If readers thought the influx of new connections, concepts and continuity in Justice League would slow down after the book’s launch earlier this year, this week’s issue #10 proved them wrong.
Spoilers ahead for Justice League #10.
Justice League #10 not only featured Batman using Starro in a jar (“Jarro”) to probe Starman’s mind and had superheroes fighting the Volcano Man while cracking punny jokes, but also brought three enormous “sea gods” to invade the Earth from other planets.
Kicking off Justice League’s “Drowned Earth” crossover with Aquaman and Titans, #10 also teased connections to concepts first introduced in Dark Nights: Metal. The story is part of a grand scheme being orchestrated by Justice League writers Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV, who’s also writing two specials that bookend the “Drowned Earth” event.
Newsarama talked to Tynion and Snyder about some of the spoilers from this week’s #10, as well as learning what’s coming up next in Justice League.
Newsarama: James, in this issue of Justice League, the beacon that Superman and the other superheroes found out about were the ones sent during your Justice League #8, right? So Lex Luthor and the Legion of Doom are completely behind all this?
James Tynion: That’s exactly correct. We saw in the previous issue, Justice League #8, that a message had been sent out and these creatures were drawn forth. And we also saw the death of Poseidon. So it’s clear that the Legion of Doom has spurred all of this into action.
We’re going to see that really take center stage starting with the Special when Black Manta really enters the story in a big, bombastic way.
Nrama: Scott, with the connection to Arion, this also feels like it’s linked to Dark Nights: Metal. Will we continue seeing more connections, since there were mysteries about Aquaman’s mythology left Metal?
Snyder: Yes. There’s a scene in Metal where Aquaman and Deathstroke go to the center of the Earth to find a repository of Nth Metal, and they see mechanisms set up by Arion there, and they’re curious about them.
That is part of the set-up for this story.
You’re going to see that machinery, that set piece, brought back into this story. I won’t say where, but it plays a big role coming up.
When I did Batman, it was very self-contained and was very much a run. But part of the mission statement I gave DC with James and Josh [Williamson] doing Justice League was that this has to be a tapestry. It has to be something that’s built out from the beginning with tendrils of story that reach all over the DCU, call back to things we’ve already done, and bring back things that were planned as Easter eggs back then to then be activated here.
So it will reference things from Metal, and even things from No Justice - big things from No Justice are coming back in the issue that James is here planning with me already for winter.
Tynion: All of these pieces are very deliberately placed. We’re still operating on a plan where, the first steps of which were put together more than a year ago. I remember there was a day when Josh Williamson came out and we were really blocking No Justice and started laying out the groundwork of what these three Justice League books would be. And we started laying down what the big action points would be that are turning points in each of the realms.
Right now, we’re in one of those major turning points, particularly when it comes to magic and mythology.
Nrama: You mean with “Drowned Earth?” Or with “Witching Hour?” Or both?
Tynion: Both “The Witching Hour” and “Drowned Earth.” While they are two separate events and you can enjoy them separately, they both tell the story of magic and mythology in chaos.
Both of them put two of the core elements of the DC cosmological magical system out of balance.
That is something that’s going to be really important driving forward.
Chronologically, “Witching Hour” happens before “Drowned Earth,” so we’ll see, in “Drowned Earth,” how some of those threads come through.
The big plan, the big picture, is something we’re always excited about. Scott is already asking me about something he wants to reveal.
Snyder: I’m tweeting something later this week that’s basically a code no one will be able to decipher, but I’ll see, a year from now, remember this exact tweet.
And then a year from now, I’m going to show you that it was all planned out.
Nrama: There’s a lot of moving parts to this thing.
Snyder: There is! I don’t know if I’m ever going to do this thing again. This is the most fun I’ve ever had. But if you think about it like this - from 2017 to 2020, it’s sort of one, giant, cumulative story that we’re building as a team.
It started with Metal, and we’re trying to show-run it as something that gets fans excited about the immersive, propulsive, giant, grand tapestry of storytelling that not only we’re doing in our books, but that comics should be in general.
