Friday, April 26, 2013



My approach for Justice League Beyond was always two-fold…to revisit and see familiar DC characters (either from the shows or the comics) and what they were up to in the future. But also, to start creating new characters in this future world. The Beyond universe, maybe even more so than any current DC universe, was wildly open to invention. To do what our job title implies…to be a comic book CREATOR.

Since I wouldn't be able to use Solomon Grundy as my villain for this story, it really gave me a chance to go back to the drawing board and invent someone new. And I always saw this "Flashdrive" story as being one centered around the idea of fandom and how that affects people differently. Our new female Flash would become the ultimate fan. A torchbearer towards the legacy of all the Flashes that came before her. To the point where she'd work in a museum dedicated to that hero. And on the flip side of that, we have Mindslide. Someone consumed with the pursuit of the fame and celebrity that surrounded super heroes and villains. And in the end, his new ability would allow him to collect all of their powers and be an enormous threat. Fandom gone bad.

The silly side of me also looks at character creation much like a kid would. Come up with a crazy name and draw something cool. To just have fun with the concept of creating a villain, and not feel so mired in the dark seriousness in comics. That's done wonders for Dustin and I having fun doing Batman: Li'l Gotham. And I'd use that same frame of mind when coming up with the other villain in our "Flashdrive" story…Rigor Morris. It's a curse made abundantly clear to the reading audience, my love for bad puns or play-on-words. But also I feel, when thinking up a rival to go against your hero, you try to find a new approach or a way to test the hero. Having this undead villain's powers actually literally stiffen his competition, would be a huge problem to any hero (especially one that relies on speed as their power).

One more thing to discuss was my choice to revisit "The Return Of The Joker" movie. I believe I've said it before on my blog, but it remains probably my favorite animated film that DC/WB has put out. How they were able to essentially do the last Joker story in the animated continuity in flashback, in-between the Beyond storyline of the film. Extremely dark to the point where they had to animate an alternate version of the movie for release, due to the pressures surrounding world events at that time (the Columbine shooting if I remember correctly). I still remember back in those days, having ties to someone that worked in a video rental store. These rental outlets would get advance copies of movies they'd rent before they'd get distributed and sold to the buying market. And they had the uncensored original version on vhs tape before WB decided to censor it. I was able to get that store copy to see it, and it just burned into my mind how well written and composed that flashback was. The idea they'd be able to go darker than they could in any tv show, without fear of needing to continue from that point on. To really have Joker find out Batman's true identity, the torture of Robin, and the death of the Joker. Brutal stuff. And being such a huge fan of that movie, you never think you'd ever get a chance to homage it. To do a story that plays in the aftermath of that moment, ever so briefly. To indulge your inner fanboy. And then how that would tie into the Beyond universe…how that incident would help set the path for how Barbara Gordon would quit being Batgirl to end up as the Commissioner. And how dead villains would be dealt with in the animated universe.

Yep…pure fanboy indulgence on my part.

Come back for Part 3, where I wrap things up by talking about our new female Flash. How she came about, her past history, and what lies in her future.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


After the way the first Justice League Beyond story arc "Konstriction" was stretched out due to the way it would be released, I knew right away I wanted to change things up with the direction of the stories immediately following. I wanted shorter stories of three chapters each, that could essentially be done-in-one type issues. It would be both a shot in the arm to make it easier for new readers to jump on board, as well as allow us to move around the Beyond universe quicker.

Also the idea behind it all was that I wanted to expand the team roster. The future Justice League was so small in comparison to the Justice League Unlimited show as well as any of the comics. For this future League to thrive, they would need to start adding members. So we'd start an open ended "Recruitment Drive" plan to start touring the Beyond universe, outside of Neo Gotham and Metropolis. To see what else and who else was out there.

Stories change and adapt over time. It's one of the interesting processes of working in comics, especially ones ahead of schedule, before they arrive online or in print. Not long after JLB was pitched, I was already starting to develop the next stories after "Konstriction"; pitching those even before Superman Beyond became a reality and joined the lineup in Batman Beyond Unlimited. When it came time for this "Flashdrive" story to be worked on, the villain in my initial pitch was already involved in Superman Beyond. It sort of threw me for a loop, as I try to allow myself enough time to plan stuff out in advance. Whether it just got forgotten up the editorial ladder or they decided to use the villain in a separate way than what I had planned, it meant getting rid of the idea and starting over from scratch.

My initial idea was to provide the new Flash with her main nemesis in Central City. To have her own sort of Lex Luthor type rival, who would provide the city with a lot of business and future technology. My initial pitch outline described it:

The main threat in town is King Solomon whose golden building towers over the landscape of the city. Sol and his forces have a stranglehold on the city. Imagine Capone's mafia run Chicago, except the prohibition of this time is for technology. Sol controls all technology that enters the city, and his mobsters might look like throwbacks to an earlier era, but their future tech laser tommy guns say otherwise. With Intergang trying to establish themselves in this area outside of Metropolis, we have a growing gang war problem that threatens the city. And one that Flash has been having trouble trying to keep the peace.

The reveal was that King Solomon was actually Solomon Grundy. His ability to come back from death over the years would provide him with experience and ties to the past. And this Grundy would be well spoken and competent, unlike the previous versions of the character. Only when he'd start to get angry, would he Hulk-Out into the Grundy we're all familiar with.

To add to the fun, Sol also had an older Consigliere as his right hand advisor. A man that went by the name "O'Brien", who dressed fashionably in his old age (slicked back white hair, tailored white suit with front pocket red handkerchief). If it wasn't already noticeable, we'd find out this is none other than Eel O'Brien, the original Plastic Man. He had always started out in a life of crime before he got his powers and turned legit. We'd be able to explain, either in the story or in an Origin special, that O'Brien had fallen on hard times, ditched his hero persona, and went back to his old ways falling in with bad people. But by the end of the story, the heart of a hero would emerge and he'd help the League take down Grundy.

But once Grundy was being used in the Superman Beyond story, it threw a wrench into my story. I'd ditch both Grundy and Plastic Man, and have to start over. It was recommended I might make Grodd the villain and shift the theme to ape mobsters, but I decided against that as well (I'd end up using apes in the story in a different way).
Come back for Part 2, where I'll dive into the creation of new villains as well as ties to the past revisiting the aftermath of the "Return Of The Joker" movie in relation to our story.