If there's one thing Keith Giffen wants from his comics, it's a sense that anything can happen.
In Justice League 3000, which Giffen's writing with his frequent collaborator J.M. DeMatteis, the futuristic Justice League members have been going through trials that the usual League comics never could. It's part of the no-holds-barred, comics-should-be-fun attitude that Giffen and his creative team are bringing to the book — an attitude he partially credits to the fact that he died a few years ago (read more below for that bombshell…).
As readers found out last week, even the setting for Justice League 3000 is unpredictable, as Giffen just announced on Newsarama that Blue Beetle and Booster Gold are joining the team — the Blue and Gold from the Giffen/DeMatteis past, brought into the future.
While continuity-calculating fans may be scratching their heads about what universe this is, Giffen and DeMatteis — along with the series' regular artist Howard Porter — are moving forward with more surprising situations for their futuristic Justice League.
Newsarama talked to Giffen about the evolution of his team so far (they're becoming heroes), the new female Flash they've added to the team, and what other heroes are coming up in the title.
Newsarama: Keith, let's talk about how the Justice League 3000 team has evolved over the last few issues — you've turned a group of unlikeable Justice League members into heroes. They're really stepping into their roles as superheroes.
Keith Giffen: They're moving in the direction that we planned them to be moving in for awhile. I know there was a lot of reaction to, "Superman is such a douchebag!" Yeah, but you’re assuming he's going to be that way forever. I'm sure at one time or another in all of our lives, we were douchebags! You know? And we outgrew it.
These characters weren't the characters we expected, because when we first met them, they were just the parasitic DNA of the Justice League — they weren't just automatically heroes. But over the course of the book, they're becoming heroes.
But they're becoming individuals too, different from the Justice League of the past. And for the characters who survive the coming months, we've got plans to pull them even further away from their 21st Century counterparts and make them unique characters in and of themselves, without violating the core premise behind each of them.
You know, with DeMatteis and I, when we write a team like the Justice League, we're not interested in what they are. We're not interested in the Flash or Green Lantern, or Superman or Batman — that's what they are.
We're interested in who they are.
Right now, our Justice League consists of:
- Superman, who is finding himself helplessly attracted to Teri, the new Flash;
- we've got Batman;
- we've got Wonder Woman, and we'll find out exactly how psychotic she is pretty soon;
- we've got a female Flash who doesn't know how to use her powers;
- we've got a six-inch Green Lantern who rides around in a pocket in his cloak;
- and now we've got two knuckleheads from the 20th Century coming in, as Blue Beetle and Booster Gold join the book.
They all are headquartered on a planet where the cast of Camelot 3000 hangs out — their headquarters are the castle in Camelot 3000.
And Camelot 3000 is currently at war with Etrigan's demon empire.
And by the way, I don't know if the fans are waiting for us to re-grow Green Lantern. But I can't make any promises. As far as I'm concerned right now, he's staying six inches tall.
Nrama: I've also noticed a few Easter eggs. There are nods within this series toward Futures End and…
Giffen: Everything. There are nods to everything. There are nods to Futures End, there are nods to DC books, there are nods to books that have gone before, and there are a couple of very subtle nods to the Legion of Super-Heroes.
Nrama: I'm surprised there hasn't been more attention to the fact that you've got a female Flash in Justice League 3000.
Giffen: Yep, we have a new Flash now, and she's just learning how to use her powers.
You know, lately, I've had a lot more fun writing female characters than male. I'm doing a female character comic coming up — I unfortunately have to be secretive about that one for now — and it was honestly more fun than I've had in years.
And my favorite character to write in the weekly is Fifty Sue.
As a matter of fact, one of the things I'm going to be introducing in the weekly is a special ops team, black ops, and they're all women. And I want to just go in there and treat them like they're a male team. I mean, treat them the same way you would if it was an all-male group — a kick-ass group who just happens to be women.
And if DC were to call me tomorrow and say, "What's your one series that you really, really want to do, and we'll give it to you," it would be Fire and Ice.
Nrama: Maybe they can wake up in the year 3000 too.
Giffen: I'm telling you, Vaneta, if Blue Beetle and Booster Gold are popular enough? Guaranteed!
By the way, Ice doesn't have to wake up. How many people missed this? Ice is an ice goddess. She's immortal!
Nrama: I've noticed recently that the book has that familiar flavor of DeMatteis/Giffen humor. Like the fact that in a recent issue, they were eating Durlan.
Giffen: Yeah, yeah, that's Marc [DeMatteis]'s dialogue. There are some twisted Easter eggs in there. There are some lines I get a real kick out of.
Nrama: And who comes up with the constructs that Green Lantern has been using? Because they're very creative.
Giffen: That's Howard. That's Howard Porter all the way. He comes up with these insane things. The entire visual look of the book, the entire visual riff of the book is Howard Porter.
I'll just basically say, "yeah, draw a planet that's like the Garden of Eden," and he'll even figure out how the insect life looks. He's just doing a bang-up job.
The fact that Howard's not getting more attention is crazy. He's the best kept secret in comics.
Nrama: And he's one of the nicest guys in comics.
Giffen: Yes, he's an extraordinarily nice guy. And his art is just …. considering his career was considered to be over by most people. "Oh, he hurt his hand!" and all that. Talk about roaring back! It's funny, half of the fans out there claim that they know comics, but I think most of them don't know that Howard had that hand injury. I know for a fact, most of the fans don't know I died three years ago.
Nrama: Wait, what? You didn't tell fans that your heart stopped, Keith!
Giffen: Why should I?
Nrama: It would explain some of the creative shuffling that was done a couple years ago. Is this on the record now?
Giffen: Yep, you can put that on the record. "Keith Giffen: Back from the dead!" My concern back then – and DC was good about this; nobody leaked it. Dan DiDio knew; DC knew. Nobody said a word. I didn't want to be — and you know the fans will do this — if this leaked out or I announced it, there would be about five minutes of heat and then people would forget it, but I was concerned that my work would be judged on Keith before, and Keith after. I've got a nice body of work now, so I think people can see, yeah, he's still doing s**t. [Laughs.] I didn't want to give anybody a reason to say, hmmm, he's not the same guy. I mean, in a way, I'm not. But I think it's in a good way.
Nrama: It seems that Justice League 3000 has a couple people in its creative team who are real survivors. No wonder this comic is no-holds-barred. To finish up this interview, Keith, you've opened the door for a whole lot more DC characters from the past being brought to the future through this parasite process. What other DC characters are we going to see in the future of Justice League 3000?
Giffen: When the Injustice League shows up, we get a whole new group of characters.
We grow Bane, and Sinestro. We grow Zeus.
Giffen: Zeus. Yes. In our reality, he's not really Wonder Woman's father.
And we get Superman's arch-foe, the one who hates Superman more than anyone else in the world: Lois Lane.
Nrama: Lois Lane???
Giffen: These are the kinds of things we're doing.
Basically, what we're doing with this is we're announcing to the fans, look, we're going to have fun. Comics are supposed to be fun. Like, "Oh my God I can't believe they did that!" I don't care about your convoluted continuity. I don't care how serious you want us to take your superheroes. I don't care about Hollywood. I'm not trying to make my books Hollywood friendly or easy to turn into a movie. I want it to be difficult, because we're going to go out and we're going to have fun. Right now, Justice League 3000 is the book I'm having the most fun doing, bar none. You're welcome to join us if you'd like to.