Friday, September 6, 2013


To wrap up my experience writing Justice League Beyond, I thought I'd share a peek into the future. The Beyond that I had planned, but would not be.

I think most working writers are hesitant to share untold or unused stories. And they probably should be. Ideas for writers are commodities. We get paid to create them and then they're brought to life. In many cases, if a story idea isn't used, we just file it away. You never know when you might be able to come back to it and use it later in some other fashion (sometimes even for a different company altogether).

When it comes to the stories I was planning for my second year on Justice League Beyond, I don't have that desire to lock 'em away. Some I've kept to myself for personal reasons or possibly to retool later. But most of these are so particular to the Beyond universe, that they just wouldn't be reused anywhere else. They're tied so specifically to that future and to the animated series continuity, that I'm not losing anything by sharing them. Plus I think, it gives you guys a peek behind the curtain to what could've been…


As one of those continuity geeks that likes to remain as true to the source as possible, I was a bit horrified when I saw the team would end up being called the JLB (Justice League Beyond). I figured, sure, you can keep that as the title of the book since it takes place in the Beyond universe. But the future Justice League were never called that in the show (the same reason Terry wasn't called Batman Beyond in the show). It had always been the JLU. It didn't make any sense for this change. But it was one of those things that got added in in print and not part of the script, while introducing all the members of the team. By the time I saw it, it was too late to change, and was considered such a minor thing that they just kept it. But I just knew any hard core fans of these characters might decry it, just as I was a bit unnerved by it. Not a big deal in the long run, but one of those things I felt like shouting, "I didn't do it!"


Fans always wanted to know why Static wasn't on the team, and I always felt that his appearance in the Beyond universe was in a time-travel episode. It could be seen as the future or a possible alternate version of the Beyond future. That's not to say that Static wouldn't be on the team or join the team, but just that he hadn't joined it yet. I kind of imagine I would've gotten around eventually to telling a story with him, but just not in the original outlines I had planned.


I never liked the idea of the Justice League's base being located in Metropolis, or any populated city for that matter. As we know with super villains, they're prone to attacking it, and it just puts a city of innocent civilians at great risk. Aren't they in danger enough as it is? So after proving this point at the end of the "Konstriction" arc by having it destroyed, my plan was to have some time off during the recruitment for new members, for Superman to start construction on the Watchtower away from Earth. The original one was seen as a floating laser, pointed at the Earth in the Justice League show (with many governments not at ease with that). So I thought the New Watchtower would best be built on Earth's moon. To really act as a Watchtower to the galaxy, and Earth's first line of defense for any invading force. While they would have access to a jet shuttle, they'd mainly be using some zeta beam technology to transport back and forth between the Earth to the moon. And while I never got the chance to unveil the New Watchtower, I believe the current version of Justice League Beyond 2.0 had it built on the moon as well. Just one of those coincidences, as I never shared any notes or thoughts with the next people in line to work on the title.


I'm a bit amused by the backlash of the New52 redesign for Lobo, not that I didn't agree with the outcry, but because he was next in line to be recruited into my future Justice League. And had things continued, I would've debuted my visually different version of Lobo before the one that the rest of the DC Universe is seeing now.

A couple things to bring up on this. My version of Lobo wasn't the one that showed up in the Superman Beyond story. As things go, I had already turned in notes and outlines for my story before Superman Beyond got off the ground. Only later did I find out that Lobo was used in that one, which sort of mucked up how I was going to debut him in JLB. Chalk it up to the common occurrence of various creative teams not really knowing what everyone else was doing, as well as outlines and notes turned in in advance getting lost in the process of getting stories out in a timely fashion. When I saw Lobo's Beyond appearance in print, visually I was disappointed. He didn't look very different from how Lobo had always appeared in the comics. For my version, I was looking at playing with his age and appearance some. He still would be the recognizable big bruiser that we know and love from his appearances in Superman TAS and Justice League. But I wanted to show how the years has visually changed him. In my mind's eye, I saw Lobo very much like Ron Perlman's "Clay" in Sons Of Anarchy. Older, shorter hair starting to grey but keeping the black mustache, and wearing a bandana. He'd be a bit paunchier in his midsection. But still a hardened thick brute.

As for the why and how he'd be on the team…I thought he'd be a true wild card. Someone quick to argue and ruffle feathers. Someone in it for himself. But someone whose power would be desperately needed on a team starting to rebuild. That the dangers in the Beyond universe were so great, that they'd feel the need to recruit outside their comfort zone. If you remember, Lobo had tried to join the League in the show, but was turned away. So I thought it only fair that Superman offer it to him this time, and Lobo's as shocked as anyone.

