Between the end of Trinity War and the beginning of Forever Evil, members of three teams of Justice Leagues just completely disappeared, leaving the Crime Syndicate and other villains of the DCU to ravage the Earth during Villains Month.
But where did the Justice Leagues go?
There have some wild theories and guesses, but now we have some answers. According to Matt Kindt, who will be writing Justice League of America beginning in October, the League members have been trapped in some type of prison on the main DCU Earth. And while a few are able to escape, their powers have been hindered by something done to them by the Crime Syndicate.
Justice League of America #8 will be the first of the Justice League titles to hit stores post-Forever Evil (on October 9th). In that issue, Kindt and artist Doug Mahnke will reveal what happened to the Justice Leagues.
Then Kindt's series will end up following only two of the Justice League members.
Future solicitations spoil it a bit, but it's not the two characters you might expect. We talked to Kindt to find out what heroes will be the focus of Justice League of America during Forever Evil, and we found out more about why he chose these two unlikely heroes to try to save the day.
Newsarama: It looks like, from the art you're revealing today and the covers we've seen for future months, that Justice League of America is going to follow the story of what happened to the Justice Leagues. Is that accurate?
Matt Kindt: Yeah, that's right. I think you'll find out a lot in the very first issue. Of course, I won't tell you. But if you read the first issue, you'll be able to see a lot of what's happening. And there's some tricky storytelling going on, so a lot of what you see is going to be weird.
But yeah, you'll find all that out. And then at the end, I'm stripping down the Justice League to two characters, so it's going to be Manhunter and Stargirl against the world.
Nrama: They're in the preview image DC provided us, along with all the other League members, and they all look like they're dead or passed out. Then these two characters are separated from the other Justice League members? And they become the focus of Justice League of America?
Kindt: Yeah, for my run of it. I'm doing the next six issues, up until Jeff [Lemire] takes over [and the title becomes Justice League Canada].
So basically, I wanted to strip it down and do… they're not really "character studies," because that sounds boring. But in the most non-boring way, it's about Stargirl and Manhunter and what makes them tick. And then sort of drawing them together in a crazy sort of road trip.
They're traveling across the country and the world has ended. In a way, it's like a post-apocalypse with all the villains having taken over. And then these two characters are running across the world trying to make things better and save the day and figure out what happened.
So yeah, instead of being a big team book, it's going to be showing the aftermath [of Trinity War] then showing what happened to the rest of the [Justice League] team[s]. And then how these two escaped, and how they have to work together.
Nrama: So the JLA book will be Manhunter and Stargirl. And we know Constantine is in Justice League Dark, and solicitations for Justice League indicate it's focusing on Nightwing and the Crime Syndicate. So where will we find out what happened to the rest of the Justice League team members besides Manhunter and Constatine? In the other Justice League titles down the line?
Kindt: Yeah, I guess so. I'm not doing anything with them. I'm just sort of showing what happened [in the first issue].
Nrama: There are a lot of guesses that they're all on another Earth. But you make it sound like Stargirl and Manhunter are running across the main DCU Earth. Can you confirm that they're on the DCU Earth?
Kindt: Yeah. They are. The first issue and a half is them sort of breaking out of this crazy prison that they're in. And they have to figure out what they're in, why they're in it, and how to get out. So that happens.
And then the rest of it is going to be them on a road trip across the country, dealing with all the horrible stuff that's happened.
Nrama: Then are they powerless?
Kindt: Um… their powers are a little weird. I'd say Manhunter's not 100 percent himself, but I don't really want to say why, because it sort of spoils one of the reveals.
Nrama: Yeah, because if Manhunter had his powers, and he's free from that prison, then he could pretty much take care of everything. Right?
Kindt: Yeah, definitely. I mean, that's the thing about that character that's a challenge. He's Superman, but even stronger. So trying to figure out, just in a narrative way, to keep him from being the guy that just steps in and takes care of it all all the time is something that has to be addressed.
Nrama: And then Stargirl has had her Cosmic Staff taken away?
Kindt: Yeah. They'll be limping along. It's not like they're going to be fully powered as they fight their way across the country.
Nrama: And so they're coming up against all these villains along the way, the ones that have taken over the world?
Nrama: By separating Martian Manhunter and Stargirl from the team, what's it like to bounce these two characters up against each other? They seem to have very different perspectives on life.
