By Todd Allen
You knew you couldn’t go much more than two weeks without DC shuffling creative teams on the not-as-new 52. This time, it really is more of a shuffle than wholesale replacements, though, as three books get a new writer and DC’s announcing things a little further out.
The biggest announcement has is likely that Jeff Lemire is taking over Justice League Dark with issue #9. As you may recall, Lemire’s Animal Man is one of the best-reviewed titles of the relaunch and has performed MUCH better than pretty much anyone had expected. Lemire is arguably that corner of the DCU’s flagship writer, so if they want this to be the flagship book, it makes sense.
Lemire’s statement of intentions:
This is my dream gig at DC Comics, no doubt about it. The characters in Justice League Dark are my absolute favorite in the DC Comics stable, and I can’t believe I’m actually getting a chance to write John Constantine, Zatanna and Deadman (as well as a few new team members!).
I have a huge amount of respect for Peter Milligan. I’ve loved everything he’s done since his original SHADE run in the pre-Vertigo days of DC to his current run on Hellblazer and JL Dark. It’s a bit daunting to take over this title from someone who I revere as much as Peter, but at the same time I can’t help but be inspired by the work he’s already done with this book.
I obviously have my own ideas for the title as well, and can’t wait to share them with readers. One of the things I’m anxious to explore is just why the name “Justice League” is in the title of this book? I want to explore and create new connections between this team of mystical misfits and Geoff and Jim’s big guns in The Justice League. On that note, Geoff and I have had many discussions on how to link our two books and make the Justice League franchises connect in new and unexpected ways. More on that in the near future…
So, what else can you expect from the “New” Justice League Dark? Well, you’ll see an old haunt becoming the team’s new HQ. Constantine, the master manipulator that he is, will emerge as the clear leader of the team, and there will be 2 new members as well! (Hint one’s a man and one’s a woman. One uses magic, one doesn’t.) Not enough….hmmm…how about a classic Justice League villain re-imagined as The Justice League Dark’s new arc-enemy? And that’s just the start. I have a huge storyline planned with implications across the Dark line of books.
I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention that the amazingly talented Mikal Janin will be staying on board to draw all of this fun stuff, and I couldn’t be happier about that. I’ve loved Mikal’s work since I first saw it in the Flashpoint: Deadman mini-series and I think Mikal is the perfect artist for this book. And I can already tell by our initial talks that this will be the start of a great partnership. And we’re both lucky to have the incomparable Ryan Sook making us look good.
I’m pretty damn excited to be writing Justice League Dark. And I hope you’ll join me as I take you and these characters into the darkest, strangest corners of the DCU and beyond!
With Lemire on JLD, that frees up Peter Milligan. Milligan is moving over to Stormwatch with issue #9. Milligan replaces Paul Cornell on the title, so it’s staying UK-penned. To tell you the truth, I was surprised that Milligan _hadn’t_ written any Wildstorm properties when I looked up his bibliography. His only Wildstorm title, The Programme, doesn’t appear to have been part of the W.I.L.D.Cats/Authority/Stormwatch continuum. Certainly, he’s the sort of writer I’d have expected to see on one of those books. Which is to say, the pairing seems like a natural fit.
Milligan’s statement of intentions:
Stormwatch has the craziness, the paranoia and the occasional bursts of odd humor that really grab me. This is my kind of book. In other words, when I re-read Paul Cornell’s excellent first series with a view to taking over the writing duties I was really excited. And I’m excited too by what I have planned, from Stormwatch facing a ferocious character from the Red Lantern Corps, to hidden secrets being revealed about the origin of Stormwatch, and some shocking revelations about the mysterious Shadow Lords. It’s going to be a very intense ride.
It’s a bit of a wrench leaving JL Dark, of course, and not working with the increasingly outstanding Mikel Janin. But the fact that Jeff Lemire is taking over makes me very sanguine. I think Jeff is great. And I think he’ll be great for this book. It’ll be intriguing to see how he handles the great conman mage, John Constantine, whose twisted life I’m continuing to chronicle over in Vertigo’s Hellblazer.