The following is the full pitch outline to the story…


The head of a company that produces death traps, has brought together a group of mercenaries. He's created an ultimate death trap with specs provided to him from an interested private buyer. But the buyer requires the device to be tested on the greatest escape artist of all time.

He turns on a remote view screen behind him, where we see photos of Mister Miracle in action…breaking chains, hanging upside down, and getting out of metal containments. Of course, their target isn't interested in volunteering, so they need to go find and bring him here.

Now we get to see who the bounty hunters are:
LOBO, CURARE, and STALKER (mentioned as being killed in the Batman Beyond: Hush Beyond arc but he can mention "the rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated").

After the head of the company dismisses his mercenaries, he calls his buyer to let him know. On the other end, the buyer (who we won't see yet), has his own hunters he'll be using in secret, for his own agenda. The interested buyer is
THE COLLECTOR, a villain with a history of collecting rare species (at one time, he had captured Superman and Lobo since they were both the last Kryptonian and the last Czarnian; and now he seeks revenge in getting them back). The two hunters he's hired for himself are a mystery woman named MATTIE and BIZARRO (who has an alien dog Krypto that will join him).

We cut to the moon over Earth. The American flag is still floating in the moon's low gravity as it's pole sits firmly in a crater. We get our chance to see the completed new Watchtower on the moon. Inside the Watchtower, we see the League has gathered and we can see more of the facility. Superman, Green Lantern Kai-Ro, Warhawk, Aquagirl, Barda, Mr.Miracle, and Micron are there. Only person absent is Terry/Batman. Some of them might be arriving from Earth by Zeta beam transport; a gift from the Rannians and Adam Strange. There also might be a giant viewscreen where we see Aquagirl trying to track down future League members (we might have headshot photos of new members Captain Marvel and Flash,  but also scouting out other possibilities like Aquaman, Deadman, The Question, etc).

The American flag is knocked down when Lobo and the hunters quietly arrive on the moon. They are able to infiltrate the Watchtower as it's still new and not fully online yet. Curare is able to silently slice an opening for her and Stalker to get into the building. Lobo does a frontal assault with his bike, blowing a hole through a wall. His distraction allows the other two to find and capture Mr.Miracle. Superman and Barda both go out to meet Lobo and fight him. Having a large throw down with both of them delights him to no end. Especially with Barda, who he's smitten with.

Inside the Watchtower, Stalker is able to ambush and take out Aquagirl, Warhawk, and Micron. Curare faces Kai-Ro, who she shares a past with (having grown up with him and the monks). This is the first time he's seen "sister" since then, and the new dark path she went down with dark magic that gave her that blue skin. She was part of an assassin's organization until she killed them off, and now she operates as an independent hunter. Just before defeating him, she removes her mask to show him her true face (still hidden from us), so he realizes who she is, and then knocks him out.

Lobo backs off from fighting as he radios the others to ask if they got the "Miracle Man". The jig is up, as Superman and Barda realize they were set up and distracted. Barda runs to go find her husband. But Superman looks down to find his ankle bit on by an alien dog he's familiar with. And when he looks up, he's knocked out by Bizarro. Mattie Hex also enters the scene.

Lobo tells them that they're too late. They already got the package. So their boss wasted his time hiring some extra hunters. She mentions they don't have the same boss. And then Lobo is shot by Mattie Hex with a tranq dart, making him pass out.

Cut to captured Superman, Lobo, and Mr.Miracle in a room together. Superman and Lobo bicker with one another, arguing why is it every time Lobo shows up there's trouble. Lobo shrugs it off and says it's just business, nothing personal (well…slightly personal). It's possible we can reference Lobo's appearance in the Superman Beyond story.

Superman says it looks like Lobo's employer betrayed him. Lobo says it's his funeral if that's the case, but he thinks it was someone else involved. They wonder why they were after Mr.Miracle. Lobo says they wanted him for some death trap they were building. Miracle says they lied to him. That he gets out of everything (and we see he's already gotten out of the cuffs he was in). I know why they needed me…bait. You both must've been the real catch. Lobo groans. Now he knows who it is.

The door opens and we see the death trap company owner and the private contractor…The Collector. The Owner wants to know what he wants to do with them. Collector says he'll keep the last Kryptonian and Cyzarnian, and the death trap. He doesn't need the other so they can do whatever they want with Miracle.

Miracle says they'd be smart to let him go free. They wouldn't like the alternative. "She has a tendency to come looking for me when I don't call home. My wife isn't the greatest negotiator." Lobo agrees out loud. The Owner decides to keep Miracle. That he should be able to find some buyer for him. The Collector takes the other two to his ship.