It’s something that comics can offer that any other medium can’t, that connectivity, that feeling of being immersed in a story that goes cross-book and then suddenly explodes into something huge.
I can promise you that, as much as I can’t say what it is. We are building toward a huge culmination.
So you can read everything independently, and enjoy everything independently. “Witching Hour” is one of the best things that I’ve read in a long time. I’m so proud to be writing alongside what James is doing and what’s happening over there.
You can read “Drowned Earth” on the side, over here.
But if you read all of it, it will reward you for reading all of it, I promise you that. We are not wasting pieces.
And in that way, the same way I think, if you read Metal, you’re going to be like, “Wow! That thing from Metal that they mentioned got answered a year later over here! That’s wild!”
That stuff’s going to be happening more and more and more over the next year plus.
Not just Metal either - the things you see in “Witching Hour” will be played out later. Things you see in The Flash are going to play out later, the Force Quest and all that stuff. Things you see in The Batman Who Laughs - those are going to play out huge, believe me.
Everything can be read on its own and enjoyed on its own, but we are trying to build architecture here that makes something very, very special over the course of the next year plus.
Nrama: OK, so the set-up for “Drowned Earth” is pretty straightforward. But there was a mysterious figure in the Totality in Justice League #8, and this week’s Justice League #10 also made it pretty clear that the characters who are off-world on Thanagar are hoping to learn more about the Totality. We’ll find out about those things after the “Drowned Earth” storyline ends?
Tynion: Yes, all of those pieces are all in play. But yeah, the Thanagar storyline will start with issue #14 in December, and we’ll see the full story of what happens when Hawkgirl, Martian Manhunter, and John Stewart arrive on Thanagar Prime.
And yeah, for “Drowned Earth,” because of them being gone, you have a full invasion hitting the Earth when the Justice League is already dialed down. Three of their members are off-world. And then, in this first issue, we see Wonder Woman and Aquaman sucked away from the rest of the League.
So we have a very whittled-down Justice League trying to defend the world from a full-on alien invasion spear-headed by cosmic sea gods.
While the context of everything that’s happening was important, it’s their absence that dials up the tension of this story.
One of my favorite things in the Special is seeing how Batman in particular is trying to maneuver all of the League and all of the superheroes of the world into action when literally, there isn’t enough Justice League to stop this invasion.
Snyder: And he’s in a full body cast.
Nrama: We saw some of that in this week’s Aquaman #41.
Snyder: It’s been great working with Dan Abnett for the tie-ins. The team on this has been amazing. Howard Porter and Francis Manapul are doing work on this that's out of this world. Francis’ designs, the wild imagination coupled with the emotionality he gives the story... I feel incredibly lucky to be working with him.
Nrama: You’re giving your artists plenty to work with. But I want to address another hint dropped in this week’s Justice League #10. Batman said there are “shocking connections” that have built as the Totality traveled through time, presumably dropping pieces like Lex’s doorknob. Are we going to learn more about what these past connections are? Particularly the one involving Lex’s father Lionel, whose name has been dropped?
Tynion: Absolutely yes. We’re going to be tying together some major pieces. I love the deep dive, especially in the Legion of Doom issues, being able to do the deep dive, like weird DC continuity stuff. Trust me that I am gathering every toy they’ll let me have.
Issue #18 is going to be the big, secret history of the Legionnaires Club, and we’ll see how all these characters come together.
Snyder: And issue #17 is the sort of hero version of that same thing, where we learn a lot of the secret history of Luthor, Martian Manhunter, Mars, and everything learned on Thanagar.
Nrama: You’re really plotting and scripting that far ahead?
Snyder: Yeah, seriously! I’m actually working on issue #21, #22 right now! It’s an arc for Jorge Jimenez. It’s going to be about the Sixth Dimension. And you learn the history of DC Crises and all kinds of crazy stuff.
Nrama: DC Crises?
Snyder: I’m just spoiling right and left, because why not?
But the idea is, again, I can’t hit this note enough - it’s one big plan.
We are not flying by the seat of our pants. We want you to feel in good hands and protected as a reader from randomness. We want you to feel like everything comes back to play a part.