Scott Snyder admits that Justice League, as it carries DC’s “Year of the Villain” event and sets up “Justice: Doom War,” is more than just a regular title.
“I wouldn’t call it anything but an event book going forward,” Snyder told Newsarama.
According to Snyder, upcoming issues of Justice League will not only feature Lex Luthor recruiting the worst villains of the DCU, but the upcoming battles between “justice” and “doom” will involve the World Forger, the Monitor, the Anti-Monitor and characters from throughout the DC Multiverse — including DC characters from across time.
The set-up for “Year of the Villain” occurred in the conclusion of this week’s Justice League #25, drawn by Jorge Jimenez. The oversized issue revealed more details about how Lex Luthor survived the events of DC’s Year of the Villain special and how the League plans to stop him.
Newsarama talked to Snyder to find out more about the story, what the symbolism in Batman and Superman’s decisions meant, and what readers can expect next from Justice League.
Newsarama: Scott, this week’s Justice League #25 had Superman escaping from his trap in the Sixth Dimension, and you chose to frame that scene with this symbolism of lanterns. What did that mean for you in this scene and why did you make it a part of this story arc in particular?
Scott Snyder: Yeah, what the arc is about to me is, it’s a moment when it seems completely hopeless and you’re unable to imagine any way out of a situation that seems completely doomed.
The point of the story is that the way you imagine beyond that is through each other. The people that you trust and care about and love help you see beyond the boundaries of your own limitations.
So Superman, as much as he’s accused, over and over, of being this one-dimensional or two-dimensional character - that he has this constant set of ethics that just never change - I really find that to be untrue. I think he’s constantly learning and influenced and inspired by the people around him, from Lois to Jonathan to Batman to Wonder Woman.
This story is about how those characters are the ones that essentially give him, I think, the foundation of who he is. He isn’t just some kind of static sense of right and wrong from Kansas. They all shaped him.
Nrama: That theme is echoed in Batman’s reasoning to the World Forger, when he says that he utilizes the League to make him see beyond his own pessimism, right?
Snyder: Yeah, Batman says to the World Forger, "I do agree with you and think you’re right — I can’t see a way out of this. I don’t have the imagination to see beyond this. But if I think about my friend Superman and give him a chance to prove that there might be a way beyond anything I can see? Then hopefully we’ll find a way out of this that I don’t see. Like, the Sixth Dimension itself is what lies beyond what we can imagine. You know?"
Nrama: So even the fact that it’s in the Sixth Dimension ties in to this theme, of your friends helping you see a way out, or imagine a positive path forward.
Snyder: Right. That’s why the arc is really about how the heroes, as characters and friends, inspire each other to be able to do things that they didn’t know they were capable of. And that’s what makes them the Justice League and a family.
But it also is kind of about what these characters are supposed to mean to us as readers. They’re supposed to be able to show us ways in which we can be better than we thought we could. That’s what they’re there for.
Nrama: Before the issue came out, you talked about how this story is inspired by your hope that nations can come together to solve the world’s problems. Is that part of Batman’s speech as well, that even though he’s compelled to take a the path that makes the most sense to him, he decides to work as a team to find a solution that everyone can agree upon?
Snyder: Yeah, exactly. He knows that he himself is incapable of coming up with a solution that’s good enough for his own standards. So he’s relying on Superman and his friends to show him a better way. And he sets that in motion, even though he doesn’t really believe it will work.
So it’s about taking that leap of faith, saying, I can’t conceive of a way that, by all of us working together, we’re going to fix something like climate change or we’re going to fix something like terrorism, but what you have to do is believe in the people that you share life with and have some sense of hope and optimism about that.
And that’s what Batman is trying to do. He’s saying, "I don’t see a way out of this problem, but Superman might.
"And I trust him. He’s my friend."
And that’s what Superman’s saying too.
Superman doesn’t see a way out of the darkness that he’s flying through, even though he keeps going. And Batman gives him a chance. That’s what they all do for each other.
Nrama: And I like that he knew it was Batman who did that.
Snyder: Yeah, when he says … “Bruce.”
This is honestly my favorite issue that we’ve done so far in Justice League. It really is.
To me, it’s a thesis statement on what Justice League is about as a book, and it’s also a thesis statement about why these characters are important to me personally and why I think they’re important to each other.
Nrama: At the end of the book, they bring the World Forger into the Hall of Justice and appear to be teaming up with him. Is he part of the book going forward, and we’ll see the Monitor and Anti-Monitor get involved in this fight?
