Spoilers ahead for Justice League #1.
With this week's Justice League #1, Scott Snyder introduced a mysterious doorknob that plays a key role in both the formation of the Legion of Doom and the race to understand and harness the energies from a mysterious Totality that's hurtling toward the Earth.
And much of the next few issues of Justice League will reveal the "big saga" of Lex Luthor's journey, leading him to his current quest to lead the Legion of Doom against the Justice League.
And at the center of Lex's journey is this mysterious doorknob. According to Snyder:
- Lex Luthor inherits the doorknob in a way that's connected to his father's Legionnaires Club in Kansas;
- As Lex insinuated, the doorknob is made of "a special substance" that readers will learn about soon;
- The doorknob has lines on it that, as secrets of the Totality are unlocked, will begin to light up, serving as what Snyder calls a "barometer for all the things happening in the DCU, with these different cosmic energies, as the year progresses;"
- The doorknob is one piece of information that Lex Luthor learned in the time between the end of Justice League: No Justice and the start of Justice League, including "what the Source Wall really is, and its secrets and all that stuff, and what he knows that Vandal [Savage] hid from humanity all these years."
This week's launch of Justice League by Snyder and artist Jim Cheung comes on the heels of May's weekly series Justice League: No Justice, which itself spun out of Dark Nights: Metal. And according to Snyder, concepts from both those preceding limited series continue to influence and shape the storyline in Justice League.
Newsarama talked to Snyder about the doorknob, how all the doors in issue #1 represent a deeper theme, and what readers can expect from the next issue of Justice League.
Newsarama: Scott, there's a mystery presented at the end of Justice League #1 regarding this doorknob that appears to lure the Totality toward Lex Luthor. The doorknob has properties that are described by Lex Luthor, including the power to kill Vandal Savage. Can you explain what this doorknob is and why it has such a prominent role in the story?
Scott Snyder: Yeah, so in issue #2, spoilers, at the very beginning, which is by the way, Jorge Jimenez, who I'm so grateful and lucky to work with … not only is he, like, the handsomest man in all of comics, and nobody should ever take a picture with him, because you look like a troll, but he's also so talented, it's mind-boggling.
He does sort of connective issues in Justice League, so we have a format where Jim does issues #1 and #7, the beginning and the end. And then #2, #3, #4 and #6 are all Jorge. And then Legion of Doom is Doug Mahnke in the middle, which is going to be great.
So at the beginning of issue #2, you see Lex Luthor actually goes to visit the Legionnaires Club, where his father was a member and sort of neglected his family to be part of this kind of loser, broken-down Legionnaires Club in Kansas all through his life.
And while Lex is there, he's like, I'm so excited to be here; I took it upon myself to come visit when the invitation was accidentally re-routed to me; and I decided I would buy this building and blow it up. And all the old people in there are like, what?
The mystery of what the doorknob is begins there, at the very beginning of issue #2.
I've always been fascinated with this idea of things left to you by the people before you, the kind of legacy of mysteries not fully answered in the past that kind of echo down into the present and affect things now.
And that doorknob is very much that. It opens a door.
Nrama: There are a lot of doors in this first issue.
Snyder: Yeah! Secret doors are a big theme. The term comes back a few times in this issue, both in the Legion of Doom, where doors open that Vandal Savage didn't know existed, and in the Hall of Justice, where doors open that nobody can see unless you're connected by Martian Manhunter. And the whole Multiverse is said to be built on a kind of door that people are just becoming aware of.
So Lex Luthor holds in his hand both a figurative and a literal representation of one of the key symbols of power in the series.
It's this thing when you can find a way of looking at the ugliest stuff, looking at the hardest stuff, to challenge, both about yourself and about the world, then you might unlock something really special.
Nrama: And Lex is doing that in this story?
Snyder: Lex has done that already. There's a journey that he's taken between No Justice and now.
Again, this is sort of one giant story that runs from Dark Nights: Metal, through No Justice into Justice League, and also from what happened to him in other books as well before this.
