Monday, August 6, 2012

JUSTICE SERVED #4

And this is the issue where things got a little crowded!

When Batman Beyond Unlimited was finally conceived, it would be a split book of stories between Batman Beyond and Justice League Beyond. Superman Beyond also got added. But with this issue comes the "Beyond: Origins" stories. These origins are actually a part of Justice League Beyond, and it's probably easier to think of them that way rather than a fourth title added into the mix. The idea was to have a way to introduce (or reintroduce) the members of the future Justice League. At this point, many of them had only been seen in a couple tv episodes and didn't have much of a backstory. So this was a chance to flesh them out.

Also the way the title is published now, there will always be a 20 page main story (which rotates each issue) followed by two 10 page stories. Since the "Origins" are part of the Justice League Beyond section, and this issue JLB would be the feature story…it was just odd timing that they would come out together. So you'd end up having four 10 page stories this issue. It won't always be this way, but it will happen again as we go along.

And just to stop any assumptions fans might have, that these Origins are placed into the comics as a way to buy time or help out slow artists…it's not the case here. Dustin was finished drawing the entire JLB story before the first issue saw print. That's 120 pages completed, and he was already moving onto other projects (our stint on Batwing for a couple issues, the American Vampire mini, and other work). But the Origins will be a fun way to get to know these characters, and see guest artists draw them.

Now let's get into the stories themselves...


JUSTICE LEAGUE BEYOND

PAGE 3


One of the early discussions that Dustin and I had when we started on the book, was what we could bring to make it our own. Not only honor the past of the shows, but also put a little cool visual stamp on it. So having a new batsuit was one of the things we talked about. Dustin wanted a cape, so it happened. Then it was up to me to find a way to work it into the story. Terry's current Beyond suit had to be damaged, and taking awhile to repair, for him to borrow an earlier version of the suit.


PAGE 4 


We sort of relegated Aquagirl to being the team dispatcher, earlier in the story. That a lot of times, she would take that role and work from the Watchtower, to provide intel for the other members. Part of the juggle of team books, is finding a way or a purpose to use every character in the limited space you have for the story. Not everyone will go into battle or be in every issue. That's how it is in most team books and would be the same here. But we were looking for a reason to have Aquagirl  join the team away from home base when the situation called for it. Of course, this gave us another excuse to redesign the look of a character. We didn't want to just have her in her usual swimsuit. Expand the design of her uniform and toss a trident in her hand, and Aquagirl was ready to go!


With Waller recovering along with Micron in his containment tube, who would be left to monitor the Watchtower when the team leave? Why, "Superman's Pal"…Jimmy Olsen. Even in his older years, Jimmy is one of Superman's last remaining ties to the past and could be counted on to help out in a pinch.


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It's no secret my love for Kirby. And some of the best episodes of Superman:TAS and the Justice League shows featured the New Gods and Apokolips. So I wanted a large enough story that we could tap into those characters, even in the Beyond future timeline. The gods are ageless and would still be around, but in what capacity. And it was a chance to see Dustin draw just about every Kirby DC character I could toss in. Like all these animated stories in comics, I always hear the actors in my mind while writing it. The next few issues would be very "Michael Ironside" centric.



BEYOND ORIGIN: WARHAWK chapter 1

Once we found out we'd be telling the backstories for the future Justice League members, the first story that came to mind was the one that fans of the show have talked about the longest, ever since it was hinted at that Warhawk was the son of John Stewart and Shayera Hol. It would also prove to be the most contested story due to the subject matter.

With all the Origins stories, I wanted to keep a few things in mind. I wanted each of the stories to be narrated by the person it was about. To get their perspective of where they came from and the people they came to be. It would also be a chance to tie-in with the history and continuity of the shows themselves. It was a fine line to walk, as you want to nod back to certain episodes without just spending the entire time recapping what people have already seen. Also a familiar theme of these Origins is telling the story about their parents, as much as it is about their offspring.

There was a lot of ground to cover for Warhawk and his parents, and probably could've used even more space to do the telling of it. But it's the only Origin that gets 2 chapters to tell it. The other Origins will be 1 chapter long.


The relationships between John Stewart, Shayera Hol, and Vixen, were such a huge crux over the course of Justice League shows. And would prove so in this story. Teammates that grew into lovers only to be torn apart by secret agendas and an invasion. I always admired that even for a "kids show", the relationships were handled in a very adult way. People grow, change, move on, but still have conflictions and feelings and history with the people they've been with in their lives. And even though John was now in a relationship with Vixen, and fighting off all talk about possible futures and fate's intervention; you can tell there was still a lot of unresolved feelings towards Shayera. It's the stuff that all good dramas and soap operas engage in.

Watch List:  Justice League "Starcrossed parts 1-3"

 

Of course we all found out who Warkhawk's parents were when it was introduced in "The Once and Future Thing" episodes. So it had to be brought up here as well. Interestingly the other most requested thing I've found talking to fans, is the inclusion of Static. If he'll be brought into Justice League Beyond, since he was featured in these episodes as well as an episode of Static Shock. I always have to mention that those episodes were possible futures within the shows, since time travel was involved and then changed once the characters restored order and returned to their timelines. So at this point in Justice League Beyond, we haven't seen Static yet. If he'll join the team, or if he's out there on his own…remains to be seen.

Watch List:  Justice League Unlimited "The Once and Future Thing parts 1 & 2"
 


When it comes to killing a character, beloved or not, it shouldn't be an easy decision. There will always be shock value attributed to it by the fans, justified or not, or the excuse of it being used to get attention and boost sales. The talk of "fridging" in comics is always a hot button issue relating to deaths of women as a plot device, yet never if a guy is killed in the story. But none of that was in my mind when dealing with the death of Vixen.

