Yesterday, we alked with writer James Robinson about Justice League of America, one of DC's flagship titles, as the book goes through some changes heading into the New Year.While the core team will remain the same for the next few months, the Blue Lantern Saint Walker will be a new addition in March, joining with Justice League of America #55. In that same issue, Cyborg-Superman will show up to fight Doomsday and a still-"dark" Supergirl, although her turn-toward-black will be explained soon after in Superman/Batman Annual #5.
The series will also head into next spring with a story arc featuring Eclipso. Robinson describes the storyline as "epic," promising to build the same sort of long-form storytelling in Justice League that marked his acclaimed run on Starman.
The title will also go through an artist change, as Mark Bagley leaves the title. (Bagley is returning to Marvel to draw Ultimate Spider-Man's "Death of Spider-Man" storyline beginning in March.)
In this second installment of our two-part interview with Robinson, we talk to him about his new artist, about other changes that are coming to the title's team members and what guest stars might show up in 2011.
Newsarama: James, we finished the last part of our interview by talking about the departure of Mark Bagley. But who's going to be the new ongoing penciler on the title?
James Robinson: The new ongoing artist will be Brett Booth.
Nrama: He's doing the Starman/Congorilla issue. Is that why he's coming over to Justice League?
Robinson: Yes, absolutely. We knew we had to find somebody new, and he did such a fantastic job on Starman/Congorilla and he was so professional getting his pages in, which with a monthly book is a factor that you have to always take into account. And quite honestly it was very exciting to work with him on Congorilla/Starman.
So he's doing this new arc. And at least based on his covers (which is all that’s out there at the moment), I think you're going to be very excited by the look of the book and the feel.
Nrama: Brett starts with the Eclipso storyline that begins in February with Issue #54. We've seen the character of Eclipso go through some changes lately. Are you working within the parameters of those changes?
Robinson: Yes, but by this point he’s back to being linked to Bruce Gordon. We're back to Bruce Gordon as Eclipso’s human vessel, which is the way it should be. But that's just me and my opinion.
Nrama: I'm sure fans are excited to see what you do with the character, because you seem to really know your DC continuity. Are you getting the character back to its core?
Robinson: Well, I’m wary now of saying that I know my continuity, because no matter what I do, there's always someone online that points out where I’ve messed up and then all I hear is James Robinson's a hack, or he's a this or that. He doesn't understand DC comics. And there does always seem to be something...some vague thing that happened, some forgotten appearance of Eclipso or whoever, that I won't have known about, and won't have caught. And so as a result, I’ve learned never to trumpet that I know DC continuity up and down, because I’m sure to fall on my face for saying that a moment later. Things change so quickly that you always have to be reading every book in order to keep up with everything.
But I do love Eclipso, and yes, I do love who the characters is at the very core. I love the kind of the duality of it. It isn't the same as the Hulk's duality. Well, the Hulk isn't evil for one thing, but with the Hulk it’s two sides of one person. And at the very beginning of when Eclipso was first created, there was a bit more of a sense of not quite knowing if Eclipso was the dark side of Bruce Gordon. But now it's definitively been stated that he was the precursor to the Spectre as God's agent of vengeance on Earth, or retribution on Earth. And as a result, he's now this embittered, cast-out son who hated his father for no longer loving him. So he has a lot of that on his shoulders, whilst being unmitigatedly evil. I do like that about him. But I also like the fear.
Nrama: With all this background to Eclipso, how do you introduce him into the story?
Robinson: Issue #54 is where we introduce the character. It's an Eclipso solo story more than anything, leading up to the main storyline beginning properly in #55. We reintroduce him and show some of what he's been doing before we involve the rest of the Justice League. We show that Bruce Gordon is the host that Eclipso enjoys crossing swords with the most. He's the one guy that while being Eclipso’s human vessel — whilst never completely defeating him — actually manages to outthink him, and he isn't just a pawn. And Eclipso finds that exciting and challenging. So I’m trying to sort of reestablish that link between Eclipso and Bruce Gordon and make it interesting and fun and dynamic for people. The yin and yang of them. The good and evil.
Nrama: You mentioned yesterday that Jade's powers will be played up in this arc, particularly when Saint Walker joins. Will we see more definition of Jessie Quick's powers as well?
Robinson: Yes. She has to push her powers really far in the Omega arc, and this will manifest itself within the Eclipso arc as a slight change in her powers, which will make her unique. She'll continue to be a speedster, but it will give her a distinction from the other speedsters, to make her more unique as she begins to interact with them. That's something that will happen in the Eclipso arc.
Nrama: Besides Saint Walker, will we see more changes to the team over the coming months?
Robinson: All I can say at this juncture is that at the start of the Eclipso arc, which begins in February, it will feature the same team. After that, we'll have to see what happens to affect the membership of the Justice League.
But you'll see some interesting guest appearances during the Eclipso arc. It will involve every shadow character in the DC universe. So you will see The Shade in the book, and it will tangentially feed into the The Shade maxi-series, which will be launched next year.
Nrama: You hinted that you'd be writing Hawkman sometime in the future. Can you clarify that statement at all?
Robinson: No. No comment on that one.
Nrama: You also mentioned earlier in the interview that Starman plays a role in the Cyborg-Superman issue. So after their one-shot, will Starman and Congorilla be back on the Justice League team for good?
Robinson: Oh yeah. That was just so I could focus on the dynamic between the five versus the Crime Syndicate. Yeah, they'll be back on the team with the Eclipso arc. Starman, with his power source and everything else, will actually be quite a key player in the whole Eclipso storyline.
Nrama: Anything else you can tell us about what's coming up in Justice League of America?
Robinson: Just that, by the end of the Eclipso storyline, I think people will see why this team deserves to be called the Justice League of America. To put it bluntly, they'll prove that they're kick-ass. And the Eclipso arc will affect more than just this team. It's a huge, big, epic thing that will build and build.