But his big saga will be revealed. You see the beginnings of why he turned bad at the end of No Justice when he realized that the key force of the Earth was entropy, out of the four possible energies of the cosmos.
He realizes, if that's the main energy of Earth, why am I fighting on the side of wisdom or mystery or these things? I need to embrace my own nature.
And in doing so, he finds a whole new side of himself and a whole new power set, in terms of his own ability to go farther than anyone is willing to go towards uncovering the truth of what human nature really is.
So yeah, the doorknob is a really big part of it.
Nrama: And with all your history with metal, and Lex saying that the doorknob is made "the only thing that can kill" Vandal Savage, can you say what the doorknob is made of?
Snyder: It's a special substance that you'll learn about soon.
Nrama: And it was left to Lex.
Snyder: Yeah, the doorknob was left to Lex in a special way, and the reason for that will all be revealed in upcoming issues.
It's one of the big mysteries of the series.
And as secrets of the Totality are unlocked, the different lines and the symbol on the doorknob begin to light up. So it's sort of like a litmus test for all the things that are happening in the DCU, or a barometer for all the things happening in the DCU, with these different cosmic energies, as the year progresses.
Nrama: OK, so this opens a door. I know the way you write, and you've usually got a personal meaning behind things. As you mentioned, you've already been talking a lot about doors. So do the doors, and this doorknob in particular, represent crossing a threshold?
Snyder: Yeah, well, I just think, for me, a lot of it is this idea that Justice League is the book that I've been waiting to do for a long time. I mean, Batman will always be my favorite character. But Justice League was sort of the golden ring, in terms of being the heart and soul of the DCU.
And so in a lot of ways, the series is about, not just in a plot way but in an emotional, psychological and metaphorical way, it's about opening doors to places that you didn't know you could go, both that take you to places that are ugly and take you to places that are inspiring.
So the Justice League is about making us braver than we're supposed to be. They're about seeing the best in each other. They're heroes that not only inspire us to be better, but look at us and say, you can be heroes as well.
To me, that is finding a doorway to the best version of yourself that you didn't know you could be.
So it's a very core image of the whole series.
Nrama: OK, I get that the heroes and their actions are inspirational, particularly Martian Manhunter in this issue, with his sacrificial actions and his ability to connect the heroes and bring them to this psychic boardroom (which is very cool, by the way). But as you mentioned, doors can also take you to places that are ugly. That's what happens in this issue, as Lex Luthor uses the doorknob to beat the life out of Vandal Savage. So you're exploring some scary doors here too, right?
Snyder: Oh yeah! What Lex learned in the interim, between No Justice and the start of Justice League, and what he knows about what the Source Wall really is, and its secrets and all that stuff, and what he knows that Vandal hid from humanity all these years?
He's very angry.
He's got a sort of righteousness for his passion for uncovering and displaying the truth of everything, so he sees himself as a hero. He really believes that, deep down, we are all agents of "doom."
In the second issue, he talks about the fact that "doom" means "fate." And our fate is to be what we were biologically designed to be. And he sees the Legion of Doom as the kind of heroes of that destiny, as opposed to the Justice League, who he sees as false idols.
He's got a lot of anger, yeah.
Nrama: To finish up then, Scott, is there anything else you want to tell readers about issue #2?
Snyder: Yeah, this is the start of everything I've been thinking about with the DCU and the characters that I love and that I've been wanting to write for a really long time, so issue #2 picks up with this idea, both with the death of Vandal Savage and the doorknob, what it is made of, what it represents, what Luthor has discovered.
And it also picks up with the big race between him and Martian Manhunter to discover the secrets of the Totality. And anybody who controls that controls the fate of the Multiverse.
Issue #2 is just non-stop. Issue #2 has some of the zaniest stuff I've ever written, too. When you get to the "Where is Batman?" I don't want to spoil it, but when you get to the "Where is Batman," I hope you smile. It's a lot of fun.
Justice League #2 is scheduled to be released June 20.