One of the goals for writer Scott Snyder's new Justice League title is to expand the mythologies of team members. And he's starting with one of the DCU's biggest, as he introduces the "Invisible Emotional Spectrum" to the Green Lantern Universe.
Snyder will launch his new Justice League with Jim Cheung and Jorge Jiménez by picking up threads from his recently concluded event series Dark Nights: Metal.
Specifically, the story ended with the destruction of the Source Wall, a barrier at the edge of the DCU that not only obstructed dark forces from entering, but appears to have helped maintain the former rules of the universe.
For example, as the Justice League series kicks off, The Flash Barry Allen will discover a previously unseen energy called the "Still Force" that's embedded within the Speed Force.
And Green Lantern John Stewart will discover the "Invisible Emotional Spectrum," which contains the powers of hidden emotions and expands the mythology behind the Green Lantern's known "Emotional Spectrum." And behind the Invisible Spectrum is also a mystery connected to Sinestro, who's apparently been searching for this power for a long time.
Newsarama talked to Snyder about how someone might wield the powers of the Invisible Spectrum, how the ideas in Justice League will be picked up in other titles, and what he's doing with concepts like the Hall of Justice, the Still Force and the Legion of Doom.
Newsarama: Scott, all the ideas I'm hearing about for your run on Justice League sound really innovative.
Scott Snyder: Thanks! I'm really excited. This is my DC opus. If I never get to write another superhero comic, this is the one I wanted to go out on.
Nrama: I know you, though, and you tend toward things that are personal for you. When I heard that this "Invisible Spectrum" is connected to hidden emotions, I figured we were delving into your psyche again.
Snyder: [Laughs.] Yeah, very much. This is an idea I've had in my head a long time. I vetted it with the Green Lantern group over a year ago.
Nrama: The Justice League run was being developed that long ago?
The Invisible Spectrum was always a huge part of the plan. I wanted the very first arc to be about the things that we find beneath the surface that we don't like about ourselves when we go digging for the truth. Justice League is very much about, from Page 1, the Source Wall broke and the events of No Justice make our universe incredibly vulnerable. And something comes here to change the game.
So Martian Manhunter and the Justice League are very much about getting to the bottom of it and discovering what it is, while the Legion of Doom are about, let's discover it, take advantage of it, and show the universe why that wall protected everything out on the other side of it from us. The point is that sometimes when you do go beyond your comfort zone and you start looking at things that are greater mysteries about the world around us and about ourselves, in human nature, you can find things that are really terrifying. So the Invisible Spectrum, to me, is about all the emotions we don't like to admit we have, from shame and guilt to some of the darkest.
Nrama: Such as?
Snyder: Like murderous hatred. Not just "rage" or "anger," which are things that we process and understand, like the Red Lanterns and Atrocitus and so on. But these things are much, much darker. You know? So dark that they sort of exist almost off the bandwidth, off the perceptive bandwidth. And what we learn very on is that Sinestro might have been hunting these things for a long time, even before he was a Green Lantern.
A lot of what we're doing in this arc has to do with all of our heroes in one way or another, whether it's Kendra going on a very special, interesting mission, I think, with Martian Manhunter, Superman and Batman, or whether it's Wonder Woman and Aquaman going down to try to find the Legion of Doom at a hidden pocket down at the core of the earth. And John Stewart has a real reckoning with the Invisible Spectrum. All of those things are about going to places where you're going to discover things about yourself and your mythology that are daunting.
Nrama: That sounds like it's echoing some of the themes in Metal, of discovering this darker world, these unseen things.
Snyder: Yeah, we tried very hard to set up this theme in Metal so that it would feel just completely confluent here and like we were building on things that you saw hints of there.
Nrama: One of the things that was so interesting about what Geoff Johns did with the Emotional Spectrum was the various Lanterns that wielded each type of energy. Will we have ring-bearers for the Invisible Spectrum?
Snyder: Yeah, but it's actually not rings. It's something a little bit different. We wanted it to feel like it wasn't quite the same. There is a Central Power Battery. It's different from what you would expect, and that's part of the fun of the story, discovering how this thing is almost a mirror to the Emotional Spectrum but in a different way. It's more primitive. It's more primal.
So those things that you see, when you see a cover that has John Stewart with those kind of strange markings on his hands, on his finger, running up to his neck, representing some of the things that have happened to him in the past — Xanshi, all that stuff, Cosmic Odyssey. Those things suddenly become visible, the things you didn't want to show. So even the way we've designed the markers of the Invisible Spectrum, instead of the ring being a classic ring, instead of the Power Battery being a classic battery.
We wanted you to have parallels, but we wanted it to feel organic and new, so this spectrum is quite scary and quite big — as big as Mogo and beyond. But we were like, we're just going to do it in a big, five-issue extravaganza to open up Justice League to show how crazy we're going.
