Interview: Johns and Fabok Go to War in JUSTICE LEAGUE

Darkseid is coming face-to-face with the Justice League for a rematch, but he’s not coming alone. With a host of New Gods and new Amazons in tow, writer Geoff Johns and artist Jason Fabok are delivering an epic adventure in their newest Justice League storyline “Darkseid War.” As #43 arrives tomorrow, Johns and Fabok sat down with Comicosity to share some insight on the characters driving the action, Myrina Black and Mister Miracle in particular, and what it means to be a New God in the DC Universe.

JUSTL_Cv43Matt Santori: In Justice League #43, hitting Wednesday, we finally get a good look at Kalibak and continue to see this “larger-than-life” quality that you’re bringing to the New Gods. How are you going about constructing their presence in the story, textwise and artistically?

Geoff Johns: I don’t have that much experience with the New Gods characters. I hadn’t really even written them. One of the things I love is to focus on characters that aren’t necessarily always at the forefront. Mister Miracle is someone Jay and I talk about a lot. We were looking for somebody from the New Gods’ world to be a bridge between the Justice League and the New Gods.

Ultimately, Scot Free bubbled up to the surface because conceptually, he’s a wonderful character, but the skills, heart, and motivation he embodies is in direct opposition to Darkseid. He represents freedom and free will. And escape. Darkseid is the epitome of  control and the personification of imposing your will on everyone. His will is the only will.

From there, it just kind of expanded. We wanted to give the New Gods this larger-than-life mystical quality, because that’s really what these characters are. We wanted to present them in a way where we weren’t shoving fifteen of them in a single issue. We wanted to roll them out a little slower.

That’s why you see Kalibak for the first time in this issue. We talk about Kalibak, but before you meet Kalibak, we wanted to construct him a bit. And then just give him a moment. A scene where you can get to know the character before you see him on the battlefield.

So, yeah. The goal in diving into the New Gods is not to just re-introduce twenty-five New Gods characters. The goal is to see how we can utilize these characters and present them in the very best light. Mister Miracle, Darkseid, Kanto, Lashina, the Female Furies, Desaad. Kalibak, Steppenwulf. We really want to make sure everybody has the presence these characters deserve.

Justice_League_Vol_2_40_Alex_Garner_Variant_TextlessI don’t think the New Gods can stand next to the other DC Universe characters like every other super-hero or super-villain. There’s something inherently different about who these beings are. And yet, they’re still very human. One of the thematics that we’re tacking is what it means to be a god, and what the definition of a god is. Because a god is not without flaws. And clearly they can be more flawed than most of our human characters.

So, that was our initial approach. And I have fallen in love with these characters. I love the New Gods. I have a whole story that I’m dying to do on Kanto. I don’t know where or when I’ll do it, but these characters lend themselves to so many storytelling avenues. They say so much about us and the world that I think we’re really overjoyed to work with them.

Jason Fabok: From my perspective, the New Gods characters that Kirby designed are so unique and have an original take to them, it’s a lot of fun to tackle them and do little tweaks to their outfits and looks. I’m trying to keep them very classic and looking like the original vision of the character. Mister Miracle was a character that immediately jumped out to me, but even characters like Kanto, who I wasn’t immediately familiar with, I grew to love them. It’s a lot of fun to find your own take on these guys.

MSG: There are so many characters here that are riding that line between god and human, but the Amazon characters like Wonder Woman have always done that. Now we have Myrina Black in the mix as well, with a lot of history in the DC Universe implied by the sequence in last month’s issue.

How much of that are you looking to explore with Myrina and how did you come to develop that?

Justice+League3GJ: Myrina is a very complex character because I truly believe she does what she does in order to fulfill the Amazons’ mission on earth. She was the first one to leave the island and say, “I am not going to live in isolation. I am not going to retreat from Man’s World. There’s work there for us to do and we were created to do this.”

But she’s done it alone, for decades, and experienced a lot of things in this world that have colored her in a different way. She’s also become aware of Darkseid long ago and clearly has a mission and plan to eradicate him from existence. She’ll go to any lengths to do that because ultimately, she believes that is the only way to protect the universe.

And coming from that perspective, the weapon Myrina has created to do that is Grail.

All the adventures she’s had clearly are inspired by the original Wonder Woman’s, if you look at the pieces inside her temple. I wanted to make sure she had a history and that the history is both new and familiar.

MSG: And now with Diana, Myrina, and Grail, you have three different Amazons taking center stage in this title. Jay, how do you link them together thematically, but make them distinct and distinguished from each other on the page?

JF: That’s been a fun thing to explore. With Wonder Woman, I changed up her outfit in the “Amazo Virus” arc. I wanted it to look more Greco-Roman warrior-ish. I wanted to have a sense that she may wear something different when she’s working with the Justice League.

With Grail, I wanted to fuse the look of the Amazon/Wonder Woman together with that of Darkseid, to create something unique that brings both sides together.

And if you notice, in issue #42, there’s a set of armor in Myrina Black’s lair. If you look at this armor, it’s almost like Grail’s outfit is based upon her mother’s. I wanted to give it this sense of tradition, where Myrina would have passed down her warrior armor and look to her daughter as a rite of passage.

I try to tie the universe altogether, which is always great when it works. Each one’s color scheme is different, and you’re going to see that more and more as the series progresses and we show more of Myrina as well.

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MSG: I don’t think it’s a huge spoiler that Scot mentions Big Barda in issue #43. What are each of your thoughts on the character?

GJ: I don’t want to give away what’s going to happen, but suffice to say, Big Barda is obviously a very important character to Mister Miracle. If you love Scot, it’s impossible not to love Barda as well. She has to factor into everything he’s doing, his motivation for everything.

More than anything, Barda gives Mister Miracle hope. Scot’s got a dark, dark history. He did not have a pleasant childhood, and if anything, it was deeply abusive. If anything can be credited for him turning out as he has, it’s not just his innate strength as a God, but also the people around him who helped and supported him. And one of those people is Barda.

JUSTL_Cv44_R1These two supported each other in an environment that said love is impossible. They are the ultimate love story of the New Gods. If you look at the genesis of their love, it happened in the harshest conditions possible, in the worst place possible, among the worst people possible. And yet love sparked. Love exists. It’s a very, very powerful force between those two.

And once again, this shows why Mister Miracle is the ultimate character to go up against Darkseid among the New Gods.

JF: In short, Big Barda has always been one of my favorite looking characters. It ‘s going to be a ton of fun to explore that character.

MSG: So, we’re seeing the impact of Batman taking on Metron’s chair this week — and a few other developments that lead into October’s Justice League: Gods and Men stories. Any final thoughts on what fans can expect coming up?

GJ: Gods and Men is us showing that there are consequences to dealing with the New Gods. There are transformations that happen with our heroes that they are going to struggle with. It’s a big turning point at the apex of the Darkseid War, but there’s a lot more story to come and a lot more twists and turns.

Jay and I talked about this story for over a year, and I’ve been planning it since issue #1. The transformations that will be occurring is really bringing us all the way back to our very first issue. It’s something that will affect the characters and there are some really big changes that come of of the end of it. And it’s all tied into these encounters they have with the New Gods.

We’re just having a great time with the story and really appreciate all the readers for going along for the ride. As long as everyone is enjoying it, we’re having the most fun!

Justice League #43 arrives in comic shops and online tomorrow, Wednesday, August 19, with story by Geoff Johns and pencils/inks from Jason Fabok. This issue also ships with the DC Comics Bombshells variant cover pictured below!

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Cover art by Emanuela Luppachino

 

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