As the writer of the Injustice: Gods Among Us comic, Brian Buccellato is no stranger to alternate world Justice Leagues.
But with Convergence: Crime Syndicate, the writer is going to extremes with the two alternate-world teams he'll bring to his two-issue tie-in comic, as the original, 1964 version of the Crime Syndicate meets the One Million Justice League from the 853rd Century.
This version of the Crime Syndicate includes familiar characters like Ultraman, Superwoman and Owlman, but they're a little different from the more recent incarnation seen in Forever Evil. And they'll go up against the futuristic version of the Justice League from Grant Morrison's 1998 epic DC One Million.
Buccellato is best known as half of the writer/artist team with Francis Manapul, working together to launch the New 52 version of The Flash, and more recently taking on Batman for Detective Comics.
Newsarama talked with Buccellato to find out more about Convergence: Crime Syndicate.
Newsarama: Brian, you've written the Crime Syndicate recently for the New 52, but this is a whole different Crime Syndicate in this Convergence tie-in, right? What's different about them?
Brian Buccellato: Right, this is the Crime Syndicate from 1964, so it's not the Forever Evil version. If you go back to those initial issues where they were introduced, they're basically a bunch of fun-loving bank robbers with Justice League powers. And they go and rob banks and cause mayhem, just to mess with their powers and have fun. They're not the devious, evil, murderous guys that we saw in Forever Evil. It's quite a bit different.
Nrama: We've been told the characters in Convergence have lost their powers while they're under the dome, how does that play into the status of the Crime Syndicate and One Million characters as we meet them in your series?
Buccellato: They've been living under the dome for a year, without powers, so that affects the 853rd Century Justice League in one way, and it affects the Crime Syndicate in another.
Since they're both team books — one is from 1964 and one is from way in the future — I had the whole dynamic of their city change. In the case of the 853rd Century Justice League, a new power comes to be and the Justice League is helpless to stop him. So there's sort of a rebellion in the future, fighting the Justice League without their powers. That's how I changed their world. So it's a little different from what you would have read taking place in the 853rd Century, but with those same characters.
Then in the 1964 Crime Syndicate, what I did was have them lose their powers in the dome at a very pivotal point, when they're in the middle of a caper. And it has catastrophic and far-reaching consequences for them.
If you've seen the cover, you'll notice that Superwoman is in an electric chair.
Nrama: Right. She's on death row, right?
Buccellato: Right. So we open right away, and the Crime Syndicate is trying to break into the prison to free Superwoman.
Nrama: How did you end up with these characters? Because there's a lot of difference between the two eras.
Buccellato: I think DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio offered me three or four different titles. The ones that he offered me, I didn't feel like I had a connection to, but I like the Crime Syndicate. I love those characters. So I chose that one.
Nrama: Did you have to research the One Million characters? Going back to Grant Morrison's original ideas for these characters?
Buccellato: Yeah. There was a fan who was kind enough to send me the omnibus. It's definitely a Grant story. I don't know how much I could apply to the constraints of the dome and the story of Convergence. But I did the best I could with them, and I think it ended up being a lot of fun.
Nrama: I would assume we get some cool comparisons? Like maybe One Million Batman and Owlman?
Buccellato: Yeah, Owlman has an agenda that puts him at odds with the rest of the Crime Syndicate, and that mirrors the future Batman, who also has his own agenda.
Nrama: That's not surprising about Batman.
Buccellato: Yeah, even the future Batman.
Nrama: Yet the Batman characters are probably challenged the least by the dome taking away superpowers.
Buccellato: Yeah, and that's part of how I approached Owlman. He's a guy who never had powers, so he's the leader of the team just by the simple fact that he didn't lose anything when the dome came down.
Nrama: What's it been like working with Phil Winslade? I know you're an artist at heart, so how did you approach working with Phil? I assume it was different from your work with Francis?
Buccellato: Yeah, in most scripts, when I can't lean on Francis like I do when we co-write, I tend to use a lot of jpegs. I pull a lot of my own references, online, including them in the scripts. You know, they say pictures are worth a thousand words, and it's much easier for me to describe some kind of location or an object or even an angle, if I know what it looks like and I can find a picture for it.
Phil brings a very classic, very solid art style. It reminds me a little bit of Neal Adams. He has the tough task of doing a book that has two teams fighting each other, and it's never easy doing team stuff. I mean, when I'm writing Injustice, and it gets difficult to juggle all the different people. I have to imagine that, for the artist, it's no fun to have to figure out where to put everybody all the time. But I think he did a great job. I'm very happy with how it turned out.
Nrama: I just realized, when you pointed out that you're writing Injustice, that you're already currently writing heroes with a bad slant to them. And they're sort of in the future, or at least in an alternate universe. This is becoming your thing.
Buccellato: Yeah, apparently alternative versions of the Justice League is my bag now.
Nrama: So to finish up, is there anything else you want to tell fans about Convergence: Crime Syndicate?
Buccellato: I think I'll just say that, one of the important parts of this story is, what motivates them to fight each other to save their world? And I can't give that away for all the characters, but I will say that not everyone wants to win.