This issue was time for the big payoff. All the story built up from our previous issues leading into the final battle between Kobra and the Justice League. Of course, we never expected it to take as long getting here as it has.
Originally when Justice League Beyond was being worked on, a full year before it would debut, the idea was it would be released weekly. We'd actually be able to tell the entire story in 3 months. But this was before the Origins would be added in, and then ending up sharing the title with not just Batman Beyond but Superman Beyond also. A 3 month opening arc battle turned into a year long war. But we're now finally approaching the finish line. And this chapter of the story would be another chance for Dustin to flex his artistic muscles having to draw a range of characters.
A few more observations for this issue…
I always love war room scenarios. The planning that goes into the final confrontation. And especially for this story, I probably owe much of how it plays out to "Return Of The Jedi" (of all things). The idea that there's a war being fought on a few fronts. We have part of the League divided; half sent out to defend the Watchtower from the snake, and other half infiltrating Kobra's base of operations to shut them down. And of course, all being coordinated by those inside the Watchtower itself. That way you sort of build up tension across multiple scenarios, with all of them being crucial, and if any fail…then it all can come crashing down.
This was our little nod to Hal Jordan. It's unsure whether or not Hal is still alive in the Beyond universe. But the idea that he helped inspire a squadron of air force fighters that would homage his name on their aircraft, seemed fitting.
Our big battle wouldn't be as epic if we couldn't bring in as many heroes to help make their last stand. And even with their sketchy history from the animated series along with some mention in our Origin stories, more numbers could definitely be provided if the Green Lantern Corps and the hawks from Thanagar showed up to assist.
I have to say that the one scene that really hinged the most for our entire first JLB story arc, all came down to this. To Terry transforming into the Demon Etrigan. And sort of the interesting history behind it...
When Dustin and I were first in talks to work in the Beyond universe, I had mentioned how we originally pitched for relaunching Batman Beyond. Being overly ambitious, we had come up with about two years worth of loose storylines. I'm of the firm belief of planning ahead. Of knowing as much as you can about where you want to go to build things up accordingly. Most likely, not all the stories would happen, and some could be adjusted and shifted around; even added to. But I thought if we could put in a solid couple years on the title, it would make for a nice run. And part of thinking ahead like this, I also thought if we did one last story before we left the title, we could bring on the Justice League with Terry, and have the New Gods and Darkseid show up, and toss in as many Kirby things as we could. It would make for a nice swan song from the title and would set things up for what they could do next with the stories going forward.
But of course, things changed. No longer were we going to be working on Batman Beyond, or even the proposed Batman Beyond team-up title, but rather launch a Justice League Beyond title. With that in mind, we thought why not start with this big Kirby/Kobra arc. If there's anything I've learned as a writer, is it's best not to wait to tell stories you really want. Because you might not ever get the chance or the timing to do so later. So we went ahead and did this story first, with more ideas for stories growing out of this with the Justice League in mind.
And for some reason during all of this, I always had this image burnt into my head of the Demon being in the story and the wild idea of having him come tearing out of Terry himself. It would be one of those large WTF type moments. And then it was just a matter of finding out how that would work and fit into the story in a logical way. With Etrigan, you never know what to expect; if he'll help or hinder the heroes. And that all still awaits to play out as the story nears its conclusion.