It’s a good time to be a superhero fan. After all, Avengers: Infinity War just notched the biggest opening weekend of all time while building up excitement for a sequel film next year. But Marvel superheroes aren’t the only ones with big plans for 2018. Next week sees the launch of DC’s Justice League: No Justice, a five-part weekly comic series that sees Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and their comrades drawn together with their weirdest allies and most hated enemies in order to confront new galactic threats that have arisen in the wake of the blockbuster crossover Dark Nights: Metal. As seen in this week’s DC Nation #0 preview comic, the characters are divided into four teams for this quest: Team Mystery (Superman, Martian Manhunter, Starfire, Sinestro, and Starro); Team Wonder (Wonder Woman, Zatanna, Dr. Fate, Raven, and Etrigan); Team Wisdom (Cyborg, Robin, Atom, Flash, and Harley Quinn); and Team Entropy (Batman, Deathstroke, Beast Boy, Lobo, and Lex Luthor). Most interesting of all, they were assembled into these formations by none other than the supervillain Brainiac, in order to face cosmic threats that scare even him.
The events of No Justice will spin out into three new comics: Justice League, written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Jim Cheung and Jorge Jiménez; Justice League Dark, a supernatural team book written by James Tynion IV and illustrated by Alvaro Martinez; and Justice League Odyssey, an odd-couple space exploration comic written by Joshua Williamson and illustrated by Stjepan Šejić. Snyder, Tynion, and Williamson worked together to write No Justice, with art by Francis Manapul. EW spoke to the four of them about their big plans for the Justice League and how the DC Universe is about to change forever. Check that out below, along with
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Dark Nights: Metal had its final climactic issue in March. How do the events of that series lead into No Justice?
SCOTT SNYDER: The DC Universe is at a really crazy and fun point right now. At the end of Metal, we broke the boundary of the DC Universe, both literally and figuratively, with the Source Wall. For anybody who doesn’t know, the Source Wall was the actual physical wall that surrounded the DC Universe for many years, and at the end of Metal it broke. No Justice picks up right where that ended, with the ramifications of that monumental change. No one knows what’s on the other side of the wall. There’s strange energy leaking out. So our heroes are at a crossroads, facing threats that are bigger and more terrifying than anything they’ve gone up against before. That’s what No Justice is about: It’s a big welcome for new readers and people who love our characters but haven’t been reading. It’s really user-friendly in that regard, and for our readers who have been invested in our characters it’s meant to signal a new turning point in our narrative for the rest of the year.
JAMES TYNION IV: It’s an incredibly exciting moment. Now we’re playing with all of the toys in the toy box. We’re going to take everything fun we’ve ever wanted to play with at DC and bring it together in exciting new strange ways. We just broke the universe, so all of the stories we’ve seen before in the DC Universe, those stories no longer have to follow the same forms. That’s really one of the founding concepts of No Justice, and why we begin with something as strange as Brainiac coming to our heroes for help and mixing our heroes together in these strange electric combinations we would never have considered before. The old formations aren’t enough anymore, we need to do more to rise up to meet the challenge. That’s the core exciting piece of all this to me.
How does No Justice relate to the DC Rebirth project? DC Rebirth felt like rediscovering what we all loved about DC. Are we now at a place where you can invent new things again?
FRANCIS MANAPUL: I think this is a natural extension of what happened in Rebirth. I think Rebirth needed to happen to get us to where we are in No Justice, especially since these characters have never worked together before. We needed to bring the characters back to their original core, so that when we see them in these new teams, their basic history is all you need to know. It really cleaned the slate for No Justice.
JOSHUA WILLIAMSON: Rebirth was about getting back to the core of these characters so we could identify what we love about them. Now that we’ve done that, now that we know who Beast Boy is and who Lobo is, now we can find out what happens when we put them together. One of the things we’re thinking about is new dynamics. Brainiac thinks very strategically, so he puts these teams together based on power sets without thinking of relationships. So that’s where we have some fun combinations. You get to have this team with Superman, Martian Manhunter, Starfire, Starro, and Sinestro — what kind of team is that? But you get to see new relationships. Those relationships are gonna stay past this event. There are relationships that will last. Starfire and Cyborg will form a friendship that goes on to Justice League Odyssey, and the same thing will happen with Zatanna and Wonder Woman going into Justice League Dark.
What’s fun about splitting the heroes into different teams, especially teams that involve villains — including the very first Justice League villain, Starro the Conqueror?
WILLIAMSON: I mean, I think it’s just because Scott loves Starro.
