Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis have started a trend at DC.
With their ongoing title Justice League 3000 — soon to be Justice League 3001 — the now-legendary team of Giffen and DeMatteis have proven that superhero comics at DC can not only be fun, but they don't have to fit within current continuity.
In June, the book is jumping a year ahead in time as it changes its title to Justice League 3001. And it will be joined by several other books with loose continuity and a bit of humor.
Justice League 3001 stars future versions of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, but with a twist — they're parasites, of sorts, who were created by adding the heroes' DNA to existing human beings in the future.
But Giffen and DeMatteis have also mixed in some new and old characters to round out that team — including a female Flash and several of the old Justice League International characters.
With the addition of Booster Gold, Blue Beetle, Fire and Ice, Justice League 3001 has established itself as existing outside any current existing continuity.
As the title finished up its old run with this month's issue #15, and gets ready to start a new run with Justice League 3001 in June, Newsarama talked to Giffen to find out more about the creative team's approach — and whether Guy Gardner might show up soon.
Newsarama: Keith, your book is continuing into June, along with a lot more books with a bit more humor in them. With the success of the Harley Quinn book, and the extra attention Justice League 3000 has been getting, I think people are figuring out that there's room in the comic book industry for books that don't take things too seriously.
Keith Giffen: I've been saying that for years! I've been out there all alone saying it's OK to laugh and have a little bit of fun. With Justice League 3000, we have an obvious sense of humor. It's character-driven humor.
But you know, the cool thing is that we survived doing it on our terms. I'm glad that, during the period that existed, we weren't told, "You've got to be part of Godhead!" or "You've got to be part of this" or "that." We're being left alone.
That said, if Geoff Johns were to call me tomorrow and go, "Hey, I'd like to do a crossover between the Justice Leagues," and we could figure out a way to make it happen, across time and space, and the story was good enough, I'd find myself — now — more amenable to doing that.
Nrama: You'd do a crossover with Justice League, but only now that the book is established on your own terms?
Giffen: Right. But I think a meeting between our Justice League and the current Justice League would have an interesting feel to it. I mean, Superman would look at our Superman and say, "you are not me." It would make a crossover interesting.
Nrama: It would. But looking back at what's made the comic successful, you have to admit that your Justice League International characters brought a lot of eyes onto the book. You started with Booster and Beetle, then added Fire and Ice. Do you like how those additions are turning out?
Giffen: Yeah, I'll be honest. We brought Beetle and Booster in to get people to pay attention to the book, or to at least be aware that we existed. Our original idea was to bring back Fire and Ice, but then that evolved into bringing back Beetle and Booster too.
Of course, if we were going to use Beetle and Booster in the book, of course we'd want to use the Beetle and Booster that we're familiar with. It's Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis, so it just makes sense.
If our book existed in the New 52, though, it wouldn't make sense. We would have to be using different iterations of those characters.
So we took the leap, and DC had no problem with it.
We're exploring a universe that hasn't been explored yet — the "Bwa-Ha-Ha" universe or whatever. And DC was amenable. So we said, let's do it!
Nrama: Do you think that helped you find your audience?
Giffen: I don't know, but I'm so grateful for the audience we've found. I'm grateful that there are enough people buying the book that we avoided the cut, you know?
I'm always grateful for the audience I find, whatever book I'm working on. I try never to lose track of that. So if you're out there and you're paying your money and you're buying the book and you're supporting the book, you can have any opinion you want.
There was a guy [when I was writing] Doom Patrol who, every month, like clockwork, he'd write in telling us how much he hated what we were doing on Doom Patrol, and how we were horrible people, and he'd say, "I'm never buying it again!" But he'd be there every month.
I loved the guy! You paid the price of admission. Voice your opinion!
And you can't get too caught up in whether you have good reviews or bad reviews or negative opinions or positive opinions. I have proof that it doesn't mean much, because O.M.A.C. was universally loved by all the critics, but it died right away. So the web is just one facet of the marketplace.
Nrama: Although Beetle and Booster are still very much like their old selves, you've made it clear that Fire and Ice have changed over time.
Giffen: Right. Ice is immortal, so this is the Ice who knew the real Wonder Woman and Superman and was a member of the Justice League. And Ice has been preserving Fire. There's some 30th Century science involved in getting Fire back, but it's not the parasite process that gave us the Justice League 3000. This is something different.
And I can tell you that they aren't the Fire and Ice you think you know. Although Beetle and Booster are basically the same characters, the approach to Fire and Ice is completely different, because Beetle and Booster were trapped in suspended animation and woke up as Beetle and Booster in the 30th Century. Fire and Ice didn't.
So they're not the characters you thought you knew.
But let me say, this is not the hero of the month club. It's not going to be, "oh, I can't wait until Guy comes back" or "oh, I can't wait until they do Rocket Red." That's not what we are. We are not a new Justice League International book.
That said, we've got certain characters and certain DC concepts that we are going to be touching base on as Justice League 3000 continues.
Nrama: Did you just hint that Guy Gardner might show up?
Giffen: Maybe. But just like Fire and Ice have evolved over time, these other concepts have evolved too. So don't think they're going to be exactly the same. If we announce we're going to do the Green Team (which we're not, but if we did), then it doesn't mean it would be a bunch of little kids with money. It would be our take on it.
So there will be our take on certain DC Universe mainstays, but 1,000 years in the future, and in our own little pocket universe or whatever. And we get to play games.
Everyone's like, "well, of course, Wonder Woman's arch foe would be Zeus, because Zeus was her father." Really? No he wasn't! Our version — she was made of clay!
So why Zeus? Do I have a plan? Yeah, yeah, I do. And hopefully, it'll lead to a pretty big storyline.
Ultimately,Justice League 3001 is no different from any book Marc and I have done together, in that we've always been more interested in who the character is — not so much interested in what they are.
Nrama: Along with the introduction of new characters, recent issues have also explored the evolution of the existing Justice League members into heroes. It's been really different to see Superman turn from being the "douchebag," as you described him, into a hero.
Giffen: They're stepping into their roles as superheroes. That's part of what's making the story so interesting. Yes, we've got an odd gang together in the book right now, and some of these are strange echoes of the Justice League of the past, and we're having fun with that, but over the course of the book, these characters have become individuals and have been evolving into heroes.
Nrama: OK, and before you go, although Justice League 3001 is continuing in June, Infinity Man and the Forever People is not. Do you intend to take a break from penciling for awhile?
Giffen: I penciled the last issue of Infinity Man and the Forever People. But everyone time I'm not penciling, I consider it "taking a break from pencils." But honestly, I can't see myself doing a monthly book penciling. I just don't have the time in the day to pencil a monthly book and write a monthly book and do all the little odds and ends that I'm doing. And I don't think I'll pursue penciling for awhile. But I'd consider penciling a book, if it was a finite kind of thing but not a monthly book.
Nrama: And I assume there will be shifts, changes and tweaks during the Convergence break?
Giffen: Of course! There are shifts, changes and tweaks going on as we speak! We have a whole list of things we want to play around with — new New Gods, Starro, Supergirl of the future…
But to answer your question, there will be changes when we come back in June.
Nrama: Including the Injustice League. Does that play into the series when it picks up a year later?
Giffen: Yes, at the end of issue #15, that cliffhanger plays very heavily into the book, and then we'll come back with some pretty significant changes in June.