Jim Lee talks Justice League leading up to this weekend's digital 101 sale
A new era has begun for both DC Comics and the JUSTICE LEAGUE. And to celebrate this momentous new era with Geoff Johns and Jim Lee, DC Digital Comics is holding a special 2-Day Justice League 101 Sale. This weekend only get 101 various issues of JUSTICE LEAGUE digital comics for only $.99 each. You can buy classic adventures such as the team’s original appearance in BRAVE AND THE BOLD, modern masterpieces like Grant Morrison’s acclaimed JLA run, and even Elseworlds tales like Darwyn Cooke’s 1950s style epic DC: THE NEW FRONTIER.
We interviewed DC Entertainment co-publisher and current JUSTICE LEAGUE artist Jim Lee about his experiences with the Justice League as a young fan, how early issues of the series influenced his take and why he’s looking forward to completing his collection with digital comics.
THE SOURCE: You mentioned that you were a big fan of the Justice League from the original series. How’d you get into that era and what about it appealed to you?
Jim Lee: It was when I was a little kid. My parents would buy me the comics when we traveled around. Those had 100 pages for around 60 cents. [Laughs] The lead story was current, but they always had a backup that was drawn from the Golden Age or the Silver Age. That’s really how I learned about the backstories and alternate versions of these characters. That’s really how I learned about the DC Universe. And because they would crossover so much between Earth 1 and Earth 2 and Earth X, it was also my first exploration of the Multiverse. Plus, they always had puzzles! I was probably in 4th or 5th grade, and I would cut out images from the comics, I would do the crossword or word searches—which is how I learned about some of the editorial people there, like Julie Schwartz, because they were often the answers to some of the puzzles. Those comics are now in horrible, horrible condition, but I thoroughly enjoyed them.
TS: How has that era influenced you and what you’re going to be doing now with JUSTICE LEAGUE?
JL: I think what I liked about a lot of those stories is that often times they would pair up the characters, which was always interesting to me as a fan. “How is this character going to interact with this other character?” It was not often you saw the entire League move around as a group. More often than not—at least from my memory—they would split up in pairs or halves and tackle different problems separately. So, I always liked to see the pairings of the heroes and who they faced off with on the villains side. I don’t know if Geoff is doing this consciously or subconsciously, but we have that within our take of the Justice League. It really starts with the pairing of Green Lantern and Batman and explores that relationship a lot in the first issue. It’s a lot of fun to do because it definitely harkens back to the days when I was a kid reading those stories. It has that vibe to it—obviously in a very modern way—but it’s reminiscent of some of the classic storytelling.
TS: Many of the older issues that will part of the JUSTICE LEAGUE 101 sale definitely reflect that style. One that sticks out in my mind is the Search for the Seven Soldiers, which was all about the team splitting up and battling various villains.
JL: Right! Exactly! What’s really cool about the Justice League, particularly around the 100s is that they often would face off against a bunch of different super-villains. My parents weren’t crazy about me buying comics, so they would buy me one comic a month. But when you read the Justice League you feel like you’re getting seven stories. You’re getting all these different villains you never heard of before—because they were drawn from the individual continuities of the character’s books. I felt like I was getting multiple comics within one comic.
TS: You’ve gone from reading JUSTICE LEAGUE as a kid to now launching a new JUSTICE LEAGUE series. What’s it like for you personally working on this book?
JL: You mean how cool this is? [Laughs] I knew this was something I would eventually do at DC and working on BATMAN and SUPERMAN and having some of the Justice League show up in those two runs that I did, I think it set the stage. Geoff Johns and I have been friends for years and talked about doing a project together and I think the timing was just right. He’s worked on a lot of the characters individually. We wanted to do something big and fun and JUSTICE LEAGUE fits that bill to a T. So I think, in some sense, as you launch The New 52 and are looking to establish a tonality, JUSTICE LEAGUE ended being the perfect vehicle.
TS: You talked about the older Justice League issues you read when you were younger, but are there any modern stories that you’ve really enjoyed that stick out in your mind?
JL: Obviously Grant Morrison’s run was pretty phenomenal, with artist Howard Porter. That stuff was really solid. But I remember when I was breaking into comics it was around the time when Justice League with Kevin Maguire and Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis was coming out. That was so refreshingly different. The combination of the writing—which was very meta and broke the fourth wall and was irreverent but had serious beats in it—with Kevin’s art—which is so nuanced and so subtle—there was nothing else like it at the time. I remember buying it and just being so excited by how different that book was. You had covers where the characters were standing there and you were looking down at them, which is not typically what you do with superhero comics. Usually, it’s from the “worm’s eye” perspective because they’re larger than life. I think they really broke new creative ground and I just had so much fun reading that book.
TS: We actually have the first seven issues of JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL included in the sale, so new readers can now go back and read those stories they may have missed out on. What are your thoughts on the digital world and things like the Justice League 101 Sale?
JL: The thing about my comic collection is that I never had complete runs of anything. Even with Justice League, a lot of times I didn’t know how the stories ended. [Laughs] So, this is an opportunity to read these series and finish them. I have these really beat up copies and over the years I’ve gone and bought new copies at Comic Con for like $15 or $20, but I wouldn’t open those up and read them. The nice thing about digital is that it allows me to carry these books with me wherever I go and catch up on my back reading from 38 years ago. It’s exciting. Some of this stuff I’ll be seeing for the first time ever, so I’m pretty excited about that.
The Justice League 101 Sale runs from September 24 to September 25! Don't miss this chance to own some incredible JUSTICE LEAGUE comics for an amazing price!