Snyder: We will. It’s going to be huge. Wait until you see.
This is the stuff that starts the biggest stuff.
"Justice: Doom War," which starts with issue #30, is everything you’ve been waiting for. It’s a war between the Legion of Doom, which expands, and the Justice League, which expands to include most of the heroes across time.
Nrama: So not just from across the Multiverse, but across time?
Snyder: Like, across… literally, the kind of Hypertime boundaries of the DCU.
It’s the biggest thing we’ve ever tried within a regular book. And I’m deeply proud of it. It’s that we’ve been building toward since the beginning.
So yes, it’s really going to involve these characters.
The World Forger knows that the only way to win this thing now is to get his brothers, the Anti-Monitor and the Monitor, to band together and try to trap Perpetua the way they did eons ago.
So as character-grounded as it is, it becomes … I wouldn’t call it anything but an event book going forward.
I mean, it has really quiet moments. The next three issues are a little bit quieter, but then it gets crazy.
Nrama: And the next three issues concentrate on…
Snyder: The next three issues are about everybody trying to find a way to avoid "Justice: Doom War," and then they realize there’s no way to avoid it.
Nrama: OK, let’s talk about Lex Luthor, who is trying to become like the sort of Martian-human creatures that Perpetua made for her previous universe. Brainiac helped him change into this creature, but Lex says in Justice League #25 that his body is “unfinished.” Does that mean we’ll see him finish the process?
Snyder: Yes. You’ll see — he goes after Martian Manhunter to try to get the DNA he needs to become the final version of the apex predator. His goal is to be able to lead all the villains through “Year of the Villain” to become part of Legion of Doom and change the entire Multiverse into a formation of doom, and serve Perpetua and change the fate of everything going forward.
Nrama: Small tasks. So what is Lex now — some sort of in-between creature?
Snyder: He’s in between. He’s essentially like an acolyte. He’s supposed to be in, almost like the tadpole stage. Do you know what I mean?
So this is the stage in which Perpetua says, "I bless you with the beginnings of what I wanted to make you in the first place. But now you’ll have to get the rest of what you need yourself to prove to me you’re worthy."
Nrama: And he needs the Martian part of the equation.
Snyder: Yeah, Lex needs Martian Manhunter. He needs to capture him and he needs Martian Manhunter to give over his soul and DNA to be able to change into the apex predator that he feels he’s destined to be to lead humanity to a great future.
Nrama: That would be the exact opposite of what Lex did as a child, right?
Nrama: I mean, he set J’onn free.
Snyder: Right. And you’ll see - we go back to his childhood again in the next three issues, and his father - all kinds of stuff from the very beginnings of Justice League play a big part.
You’ll see us go back to Smallville. You’ll see us go back to the laboratory his father worked in.
It’s really circular.
Nrama: For “Year of the Villain,” just to clarify — because we’ve seen all the tie-in issues, and there are quite a few — are you working on conjunction with all the different writers on the villains that are going to be either accepting or refusing Lex’s “offer"?
Snyder: Yeah, 100%.
We had a big meeting about it back in December. And we talked about the roll-out and how it culminates with some stuff that I can’t talk about yet. But it will culminate in really huge ways, both in July - Lex’s official offer goes out to everybody - and then in November, everything really explodes.
So “Year of the Villain” is going to be a real game-changer.
Nrama: Anything else you want to add before we finish up? I know we’ve talked before about why Jorge is listed as a writer on this storyline, because he came up with the pocket universe where Superman is trapped. But we haven’t really talked about Jorge’s art on this, or the art from the other people who’ve been working on Justice League.
Snyder: Yeah, yeah, I want to talk about the art. Because it’s a landmark issue for us, issue #25, I want to say thank you to the incredible partners I’ve had on the book.
I mean, Jorge has done more issues than anybody, and he’s really inspired me, both with his passion for the characters and his incredible energy on the page. He’s a real friend. And he’s also an indomitable talent.
But also, Francis Manapul, who’s been a dear friend for a long time, and Jim Cheung, who I’ve really enjoyed getting to know.
And I should give a shout-out to James Tynion IV, who I think is just carrying so much on his shoulders with this thing and makes it so much better than I could make it alone. I’m really, really grateful to him for being not just like a brother, but a creative partner on this thing.
Our best stuff is really coming, I promise. The story is plotted out through the early 40’s, when things culminate.
It’s really another year. It has another year of real cumulative story until it explodes.