Marc Guggenheim is just a few issues into his run on Justice Society of America, but he's already built several mysteries into the new direction he's taking on the book.
Working with the series regular artist Scott Kolins, Guggenheim has set up a new premise for the work of the Justice Society, all centering around a town called Monument Point.
In the first half of our discussion with the writer, Guggenheim revealed that next month's oversized issue #50 will kick off the next storyline while also beginning a new tone for the book. Several artists will draw stories by Guggenheim for the anniversary issue, which the writer said has an "inspirational" tone.
There are also several new characters joining the team, including the heroes from the now-canceled spin-off title, JSA All-Stars. Among the characters joining the JSA are the brand new heroes, Red Beetle, Darknight and Ri. He has also brought back Jesse Quick's mother in her former role as Liberty Belle.
In this second part of Newsarama's talk with Guggenheim, we turn our attention to what's coming up in the title, including Per Degaton's appearance, the events in issue #50, and what we can expect later in 2011.
Newsarama: Marc, you've used a couple of new villains in the beginning of your run, and yesterday, you told us about some new heroes you're created for this series. Is your hope to introduce new characters along with established heroes and villains? Is it a mix of the two?
Marc Guggenheim: I'm definitely trying to mix the two. One of the things that was part of my mission statement for the book very early on was that I wanted to bring in some new blood on both sides of the protagonist/antagonist equation. I wanted to introduce new villains, and I wanted to introduce some new heroes.
However, starting with Justice Society #50, you'll start to see some old villains coming back into play. I introduced Scythe and Doctor Chaos as new antagonists. But Per Degaton looms incredibly large in the 50th issue.
So the goal has always been to introduce new people, but get to the point where I'm balancing old and new, in terms of both heroes and villains.
Nrama: Per Degaton is a great JSA villain.
Guggenheim: I love Per Degaton, and the reason that came about was that I was working on the 50th issue, and I knew I wanted to bring in a villain who was synonymous with the JSA. Vandal Savage is otherwise spoken for in the DC Universe, but I thought Per Degaton would be great. And I really love him, but I thought he was in need of a little bit of a makeover. So in the 50th issue, we'll introduce a new Per Degaton who I think will take some readers by surprise. So in many ways, Per Degaton will become the embodiment of my old-and-new methodology.
Nrama: When we first talked about Monument Point, you specifically mentioned that the story would explore why this city, what's special about it, and why now? But we haven't gotten the answer to those questions yet. Does this storyline end with that information, or is the mystery behind the importance of Monument Point something you'll be exploring on an ongoing basis?
Guggenheim: The first arc, "Supertown," ends with Issue #49. Then we have Issue #50, which is really designed to be a jumping-on point for new readers, as well as a good old-fashioned, extra-sized anniversary issue. In many respects, issue #50, while tying very neatly into what I'm doing, it's also a good stand-alone issue. It will reflect the general mystery of Monument Point, but that's not the focus in issue #50.
It also begins the second arc, which is "The Secret History of Monument Point." So from that title, you can see the answer to your question. It won't be an ongoing. There will be answers to those questions. But finding those answers will be very important to the next story arc.
Nrama: Solicitations and upcoming covers indicate that the secret may lie beneath the city.
Guggenheim: Correct, yes. I don't want to spoil anything, but that is very much the case. I'm really excited about the way that cover of #52 came out, actually. I look at that cover and think, wow, that's not the typical cover you see in Justice Society. For me, that's exciting, because the goal was to change things up and do the sort of stories you haven't seen in the book before.
Nrama: Let's talk about what's coming up in the next few months, since we've seen the covers. Next week's Justice Society of America #49 finishes up this storyline. And Alan Scott's on the cover. Is that image a spoiler for what will happen to that character within the comic?
Guggenheim: Well, a lot happens in 20 pages. I was just doing the lettering corrections on #49 a couple weeks ago, and I was like, wow, there's a lot that happens in this final issue of the arc.
Obviously, that cover gives some indication of what happened with Alan Scott. After his disappearance, he returns to the book, bigger and better than ever.We see what happens with Scythe in that issue. It's not Scythe's last appearance, although it certainly is the end of the arc that began with issue #44.
And there are all sorts of other surprises nestled in those 20 pages. Anyone who is not liking the trend of decompression in comics these days, I think will be very pleased with how much ground we cover in issue #49.
Nrama: In Justice Society of America #50, you mentioned yesterday that there is a 10-page story drawn by George Pérez, and we know there are other artists on the book. Did you write all the stories?
Guggenheim: Yes. God help me, I wrote all 46 pages of the 46-page 50th issue. And man was it a huge undertaking. I didn't realize what a big undertaking it would be. This is the first full-fledged anniversary issue I've ever written. You know, I wrote on issue #50's or #75's, but nothing that was ever extra-sized. And we put together a package for issue #50 that I'm really, really please with.
Just to tick off the various people contributing, we have George Pérez, Howard Chakin, Tom Derenick, and Freddie Williams. They're all contributing to four different stories that are all interconnected. And they all add up to a 46-page anniversary issue. It's very old school in the fact that it's a good, old-fashioned, 50th special issues.
The main story, which Tom drew, is very self-contained. It walks that line between servicing the mystery of Monument Point, keeping that alive between arcs, but at the same time it's very self-contained and has a beginning, middle, and end. I don't want to encourage anyone to stop reading the book with issue #50, but for those new readers who are interested in just checking the issue out for one issue, it works very well as a one-off.
Nrama: Does the May issue, Justice Society of America #51, concentrate mostly on Doctor Fate in this mysterious realm?
Guggenheim: Well, Doctor Fate and Lightning are a big piece of the issue, but Dr. Mid-Nite, Ri, Jay Garrick, Blue Devil and Green Lantern all have huge roles to play in that issue as well.
So it's by no means focusing on only two characters. I've got too many characters to focus on two, but we will see what's going on with them. It will tell the story of what the final fate of Lightning will be as well as showing Jay Garrick's first day on the job as mayor of Monument Point.
Nrama: What's coming in #52?
Guggenheim: Issue #52, which I'm scripting right now, is a great, fun issue because it has the Challengers of the Unknown, we're exploring the mystery of Monument Point, and it also addresses the question of what caused Mr. Terrific to lose his super-intelligence? We find out what's been going on with him since issue #44, paying off one of our longest running stories. So we Mr. Terrific, then we also have the Challengers of the Unknown, and Dr. Mid-Nite and Stargirl and Jesse Quick and Hourman will also play big roles in that story.
Nrama: What's coming up for the Justice Society beyond that?
Guggenheim: What comes after June really is all about the reveal. You find out in issue #53 and #54 what is under Monument Point, and there are huge repercussions to that revelation. I don't want to spoil too much, because we're already pretty far out when we talk about this part of the story. But the answers to what makes Monument Point important, and what dangers that may entail, will be answered in those issues.