Readers who picked up the first two issues of Justice League International have been surprised by the comic's fast story developments.
But Dan Jurgens has even more coming.
As DC establishes a new status quo for its heroes, the Justice League International has been positioned as a U.N.-sponsored team that handles worldwide threats.
While the team so far is limited to Booster Gold, Fire, Ice, Batman, August-General-In-Iron, Vixen, Guy Gardner, and Rocket Red. But Jurgens has promised readers will soon see Plastic Man and Green Arrow added to the ranks.
Plus, there was a mystery woman pictured on the cover to Justice League International #1 for awhile.
As part of our follow-up with New 52 writers, Newsarama talked to Jurgens about how the story has progressed so far and what comes next in the comic.
Newsarama: Dan, what's been the feedback you've heard from fans about your issues so far? And what do you think of it?
Dan Jurgens: Lots of excitement, which is really quite gratifying.
When we all started working on this effort, months ago, we were excited as creators. But were working while shrouded in cloaking technology, so it's nice to finally have the books out there so fans can react. The marketplace has gotten that same sense of excitement we had, which gets bounced back to us, which we then put back into the books.
Nrama: What did you think of the overall sales success of the New 52 issues in September and October?
Jurgens: It was nice to see. After all, it was a bold idea and bold move to push it through. It's always nice when that pays off.
Nrama: Has the success felt like a relief? Or a challenge?
Jurgens: It's both a relief and challenge. When stepping onto a new project, the planning stages seem to take forever. Creators tend to want to start writing and drawing right away and it's finally a relief when the day comes when you have everything in place to get started producing the actual book. There's a second wave of that when the book finally hits the stands and it's a printed reality -- a physical product that readers can react to.
But, once it's out there, and it's part of a huge, successful effort like this, the challenge is to keep it going and make as much of it as possible.
Nrama: Aaron Lopresti's art on these JLI team members is familiar after his run on Generation Lost, yet he displays an ability in these cast-heavy JLI issues to differentiate the characters & give them distinct emotions. What do you think his strength has been in what you've seen of his JLI work?
Nrama: Aaron's strengths are many.First of all, as you mentioned, this is something of a cast-heavy book. Team books are always hard to draw, but Aaron is doing a great job of portraying the characters as individuals with their own sense of dynamics, body language and personality. His storytelling is incredibly solid and most importantly, the choreography of action is clear. A lot of guys who draw team books sometimes lose that during action scenes, which means the readers lose it as well.
Nrama: Let's talk about the story so far. Booster's leadership is being challenged a lot in the first two issues. Is this a theme for awhile in the comic? Anything you can tell us about how Booster resolves it?
Jurgens: Yes, Booster's leadership is definitely being questioned, and that will continue to be a part of the series. After all, he was chosen by someone else, not the team. And he was chosen because he was the most public member of the group. When you have someone like August General in Iron, who has been a leader, or Guy Gardner, who's dealt with incredibly heavy duty threats and come out on top, it's tough to take orders from a pitchman.
Nrama: Booster's uniform seems to have gotten an upgrade. For example, he now has the capability for holographic screens. Are there other upgrades we should notice?
Jurgens: I don't want to get too far ahead of the story, but there are a couple of improvements. You've also seen him use his force field in a more expansive way than was previously the norm.
Nrama: Does Booster really have a "Booster Cave?" Will we see it soon?
Jurgens: Of course, the "Booster Cave" is real! In a sense, anyway. And, yes, you will see it.
Nrama: It's a relief to find out that Skeets didn't get rebooted out of existence in the DCnU. Will we see Skeets as a regular part of the team? Or will he play a background role?
Jurgens: Skeets will have greater involvement. Let's leave it at that for now.
Nrama: There's been some conjecture online about "Beau" the bartender, who gave Guy Gardner the beer in the last issue. Was he based on someone we might know (looked like maybe Beau Smith)? And are there any other Easter eggs fans should notice in your first two issues? (For example, was that a Predator skull?)
Jurgens: As the indicia says, "The stories, characters and incidents mentioned are entirely fictional." The fact that Mr. Smith once wrote Guys book is purely a coincidence and has nothing -- NOTHING to do with this story.
