One of the men behind Marvel's Deadpool is setting his sights on Justice League Detroit, and has words about both.
Fabian Nicieza been busy lately, writing not only the Convergence: Justice League America issues, but two other Convergence stories as well: Convergence: Superboy and Convergence: Titans. But for Convergence: Justice League America, the writer actually came up with the idea to include the Detroit-era characters in Convergence, bringing up characters like Vixen, Gypsy and Vibe while in the midst of "riffing like fan geeks" with DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio.
These three titles, like all Convergence titles, takes place during April and May, replacing DC's regular line books while the company moves their offices from New York to Burbank. In the event, characters and concepts are revived and combined — from throughout DC's history (and its in-story future).
In Nicieza's other two Convergence titles, he's got some high-profile tasks — bringing back the original Kon-El and pitting him against Kingdom Come Superman in Convergence: Superboy, and attempting to fix some of the "unfair and nasty" things done to pre-Flashpoint Roy Harper in Convergence: Titans.
Newsarama talked to Nicieza to find out more about Convergence: Justice League America and why he likes Ryan Reynolds in the lead role of Deadpool.
Newsarama: Fabian, wow, the Detroit League! There are a lot of strong feelings from fans about this group. Is that why you chose them?
Fabian Nicieza: I was talking to Dan DiDio about the Convergence: Titans series they wanted me to do, and as we were discussing the greater Convergence story world, we just started riffing like fan geeks and JLA Detroit came up. Dan was surprised that I knew everything about them — heck, I've had all of the issues since they originally came out!
I loved when Gerry Conway and Chuck Patton made the JLA Detroit changes. I thought it was a huge, ballsy risk. And then when an artist whose work I always loved, Luke McDonnell took over as artist, I was even happier!
So getting to see these characters together again was something I thought would ever happen, much less getting the chance to write them!
Nrama: OK, so who's on the team you're writing?
Nicieza: JLA Detroit came about when the League disbanded, but some of the "lesser" characters decided to carry on, including Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, Elongated Man and Zatanna.
They recruited some younger, inexperience heroes, including Vixen, who is well known now, but wasn't as much back then, Steel, who was a cyborg legacy character, and brand new characters like Gypsy and Vibe.
They were more grounded in their approach and their opponents. It was a very different tone and feel for the book. Most fans hated the characters. Sales dipped. They ended the series for the Giffen/DeMatteiss/Maguire relaunch during the "Legends" crossover.
But I'm a sucker for underdog characters – I'm the guy who wrote the hell out of Speedball – so this series was right up my alley.
Nrama: It seems like Elongated Man would be a leader among these characters. What's his role in the comic?
Nicieza: He is the moral leader, the cheerleader, and big brother to the younger characters, but Martian Manhunter, Aquaman and Zatanna are the "big three" of the team.
Nrama: Did any of these characters emerge as a surprise favorite of yours?
Nicieza: Honestly, pretty much what I expected going in: Ralph and Sue Dibney are a lot of fun to write and it's always a pleasure to get to write a married couple who don't have artificial angst imposed on them.
Nrama: We've seen a bit of a revival of these characters lately, with Vixen in her own animated series, Vibe getting attention on Cartoon Network, in his own comic series for awhile and even showing up as Cisco in The Flash TV show. Why do you think these much maligned concepts didn't die? Is there actually good material in there?
Nicieza: I think a new generation of writers and editors come in and like to look for "hidden gems" in the canon. Writers like Brad Meltzer and Geoff Johns came into DC with a great founding in DC continuity and they did a great job of taking several of these "smaller" or forgotten characters, like Vixen and Vibe respectively, and playing with them.
Nrama: In this story, the Detroit League eventually battles characters from the Tangent Universe. Were you aware of those titles at the time they were originally being published?
Nicieza: I was familiar with the first Tangent series that Dan Jurgens had spearheaded when they first came out, though less so with the second series they did.
The opponents for the book were pretty much assigned to me like a roster, though if I had a real problem, I'm sure I could have "traded" with another writer.
As it stands, I was fine with it, because I knew those characters would pose a great threat to the JLA Detroit characters. I loved the fact that our heroes weren't going to be fighting villains, they'd be fighting heroes who were thrown into a desperate situation just like they had.
Nrama: Can you tease which characters we'll see in your comics from the Tangent Universe? And what was it like to work with them?
Nicieza: The Tangent Secret Six are the opponents in the story. I don't want to call them villains, because they're in the same position as the JLA, forced to fight for the safety of their city and the lives of the people living in it.
Nrama: How do the Tangent characters compare overall with the Justice League Detroit characters?
Nicieza: They are a lot more experienced, more competent, and as a result of how they plan their battle strategy, they're a lot more powerful than the JLA!
Nrama: Uh oh. That sounds like we're approaching spoiler territory. Let's talk about the art on this book. What was it like working with Chriscross on these issues?
Nicieza: Chris is just a phenomenal artist — an excellent storyteller with a meticulous attention to detail. He's throwing a lot of great visual effects into the series as well as great facial expressions and characterizations. His art is deep and layered and tailored made for current coloring standards. I can't wait to see the printed books.
Nrama: The last time we talked, the Deadpool movie had just been announced as moving forward, and you were really excited about the power of fan outreach. Have you seen recent set photos, are you involved at all with the film, and what's your reaction to the latest stuff we've seen?
Nicieza: I've been following everything like any other fan would. I have no special information, insight or access. There have been some discussions about going on a set visit, but as of this writing, that's all very preliminary and nothing is set.
I've been pleasantly surprised by how smart and on-target the social media promotional efforts of Ryan Reynolds have been. He's shown me that he really understands what makes the character tick and what it is about the character that has clicked with an ever-growing audience.
But then again, I called it in a Cable & Deadpool issue years ago, so I shouldn't be surprised!
[Editor's note: Nicieza's talking about Cable & Deadpool #2, shown here, which was published before Wolverine: Origins and before any talk of a solo Deadpool movie.]
Nrama: What do you think about the discussion regarding whether the movie should be rated PG-13 or R?
Nicieza: I have said many times that I felt the character could be done as either PG-13 or R depending on the preference of the filmmakers and the studios. Deadpool has long straddled a fine line between both ratings in his comics publishing history depending on who was handling the creative assignment.
Nrama: At this point, I think everyone's on board with your choice of Ryan Reynolds in the lead, even though it was just an in-story, comic book choice.
Then to finish up, Fabian, is there anything else you want to tell fans about Convergence: Justice League America?
Nicieza: I think it's a really fun story that showcases the heroic nature of long-maligned characters and for fans of DC long history of "can-do" heroes — especially those who miss seeing Ralph and Sue Dibney — this series is going to be a real treat!