It's getting hard to imagine an epic, multi-character battle written by Geoff Johns without also envisioning images of Ivan Reis artwork to go with it.
The two have been working together on various projects since 2006, when the Brazilian artist took over Green Lantern with issue #10. He and Johns guided the comic through the popular 2007 storyline "Sinestro Corps War," then collaborated on the DC-wide event Blackest Night in 2009-2010.
The penciler started drawing comics professionally when he was only 14 in his home country of Brazil. Five years later, he debuted in American comics with Ghost for Dark Horse. Over his career, he's worked on comics for various publishers, including Marvel and DC, but really caught the attention of fans with the epic space battles he drew in the DC mini-series Rann-Thanagar War in 2005.Exclusive interior pages After helping launch Johns' new Aquaman comic last year, Reis and his inker Joe Prado took over Justice League last month from former artist Jim Lee. And for his first arc, he's transitioning between the style he used on Aquaman to a new style for the team comic.
"Right now, I'm wrapping up my first arc, 'Throne of Atlantis,' and it's a direct follow-up from the events on Aquaman, but now dealing with a more expanded universe and cast of characters," Reis told Newsarama. "It's a mix between Lord of The Rings and Clone Wars for me.
"On our second arc, it'll be completely different," he said. "The story will have a different focus other than just Aquaman's story. But I'll know for sure what I'm going to do once I have the scripts in my hands. Justice League is just an awesome and iconic book. The possibilities are just endless."
The artist told Newsarama he learned his style with classic schooling, so it adapts to different characters. But he jokingly said he has a couple other secrets up his sleeve when he's drawing: "My secret technique is to whistle movie themes while I draw!" he laughed, "and make sound effects of the battles while I draw them!"
Replacing Jim Lee didn't seem to intimidate Reis, even though he admitted his style is a different. "I think I have a cleaner style than Jim has," he said. "And I hope I can keep up the level of energy he brings to the pages."
One of the first interviews Newsarama conducted with Reis was just after he drew Green Lantern #25 — in the midst of "Sinestro Corps War" — which had more characters than he'd ever drawn in a single issue.How does drawing Justice League compare?
"This arc is a kind of like Green Lantern #25." This is my second 'Sinestro War' and I'm not getting any younger," he laughed. "But now I'm more experienced with layouts and storytelling. But the body feels it sometimes."
He said working on a team book like Justice League "isn't so different than working with the Green Lantern universe and the corps, or with Aquaman and the Others."
However, the artist said "you have more responsibility with the book. It is an iconic team. The challenge has been to find a different language for each character and keep them working together graphically."
So what are those languages for the various characters?
"[Superman and Wonder Woman] are, for me, the definition of being iconic superheroes, and examples of what is to be a superhero and being almost God-like beautiful and powerful," he said. " Bottom line, I always try to show them as iconic as I can. And while they are interacting I always try to contrast the god-like features they have with very human emotions.
"Batman always had different versions over the years and it is not the details or designs of his uniform that define the character," he said. "You just need to draw Batman being Batman. The mystery the character evokes and shadows will always be part of his universe and I try use this on my pages."On the other hand, Reis said that he likes to draw Cyborg with "more humanized body, less heavy."
"It is an attempt of him in being more human. He has control over his body so that he can change it for a 'battle mode' as Jim Lee did," Reis said. "I'm going for a more 'humanized' type of body for him, instead of making him bulkier and heavy. It's my idea to make him more human, and make him blend more with mankind. He has control of what his body can look like, so he can choose when to go 'Battle-Mode on!'"
Reis said he "can't wait" for the opportunity to work with Shazam. "I love the character and I'll try to do my best," he said. And he hasn't gotten to draw The Flash, who's absent from this story.
The artist said he's thrilled to be on the title, because "working with the Justice League is like a nerd dream: You can draw the most popular superheroes in the world at the same time in the same book," he said, but added that it's been a challenge "keeping up with the deadlines and the quality a book like this deserves. Those are the major challenges for me."But Reis said the challenges are made easier by his creative team. "Joe [Prado] is a huge friend and a great artist in his own right," he said. "We talk every day about the book and about how we can improve our work. His textures and his delicate linework elevates my work to a level of refinement that is awesome! And at the same time, he makes my style look really modern, with bits of old school techniques.
"And we can't forget Rod Reis, another great friend. His colors on Aquaman were awesome, but now on Justice League, they are just gorgeous. All of us always try to find the best solutions to make Geoff¹s story a great experience for everyone involved — us artists and the fans!
The artist also gives a lot of credit to the scripts from Johns, whom he's been collaborating with for almost seven years now. Why does he think they work so well together? "I think it is because we are both huge fans of comics and these characters we've worked together over the years and we have the same level of energy and excitement while working together," he said. "We have tons of fun during the creative process, and we are always concerned in the experience the fan will have while reading the book."