Truth be told, as much as I liked the past relationship of John and Shayera, I liked the growing relationship between John and Vixen equally and maybe even more. I loved the fact that Vixen outwardly wasn't fazed or bothered by John's past relationship to Hawkgirl. That she almost relished an open challenge by Shayera for John's affection. That the two girls were teammates and even a sisterly or friendly rivalry between the two. That ultimately, Vixen wasn't threatened that Shayera was still in the picture, because she was comfortable knowing she was currently with John and didn't think Shayera would or could ever get him back. She was well written in the show. The girl's got moxy!

And knowing that John would have to get back together with Shayera for Warhawk to be born, was a lingering doom that would have to be addressed. In life, there could be a nasty break-up, cheating…any number of ways people fall back to past loves. Even an acceptance of characters growing apart and past feelings still lingering could all be used. But I felt for this story, it just wouldn't impact these characters enough. It wouldn't resonate.

Instead, I wanted to go against those notions that he would go back to Shayera willingly. That he actually was steadfast to his notion of thumbing his nose in the face of fate. That he was sticking it out with Vixen not out of spite but out of love. To the point of proposal for marriage. That it was going to happen until she was fatally taken from him.

It's hard to argue that her death on the night she's proposed to doesn't have a very soap operatic or cliched vibe to it. But I never wrote or chose for it to be seen that way. It was always the more tragic focus of what could've been if their lives had continued. And maybe Warhawk would've never been.

10 comments:

  1. I've said it before but I'm a huge fan of Terry's new look, especially the way it looked in flight in today's issue.

    As for the flash back stories featuring Warhawk and Mera I was initially really let down by them. I think it's natural, with the big reveal on Apokolips I just wanted to see more of that so a pause for unrelated character work was agonizing to the point of nearly wanting to tear my hair out. But the content of the stories really on me over and my disappointment vanished completely.

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    1. Dustin did a nice job with Terry's new suit. Love the wingspan of the cape when spread out. The suit will only be temporary at this point, giving Bruce enough time to fix up the other one. But it's fun while it lasted.

      I understand your feelings of how the Origins get fitted into the story. Especially the way the book is printed, sharing the title with the other stories is already staggering things out, but the Origins stagger things out further. Sort of breaks the momentum. But hopefully it gives a temporary breather at times before the main story resumes.

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  2. I also agree with the unfortunate scheduling of the Origins stories. I'd prefer they be in between story arcs rather then in the middle of one. It really hurts the pacing of the main story as it's coming out. Though, I really just wish DC would release the Beyond titles at the same rate as the other digital first titles as opposed to this weird rotation thing they currently have going. I might be biased because this and Batman Beyond are the only digital first titles I keep up with and it's frustrating how relatively seldom they come out.

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    1. The "Konstriction" storyarc was planned as a big one, to help kick off the book. At 120 pages, it's essentially like a 6-issue series. And that's before the Origins were decided later to add into the book. Rather than tacking them on at the end, it was decided to slowly insert them as we went along in order to provide some back story to the characters many might not be familiar with.

      I will say for future arcs following this first one, the origins will be placed better to not interrupt things. Stories will be shorter with Origins following the story I believe.

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  3. I'll certainly miss Terry's new look when it's gone, that is a neat bit of design work.

    I imagine the pacing would be more maddening if I were reading the story in print with a month between each issue, but honestly as I'm digital it was only a minor annoyance, one that was born more of shock than anything else and then quickly dissipated there after.

    I honestly loved reading about Warhawk's early adventures so much that when it was over I wished he had his own Beyond title. I'd never want to come off as a back seat driver, I love what you guys are doing and I'm down for how ever you decide to let the story unfold.

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    1. Yeah I think it was a matter of trying something fun with the design. But still wanting to get back to the original look as well. With Batman being Batman, I'm sure it won't be the last we try some interesting things with his uniform or his gadgets.

      Nice to hear your thoughts on Warhawk. I'm interested to see what people think of the rest of the Origins. A lot of them actually tie into all sorts of character moments in the current and future arcs.

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    2. Ooo, so they'll be more?

      I'd love to see a story featuring Kai-ro, and we know next to nothing about Micron so I imagine he's ripe for storytelling. Any hints as to when we might be seeing the next origin story?

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    3. We still have origins for Barda, Micron, and Kai-Ro. Not sure exactly when each will be coming out, as they'll be spread out over the course of this arc. Kai-Ro will come at the very end. And after "Konstriction" ends, we'll have even more.

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  4. Not sure how I feel about Vixen getting killed off, though I admit the way JLU left off on that left you guys in a corner so I sort of understand why that was done. I did enjoy Aquagirl's origin much more than Warhawk's, mainly because as a guy who watched JLU back in the day I didn't think his origin needed fleshing out, plus I hate to see John Stewart's GL career end on such a sour note. I do really look forward to Kai-Ro's origin. He's my second favorite character in this, after Terry of course.

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    1. No doubt about it, the way things ended with John and the Lanterns was a rough way to go. I imagine very rarely does anyone retire from the Corps on their own accord. It's either through death or having their ring taken away. Same goes for just being a superhero in general. There's hardly ever a happy ending and being able to step away from it all. But I like to think both John and Shayera deserve a chance to build a life together and leave the trials and tribulations behind them. We'll see how things go. It might not be the last we see of them.

      Kai-Ro's origin is tied in with a couple people in the Beyond universe. I look forward to seeing what people think once it comes out. He's definitely a fun character to write, as he's still seeing the rest of the world through child's eyes for the first time.

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