MILLIGAN: DCnU JUSTICE LEAGUE Spin-off 'Emotionally Dark'

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With all the excitement about Peter Milligan's new Justice League Dark title , which is   launching in September , there's one odd fact that stands out — he's writing John Constantine's character in two universes at the same time.

As the current writer of Hellblazer for Vertigo, Milligan has won loyal fans as he's developed John Constantine through his relationship, even marrying him off earlier this year. Now he launches Justice League Dark, which also features Constantine, but a completely different version of the character.

In Justice League Dark, which will feature art by Mikel Janin, Constantine joins a team of other supernatural characters who fight the type of crime that DC's superheroes can't detect. On the team, Constantine is joined by fan-favorites like Deadman and Madame Xanadu. Milligan is also bringing a few characters with him from the Flashpoint: Secret Seven mini-series, including Shade the Changing Man, Enchantress and Zatanna.

Probably most significant among the new team's members is the inclusion of Mindwarp, the character that Milligan created specifically for his Flashpoint tie-in. The character has never been seen in the regular DCU -- only the Flashpoint universe -- but she is apparently being carried over after the end of the Flashpoint to now be part of the DCnU.

Newsarama talked with Milligan to find out more about Justice League Dark.

Newsarama: First off, did you know when everyone was asking you about the DCU John Constantine that you'd be writing him?

Peter Milligan: Yeah. Sorry about that. I felt pretty bad and it was quite strange, sitting on a few panels and then having a few interviews where I couldn’t actually say that I’d be writing Constantine for DCU. I have to say, though, that that didn’t change what I said, which I still stand by. Namely that as far as I’m concerned, it’s important that the Vertigo Constantine and the DCU Constantine are kept separate, with no cross-over things going on.

The DCU Constantine has to be the guy we know and love, with his same failings — otherwise what’s the point of using him? But as I’m writing him he’s younger and has perhaps been through a bit less than the battered aging old sod we meet in Vertigo. Unlike my Vertigo Constantine, the guy we see in JLA Dark is definitely not married! I also said and believe that the average DC reader – Vertigo and DCU – is sophisticated enough to be able to read both versions without getting confused.

Nrama: Now that you've sat down writing it, what are your thoughts about keeping each character separate?

Milligan: I’m not confused moving from writing about Constantine with Epiphany in Hellblazer, and Constantine doing what he’s doing in JLA Dark — so I don’t think anyone else will be. He’s such a great character, he can handle this. In fact, it’s really nice being able to explore two aspects of this thing named Constantine.

Nrama: How did this come about — do you think it was your work on the Flashpoint mini-series that brought about this opportunity?

Peter Milligan: Hard to say. I think Flashpoint had something to do with it.

Nrama: The book isn't just Constantine. You've got a whole team of supernatural characters. What appealed to you about the premise?

Milligan: It was the “dark” bit that really appealed to me. The idea of taking these characters and this kind of story into some dark places. That doesn’t always or necessarily mean supernatural black magic dark. It can mean emotionally dark. A messed up confused kind of dark. The basic screwed up human condition transplanted onto a superhero/supernatural comic.

Nrama: Did you come up with the team or did DC? And can you describe at all the ideas behind those characters who are included?

Milligan: We had discussions and slowly boiled down the team we were all happy with. Obviously I’m the writer, so if there was someone mentioned whom I felt no connection with or felt really didn’t add to what we were trying to do, then I had a veto (at least, I think I had a veto!). There were some characters I really wanted in there. Shade. Constantine. And my new character Mindwarp. I also enjoyed writing June Moone and Enchantress in Flashpoint: Secret Seven and wanted to have the opportunity to travel further into that strange, bifurcated landscape.

Nrama: How are you keeping new readers in mind? Are you having to reintroduce these characters?

Milligan: I went to New York a few months back, partly to go through JLA Dark with the editors. I was anxious that we didn’t get too bogged down in all that “re-introducing” stuff. The reader will be bright enough to infer who or what characters are from story and action. In fact, I said to Eddie Berganza: no origins issues!

Nrama: What does Mikel Janin bring to the comic?

Milligan: You mean besides breathtaking artistic brilliance? I am continually spellbound and blown away — if you can be both spellbound and blown away — by the pages Mikel is producing. He’s perfect for this book. There’s a lot of up close and personal stuff in this story and Mikel is great at expressions and emotions.

Nrama: Can you describe the overall tone of the comic? The title says "dark" — does that mean the comic is going to lean toward the grim? Or does the humor of some of these characters come through?

Milligan: It’s dark rather than grim. And any comic with Constantine in it has its fair share of humor. There’s painful humor too.

When I was thinking about these characters, the analogy that formed in my head was with cops. The fact that many cops have ruined marriages and drink or have drug problems. Are, in fact, a mess. Our characters are laden with these insane powers – I’m interested how that affects their lives. How do they cope? What about their loved ones? How the hell do they cope?

But I don’t want to give the impression that is all doom and gloom. Shade’s problems manifest themselves in remarkable ways. And there’s Constantine. He might be messed up. But that won’t stop him taking the piss out of people.

Nrama: Is there anything else you want to tell fans about the new Justice League Dark?

Milligan: Only that I’m really excited about it. But I think that’s probably obvious by now.

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