When DC decided to release "Retroactive" comics showcasing the Justice League of the past, there was little question the publisher would try to get Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis back on the characters they made famous.
The entire Bwa-Ha-Ha band is back together in August when Giffen, DeMatteis and artist Kevin Maguire reunite for DC Retroactive: Justice League of America - The '90s #1.
The creative team has a lot of loyal fans of their original run in 1987-1992. During their JLA run, Giffen and DeMatteis brought together a group of previously unfamiliar characters and mixed a unique brand of humor with heart-filled character stories that entertained readers.
While Giffen and DeMatteis have worked together a lot since their JLI days, including a run earlier this year on Booster Gold, the two have previously stated they didn't want to write the JLI team anymore.
Newsarama caught up with the creators to find out why they're reuniting for this one-shot, and what readers can expect from the story.
Newsarama: First, guys, let's be honest. Are you getting tired of each other?
Giffen: I was tired of him at the 12th issue of Justice League.
No, something happens when we work together. I don't know what it is. Neither one of us really writes this way or tells these kind of stories, except when we work on a book together.
DeMatteis: Hard as it may be to believe...no. In the end, it doesn't even matter what the project is: if I'm doing it with Keith, I'm in. If Giffen called me up and said, "Hey, let's do a revival of Fatman, the Human Flying Saucer," I'd say, "I'm in!"
Giffen: You know, you'd think we'd be tired of each other. I mean, it's been years and years and years. It's like a bad marriage that everyone loves. And Kevin's the son we never wanted.
Nrama: Seriously though, you've got to be getting to the point where you almost know what the other person is going to do. Are you "in a groove" in your co-writing? What's it like to work together now?
DeMatteis: I think we've each absorbed each other's writing tics: it's a kind of comic book mind meld. I'm pretty sure either one of us could write a Giffen-DeMatteis story alone, put both our names in the credits, and no one would know the difference. The weird thing is when we're writing separately, our styles are very different. But when we come together, some weird chemistry happens and we become this two-headed, demented entity.
Giffen: That's true, but what's great about the collaboration is that I'm still surprised by what he does. Sometimes, his dialogue will even change the direction of a plot I'm doing. That's part of the joy of working with him. I don't always know what I'm going to get. I just know it's going to be better than what I could do alone.
Nrama: You guys have voiced some hesitance about writing the JLI again. What was it about the Retroactive project that brought you back to them?
DeMatteis: The chance to do one more story and then be done with them. Really. Forever. No kidding. We're done.
Giffen: Seriously though, this really is our last JLI story. I really don't want to do the JLI anymore. I've had my say with these characters. It's like Lobo. There are so many stories that can be told with Lobo, but I just don't want to tell them.
I honestly wasn't even sure I wanted to do it this time around. I thought, how many times can I go back to that well? The only reason I agreed to this was because of the chance to work with these two guys again. When I found out that Kevin was actually going to draw the book, that really just sealed the deal to me.
DeMatteis: My only regret is that we couldn't find a place for G'nort in the story. I begged Keith — but he wouldn't listen to me.
Giffen: I don't know what it is about him and G'nort. If he wants to do a G'nort comic, hey, happy days are here again! But lose my number!
Nrama: You guys have both mentioned the importance of Kevin's collaboration to this project. What does it mean to be working with Kevin on this?
DeMatteis: It means that even if Keith and I totally screw up the script, this will be one great looking book. With lots of close-ups of faces making lots of amazing expressions. And hopefully a few Danny Thomas spit-takes. (I'll pause a moment while the people reading this Google the name "Danny Thomas.")
Kevin defined the look and attitude of our JLI run right from the start. He's like a great actor, interpreting our script, bringing the stories alive in a way few artists can. And every time we work together, he's better than the time before.
Giffen: Kevin was there from the beginning, and he was a huge part of the Justice League taking off. He came in with a different approach to art than what I think a lot of readers were used to, and he had such a great ability to portray emotions on people's faces. It's second to none. The book would not have been as popular if Kevin had not been on board to give it the proper send-off.
When people think of the JLI, they think Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire. So it's only fitting that he's here for the last story.
Nrama: What types of things will fans get to see in this story?
DeMatteis: Bickering. Pettiness. Brilliant jokes. Awful jokes. Punching. Hitting. Parademons. And the Injustice League. Yes, it's true, the Mighty Bruce has returned.
Giffen: Yeah, we added in the Injustice League because I thought those characters were really cool and wanted to revisit them.
Nrama: What Justice League characters are the focus?
DeMatteis: It's the classic team. Fire and Ice. Beetle and Booster. Max and Oberon. J'onn and Guy. If you're looking for any kind of character growth from these guys, look elsewhere. It's the usual idiocy and mayhem.
Giffen: If people are huge fans, it's the JLI they know and love. You'll recognize it right away.
Nrama: How has it been revisiting the old gang, and in the old style?
DeMatteis: It doesn't feel like the "old" style...it's just our style. And since Keith and I have been continuing to work together, most recently on Metal Men and Booster Gold, there's no nostalgia involved. We're just doing that thing we do.
Giffen: While it was fun to do and I'm looking forward to seeing the end result, it's something that, had they not approached us and asked if we wanted to do this, we'd never have approached them. We've moved on. It was fun to go back, but in the back of my mind, I kept hearing, in my mind, that line from Al Pacino in Godfather III: "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in again!"
I don't want to sound like I'm sour or under duress. It was fun to do and I love working with these guys, but I want to move on.
Nrama: Will we see other projects from the two of you?
DeMatteis: There's nothing definitive in the works, but we enjoy working together so much, and we've been doing it for so long, that I certainly don't see any reason to stop now.
Giffen: I hope so. I don't think we'll not work together, at some capacity down the line. I don't know what we'll do. But if this JLI Retro sells well enough, DC's going to approach us and do something else together. You know? If a book sells well, then you want to keep using those creators.
DeMatteis: Maybe a G'nort monthly...?
DeMatteis: Or maybe not.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans about this DC Retroactive project?
DeMatteis: Aside from the fact that G'nort's not in it? Just that we had a great time doing it and that we will never, ever write the JLI again.
Y'know, unless someone waves a very big check in our faces.Got a comment? There's lots of Newsarama conversation on FACEBOOK and TWITTER.