Monday, August 26, 2013


The origin behind the Origins. About midway through working on the first arc for Justice League Beyond, it was decided that it might be worthwhile to do some origin stories for the members of this future League. We wouldn't have to retell Terry/Batman or Superman, since their origins are known enough. But this would be a good chance to showcase the other members, most of whom new readers might be unfamiliar with if they hadn't seen their brief appearance on those few Batman Beyond episodes. The fun thing creatively about this, is most didn't have any backstory established. So it would be a chance to flesh out everyone and give more depth to their character.

I guess the problem, or the challenge, is that this came sort of suddenly. I'm sort of a stickler for planning things out as much in advance as I can. I'm quick enough to roll with the punches if something is sprung on me. But I also think it's more of a benefit to the company as well as the people involved working on these (and to the reader), when we have time to plan it out. When the Beyond Origins were decided upon being placed in-between the ongoing digital issues of JLB, I knew it would be seen as an interruption. Anything shoved in can hurt the flow of an ongoing story, especially one that was being released semi-weekly in small 10 page doses already. Add to the fact that we thought we'd launch as a JLB solo book, then pairing up with Batman Beyond, adding Superman Beyond, and now the Origins…essentially we'd all be vying for space once the "Unlimited" print issues came out. There were times where all four were in the same issue (four separate 10 page stories) and it aggravated not only the fans but I think those of us that worked on it as well. Consistency and momentum is a cherished thing to a reader, so these added hiccups would be unfortunate.

Even though the Origins would be added late, Dustin and I were still well enough ahead of writing JLB that we could try to integrate the stories. In fact, the entire "Konstriction" script was finished by the time Dustin started drawing pages. We could now introduce things in their Origins that we could allude or tie-in to the regular ongoing story. I always love continuity nods like that because it makes the world feel that much larger and integrated. So that is the reason why you get things like…Aquagirl being kidnapped as a child to be raised as a Female Fury (only to symbolically join the Furies when attacking the giant snake on Apokolips later with the Justice League). Helping set up Barda's banishment from her homeworld and why it's that much more painful when she goes back and finds it destroyed. Micron was an athletic football player in high school that always wanted to play quarterback, which he'd get to live out when he'd toss the book controlling the snake in a Hail Mary throw into the Boom Tube "endzone". Just a few of the examples.

After the "Konstriction" opening arc was done, the Origins would continue. And it could be something I could plan for a lot better from the start. The next story arcs would be shorter during the "Recruitment Drive" arcs, and would be a way of introducing new members to the team as well as their Origins that followed. Of course, plans change. And no sooner than I was setting up the origins for the next batch of added characters, that it got decided midway through that they wanted to stop them altogether (I think in an effort to wrap up everything in a clean sweep before they'd head into the relaunch. I just didn't know it at the time). Such is the way things can be.

So contained below are my final thoughts on those Origins that made it and those that didn't. Add to the fact that some of them never did get printed in the comics even though they were released digitally. In sad irony, two of these not only became "Digital First" releases…but "Digital Only" since that's the only current way to read them. I'm hopeful they'll eventually collect them into print in a future trade paperback.


Out of all the newer heroes in the future League, the Green Lantern kid was probably Dustin and my favorite. He was younger, had more tranquil Buddhist leanings, so we could really play that up in forming his backstory. And I just love the real process of how they find the next Dalai Lama. The tradition and ritual aspect of it. The spirituality. It makes it fascinating even before you bring in any superhero aspects to it.

A lot of the things that happened in this story, I have no idea how they came about. I do a lot of free thinking when it comes to story creation. And a lot of ideas seem to just form right out of the ether. Kai-Ro is one of the many Green Lanterns. But that his ring would be the one that John Stewart lost, was a nice way to bring the Origins full circle. It started with John losing the ring and it would end with the ring finding Kai-Ro. Setting that up in advance was a bit of kismet. 

The other thing that came as a bit of surprise was creating an arch-villain for Kai-Ro. That this wouldn't just be his origin story, but that of the villain Curare. I always loved that silent female assassin in the show. Always wondered what her backstory would be. And being able to show these two growing up together would add a bit of tragedy to where each of them ended up apart. Their stories might be my favorite contribution to the mythos behind the characters during my entire run on Justice League Beyond.