Nrama: OK, so in the midst of all these things involving the Justice League characters and the Legion of Doom, there's also this story about the Invisible Spectrum that kind of focuses on John Stewart?
Snyder: I know this is a slightly different thing, but every arc, we want to expand on two characters and mythologies, where we show you how their history, their powers, their pasts, all of it is bigger and more mysterious and wondrous and terrifying than you thought. So this first arc is very much focused on John Stewart/Green Lantern and also on Flash, and we discover that there's this Still Force in addition, embedded within the Speed Force.
So to give you a sense, this is the first five to six issues, with the Invisible Spectrum, the Still Force, and something comes from the Source Wall that changes the game and everything.
Nrama: You really hit the ground running.
Snyder: I wanted this to be the book that feels like Metal and even bigger, in terms of the ideas in it, in terms of the ambition of it, but it has a different level of character-building, a different level of majesty and grandeur, just because I have more room. I have two-plus years to play this out.
Nrama: You already have a two-year arc planned?
Snyder: Over multiple arcs. Every arc will feel stand-alone, but when you'll realize as you go forward is all these discoveries are leading to something that started back in Metal, build through No Justice, and goes forward. So these Omega Titans you're seeing in No Justice, the way they're handling the break in the Source Wall, the repercussions of that, the characters you met in Metal like Barbatos, the World Forge — all that stuff's coming back in Justice League. All of it. It's easily the most ambitious thing that I've ever tried, but it's also the most inspiring. I cleared my desk. I did my second arc of Wytches. I finished my first big chapter of my Black Label book with Greg Capullo. So this is my life right now, is Justice League, in a way that I'm really, really excited about.
Nrama: OK, let's back up a minute. The Still Force shows Barry that although he thought he knew his mythology, there's this new force that he didn't know about. And the Invisible Spectrum is doing something similar to John Stewart. Is this all connected to the loss of the Source Wall?
Snyder: Yeah, the Source Wall breaking essentially has changed the rules of the game when it comes to the natural laws that were set in ancient times in our universe. So not to give too much away, but that means that forces and energies that we didn't know were there are going to suddenly become exposed, they're suddenly become accessible. And characters that have known about this secret, about what the Source Wall really is, who created it — all of this stuff…
Nrama: What characters?
Snyder: Ganthet and some of the oldest beings in the universe. They're going to be some of the first to say, don't go near the Invisible Spectrum. Don't open that door. But our heroes need to do that, because if they don't, who's going to rush in? The villains. The Legion of Doom. In those ways, it really is a cumulative story. When the Source Wall broke, and because of the events of No Justice, these new things are suddenly in play.
That's why one of the first lines of No Justice was from Guy Gardner being like, you guys just broke the universe. The old rules just went out the window. And that's the way we want to play it these next few years. We want you to feel like all the stuff you know and love about the DCU is back in play, things like Hypertime, things from different Crises in the past, characters you might not have seen.
But we're not just bringing them back for nostalgia. We want to use them the way we did in Metal so they come back and take you someplace brand new, that builds to something very, very big and special in Justice League in 2018 and into 2019.
Nrama: Back to that two-year plan.
Snyder: Yeah, I have a two-year plan for this book. I went to Burbank and I was like, here's my board. Here's my two-plus years. This is the way this thing could end, if you guys are up for it. And this is how big we can go. And everybody was really cool about buying in. So it's a story that's very personal to me. It's about what these characters mean. It's about what the DCU means to me. It's about what it should be in my opinion. And so I don't take this lightly. This is the book I've been waiting to do since I was a kid. And it's the reason I'm bringing back the Hall of Justice, all of that stuff. I want it to feel connected.
Nrama: And as you've described it, the Hall of Justice is not only the headquarters for the League, but it's sort of a central area for all the DCU. It sounds like the title itself plays a similar role.
Snyder: Yeah, the hub, the nervous center, the heart, really, of the DCU, not because it's more important than other books, but because everybody's in it. So I want it to celebrate the DCU, and I want it to feel connective. And I want it to reflect the great stories happening by other writers and other artists in other books, and every once in awhile, drive story as we go forward.
Nrama: So this stuff you're introducing in Justice League sort of spills over into their solo titles?
Snyder: Yeah, you'll see that by the second arc. You'll see things in Justice League playing out in other books that wanted to be a part of it. I'm really, really thrilled at the way Justice League is coming together. I could not be more grateful to DC for giving me the chance to do it the way I'm doing it. I couldn't be more grateful to the partners I have on it, between Jim Cheung, Jorge Jiménez and everyone else.
And honestly, I couldn't be more grateful to the fans for entrusting me with this book that, to me, is the heart and soul of the DCU. It means a lot to me. I do not take this lightly at all.