as a sort of prequel to the JLA/JSA crossover that will take place in issues #46 through 48 of the title as well as two issues of the "Justice Society of America" title. Mark Bagley will be drawing the entire five-issue crossover, including the JSA issues, and will take a break on issue #49 before returning for the double sized #50.

Robinson slyly revealed that there is one character from "Cry For Justice" that everyone assumes is dead, but is actually alive. Mikaal and Congorilla discover this and go off in search of the person. "It is not Lian!" the writer shared.

Dick Grayson will be Batman in the Justice League for the foreseeable future.

James said he has no intention of ever bringing his fan favorite character, Jack Knight, back, but that if he did, it would have to be a big event and not something like the extra/final issue of "Starman" that was recently released.

The upcoming "Shade" series will be 12 issues, but more will come if the need is there. The series will be broken down into three-issue arcs, with every fourth issue a "Times Past." Robinson wants to make sure the first 12 issues are perfect before he tries to continue on with the character in an ongoing. While he couldn't reveal much, he did mention that the artist for the first arc is both highly regarded and an interesting choice that fans might not expect, but he can't say who she is.

There are no current plans to continue his creator owned series, "Leave It to Chance."

"War of Superman" will not end with "everything back in the box." There will be ramifications and fallout from the story, even though a new creative team is coming onboard the Superman books.

The narrative "thought boxes" James has been utilizing in Justice League will stick around, as the writer finds them to be a useful tool in characterizing Dick Grayson as Batman. Bruce Wayne is a determined and focused individual whose thoughts stay on the matter at hand, while Dick can think about other things while in costume.

Photo by Joseph Schell

The writer next explained Congorilla's power set, having decided to give the character a healing factor to make him a more formidable opponent. Also, after "Cry For Justice," the character has the ability to grow larger, especially when he gets emotional. The growing power came about because the artist on "Cry For Justice" accidently drew Congorilla at different sizes in certain panels. "The art was beautiful, but every once in awhile the scale was off; sometimes he was the same height as everyone else and sometimes he was a giant," Robinson explained. The writer likes the power, and likes the idea of a "King Kong-like" Congorilla fighting on the Empire State Building.

Robinson said he has no plans to "pick at the scab that is Donna Troy's origin." He writes the character as "a girl from America with a terrible history of losing her husband and son, a modern American girl with the powers of an Amazon."

Bobo Benetti, the recurring Starman supporting character, will appear in the first arc of the upcoming "Shade" series, and the writer is interested in at least doing a "Bobo Special" one-shot some day.

Lastly, there is a story behind Vixen leaving the Justice League. Originally intended to be told in issue #41, the tale will appear later in the series and explain that the character found out about Freedom Beast's death and went to Africa to take over as the country's protector. She will even start up her own JLA, Justice League of Africa. The writer has the whole team figured out, and they will appear some time after the JSA crossover.

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Tags: dc comics, justice league of america, james robinson, war of the supermen, wondercon2010

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