Batman, Black Canary, and a post-Crisis looking Lobo are joining DC's 2017 Justice League of America title. As revealed by IGN, the trio join the previously announced members Killer Frost, Vizen, The Atom (Ryan Choi), and the Ray. Scheduled to debut in February, JLA is intended by series writer Steve Orlando to dive straight into the mystery of "Rebirth" and make JLA the flagship book of the DCU Line.
“[I'm excited to] meet these teams and unwrap the mystery of Rebirth and other events coming up, to really have JLA be the book that the DC Universe rotates around," said the DC-exclusive writer. "All these changes are happening in the book because I wanted it to be vital. I wanted it to matter. I want the DC Universe to orbit around the Justice League of America."
Having Batman and Black Canary as part of the line-up helps, but for some fans the most interesting news is the throwback Lobo design seen in the Justice League of America #1 cover by series artist Ivan Reis (at right) instead of the more recent, skinny "New 52" redesign. Orlando said that was intentional, and this change isn't limited to his look.
“I like to think that we're giving people the Lobo that made him famous and as time goes on hopefully we can get into how we got there a little bit more,” said Orlando. “He's the Lobo we all love, causing mayhem. He'll be giving people what they want but at the same time he does have a code. The main man's word is his bond, man. I think that's important. That's one of the things that guides him through life. We find out a little bit what's behind this character. Not to soften him, but to give him more depth because he's still the hard partying, bullshit calling, bullshit calling especially, it's what I love about him, but if anyone is there to remind them that they're taking themselves too seriously to remind people that they're hypocrites, it's him."
Having him on the team - and on a team with Batman, no less - is something, Orlando said.
“I mean, he's on a team with Batman, he's not going to exploding people's brains all over the place, but that's not to say that that's not going to cause conflict and he's not going to want to."
Speaking of Batman, the Justice League of America confirms that the Dark Knight will be a member of both his team and Bryan Hitch's Justice League. But although the teams have similiar names, there won't be similiar stories.
“They also have completely different points of view. I think that's important," said Orlando. "Bryan and [Tony S. Daniel] are doing amazing work in the biggest mainstream comic you can find. We are still doing things that are insane and exciting but I think that just by virtue of who's on the team, the points of view and the lanes they will travel in will be different. The places the Justice League of America go will be different because they're tuned in to the different communities. They're tuned into people that have never thought that they would see a superhero before, that they never thought they'd be thought of or heard by them. And besides the fact that they have a different face and a different roster, there's an emotional quality that I think is different. This is about reinvention. It's about rebuilding and it's about putting heroism out in this world that matches the needs of the world today. And we're going to do that on every page as much as we possibly can.”
Justice League of America spins out of the upcoming Justice League vs. Suicide Squad event, and Orlando said Batman's membership in JLA comes about from a conversation he has with Killer Frost (a Suicide Squad member).
"Without giving too much away, I would say that the inspiration of this scene, perhaps paradoxically, comes from the events that happen between Batman and Frost, to show him that the world changed and heroism has to change with it," said the writer. "It's a reality check for him. Batman is someone who thinks that he always has everything under his thumb and under control but he has a moment where he realizes he has to rebuild, he has to change, he has to redefine heroism. The callout is that he's not the only one. There's maybe people that he can help do it, and even more importantly, there's people he can surround himself that can help him do that for himself."
Black Canary comes into the team for two reasons according to Orlando: her hand-to-hand fighting skills, and her grass roots fights for social justice alongside Green Arrow.
“She doesn't lord above people with a mask. She's in Seattle, she's seen by people, she talks to people, she listens to people. She's there, as Batman says, to keep him honest, to keep him in line," said Orlando. "He knows what he wants to do, but it's a bit out of his comfort zone. Honestly, she's there because of the immense amount of respect he has for her and what she does."
This 7-member line-up will be it when Justice League of America launches in February, but Orlando said that he'd love to work in Supergirl, whose title he's also writing.
“Eventually, sure. I love Kara. She is 16, so her peers might be found in a team like the Teen Titans before the Justice League. But at the same time, I always love a character that rises to the occasion, like when Wally West first joined the JLA class," said Orlando. "There's always a spot for her on the team because of the unique point of view she brings in the DC universe. What team she's on will depend on whenever the chance arises. I'd love to bring those books together."