For the third title with a new writer, things get a little more outside the box. Starting with issue #10, Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. will be written by Matt Kindt. Kindt did the “Revolver” graphic novel for Vertigo, not too long ago, but is MUCH better know for his “Super Spy” graphic novel from Top Shelf. Kindt’s profile coming into this is a lot like Lemire’s coming into the 52 relaunch: he’s done some well-received indie and Vertigo work, but this is a different format/genre and you’re not quite sure what to expect. (In Lemire’s case, DC struck gold with Animal Man. Frankenstein coming in with less praise and lower sales.) Of course, since Kidnt is associated with spy fiction, we might see the S.H.A.D.E. aspect of Frankenstein played up a bit more.
DC _has_ had a chance to see Kindt in this format. The last issue of Men of War turns out to be something of a backdoor pilot/audition, with Kindt and Lemire co-writing an adventure with Frankenstein and the GI Robot. They’re also saying that Kindt helped Lemire brainstorm some of the Frankenstein concepts. DC can probably get more sales with Lemire on JL-Dark and Frankenstein isn’t a bad choice for Kindt to try something a little more superhero-ish (well, Vertigo superhero-ish by way of Morrison) on for size. It’s a legitimately interesting choice.
Kindt’s statement of intentions:
I’m so excited to be writing Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E.! I’ve been good friends with Jeff Lemire since we both broke into comics years ago and I remember spending the weekend at his studio and kicking his ideas around for his take on Frank and Crew and just having a blast. Lemire was having so much fun putting these characters into action…and I think that fun really comes through.
And then getting the invite to officially work with him on Men of War…AND getting to put G.I. Robot into the story? – that’s the kind of work that I would daydream about when I was a kid getting my comics from the grocery store spinner-rack. So now, getting my hands on a monthly book is just crazy.
I’ve had a pretty fortunate career to date by breaking into comics with my own original graphic novels. All I’ve known is creator-owned stuff. I’ve been spoiled – writing and drawing my own books. So in a lot of ways I feel like I’m the mirror image of a lot of writers that get the work-for-hire stuff straight away and then work to make the leap to creator-owned work. So for me, this is just a great big treat. Getting to work on characters that have been around forever and have a kind of cultural history already. It’s just plain fun. I feel like I’m collaborating with everyone that’s ever touched these characters before, from Grant Morrison to Bob Haney and Arnold Drake.
And working in the DC universe is liberating in a lot of ways. I’m getting a chance to hit more directly on a lot of genre stuff I haven’t gotten to yet – science fiction and horror with all of my past espionage experience mixed into it. It’s a crazy mix. I have to say that writing the scripts for Frankenstein has seriously been some of the most entertaining hours of my writing career.
Taking over for Jeff is just the added bonus – knowing where he was going with the series from the beginning and talking about these great characters he’s rebooted has been fantastic. And it’s going to be fun to surprise him (and the readers) with where it ends up going. There’s Frank and his relationship with so-and-so (can’t spoil it), the Mummy and his crazy origin. And we’re going to get to see a lot more of S.H.A.D.E. and see how the agency works around the globe and visit a lot of crazy field offices. What is life as a S.H.A.D.E. agent really like? It’s basically Steranko meets Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy, with some of the best spy-gadgets ever invented.
I was working on the Robot Man story for My Greatest Adventure and digging through my old Doom Patrol comics and I found this old issue of Secret Origins: Doom Patrol. In the middle of that issue was this fantastic essay about what the Doom Patrol was and what they represented. This is the comic that sold me on Doom Patrol and was my gateway to DC. So I’m sitting at a coffee shop re-reading this Secret Origins comic (that I’d picked up at the grocery store) and I realize it’s written by Joey Cavalieri – who’s now my editor on My Greatest Adventure and now Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. and it makes all of this seem right. Full circle and secret origin!
Todd Allen wears a lot of hats. At various times he’s been (alphabetically), a bouncer, college professor, humor columnist, Internet producer and an NBA/WNBA Beat Writer, among other things. He’s the author of Economics of Digital Comics. You should probably read it.