There's an all-female Justice League coming to DC Comics, but it's one that's been forming right under readers' noses.
Justice League 3001 will feature an all-female team by January 2016, one that features a mix of fan-favorite heroes like Supergirl and brand new characters like a female Flash — heroines that have been joining the futuristic series over the last couple years.
"It's not because I decided I wanted to write all females," says Keith Giffen, who's creating the series with his frequent collaborator J.M. DeMatteis and artist Howard Porter. "It's not there to say, 'Oh look, we've got an all-female team!' Who cares? It's just the way it shook out."
Justice League 3001 has been surprising readers since it started in 2013 (as Justice League 3000), introducing a group of new twists on old heroes. Operating under the philosophy that superhero books at DC can be fun – an idea that's starting to catch on in other DC titles — Justice League 3001 was also among the first to return pre-"New 52" heroes to continuity when it introduced characters like Fire, Ice, Booster Gold and Blue Beetle to the book.
As the comic heads into 2016 with a changing team make-up, and one that's decidedly female, Newsarama talked to Giffen to find out more about what he's planning for the team.
Newsarama: Keith, in just the last issue, you had Wonder Woman going out for beer with the female Guy Gardner, then the next scene had the female Flash and Supergirl together. Is it just me, or is this Justice League of the future getting more and more female members — who are in turn getting a bigger role in the comic?
Keith Giffen: Yeah. To be honest with you, it's just ending up that way.
One of the big changes coming up is that Justice League 3001 #8 will have an all-female Justice League.
It's not because I decided I wanted to write all females. It's not there to say, "Oh look, we've got an all-female team!" Who cares? It's just the way it shook out.
There are some big things coming up in the next couple issues. Between now and #8, we're going to do some real damage. We're going to shake the book up a bit.
Some of the characters just seemed more interesting or more appropriate for the kind of stories we're trying to tell.
It's not going to be all new characters. There will be characters you know, and there will be characters that were in the book before, heroes that you were aware of, heroes that were actually in the League. But it won't be the same Justice League 3001. We're going to definitely move it up to the next level.
Nrama: What did the jump to one year later offer you as a writer? And are you going to explain some of what happened during that one year, or just move forward from this point?
Giffen: We decided to go for the one-year jump because the book changed its name from the Justice League 3000 to Justice League 3001, and I believe that if we just continue on, Justice League 3001 will be just 12 issues, and Justice League 3002 will start. So it's going to be like Legion '89, Legion '90, Legion '91 — it'll be like that, and we'll be playing with time a little bit and with the characters some.
But that missing year — we're filling in the gaps. The story of where Guy came from — we start that rolling along in, I think it's #5. As for the other characters, people will be brought up to date as we go along. We won't do a special issue where we explain all the stuff that went on, but I think some of the more obvious things will be explained.
Nrama: A big part of the book right now, and another female dynamic. is the one with Lois-Ariel. Is Ariel going to continue to be a center of the story going forward?
Giffen: Yeah, Ariel's always going to be a center of the story. It's taken awhile for us to get her back into the book, but she's not going to be, I guess a close word is, possessed by Lois Lane forever. I like her as the Maxwell Lord figure for this new Justice League. So she's definitely making a comeback.
When we were doing Justice League 3000, certain characters came to the forefront. At first, Ariel was just somebody who was going to be running from the people who wanted her to clone the Justice League, and eventually she was going to die. Originally she's wasn't supposed to live past #7 or #8.
But the more I dealt with the character, the more I realized that the traits we gave her played well off of the others. So she became kind of like the person who holds the League together — the Maxwell Lord character, so to speak.
But we're not getting rid of her, and she will eventually become the coordinator for the Justice League. I find her much too interesting a character to get rid of.
Nrama: You've also just added Supergirl to the team, so I assume she's going to be part of the book going forward?
Giffen: Oh yes! Oh yes, yes, yes. That's definite. Supergirl is going to be around for a long time. And I'm not even going to tinker with her that much.
We may tinker with her look, because it's the 30th Century and she is wearing a, like, I-just-came-out-of-the-spaceship-from-Krypton costume.
But I just like the idea that here are these… it's Justice League, and their DNA has been written over other people. They're flawed. They're all flawed. Their powers aren't complete. And along comes Supergirl…and it's Supergirl!
And she's got all the powers. And also, she's kind of a couple steps above them.
By giving her as close to the personality as she had back in the late '70s and early '80s as I'm capable of doing, we've got a character that, I think, encapsulates all the good things about Supergirl and yet we can move her in a direction and change her a little bit so she's not mistaken for a Supergirl who might show up in the "New 52" or in Geoff Johns' Justice League or whatever. She becomes our character that way.
And I love having that character around. I will really fight to keep her in the book.
And this is, like, the first time I've ever written Supergirl. Yes, I know I did this thing with Supergirl in the Convergence thing, but it's not really Supergirl. This is the Kryptonian Supergirl. It's really the first time I've ever dealt with the character for an extended period.
And the good thing is, at least to our way of thinking, this Justice League is one of the many, many, many, many varied earths — we're not even putting a number to it; it's out there somewhere — we can have the character come in and do what we wants. You know, if it's not "New 52"'s Earth, we get to pick and choose the things we like about the character and put the character in there.
So in a way we're kind of cheating, but it's fun cheating.
Nrama: How is it working with Howard Porter and continuing to work with Marc?
Giffen: Working with Marc just comes naturally. I mean, I hand him the plot and I don't even look back. I read the dialogue when it comes in and I have no problems at all. And it's getting the same with Howard.
All three of us love working together, love working on the book. And we just feed off of one another. Like there are certain things that Howard will do in the artwork that I'll go, "Oh God I didn't know he could do that!" And it will become a major plot point for the next issue.
Or Marc sometimes, he'll write a line of dialogue I hadn't anticipated, and then it will be a nugget that will then give birth to another subplot.
It's really organic, the way we work. And I really, really like it that way.
And as far as I know, Marc says he's not going anywhere, and Howard says he's sticking around for the duration. So, hey, as long as the fans keep buying the book, we'll keep chugging them out!