Justice League, the gonzo DC flagship book that burst out of Dark Nights: Metal and Justice League: No Justice, is about a year in now, and this week’s first Annual marks an inflection point heading into its next arcs. As nuts as it has been – and make no mistake about it, the Annual alone has Starman, the Green Lantern Corps, Thanagar and the New Gods teaming up – we had to ask writers Scott Snyder and James Tynion III how they were going to top it in year two. “We’ve got a really big story coming to you and stuff that’s really going to shake our characters to their core. This year is going to be harrowing for our heroes in a way that is going to be delivered by exiting, fun comic books,” said Tynion.
“We’re thinking of calling it ‘War of the Realms,'” added Snyder.
There’s a certain cackling, maniacal glee in Justice League that’s been there since it was a twinkle in Scott Snyder’s eye back in Dark Nights. This is the DC Universe at its wildest – backstory growing willy nilly, continuity being raised and then macheted into component parts, a book so densely packed with new ideas that only a quarter of them are going to be examined on page, with the rest left for other writers to cultivate. And, in case you couldn’t tell from Snyder’s tone, they’re having the time of their lives.
But with that grandeur comes a certain responsibility. “Justice League for me has always been kind of a golden ring book, like the heart and soul of the DCU,” said Snyder. “I knew if I ever got a chance to do it, I just wanted to go big or go home, kind of write the story that I could leave on the table as the least super hero story thing I ever did and be okay with that.”
“The needle that we’re threading is how do we present everything in it’s biggest core iconic form while being considerate towards the continuity and the larger continuity,” Tynion told us. It’s a serious job. Since starting this book, Snyder and Tynion have rewrote the fundamental forces of the universe (adding Still, Sage, and Strength force to the Flash’s Speed Force); added a Lantern spectrum; brought in the most complicated Starman; and overhauled the mythology of Atlantis AND Thanagar.
But for all that change, the Legion of Doom might be what Tynion and Snyder are most happy with. “My favorite thing that we’ve been able to do is tap into a bit more of the mad scientist aspect of Lex Luthor,” said Tynion. “For the breadth of DC history, for the majority of it, Lex Luthor is the most dangerous mind on Earth. He might not be able to beat Superman in a fist fight, but his mind is this terrifying weapon that can bring Superman to heel. Putting [Luthor] in a central role on this Legion of Doom and him driving all of these terrifying events and proving how truly terrifying he is, it’s a thrill.”
For Snyder? “I love writing Jarro.”
“No, I think if there’s an aspect that we’re proudest of I really think it’s…the idea of making Justice League a book again, it doesn’t feel isolated. We always wanted to approach it as something that would be kind of the headquarters and the heart and the emotional kind of core of the DCU. So being able to kind of bring back the Hall of Justice, have the team interact with so many different characters and so that the story is intrinsically linked to so much of the DCU and the DC mythology, I’m very proud of creating a Justice League with James that feels, I think, intrinsically tied to the DCU.”
Co-writing a book is complicated: the only coordination necessary on a solo book is coordination with the artist and editor, but adding a second writer is a second set of eyes, of sensibilities, of pace and style that can break the flow of the narrative, especially in a serialized format. But Tynion and Snyder have been working together for years and are close friends: one could be forgiven for not noticing the division of labor, though it exists. Snyder said “[James is], I think, the best writer I know, but also one of my best friends. It was always like, if we’re going to do this, let’s do it in a way where we can celebrate everything we love together and I’d know that he’ll keep me honest and make sure the story’s as emotional as possible and as big and as daring as possible.”
Tynion said, “When we started having the idea of what we wanted to do for the full year and what we wanted to build here in Justice League…if Scott’s taking the core Justice League track, I would take the Legion of Doom track and then once we reach this point in the story where those points really collide and we see how they all impact each other. That’s what allows a story like the Justice League annual.”
Year two has been pretty meticulously laid out by the team already. “There are hints in issue one in the vision that Martian Manhunter has at the end for stuff that’s going to be the end of the year of 2019,” Snyder told us. “This issue, the annual, as a combination with 16 and 17…introduces the stakes and the heroes really begin the quest, which is going to take them into much more challenging waters with the next issues. We’re trying really hard to make something that only rewards you more and more every issue.” A reminder that starting in March’s issue 19, the League heads to the Sixth Dimension.
Justice League Annual is now on sale. For more on Justice League, the Legion of Doom, the DCU as a whole, or whatever new bananas stuff Snyder and Tynion throw our way, stick with Den of Geek!