Justice League of America 32, and some comments from the writer
While looking for responses to the latest issue of JLA, I came across a compilation of Dwayne McDuffie's quotes.
Originally Posted by Dwayne McDuffie Yes, Anansi is supposed to be me, and the story arc is about my not having control of the stories in my book. Ironically, both [the Anansi/Vixen] story and the parallel Red Tornado arc were supposed to be smaller B and C plots in a much larger arc (involving Luthor's plan from my first arc, Starro, and Despero) that I wasn't able to do because of other plans in the DCU.
Originally Posted by Dwayne McDuffie Originally, Luthor's plan involved Starro, Red Tornado, Despero and Per Degaton, but I had to drop that storyline at the same time I had to stop the Injustice League arc in the middle to allow for Salvation Run. When I was able to get back to it, Per Degaton, Despero and Starro weren't available to me for various reasons. I've come up with something else Luthor could have been doing instead, but events in other books will delay this stuff for an indefinite amount of time. I'll get back to it when I can.
Originally Posted by Dwayne McDuffie (regarding the Injustice League) I'd originally intended for that story to run 8 issues, but it had to be cut short for Suicide Run, so I made up a new secret Luthor plot that tied into the dangling Per Degaton plot from Brad's run, but it turned out that Geoff already had plans to wrap that up, so I've come up with a third Luthor plot, but I'm not sure when I'll get back to it, as I'm fairly tightly plotted for the next couple of years. I will get to it though, promise.
Originally Posted by Dwayne McDuffie Actually, my intention was to keep Red Tornado in the computer for quite a while (both to keep him off stage for a bit, and to set up another storyline I had notions of exploring), but DC needed him back in his body immediately for a mini-series. So, I planned the Amazo rematch as a B-plot in another story, unfortunately, that story had to be dropped because of something else that was planned in another title. So I pushed up the Vixen arc to take that place, but as I was writing it, I found out certain things about Final Crisis that forced me to cut the Vixen Arc short. Things happen. Whether I find a particular character interesting is entirely, and unsurprisingly, a function of what I find interesting, Some characters work better for me in a solo setting than a team setting, for instance, some characters aren't as interesting with this line-up than they would be with a slightly different one. That said, my tendency is to work with the characters I'm less interested in (Red Tornado, Hawkgirl, Red Arrow) more, in order to give them some face time. Batman and Superman don't need a showcase, they're in 6 other books a month, and I've written cool bits for them myself dozens of times, so they'll step to the background, except for a couple of times a year.
Originally Posted by Dwayne McDuffie I did want to use the quite different version of the CSA I made up for the Justice League Unlimited show, but at the time, I wasn't allowed to do any alternate Earths. ... I still think the multiverse is off-limits to me, along with time travel and a couple more areas that other DCU titles are focusing on. If that changes, I'll definitely pitch a road trip through some of the 52.
Originally Posted by Dwayne McDuffie DC is giving the fans what they want, and that's big event books that have affect the entire line, and promotable events in the main solo titles. When that stuff stops selling better than regular comics, DC will stop doing them. Until and unless, JLA's going to have to adapt to the times. When this version of JLA launched, it was in a continuity bubble that left it free and clear of the continuity in other titles. As soon as it synched back up with the rest of the universe, we had to pay the tab for that freedom.
Looking ahead, the line-wide continuity is going to eventually line up for a more traditional JLA, but we're not there yet. At the moment, none of the big seven are available. Beyond that, The Hawks, Green Arrow, both Atoms, Captain Marvel and almost everyone I think of as either a big gun, or a traditional JLA favorite are likewise not available. So as we wait for things to settle down in the other titles, I'm doing "Cap's Kooky Quartet." Of course, in this case Captain America isn't available, either.
Originally Posted by Dwayne McDuffie Final Crisis and other events left me without access to any of the characters that I want on the team. I couldn't just have everyone disappear mid-arc, so I had it happen on camera. Losing the big guns was a problem for me, so I decided to make it a problem for Black Canary. Fortunately, it also let me pull the trigger on the Hal Jordan League, which I've been either writing around, or spinning my wheels to synch up with, since my first issue on the book.
Originally Posted by Dwayne McDuffie there are three current members of the League I wish weren't on it.
Originally Posted by Dwayne McDuffie I think Arsenal is more interesting than Red Arrow, but that's not my call.
Originally Posted by Dwayne McDuffie Out of the current team, Red Arrow and Kendra are the least interesting for me, mainly because once I figured out what to do with them, circumstances kept me from ever doing it.
