Tony Daniel is no stranger to relaunches at DC Comics, having written and drawn Detective Comics as part of the New 52. Now, with Rebirth, DC has tapped the veteran creator once again, this time pairing him with Bryan Hitch to relaunch Justice League. With Hitch moving into a writer-only role after both writing and drawing Justice League of America, Daniel takes the visual reins and gives life to the epic story Hitch is crafting.
Daniel is a go-to talent for DC, having drawn many of the League’s core members individually. Even still, he says the scale of the story he and Hitch are telling is massive that it’s even challenging him. Newsarama spoke with the creator at WonderCon 2016 after the Rebirth titles were announced to get some insight into what fans can expect from DC’s flagship team, including his favorite character, his working relationship with Bryan Hitch, and the big ideas at the book’s heart that Daniel says will have ramifications throughout the DC Universe.
Newsarama: Tony, you’ve worked on a lot of the characters of Justice League individually before. In particular, you wrote and drew Batman in Detective Comics as part of the New 52. How does the experience of the New 52 compare to the experience of Rebirth?
Tony Daniel: Well, the main difference is, I’m not responsible for writing the story, so that takes a load off my back. But at the same time, doing Justice League with Bryan Hitch, the workload is very heavy. It’s worth it, it’s worth every extra minute or extra hour I spend at the work table to craft these complex pages and scenes. Both of Detective Comics and Justice League are incredibly satisfying projects for me, but they’re totally different experiences.
Nrama: The dynamic of the creative team on Justice League is very interesting, because both you and Bryan Hitch are accomplished writers and artists. Does that change the working relationship at all? Do you influence each others’ work?
Daniel: It’s honestly pretty traditional. When he gives me a script and we communicate with each other, I look to him as the writer. But at the same time, I know he’s an artist and he’s looking at everything through an artist’s eye, so it’s really easy for us to see eye to eye and talk to each other. We just have such great communication together. I know what he wants, and he’s able to describe what he wants, just because he’s thinking visually. So I have that added benefit of having a writer who thinks visually like that. It really motivates me and inspires me to capture what he’s thinking.
Nrama: Now that we’ve talked about the creative team, let’s talk about the team itself, the Justice League. The roster you’ve set is very much a “big guns” approach with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Cyborg, Aquaman, and two Green Lanterns. Who are the characters you’ve really connected with so far, that you really enjoy drawing?
Daniel: I really enjoy drawing Wonder Woman. I love Wonder Woman! In the first issue, Bryan has the epic, epic scenes with her in them. Her part of the story is one of my favorite scenes I’ve ever drawn. It’s very complex, and very big. And aside from her, I get to draw the Flash again. I have a really cool scene with the Flash. Every character in the book has their own intro, and their own moment to shine in the first issue. But Wonder Woman really stands out as what I had the most fun with.
Nrama: You’re a very fast artist, but you mentioned in the Rebirth announcement event that there were some aspects of Justice League that were so big they were taking longer than usual to put together. What are the elements that are challenging you? Is there any difficulty in depicting two separate Green Lanterns?
Daniel: Actually, that’s going to be fun. I’m looking forward to the dynamic between Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz. I really enjoy the character element, and I enjoy drawing multiple characters as well. I really enjoyed working on Teen Titans back in the day with Geoff Johns. I get a kick out of the interactions and the emotions that I have to express with the characters.
In terms of the complexity and what takes so long sometimes is what they’re doing. For instance, drawing a whole city collapsing in on itself, and tanks flying everywhere, and injured people – there’s no quick way to do it, no short cuts. It’s time consuming, but it’s very rewarding when I’m done with it. It’s a lot of work, but it’s the Justice League, and this is what I wanna do.
Nrama: For the last few years, Justice League has kind of been the launching point for big ideas in the DC Universe. What big ideas are you and Bryan Hitch bringing to the table with Rebirth?
Daniel: Well the first story arc is a big cataclysmic event that happens to Earth, that we’re calling “The Awakening.” And this event just turns every corner of the Earth on its head. It’s a huge storyline that has massive consequences within Justice League as well as the entire DCU. There are a lot of character moments as well, a lot of finding truths about themselves and finding elements of their humanity. It’s a big epic storyline.