SNYDER: I do, I love me some psychic starfish conqueror. He is one of my favorite characters, for all his ridiculousness. Part of the reason we wanted to do that, not just switch heroes on different teams but mix them up with villains, is both to celebrate the lunacy and diversity of the DC Universe, how great the heroes and villains are, but really it keeps signaling the same thing: Going forward, from No Justice into the rest of 2018 and 2019, we want readers to come to DC books and be surprised. We want readers to feel like we’re not treading the same water anymore, like the DC Universe is a fishbowl that got poured into an ocean. We want to keep that feeling going forward, that you’ll never know what’s gonna happen next at DC. We’re out to take journeys with these characters to places you wouldn’t expect.
The four new teams in No Justice are named after Mystery, Wonder, Wisdom, and Entropy. What do those four concepts have to do with what’s going on?
TYNION: The universe is broken and roiling with chaos, so now these four ancient beings who have lain dormant for millennia are coming back to life because they believe the universe is dying — because it now has a hole in the side of it. So they’re gonna try and try to consume all the life force in the universe. What we wanted to do was identify the four core life forces of the universe, the four camps of characters, that embody DC and the human spirit. We have cosmic exploration in Mystery, we have magical god forces in Wonder, we have technological innovation and detective work in Wisdom, and then we have chaos and evil in Entropy. There are different characters aligned on that spectrum that we wanted to tap into for a mythological breakdown of the four teams. But we needed these four beings to be larger than life, and create an incredible backstory that shows how major the ramifications of Metal and breaking the Source Wall would be. When we first started talking about these beings, we threw the rough idea over to Francis, and in that day he sent back design after design. That was the moment the series really coalesced into something powerful.
MANAPUL: I took a wild guess at what they were talking about. Beyond the basic ideas of what they were doing, what was more important was the ideology they were going for. When we’re doing character designs, people are expecting ‘this is what the costume looks like’ yada yada, but because they were describing the universe unraveling, I sent actual scenes that depicted the scale of what the heroes were up against. Every single member of the Justice League I drew were in silhouette because the main focus was the bad guys we’re introducing that are larger than life. So much of what these guys were talking about was so different in ideology, it made sense how all these characters were grouped up in a certain way. When I first read the roll call, I thought this doesn’t make sense, but when you see what they’re up against you see how much they utilize each of these characters. There’s a reason the teams are called what they are. These guys are the embodiment of what the world is like, and what’s more exciting is the end of the story once we figure out what Earth actually embodies.
I don’t want to pit anyone against each other, but since Avengers: Infinity War is in the air, what makes the Justice League unique as a superhero pantheon? How are you going about capturing their essence here?
SNYDER: I love the Avengers, they’re really grounded and relatable. The Justice League has this incredible cosmic breadth. They’ve got an alien in Martian Manhunter, the king of the seas in Aquaman, a multiversal racer in Flash, the goddess of truth in Wonder Woman, the greatest detective in Batman, the greatest superhero of all time in Superman, the space cop in Green Lantern. There’s this cosmic scope to them that allows for a kind of storytelling that reaches so far and so ambitiously that the stories you can tell with them are the biggest, most bombastic, and yet most personal in comics. They’re larger than life figures but each of them is deeply relatable, from Hawkgirl to Superman. There’s somebody on the team that anybody can relate to, whether you’re the outsider or the reluctant leader. They’re such human characters and yet the scope of their mythologies, pasts, and potential are so so huge. They’re endlessly inspiring and aspirational.
How will all the new Justice League comics spin out of New Justice?
SNYDER: With Justice League, we’re putting it back in the Hall of Justice, we want you to feel welcomed in with this magisterial grand feel. It’s a story that picks up right at the end of No Justice, where they’re not only trying to solving the problem of the universe dying but they’re up against the greatest gathering of DC villains in the Legion of Doom. It’s the comic I’ve been wanting to write since I was a kid, so I’m trying to give it everything I have. I’m excited to bring you all to the edge of the universe and back with this one.
TYNION: We’re building the relationship between Zatanna and Wonder Woman and starting to hint at Wonder Woman’s ties to magic being much stronger than she ever understood before now. She’s gonna feel connected to this world that she’s always viewed from the outside and that’s what’s really gonna drive her to create the Justice League Dark team. It’s gonna come directly out of the pages of this story. How it carries forward as Wonder Woman discovers more of the connections to the magical world around her, that’s going to drive a lot of very exciting story.
WILLIAMSON: The end of Metal when the Source Wall broke, that’s a big part of changing the cosmic tapestry of the DC Universe. But then a bunch of really big things happen in No Justice that change a lot of stuff. It really becomes a new frontier, a wild west for all the characters. It’s been fun writing this exploring book Justice League Odyssey with Cyborg and Starfire going off into the space, but then we also have a character tied into the Source Wall and the cosmic mythology of the DC Universe with Darkseid. It’s fun balancing this big cosmic DC story with personal stuff. There’s going to be a Hannibal-like relationship between Darkseid and Cyborg, which is really fun with these huge setpieces and alien worlds. They’re in Brainiac’s ship, it’s got flames on it, it’s really nutty.