Creatively speaking, most of the Origin stories would be a chance to have other artists draw them. But for this one, it was something that Dustin wanted to draw. It didn't hurt that we were both fans of Avatar The Last Airbender and Kai-Ro was it's spiritual predecessor in a way (since his show appearance came out years before Avatar). And at the time we were writing this story, the idea to help his Origin stand out from the rest of the "Konstriction" issues that Dustin was drawing, was he would paint it in watercolor. But the familiar adage of "things change" surfaced again. Batman: Li'l Gotham in the interim got the greenlight and then Dustin was too busy watercoloring that to keep on schedule to do the same here. So instead, he just left Kai-Ro's story in pencil, I inked it, and we got our old "Streets Of Gotham" colorist John Kalisz to reunite with us to color it. It turned out pretty beautiful regardless.

I had a lot of fun working on this new Flash. While I didn't grow up a reader of the character, I know Flash has one of the most adamant and faithful fan bases in comics (in all his incarnations). So more than anything, I wanted to be very respectful to the history of the Flash. It's a legacy based character and that continues even in the Beyond future. And while most of the other Flashes were the result of lab accidents, I liked the idea that there was something special about Dani. That she was able to tap into and see the Speed Force at a young age, and her fandom and appreciation of it would bestow her with its powers when the time came. I also wanted to have her family involved. So many heroes have to keep their identities secret from those they love. But given the work that her father did and how closely her mother was to her, I thought it would be better if they were just as involved in her superhero life to try to be as active participants and help her out. I think it sends a good message that way.

I admit when it comes to the origin of our future Flash, that I was trying to plan in advance. To actually use this story as a setup to her own series if it ever happened. To use television terms…I wrote her origin as a "backdoor pilot". Everything anyone would need to know about the character, could be setup here…her family, the city she lives in, how she developed her powers; even a brand new rogues gallery that could be further exploited. And maybe at some later date, they might develop her into her own title. That would be a lot of fun to see. But I think their plan is to keep the Beyond Universe small. Superman's own title fell to the wayside, and now it's just Batman and Justice League that are continuing. It's too bad.

The acceptance by the fans for our future Flash was the most surprising thing. You hope to write stories that connect with characters that the readers will enjoy. But the support for Dani seemed like an overnight success. The fan art and tumblr postings were very rewarding to see. That a character that only had a very brief appearance in her JLB story and in this Origin had captured the fans hearts. I've included some of the wonderful fan art below. It's nice to know that she'll live on past the brief time I had to work with her.

Art by Kalinina Valeria -      Art by Just -

Art by Flash Beyond co-creator Jorge Corona


This was one I was the most excited about getting to write and turned into my greatest disappointment when it didn't happen. I only hinted at what happened to Billy Batson and Captain Marvel in their JLB story, knowing that I was going to tell it in the Origin. But after completing the Flash Origin was when they pulled the plug, and there was really no room to try to cram it into the "In Gods We Trust" storyline without feeling forced.

In my own mind, I had the origin story planned out that would explain the disaster that happened that was able to merge all the identities into Billy Batson (as well as his sister). That it would be this roulette wheel of powers that could manifest at any given moment…a body timeshare where the heroes (and villain) would have brief moments to appear before reverting back to Billy. It would've been great.

Add to the fact that I planned to have it drawn very retro, just like the character and his early appearances. I thought it would be fun to have a very Sunday newspaper strip style and even dot pixel coloring, to retell the origin of Billy being granted the powers by the Wizard Shazam. And then the final battle with Doctor Sivana that lead to the disaster and transformation into how the character was portrayed in the Beyond universe. I even had an artist already hand selected…Evan "Doc" Shaner. An artist after my own heart that loves the character and could draw in that throwback style. That could finally get his chance to officially draw the original version of the character that we both love. But it just wasn't meant to be. Look at some of the art below that he's done as a fan, and just imagine what could've been...


This was an origin that was brought about late in the process. We had gotten a new editor on JLB, and also at that time, J.T. Krul's Superman Beyond story would feature the Martian Manhunter. There was some talk about doing an origin for him. Of course this is one of the characters who's had his origin portrayed in the comics, so he's not exactly new to the Beyond universe. But it could be an area to play with the continuity, to explain his time in the Justice League Unlimited show and what he'd been up to in the years since that time, leading into the Beyond timeline. While I had come up with a rough outline, it got killed on the vine as soon as all the Origins were abandoned.


  1. I freaked out when I first saw that Curare reveal. That chapter made me curious to see Kai Ro get his own series but sadly that'll probably never happen.

    1. Yeah I thought it would come off as a big surprise for people not expecting her. And there's a lot more that can be explored with Kai-Ro himself, but it'll have to come from the next crew working on the title.

  2. That was my favorite thing about that Brain Trust arc was the increased focus on Kai-Ro and it was adorable seeing him have to handle potential romance with (I presume) Mary.

    1. Being the youngest on the team and most innocent to the group, allowed for writing him experiencing much of the world for the first time. He's a great character willing to explore a lot in the Beyond universe.