JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA
Brad Meltzer's Justice League Reader Q&A Answers
22 August 2006 • from Newsarama
Remember, this time around Newsarama picked the ten best questions from our readers and submitted them to Meltzer. And the questions were so good, we cheated and submitted a couple more...
So while you wait for Wednesday to roll around, enjoy the following...
1.) Brad, After Justice League of America #0, which reactions have been most surprising (or scene most misinterpreted) to you? Anything you wished you would have approached differently after publication?
Brad Meltzer: Most surprising is how much love came out for the Detroit Era. I thought I was alone in that, so glad to see it there. Also was thrilled that so many people reacted positively to the “new” Earth scene.
As for misinterpretation: The JLA/JSA shot on that page is not who they’re seeing on that Earth. It’s simply (as many people realized) a photo on the wall – you can see the glass shining if you really look at it. Also, I was surprised there wasn’t much argument that Hal got married last. That’s one of those moments where you realize just how well defined these heroes are.
2.) “StrangeMark,” The main theme of Identity Crisis was that superheroes have families and loved ones too, and that they can be just as important as characters. Given that, how much are we going to be seeing of, for example, Lois Lane, Tim Drake, Connor Hawke, etc during your run, I don't mean as members, or even helping the league in any way, but just being present in the storylines as family members? Or alternatively, will you be focusing just on the League as a league, and leaving the surrounding lives of the characters for their solo books to explore?
Meltzer: There was a great blog a few years back that said each hero is only as good as their “background characters.” (i.e., Superman has so many, so people can attach to that universe; J’onn has so few, so a monthly book for him is much more difficult). To be clear, this isn’t my thought. But it is an interesting concept. Is Ollie more popular now because his clan has been so developed while he was gone? Is Hal so removed and almost aloof for the same reason? All good questions. But as for who’ll be seen, you don’t need to come to the JLA to see Alfred. But for others, watch issue #1. Especially for Red Tornado, this is where the meat’s on the bone.
3) “sagitane,” Families of Superheroes often are overlooked when it comes time for JLA membership. The Batman family, the Superman Family, the Wonder Woman family. Most of the members of the families take a huge backseat to their top tier counterparts (Bats, WW, and Supes). Have you ever thought that the reason they were so overshadowed was because they weren't presented on a top tier team (like only few such as JLA are) as their own character, and instead are still considered "sidekicks" or junior members? Have you ever given thought to taking a member of any of the Big 3's families (whether it be Robin, Batgirl, Batwoman, Nightwing, Superboy, Supergirl, PowerGirl, Steel, Wonder Girl, Donna Troy, etc.) and making them their own hero as a fully recognized member of the JLA.?
Some of these heroes have been on the JLA in the past, but they always seem to be overshadowed by Superman and Batman (in particular). Are there any characters in your roster that you feel you are taking them out of the shadow of a more well-known, larger character? I'm not just talking about the Big 3 here, you can also include any Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Flash analogues - there are plenty of "Jr. Heroes" "Sidekicks" "Derivatives" in the DCU.
Thanks, and I'm looking forward to # 1, and each and every issue thereafter. I have high expectations for this book, but I don’t expect that you'll disappoint.
Meltzer: I think you’re absolutely right here. That being said, even when Nightwing came to the League, as much as I loved it, I was always waiting for the return of Bruce. Still, I think the point is a fair one, which is why a Titan does step up and graduate. (Yes, I know it’s been spoiled by some – but see my note below).
4.) “mrorangesoda,” Mr. Meltzer, Could you take us through the process of selecting the membership of the new league (without giving anything away please)? How do you find the right balance between storytelling potential of a character and their worth to the team power-wise? Were there any characters that you wanted to include for one reason, but had to exclude for another (not an editorial decision)?
Meltzer: Picking “your” League is always a mixture of your brain and your heart. You know you can’t just put in only ego characters that prove you made a mark in history (brain). But you also have to put in characters you love (heart). I picked characters that I honestly believe “belong” in the League. They’ve been around. They’re established. They’re not lower tier in any way. They are the best of the best. But that’s just my opinion. Every character is lower-tier to someone. And top-tier to someone else. In the end, as the writer, there’s really only one reason to pick a character: because you have something to say about them.
When Green Arrow was the first member to join the original League, people I’m sure screamed (though not on any message board). But when the stories unfolded, people were happy. In my mind, the worst chosen characters are the ones that have no story in them. As for your second question, DC gave me everyone I asked for.
5.) “MantaFan,” At the end of Identity Crisis, you quoted Arthur Miller: "An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted."
Many people took that quote to mean you thought that the simplistic stories, childlike innocence, and some would say naiveté that characterized the JLA of the Silver and Bronze Ages needed to give way to a more realistic portrayal of how the members of the JLA would react to threats and challenges, sometimes in an ethically questionable manner.
