Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Something's been on my mind lately that I feel I'd like to address, concerning how the stories have been coming out digitally and then collected into print. I've probably brought it up in the past, but I figure it bears repeating. Or it's just an itch I feel the need to keep scratching.

Initially when Justice League Beyond was pitched and being worked on, it was its own separate project. It would be coming out digitally on a weekly basis. It would need a lot of lead time by us to get as much done as possible, which is why after Dustin and I wrapped up our work on Streets Of Gotham and Batgirl, we were almost gone from the comic racks for about a year as we dove right into JLB. It's also why I wanted a large story to kick things off.

At one time, we weren't sure what version of Beyond we'd be working on (a relaunched Batman Beyond, a Batman Beyond team-up title, or Justice League Beyond), so we wrote up an outline of stories that might carry us for a year or two mainly with Batman. Back when it wasn't a Justice League title, I thought to cap off our run, we could have a big story where the League and a lot of New Gods/Apokolips stuff came into. But when we found out we'd be doing the League book, it seemed right to lead-off with that big story and grow from there.

What we didn't know was how things would change for the release. Instead of JLB released every week, it would come out twice or once a month. And when collected into print, it would get grouped with Batman Beyond at first, and expanded with Superman Beyond as well. And the Beyond: Origins idea was brought into the mix after our whole "Konstriction" first arc scripts were in. So it took some wiggle room to see how each Origin might fit in with the main story when it could, as well as being their own separate thing as well. What should have been a 6 issue first arc story that would be done in 3 months (at 10 pages a week for 40 pages a month), was now being stretched out for over a year to tell the whole thing, including all the Origins and all the other stories.

On the one hand, it's pretty cool that the print edition gives the fans more bang for their buck than most every other comic out there. 40 pages of story every month for four bucks is a bargain in today's comic market. But I also feel the pain for those that feel like the stories are really being stretched out. What might've been read quickly with all the flashbacks and history backstory that was being built early into the book for the League part of it, now seems like it's dragging to finally get to the conflict and giant battles that are still to come. I think had I known what the eventual release setup would've been, then it might've changed how to present the story. But I'm thankful for those that have been reading them digital and in print. I never take the audience for granted and am happy for those joining us.

This chapter, maybe more than most, turned into a lot of fun homages, influences, and references to the shows and other stories. Right from the opening page when Darkseid's identity is revealed to the League, I definitely wanted the reaction by Superman to be much like Han Solo reacted to seeing Vader on Cloud City…immediately shooting at the enemy (even having Darkseid block the initial shot with his hand). I always loved in the animated series whenever Superman tussled with Darkseid, that his heat vision wasn't always effective. Usually it depended on how much Supes poured it on at any given moment.

Although I've never seen it brought up, I always wondered if readers would find it believable for Darkseid being able to disguise himself as Orion? How was Superman not able to see through the helmet and know it was him?  I guess my answer always refers back to artistic license. I like to think Superman and the team had other concerns on their mind with the shock of seeing the destruction of New Genesis up close, that he didn't even think about seeing if Orion was who he appeared to be. Maybe even the inside of Orion's helmet was lead-lined as well. Sometimes you just have to not be a stickler for details and go with the drama of the moment.

Orion taking over as the the High Lord Of Apokolips would definitely be a nod towards Kingdom Come. I always liked that Alex Ross and Mark Waid had Orion assume the throne there. And I figure in the condition that Darkseid is in for our story, it wouldn't be much of a stretch that he would step up to the challenge here. Definitely gives a darker vibe to the character ending up back with the father that once gave him up (and the darker color to his clothes adds to that as well).

Last we saw Darkseid was at the very end of the Justice League Unlimited series. This was a chance to see what became of him from that time until his appearance here in the Beyond timeline. Plus a chance to see Dustin draw Supes in his red and blues and Darkseid in that redesigned look at the end of the series.

Watch List:  Justice League Unlimited series finale "Destroyer" Part 2 

There's something about a blind Darkseid that makes him just as wicked. Even without his omega beam powers, just the idea that he was able to finally experience the Anti-Life Equation and come out the other side affected by it…that he's still considered a huge threat. That his deliciously evil nature, even blind, can be just as fearsome as any power that once could be shot from his eyes.

The vision of Darkseid's ultimate defeat at the hands of Orion, would be a bit of an homage to Jack Kirby's art used for a house ad for the New Gods.

When Barda was placed in charge of the Furies, the very group she was once a part of before she turned traitor to them, it was an excuse to set up a whole group of girls going into battle together (including Aquagirl). Little did I know at that time that it would also tie-in with Aquagirl's backstory in her Origin. Sometimes, happy accidents like that occur.
Welcome back Bekka!  /  Dustin's original Bekka design for "Torment"
Having Orion's wife, Bekka, show up in this story…I've got to compliment Dustin for that idea. I actually remember the moment it happened too (just to give an idea the point in time we were working on this). I had come down to visit Dustin and hang out. Usually the only time I'm in town to see him is if we're heading off to a convention together. But this was a few months before Wildstorm was set to close in La Jolla, and a chance for both of us to go down and visit them and talk to the editors. We were gassing up Dustin's car before heading down there, and just tossing ideas around for the script. And since the chapter we were working on had to do with Orion and Apokolips, he was the one to bring up Bekka showing up. And wouldn't it be funny if she mistook Terry for Bruce.

This all goes back to my first work at DC a number of years ago, when Dustin was able to bring me on to ink the "Torment" story in the Superman/Batman arc written by Alan Burnett (producer/writer of many of the DC animated series). It seemed kind of fitting to have her show up in our story, as a nice nod back to that story. Probably confusing to anyone that hadn't read the "Torment" arc, but pretty cool for those that had. And a way to have a bit of fun tossed at Bruce's expense with Terry ribbing the old man for all the women he's been romantically entangled with over the years.

It's been so cool as a fan watching all the animated shows, to get to work on stories written by Dini and Burnett, and now get the chance to play in that animated sandbox in the comic. I never forget how lucky and fun this can be.


  1. Man, this is a serious case of, "What Could have been!". I don't mind the pacing so far, but to be able to get a chapter a week? That would be amazing!

    1. Yeah I'm not sure how it would've turned out in the long run. If we would've had a break of a few months after each arc to build up some lead time for the next arc, or have different artists or what. But I know it was a daunting idea that we were up to the challenge. It just never happened. I've said it before, but Dustin was done drawing the entire 120 page first arc by the time the first chapter shipped. I think I was done inking it all by the release of the second or third chapter.

  2. I've said it before and I'll say it again, that's a crazy amount of prep work!

    The passion and dedication you guys have for the material is really impressive and I think it really shows in the finished product. I don't you guys get enough attention for just how solid this book is, it's consistently one of my favorite reads and I hope you never stop working on it.

    1. Glad you're enjoying it. Still many stories and ideas being worked on. Should be an exciting 2013!

  3. Yeah, I totally caught that shout out to the "Torment" arc. That was by far my favorite scene in the arc so far.

    1. Yep guilty on all charges for that one. A few more interesting additions yet to show up.