Kindt: Yeah, it was definitely a conscious decision on my part, to pick those two characters to be together — I really wanted Manhunter, and then Stargirl is, in a lot of ways, the opposite of him. She's young and inexperienced and wants to prove herself, and Manhunter's already been through it all. He's lost his home world, he's older, he's wiser, and he's got way more power.
I thought putting them together would be the most interesting thing to do, and would give me the most interesting story to tell.
And the other part of it, with Stargirl, is I just think she's a great character that hasn't been used yet to her full extent. And taking her away from all the other big guns and letting her have some time to prove herself is going to be awesome. We get to really hear her voice and make her more than just a part of the team you see every once in awhile.
Nrama: It's interesting to hear that you picked the characters you wanted to use, because there's so much talk these days about editorial direction. So when you were working out how the story of the Justice Leagues would be told during Forever Evil, you specifically requested to use Manhunter and Stargirl?
Kindt: Yes. I'm trying to remember the process. It's been so long since I pitched it, but I'm pretty sure I picked those two right up front.
Nrama: It's also interesting that you got to pick Stargirl, because people associate her with Geoff.
Kindt: Yeah, I know. It felt a little weird taking her over and everything. And I called Geoff and I was like, hey, I don't want to mess this up, so… I have all of his notes and things that he had planned for her, and that kind of thing. So I wasn't trying to take that character away from him. So hopefully it's true to what he envisioned.
We just get more Stargirl. She's going to be their favorite character.
Nrama: She's a favorite character of a lot of DC fans who read her in Geoff's JSA run.
Kindt: Yeah, and I was talking to my friend at breakfast this morning about, you know, we don't need any more white male protagonists. I think a teenage girl who's young and inexperienced is just, like, the most fun to write because it's the exact opposite of me in every way.
Nrama: Has it been a challenge because of that, to find her voice? Are you hanging around high schools to… oh, I probably shouldn't say that. It sounds creepy.
Kindt: [Laughs.] Yeah, that's totally creepy. Yeah, no, what's funny is — it's funny how easily I can just slide into writing her voice. I don't know where it comes from. Maybe there's a part of me that is a teenage girl or something [laughs]. I don't know.
It's not as hard as I thought it would be. It's actually just kind of fun. I think a lot of it just comes from remembering what it was like to be young, you know? I'm 40 now. But I totally remember what it was like to be 15 or 16, and what you thought about things, and the things that made you mad. And the things you wanted to do. So I think you just draw on that.
And I have a daughter who's 10, so she's getting close to that age. So she's helping me be grounded in at least some of that reality.
Nrama: And you're getting to work with Doug Mahnke on this. We're seeing a preview page for the interiors. Have you seen his art for the whole issue yet?
Kindt: Yeah, I've seen most of the first issue. He's awesome.
Nrama: You're writing seven issues in October, counting your work for Marvel, DC and Dark Horse. Did you write some of this stuff ahead of time? Because you didn't have a break in September like a lot of DC writers, because you wrote, like, four issues for Villains Month.
Kindt: The Villain issues were written ahead of time. Those all sort of came out at once, but those were some of the first things I'd done. They asked me to do those awhile ago, and they asked me to do one than another and another, and I kept saying, "Yeah, yeah, yeah! I'll do them all!" And those were done way early.
The other stuff started to roll out later, and I've been able to balance it out without going too crazy.
Nrama: With Forever Evil, you seem to be really immersed in it, between Forever Evil: A.R.G.U.S., the Villains Month stuff, Suicide Squad and Justice League of America. Are you working closely with Geoff Johns on how all the pieces of the puzzle fit with his comic?
Kindt: Definitely. He's the architect of the overall, the big picture. So I'm just reacting to what he's doing and finding ways to tell smaller stories or different stories that aren't going to be messing up what he's doing, but also what he's doing isn't going to take control over what I'm doing. So it's a delicate balance.
I'm a fan and and writer. So I want this to be something where you can read what I'm doing, but then if you don't feel like buying all the other issues, just don't buy them all; you'll still get a good story. But if you read mine and you read what he's doing, it's going to add to it. And if you read what he's doing and you don't want to buy mine, then you're going to get a story.
Reading them together, it creates — it's almost like music, where you have all these different chords happening at the same time, and the more the better. But they work independently as well.