As fans of the animated series Batman Beyond may know, DC has expanded the universe through its digital-first comics, including a whole new set of heroes and adventures in Justice League Beyond.
The series, written by Derek Fridolfs, recently began a new story arc called "Recruitment Drive" that is introducing futuristic versions of favorite DC heroes, sometimes giving details about their backgrounds that have never been seen before. In the next installment, readers get to meet the Beyond version of The Flash, and this week's issue also introduces a new artist, Jorge Corona.
It's all part of DC's effort to reach new readers through the digital-first "Beyond" comics, which include Justice League Beyond, Superman Beyond and Batman Beyond. The three series rotate new 10-page digital chapters each week on the various DC digital channels, and then are released each month in the Batman Beyond Unlimited collection for print.
Newsarama talked to Fridolfs about what's coming up in Justice League Beyond, including what readers can expect from a future version of The Flash, and got an exclusive look inside tomorrow's issue.Newsarama: How has it been delving into the world of the Justice League Beyond characters? And what's been the best part of working on the series? Derek Fridolfs: It's always fun working in the Beyond Universe. The shows gave us a starting point and blueprint, and it leaves a lot open to expand upon and explore. This is a smaller team dynamic than other versions of the Justice League throughout the comics and animation. So there's a tighter focus on the characters, their history, and how they relate to one another and the world around them.
Nrama: Why do you think this concept, seemingly more than any other animated version, has caught on so well with fans and has continued to entertain?
Fridolfs: Fans, I think, always enjoy the possibilities of what comes next. Storytelling is all about having your characters live, breathe, and grow. And seeing what happened to various characters in the future compared to how we know of them today, is something that usually catches the interest of readers. And with Justice League Beyond, they barely got a fleeting glimpse of them in the Batman Beyond show. So we're getting the chance to explore more with them in the comics.
Nrama: For readers who may just be jumping on board, what's the status of the Justice League Beyond universe and characters right now?Fridolfs: In the Beyond Universe, the Justice League just finished their first large opening arc that pitted them into an end-of-the-world confrontation with the fanatical group Kobra. And they didn't make it through undamaged. The League headquarters was destroyed, people were injured, and some killed. Now they're picking up the pieces and moving on. To build a new base as well as grow the team. I consider this the "Recruitment Drive" arc as they expand out into cities outside of Metropolis and Neo Gotham and see who else is out there.
Nrama: In the next story, what characters will be the focus?
Fridolfs: Superman will take a back seat as he's working on where to build a new Watchtower. So this is a chance to follow the rest of the team. And the League's first stop on their trip is to Central City, which should give a good idea who is coming up next.
Nrama: What will the appearance of The Flash offer to the Justice League Beyond team?
Fridolfs: A chance to stop a very dangerous new villain while getting some fast help.
Nrama: Can you tell us which villain? Or is there more than one villain?Fridolfs: We have a couple of new villains that will appear in "Flashdrive," which I won't spoil here. The readers will learn about them at the same time as the League. As much fun as it is to see what happened to classic rogues, it can be even more advantageous to create new threats to the Beyond Universe.
Nrama: What themes are you exploring in this story?Fridolfs: Oddly enough, the story arc of "Flashdrive" is really all about exploring fandom. The good that can come out of one's love for the legacy of characters. As well as how taking one's passion too far can tip into disastrous circumstances.
Nrama: We've seen a few hints here and there from the Beyond comics that they're tied to the New 52 Universe, although it's been made clear that this is a "possible" future. Will we see more references to things happening now in the DCU comics?
Fridolfs: I've always seen the Beyond Universe as being separate from the current DC New52. I've always used the animated series timeline that started in Batman: The Animated Series all the way through Batman Beyond, as our reference and history. It's always possible that certain things might trickle over as the other writers can pick and choose if there's anything they want to tie-in from stories that happened before. But I generally try to keep everything based on the animated universe.Nrama: As you look ahead, what are your plans and hopes for the series?
Fridolfs: I think the fans have always wondered why the future Justice League is so small. So this "Recruitment Drive" is all about addressing that by expanding the roster. We'll also get a chance to see Green Lantern Kai-Ro's origin and a surprise character that he came across before he became a Lantern. And the return of a very classic hero (in all their forms) in an unexpected way.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans about the series?
Fridolfs: We're extremely happy with those that have followed us from the very beginning. But now is a nice jumping on point for those that are interested in giving us a try. Shorter arcs as we do a little globe-hopping and add new members to the roster.New issues of Justice League Beyond can be found here at comiXology on rotation with Superman and Batman on Saturdays! Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!