When they go to his ship, The Collector says he has a special room for them. The last of their kind. The last Justice League. And we see ALL of the members of the Justice League have been captured. He places them all inside the death trap box he had bought. Lobo says he ain't one of them. He ain't a part of the League. The Collector agrees…no, you definitely aren't. You are free to go. And there's some money for your trouble.

Lobo looks at the guy, after all they've been through in the past, how Lobo was caught and almost killed. That he just expects Lobo to forget all that and to leave. Lobo says, "You know me too well. Money talks, Lobo walks. Cya losers." Lobo hops on his bike and takes off. The League are left prisoner.

Time passes and they're out in deep space. The Collector notices something on radar approaching quickly. Doing his best Han Solo entrance, Lobo has come back to attack the spacecraft (after he's rescued Mr.Miracle, which no one will realize until he's gotten inside the craft). And once again, he plays the distraction while Miracle goes inside and is able to release each of the League from their death trap prison. The spacecraft blows up as the League (protected by Green Lantern) are able to escape. They wonder if Lobo died in the explosion.

Back in the Watchtower, the heroes arrive and begin work on fixing the wall and the security system. Lobo shows up and makes a joke about the hole he made. He also rubs it in that he rescued the entire Justice League. That if it weren't for him, they'd still be prisoners in some sick alien collection. Superman responds by saying if it weren't for him, they wouldn't have been captured in the first place. Or have a hole in their Watchtower wall. Lobo says they're welcome.

Barda approaches him. Lobo's expecting thanks for rescuing her husband. She thanks him the only way she knows how, by punching him in the jaw and yelling thanks by walking away with her husband. Lobo is still smitten as he growls back. "That's a helluva dame. Does she have a sister? Or even a hot mom?"

The rest of the League go back inside the Watchtower, leaving Lobo and Superman alone. Superman gives him a death stare, and says at one time, Lobo wanted to join but they wouldn't allow it. Now Superman extends his hand in a handshake gesture. "Seems I was wrong about you then. And now." Lobo chuckles, "Naw, you were right. But don't make me go all misty eyed in my old age."

Superman starts to walk away as he says, "You're welcome to join the League…" Lobo looks cocky. Superman smiles and finishes his statement as he walks away, "Associate Member". Superman continues, "Don't call us. We'll call you. And thanks."

Lobo steps over to the fallen American flag. Picks it up, and sticks it back into the ground of the moon, knowing he's being watched by Superman.  After Superman leaves, we see the flag pole has been bent a little as one last dig towards Superman, and Lobo flies off on his space bike.

As an Epilogue, we show some sort of space cantina. On the wall are posters and holographic images of various "WANTED" signs and rewards. Some of the aliens have already been caught (maybe even The Collector has a sign on there that is stamped with "DEAD" on it). Our female hunter grabs a sign that shows Lobo's face on it with a reward. Someone behind her asks if she's looking for a job. She says she's always looking. They tell her this is a tough business to be in, and she might not be up for it. She responds that her family has been in this business for generations. and they've done just fine. They ask her name and she tells them. "Name's Mattie…
MATTIE HEX." And that's the stinger we end the story with.


So there ya go.

Lobo would've also gotten himself a Beyond Origin story. One that would show what he'd been up to in the years after his last Justice League appearance through to the Beyond timeline. The battles he'd been in, the people he'd come across, the jobs he'd be hired for, the universes he'd destroyed or saved. A real tour-de-force for the character. For a short origin like this, it would've been fun to get an artist that was known for working on him…maybe a Simon Bisley, or Val Semeiks, or Keith Giffen. It would've been a nice nod back to their work over the years.

In Part 2, I'll be going into more heroes that would join in the "Recruitment Drive" arc. And some other big stories that were planned in various stages.


  1. Aw, sad that you apparently didn't have a story planned for Static. Still, I'm impressed how far in advanced you had these plots thought out.

    1. Static would've eventually happened. I just didn't have anything in mind while setting up the stories I wanted to tell. I don't think it helped once Static's series got cancelled in the New52, and I think it made his fans anxious to see him show up anywhere else.

      And when it comes to working on titles, I generally do try to plot out a year or two worth of stories, if I have them in mind from the outset. A lot of them change along the way, and many don't get made for all sorts of reasons. But I just like to plan things out in advance. Then you can actually set up character arcs and have things pay off as you move along. Less haphazard that way. But then again...also rough if the company wants to interject a crossover or different story. It can throw a wrench into long term planning. So it becomes a balance. Know where you want to go, but leave enough room if you make side trips along the way at a moments notice.