Originally Posted by Dwayne McDuffie None of this is operative anymore, so it's probably okay to answer:
My plan was for Kendra to break up rather painfully with Roy, in time for that to be the reason Roy left the JLA (to go to the other title he was supposed to be going to back when I planned this). Kendra would have stayed with the team, but been without a romantic partner for a while. Most of the League, friends with Roy since he was a teen, would resent Kendra for staying on when she was the one who hurt their friend. She was going to be pretty much a loner except for her relationship with Wonder Woman (which would eventually be good, although Kendra would misread her for a while, causing friction until Diana helped her through some tough times), and Black Lightning, who would treat her like a surrogate daughter (I'd also planned to have her go to Jeff's for Thanksgiving, and meet the rest of his family). Kendra was going to come out of all this with a new focus, and a slightly adjusted status quo that would keep her front and center in JLA. Roy and Kendra would reconcile in about two years, but never be a couple again, except for one night that they'd both be sorry for, and never mention again.
But continuity changed in other books (i was informed that Kendra would die in Final Crisis), so I had to toss it all. Actually twice, because my back up plan was derailed by Kendra's recent undeath.
Originally Posted by Dwayne McDuffie Actually, Firestorm got me on JLA, not the other way around. Dan always intended to put Firestorm on the team, the editors told me so back when I was writing fill-ins on the last three issues of Firestorm. That work made them take a look at me for JLA. By the time they were ready to put him on JLA, I was writing the book, so I did as I was told.
Originally Posted by Dwayne McDuffie I've had virtually no input into the composition of JLA. It's DC Comics' flagship book. They tell me who to put on the team, based on their needs elsewhere in the universe, and I do it. I believe I had influence in getting rid of Red Tornado, but even there I was forced to put him back in his body about two years before I had planned to.
So the team was set before I got the gig, when I came on, I was told to add John Stewart to the rotation (in preparation for Hal leaving to get his own JLA title - which still hasn't quite happened, leaving several of my subplots idling for almost two years). Likewise Firestorm was set up to be added to the team months before I had the job (coincidentally, I wrote the last three issues of Firestorm's monthly comic. I was told to demonstrate his power-levels, as he was about to join the JLA, this was months before I was even being considered for the JLA job). Eddie Berganza told me that Ed Benes wanted Zatanna on the team and I heard about Dr. Light joining from a fan who heard it from Dan Didio before Dan or Eddie had mentioned it to me.
These are the only changes to the roster since issue 12.
There are a large number of changes coming up, mostly due to members leaving in the aftermath of Final Crisis. Again, I had little to no influence on how the team is shaking out. Dan and Eddie are allowing me to frequently guest star several characters who by rights should be written out of the book because of what's going on in their titles. They also acquiesced to my request for a member rejoining the team (as soon as another project is done with him in about eight months). That character will be my first addition to the team, roughly two years after taking over the book.
If it were up to me, JLA would be made up of roughly the six most popular DC characters plus a rotating seventh spot that would be used to balance the personalities, create new story opportunities and/or pump up an interesting, but so far less commercially successful character.
Originally Posted by Dwayne McDuffie I was able to eliminate one member by choice (although circumstances seem to have forced him back in), all of the additions were mandated.
Originally Posted by Dwayne McDuffie If it were my pick, it would be Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Hal Jordan, either Flash, plus any one of Green Arrow, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, or either Hawk, plus two guys that people know but who can't quite hold a book (Firestorm, Black Canary, Vixen, Zatanna, Dr. Light, Atom, Red Tornado - like that), and finally a wild card, a character who I totally have control of their continuity, so I can really do things to them that matter (someone new I made up, or a Milestone character, or an MLJ character, doesn't matter which).
To that I would add a guest member on a per-arc basis, (although I'd rotate out one or two of my regulars most issues as "busy on another case," just to make room).
So ideally I'd have 9 or 10 members total, but I'd usually only use 7 or 8, plus frequent, story-dependent guest stars.
And I'd also get to use cream of the crop villains, as long as I'm fantasizing.
But instead I've got who I've got, so I'm choosing to tell a story about the organization for a few months, until some of the guys I want are available again.
Originally Posted by Dwayne McDuffie I do get frustrated, but it comes with the job. The nature of monthly comics has changed drastically over the past 20 years. JLA used to be THE place to go to see the big guns together, dealing with the gravest threats in the DCU. Now there are several big event crossovers a year, and those titles are where the huge stories happen. So I have to tell stories that feed into and come out of those events. I'd prefer if, as on Justice League Unlimited, I could tell stories that were at the center of the characters lives, but that was a very different circumstance. JLA the comic is part of a larger patchwork, and my mandate is to support the bigger story of the DCU.
I think we could do a much better job of making the comic feel more self-contained while still serving the needs of the DCU, and I'm working on ways to do that, but the truth of the matter is, every three or four months, I have to sort of drop everything and deal with a crossover or other event. In my next arc of 6 issues, there are three of these events (four if you count the Milestone guest shot). That makes JLA integral to the DCU, but it also makes us lurch around more than a bit.