Credit: DC Comics

When DC’s “the new 52” (aka the Justice League) began in 2011, their formation was for one primary reason: to take on and ultimately destroy the threat of Darkseid, one of the biggest antagonists in the DC universe. And although the League did manage to defeat their villian, their problems were just beginning… thanks to another hostile force known as the Anti-Monitor.

Darkseid War pits the two volatile bad guys against each other—with the Justice League caught in the middle. Fans got a preview of the massive conflict during DC’s Free Comic Book Day in April with Justice League #40, and on June 3, the talented creative team of writer Geoff Johns and artist Jason Fabok will reveal the highly anticipated first chapter of one of DC’s biggest events of the year. EW spoke to the Johns and Fabok to find out exactly how the Justice League will deal with this massive conflict—and which particular League character gets a very personal spotlight in this story. Read on for more, as well as for a look at some preview pages.

EW: So The Darkseid War kicked off as kind of a prologue in issue #40, and issue #41 pretty much takes that story and expands on it. Can you talk about what we’ll get to see?

GEOFF JOHNS: Darkseid War is a story about the Justice League having to come between a battle that’s broken up between the Dark God and the Anti-Monitor, the God of Destruction. And it’s a story that’s going to explore a lot of thematics, like humanity and the Justice League’s role—the bridge between God and man—and a lot of bigger things like that. But specifically and personally for the characters, it’s going to focus on the constant developing relationships between Lex Luthor and Superman, and Green Lantern and Batman, and at the center of it all, Wonder Woman—who really represents the center point for the storyline. A lot of the elements and a lot of the character and a lot of the revelations and mythologies point back to Diana. And this is a journey for Diana and almost a reaffirmation of what Wonder Woman is, and what she represents. So it’s going to explore all of that, and then on the story side, it’s going to reveal a lot of secrets about the DC universe and our characters that we don’t know. Jay [Jason Fabok] and I are really trying to make this an epic event book in the monthly book, but there’s also a level of mystery to it.

And I like that you’re kind of delving a little more into characters and expanding on them. Is that fun for you as a writer, to flesh them out a little more as they exist now with the Convergence event, and in this book specifically?

Whenever I’m doing event titles or big titles like this, you always want to make it a personal story for someone. And a lot of other things happen to other characters, and other characters are important to that storyline when things are happening to the whole DC universe, but I do like a central focus on either one character or a handful of characters. But really with Darkseid War, I wanted to focus on Diana and making it her story.

This is a huge event in the DC universe. Do you feel pressure to keep upping the ante, especially where Darkseid War is concerned?

Oh yeah. There’s a ton of pressure, because the story’s really ambitious for Jay and I. But also, we’re putting pressure on ourselves because we want this to be an amazing storyline that people are really excited about and that’s worth people’s time, because we know there’s so many books out there. Not only comic books, but other forms of entertainment. And so when Jay and I got together on Justice League, our goal was simple: hone our trade of partnership. Jay’s an unbelievable artist, and while we started to hone our craft together, it gave us that foundation to have that confidence to try something as big and as epic as Darkseid War. Because the very first time Jay and I talked about Justice League, months and months and months ago, I was on the set of The Flash in Vancouver and I called him, and we were talking about it. And the first thing I said is that, “we have this big storyline called Darkseid War” and I told him a little bit about it, and I said, “we need to build up to that and need to make sure as a team, we can put out the very best version of that storyline.“ We want to give people something that’s going to be worth people’s money and time. Our challenge is to produce something people are excited about.

Jason, from an art perspective, can you talk about any changes to the character design?

JASON FABOK: When Geoff and I came into this Justice League thing, I had actually asked him if I could take a shot at personalizing some of these characters, giving them a look that’s a little more towards my idea of those characters and just playing around with the costumes. And Geoff had said something like, “Yeah, well, it would make sense that all these different superheroes would have multiple costumes for different situations.” With Darkseid War, we’re tackling a bunch of new characters, so that gave us a real opportunity to revisit some of these characters, update some of their looks but still try to keep some of their legacy there. Mr. Miracle is one of those examples. We actually went through a couple different designs for him and in the end, settled something that’s very close to the Jack Kirby design, but just fused with a little bit of a modern edge. And the way I always look at a character design is, I try to think if they were making a movie with this character in the film how would the designer come up with the costume?

The solicit teases “meet Darkseid’s daughter”—can you tease a little about that?

As we saw in the free comic book day issue, Grail, the daughter of Darkseid, is both the daughter of Darkseid and the daughter of an Amazon. And that gives her connections to characters like Wonder Woman. I think she’ll quickly become a fan favorite, and I’m not just saying that because I’m biased! [laughs] I really think this character is going to become a really cool new villain for the DC universe. The Amazon connection is really going to give it a different spin. Design-wise, we wanted her to be big and powerful and strong, this woman who could just lay the smack down on the Justice League, and wanted to kind of juxtapose her look with Wonder Woman and with Darkseid.

Credit: DC Comics
Credit: DC Comics

Darkseid War is on sale in comic book stores June 3.