This July will see the “Rebirth” of a new bimonthly Justice League featuring perennial favorites like Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and the Flash, along with not one, but two rookie Green Lanterns. In fact, the only thing more impressive than the team on the page may be the team behind it. Written by current JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA writer and artist Bryan Hitch and drawn by Tony S. Daniel of DETECTIVE COMICS and DEATHSTROKE fame, this summer’s JUSTICE LEAGUE is the product of a brilliant partnership of creators who know both writing and art, and how to use them to tell one roller coaster ride of a super hero story.
But what can we expect from that story? Will its events be felt in the heroes’ solo titles? And with the eyes of so many fans on “Rebirth,” do the creators working on the books ever feel any pressure? We recently spoke with Daniel about all of these things and more, discovering that when it comes to drawing Justice League, the secret to overcoming challenges is, fittingly, being on a great team.
The first issue of your Justice League series comes out in July. Will it feature the same League that we have currently or will there be changes to the lineup?
There’s a slight twist to it. We have Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Aquaman, the Flash, Cyborg and we have two rookie Green Lanterns. One is Simon Baz and the other is Jessica Cruz. That will be a lot of fun, having these rookies on the team screwing up and getting in trouble.
You’re drawing and Bryan Hitch is writing. Will there be any ties to Hitch’s current JLA title?
I don’t believe so. This is its own thing.
As an artist himself, I’d imagine Hitch has a pretty good sense of what an artist needs from a writer. How has the whole creative process been going?
It’s been going fantastic. This is like a match made in heaven for me. I’m enjoying working with him as much as I’ve enjoyed working with anybody so far, and that’s saying a lot because I’ve worked with some pretty great people. We’re emailing each other every day. The communication is so great between us and we’re really on the same page with everything. An artist really wants that from their writer—to feel like they’re part of the team—and not just get handed a script and sent off to a dark room to work on it.
What can you tease about the story? There’s not a lot we know about it at this point.
There’s a gigantic, cataclysmic event that we’re calling “the Awakening.” This catastrophic situation happens on Earth and it affects every single human on the planet. In addition, we’re going to have some giant bad guys that are literally giants. And there are some character issues as well. I can’t say who, but there are certain characters that don’t trust another character in particular. We have some intrigue, a little bit of mystery and some great character interactions. There’s some real truth finding and humanity searching with these characters that’s just going to be a blast.
Traditionally, the Justice League comic resides at the absolute heart of the DC Universe, and often things that go on to touch all of our characters begin in the Justice League book. Do you think that will be the case with your Justice League?
The Awakening that happens in the first arc has deep ramifications not just with the Justice League, but throughout the entire DCU. There will be things that will affect other characters. How can it not? It’s the Justice League after all.
You’ve been writing and drawing comics for a while now, but “Rebirth” is a big event and people are talking about it and speculating. Do you feel any pressure working on a book like this? How do you deal with that?
I always put a lot of pressure on myself to be my best. This is a book I’ve really wanted to do for a long time. Now that I’ve finally got it, I’m so happy and excited to be doing it and that excitement is taking care of all of that for me. It’s getting rid of any kind of anxiety, fear or worry. I think that’s true for Bryan Hitch as well.
Having a partner like Bryan on this, I feel like I’m in it with him. We’re both in the trenches together with this because it’s such a big story. There’s so much to do and so much to draw. There’s so much going on with this, and I have that support. I’m not alone in this, and it’s been a fantastic experience. I can’t wait to work on the rest of the year’s issues and next year’s as well. I want to have a nice long run on this, and I want to be known for this run. I want it to be iconic.
You’ve drawn a lot of characters within the DC Universe, but is there one that’s in this title that you haven’t worked on as much and that you’re really having fun with?
Aquaman is someone I haven’t drawn a whole lot of and I love Aquaman. So much so that several years ago, before The New 52, I was pitching DC my own Aquaman relaunch. Also, the Flash. I did only three issues of Flash, and it was such a crammed, deadline driven situation that I never felt like I was able to do my best because I was working at twice my speed—which is kind of ironic with it being a Flash title. I’ve always wanted to work with Flash again at a more comfortable pace and do my best with that character. I’m really excited to do these new Green Lantern characters, Wonder Woman, everybody. I’m able to draw Batman, my favorite character, and Superman too. Everybody I love is in this book. I’m really happy to be drawing all of these characters.
The all new League launches on July 20, 2016 with JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 by Bryan Hitch and Tony S. Daniel.
This is the latest in a series of interviews looking at the many DC comic books that will be spinning out of this summer’s "Rebirth." Keep an eye on DCComics.com for more!