The DC Universe is a dangerous place to be, from alien invasions to psychotic criminals and the ever-present danger of sinister magic. Thankfully for the denizens of the DCU, there’s Justice League Dark. But in Justice League Dark #19 coming on April 24th, the team can’t defend the world because they’re fighting for their own lives when their headquarters, the fabled House of Mystery, is under attack.
Luckily, they have some friends in the unlikely duo of Swamp Thing and the Flash.
Revealed earlier this week in a gatefold cover for the issue, the Flash and Swamp Thing are swooping in to help the team. But the real question is this: what kind of threat is too big for John Constantine, Madame Xanadu, Zatanna, Frankenstein and the rest of the team to handle? And what happens when John Constantine crosses paths with Swamp Thing for the first time in the “New 52” era?
Newsarama spoke with Ray Fawkes about his and co-writer Jeff Lemire’s plans for Justice League Dark, the threat sitting on their doorstep, and the state of magic in the DC and the crux of the series itself.
Newsarama: I couldn’t start without asking about that shocking gatefold cover DC just released for Justice League Dark #19, with not one but two guest stars – Swamp Thing and the Flash. What’s going on in this issue?
Ray Fawkes: There’s a problem of epic proportions that’s hitting the team where they live, quite literally. Swamp Thing is called on to help him because they think he in particular has the skills necessary.
The Flash comes into the picture because he’s the kind of guy that if he sees trouble, he naturally lends a hand; they’re heroes like him, even if they’re weird.And for our team, this situation is something so big, something so bad, that anyone who can help is welcome.
Nrama: I see you purposefully dancing around the who or what this threat is that’s taking hold of the team’s headquarters, the House of Mystery. Can you give us any clues as to who or what it is?
Fawkes: It’s a villain who Justice League Dark may not have met yet, but he knows them very well. This villain is going to take advantage of a couple of the team’s bigger weaknesses, which the team themselves haven’t really addressed or even thought of yet. The threat is going to turn a lot of their powers around and take control, bringing big trouble to them. We’re talking Godzilla movie-scale events here. If the team loses control, millions of lives are in the balance.
Nrama: I have to ask about Swamp Thing; he’s one of the key faces we surprisingly haven’t seen in this magic-oriented book before now. What is Swamp Thing’s role in this, and is he someone you and Jeff have been wanting to bring in fro awhile now?
Fawkes: Jeff and I have a little list of characters who would make sense in Justice League Dark, but it’s not like we go down the list and a make a story to fit. The story comes first and it comes to mind that maybe a certain character might be right for this; for the events in Justice League Dark #19, Swamp Thing is especially apt in dealing with this.
Madame Xanadu, John Constantine and Zatanna will look at any given problem they face, and they know it’ll be easier if you have something available to specifically combat that.
Nrama Constantine and Swamp Thing had a long history pre-“New 52;” what’s their relationship like here in Justice League Dark?
Fawkes: Well, this is the first time they’re meeting in the “New 52;” while they have a long history in comics, for this iteration this is brand new for them.John Constantine first appeared in comics inside Swamp Thing’s book, and what’s always been so entertaining is that while Swamp Thing is a more earnest, good-hearted guy, Constantine is a lot muddier. They’ve always had a semi-antagonistic, semi-beneficial relationship. Constantine may act a little less serious than Swamp Thing wants, and likewise Swamp Thing is a little too grounded and concerned than Constantine usually is.
Nrama: And with the Flash, so comes the attention of the Justice League I imagine. We’ve seen what A.R.G.U.S, things of Justice League Dark, but how about Flash and the Justice League?
Fawkes: I think that when they think of them it all, they see them as really weird, somewhat monstrous dudes in the corner who are barely under control. They just need them because when magic stuff happens, no one else really understands it but them. I hear the Justice League and A.R.G.U.S. both heaving a sigh and saying “Okay guys, they’re weird and shadowy but they understand what’s happening when we don’t. Thank god they’re around, but we’re not entirely comfortable with them.”
Also, even though the Justice League is comprised of really good people, they might look at Justice League Dark and say, “Can we really trust them? They look like monsters.”
Nrama: This issue is the beginning of an entirely new arc, with you and Lemire relatively well settled in now to the book. What would you say is the big theme (or themes) that you two are finding with the series?
Fawkes: I think for us the real crux of the series is about finding Justice League Dark’s place in the world. How are they supposed to do some good, and how are they regarded by others. They work in their own bubble of magic and shadowy stuff, but every once in a while they need to reach out into the larger world. The stuff Jeff and I, and hopefully the readers, are seeing is how the team fits in the world they’re in.
Nrama: The last arc dealt with Tim Hunter and the Books of Magic, and for a time the team’s powers were in a state of disarray. How would you describe the general state of magic in the DCU?
Fawkes: Magic is a very difficult thing. It’s not like having alien technology or superpowers you’re born with. In the DCU, magic is a tool. The more you learn about it, the more powerful you achieve, the more you understand how it’s not ever completely in your control.People on the surface who seem very powerful at magic, people like Madame Xanadu, John Constantine and Zatanna, are constantly learning lessons on how it can be and that they have to pay a price when they do magic. It’s almost like striking a bargain for something but never seeing who you’re striking a bargain with. It’s a very wild place; it’s not something you can completely understand, even by the people using it. FACEBOOK and TWITTER!