Nrama: Getting back to Guy, his relationship with Ice and seems to have chilled a bit (forgive the pun), at least when compared to the previous universe's status quo. Will we hear more about the origin and new status of their relationship? Or have we seen the last of the references to it?
Jurgens: No. I have every intention of getting back to it, just as I want to touch on the relationships among all the characters. It doesn't mean that I'll dig deeply into it, but I think it's important to provide some context.
Nrama: That wasn't the only male-female relationship that was hinted about. Booster's usually a bit of a lady's man. Why's he so hesitant with Godiva?
Jurgens: In this case, Booster is on edge anyway due to the nature of the mission, the overall threat, the heat he's taken from the team, and Godiva's aggressive attitude. It's more a question of time and place being not quite right than Booster backing down.
Nrama: Understandable. But then, why is she so forward?
Jurgens: In part, because it's who she is. But we may well find there's a lot more beneath the surface.
Nrama: There also seems to be a lot of tension between August General in Iron and Rocket Red.
Jurgens: It starts as genuine tension. But it will transform into something of a more friendly type of rivalry. I describe it as a "You're Navy, I'm Army," type of thing.We'll keep playing it along those lines, with a deeper subtext as they get to know each other.
Nrama: Over the years, Bruce Wayne's character has been everything from a complete loner to a team player. In the current DCU, he seems to be more of the latter -- and even a mentor, in this case to Booster and elsewhere to his current/former Robins. Is this the official editorial direction for Bruce?
Jurgens: I'll let the Batman guys answer that in the official sense, but I do think we're seeing a more human Bruce.
Nrama: More human? How else would you describe him?
Jurgens: Maybe more willing to listen.
Nrama: Why is he being so supportive of Booster?
Jurgens: They share a past.
Nrama: We talked a little about how large this cast is, and you've been able to use all of them in both issues, which rounds out the team well but gives each character only brief screen time. Will you do any spotlight issues? Or will this approach continue, defining the team members by their interactions with other members?
Jurgens: In the first two issues, we wanted to get as much "on screen" as possible. Next month, you'll see quite a change. We slow things down and split the team up so there's more focus on them as individuals. I think it's a nice change-up after two issues of fastballs.
Nrama: At the end of #2, there's a villain who refers to Earth, or at least we assume it's Earth, as planet 3-147. Is there any significance to that number?
Jurgens: Only as it refers to the third planet from the sun.
Nrama: And this is a new villain, right? There's been some conjecture that it's a reboot version of Mongul...is that him?
Jurgens: No. Not Mongul. This is a new threat.
Nrama: What can you tell us about him, and what role does he play in upcoming issues?
Jurgens: He's a heavy-duty threat and the stakes really get raised over the next couple of issues. He presents the team with quite a challenge.
Nrama: How long does this arc continue?
Jurgens: We kind of bring it to a close with #5 and have an epilogue of sorts in #6. Keep in mind that we're building a team as well as a villain here, so the idea of continuing to build the team and have it succeed will always be a part of this book. Think of the JLI as more of an arranged marriage than a couple who met under the stars and fell in love.
Nrama: Can you tell readers anything about upcoming issues?
Jurgens: Only that we have the accelerator pushed all the way through the floorboards. It's a good ride!
Nrama: What else can you tell us about what's coming for the JLI in the coming year?
Jurgens: More character exploration. We're starting to see these characters interact and are portraying them in that context. But we have to go well beyond that and get into who they really are.
Nrama: Everyone's wondering about the costumed character who originally appeared on JLI #1's original cover. What can you tell us about her, and why isn't she in the book?
Jurgens: She wasn't in the first two issues, but that doesn't mean we won't be seeing her. Not by any means.
Nrama: There's been a lot of speculation that the mystery woman is Alexandra Gianopoulous, who showed up in the Flashpoint universe. In Booster Gold #47, as Flashpoint ended, Booster swears to bring Alexandra back with him. Did he succeed?
Jurgens: That will be one aspect of the characters' past that we'll be exploring. There's a lot to be told.
Nrama: Then to finish up, Dan, is there anything else you want to tell fans about JLI?
Jurgens: Only that Aaron, Matt, Rex and I all hope folks are having as much fun reading it as we're having putting it together.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!