What quote reflects your feeling about the new "era" that is about to begin for the Justice League under your tenure as writer?
Meltzer: I love this question. And to first address the premise, I still think a few people have misinterpreted the quote. That quote was always meant to cut both ways: that the Silver Age could be examined with a current eye, but also, perhaps more important, that the current age needed to be reexamined with a Silver Age eye (hence the reestablishment of secret IDs, the refocus and re-embracing of the so-called “silly” characters, the loss of Batman’s invulnerability and overall dickish-ness, etc).
One of the clear goals of Identity Crisis was to pull all those Silver Age stories back into continuity, and to acknowledge the glorious past. That doesn’t mean every story has to come in with the (way overused term) “grim and gritty.” But we also shouldn’t let them all be brushed aside either. So, that all being said, the quote for this League (which I almost put in issue #12): “Just because everything is different doesn't mean that everything has changed.” - John F. Kennedy
6.) "Cyphon,” Will we see you use the JLofA as an opportunity to introduce any new heroes of your own creation?
Meltzer: No new heroes. One new villain. Dr. Impossible is coming to kill you.
7.) “Kamandi2,” Since you are going to take a year off from writing comics to write your next book and since you have already written JLofA through issue #12, it means that in a year, when your book is done and you are ready to get back into comics, you could pick up immediately on JLofA # 13 for an un-interrupted run. Is this something you are planning, considering or have been asked to think about or will you have said everything about the JLofA you wanted to say in the first year?
Meltzer: I love math majors. And the best part? He’s a time travel fan. Check out his name. So yes, Kamandi2, totally possible. The problem is, it takes me two years to write a novel. Not one. Sorry, bro – for a moment, even I was convinced I could do it.
8.) "MI Fan,” You commented in the last Q&A that you are on the title for a year. Will all of the plot threads that you bring up be resolved at the end of your run or will your stories have repercussions after you leave the book?
Meltzer: Very fair question. The answer is: the big ones will be answered. But there are a few that will springboard elsewhere.
9.) “cncoyle,” Oh, and speaking of Identity Crisis, can you please set the record straight (again) that Ralph Dibny was not crazy in that final scene in issue #7? Some morons at Talk@ have claimed that he's been looney prior to 52.
Meltzer: It doesn’t matter what I think. It really doesn’t. The beauty of continuity is that it’s open to interpretation. The quilt is being knit from six different angles. That being said, in those final pages of Identity Crisis, Ralph isn’t insane. He’s reaffirmed.
10.) “warbird, ” Brad, When many of us started reading comics in the 70's and early 80's most stories were two parts, with the occasional three-parter (the JLA/JSA crossover summer events being the easiest example) do you think the current trend of 6 and 8-parters makes it harder for new readers to "jump on board" and try new books, especially with books now being driven more strongly by creative teams than ever before? Thanks and I'm looking forward to seeing who makes the line-up. (Personally, I'm crossing my fingers for Vixen and Black Canary.)
Meltzer: Is it harder to jump onboard mid-arc, than with a clean, pristine number #1? Absolutely. That’s how I started reading comics. I read a great chapter and wanted more. But in my opinion, a book isn’t successful simply because it’s 2-parts, or 4-parts, or 12-parts. It’s successful because people are in the comic store raving about it and talking it up to their friends. Page counts can afford to rise and fall. Quality can’t.
Bonus 11 question for the 11th member. Brad, Was the last page of #0 meant to evoke the cover to All-Star Squadron #1 or the “Road to Hollywood” round of American Idol, where the 3 judges stare at a table of pics to see who makes the top 24?
Meltzer: Please, I’ve been planning that shot since I was thirteen. They don’t give you the job unless you love the Squadron. And you’ll see another reference in issue 7.
Bonus 12 for another guest star coming next issue from “JediMaster”
In Justice League of America # 0, we got a glimpse of a possible story involving a second Earth. As an old-school DC fan, would you like to see Earth 2 and the Multi-verse return?
Meltzer: C’mon, cupcake, why else would I write it?
All my trying-to-be-coolness aside, the Justice League of America returns tomorrow. I only wish you could step inside my brain to see how much that fact means to me. So do me this favor: before you read it, don’t run to the message boards and spoil for yourself to see who’s on the team (I know, I know, half of you have -- but for the other half). Read the issue. Digest it. Be thirteen again and let the moment of surprise return. Then run for the boards and spoil away like mutherf***ers!
Most important, thanks to everyone who submitted questions. They were among the most thoughtful and engaging that I’ve seen in a long time, and made me feel proud to be a part of this secret club we all call comics. So turn on the flashlights and put on the decoder rings. The Tornado’s Path begins its spin in 24 hours.