Justice League International #3, out last week by Dan Jurgens and Aaron Lopresti, saw the team split up into smaller groups to combat the Signal Men cropping up around the world and the creatures hidden beneath them. Jurgens switches between the various duos (Booster Gold and Batman, Fire and Vixen, August General-in-Iron and Godiva, Rocket Red and Ice) deftly, weaving their findings in and out so as to prevent any one group from duplicating the experiences of the others until they come together at the end of the issue with the reintroduction of the missing Guy Gardner and our team's first real interaction with master villain Peraxxus. Dan Jurgens joined us again this month to talk about the issue. Spoilers on, as always, as The International Exchange is a postgame analysis-type conversation and will discuss all aspects of the book, including potentially its last pages.
The International Exchange: Is this the first time we've gotten “proper,” full-name-and-title introductions to Emerson and Briggs? I don't remember last month for sure, but I'm pretty positive we didn't get those captions in #1.
Dan Jurgens: Captions? No. But they were duly introduced with first and last names on page 2 of Justice League International #1.
IX: Kind of an odd question, but had you considered avoiding the term “JLI” for a while? It's already being used here and while it's something that would of course eventually develop, the “JL_” names are longstanding comic book shorthand, which even have a little baggage attached in the form of Grant Morrison's JLA.
DJ: I considered it for a bit, but the U.N.'s goal is so obvious here that it seeemed silly to avoid it. It's clearly meant to be an international team of heroes the UN can control. And, of course, grabbing the JL portion of the name is designed to enhance credibility.
IX: You know, Booster's strategy of overloading the head because that's where the sensory array should be is an interesting one—obviously the Signalmen are very kind of humanoid or anthropomorphic or something...but the only thing they haven't used “like a human being would” yet is their heads.
DJ: The giant's behavior in #2 generally indicated some kind of perceptive abilities were in the head, especially when it threw it's head back and seemed to be in contact with something up in the atmosphere. It was a natural conclusion for Booster to arrive at.
IX: Despite having had a year to draw the other guys, there's a lot of great Batman on the page from Aaron this month. As an artist yourself, is he just one of those characters that people try to stay “up” on, knowing that at any time you could be expected to draw a really dynamic Batman sequence?
DJ: I don't know if I'd phrase it quite that way. For me, I'd simply say Batman has a great and very unique design. You can't not draw a great Batman sequence.
IX: I like the fact that the Russian Navy refers to the JLI as “The UN's special ops team.” Is that going to be the way that many ordinary people perceive the team?
DJ: At this point, the public's perceptions are and will continue to be all over the board.
IX: “Bea will try anything once” is one of those statements that seems to return Fire to a pre- Checkmate (pre-angst) status quo. Booster's personality is a bit of the same, so far, with everyone thinking of him first as a huckster. Without taking the characters all the way into bwa-ha-hah territory, are you trying to slide some of these guys back to where viewers of (for example) The Brave & the Bold would recognize them?
DJ: To a certain extent, yes. For example, while some of their individual stories may not have happened, that doesn't mean that they've had a total personality overhaul. Some might have a lot of the same traits they had in the past.
IX: The idea of Ice not being able to see through the ice ball was actually quite clever. I'm surprised it's never been used before, and it seems a bit like the way you used Booster's force field as an offensive weapon during Flashpoint. Since you've handled many of these characters in the past and are looking for new and different approaches, is re-examining their powers something you did consciously?
DJ: Very consciously. It's the perfect time to take the existing powers of some of these characters and expand it and round things out a bit. I think we're seeing a stronger August General. You mentioned Booster's force field and Ice's use of her power. I'd like to think we have some more surprises coming for some of the others.
IX: Similarly, I don't recall anybody ever using Ice as an aquatic hero, but it suits her, since it gives her a lot of raw materials. Is that just how the issue broke down or was that intentional as well?
DJ: It was a very conscious decision to put Ice in that specific scenario in which she could use her power in that way. I always found her a bit weak before. I want to push her forward and this is just the start.
IX: With Fire's admission that “I like the attention,” my first thoughts drifted to similarities between that and what we've seen so far from Godiva. That might not be fair, but I don't really know her yet. You've said in many interviews that August General has become one of your favorite characters to write, but will we see a bit more from Godiva and other characters who, to many readers, aren't much more than a set of powers and a costume?
DJ: Of course. More of their personality traits and character depth will unfold a bit over time. If you take it at face value, for example, Godiva seems to be a... diva. But we have to go beyond face value. Fire says she likes the attention. I think that's consistent with the past as well as the future. We have a big cast. We're getting there, in terms of more character definition.
IX: It's intresting seeing Mari and Fire building a bit of a rapport, not just because Bea and Tora have been inseparable for so many years until the New 52 but because Godiva really so far is only engaging with the men. Are we going to start to see friendships develop between characters right away or will it take a little longer, given the way they've been forced together?
DJ: It'll take a little longer. Some of these characters are meeting each other for the first time. In other cases, they've only shared a few meetings and/or adventures. It is NOT what it was.
IX: It's been noted around the Internet that August General-in-Iron really put it to the bad guys in this issue. Obviously we don't know a ton about him, even his abilities, but is it fair to say he may bring more muscle to the team than he's given credit for?
DJ: Yeah, I think that's very fair to say. Look, not only is he a tactician, but he's fairly powerful as well. Every group needs muscle and he's got it.
IX: The relationship between Batman and Booster is much more friendly than it's ever been before--at least openly. Is that an indication of the way you're handling Bruce in general or is it more a matter of playing to new readers and letting them know that there's a relationship between the two? DJ: There are a couple of things going on. First, yes, it's a reflection of Bruce. Second, yes, it's also a way of letting readers know that Booster and Batman know each other. There's a shared adventure in the past in which Booster earned Batman's respect.
IX: It's hard to avoid this question—Godiva acknowledges here that she's “hardly equipped” for the job, and shortly afterwards we see Peraxxus fighting the League on an upcoming cover with the mysterious there-again, gone-again woman from the Justice League International #1 cover instead of Godiva. Could this signal the first change in membership?
DJ: It could. Or couldn't. Time will tell!
IX: What's Guy's motivation here? Is it altruism or ego (or a little of both) that makes him say, "Well, they need me, time to go join up!"?
DJ: For Guy, I think it's both. First of all, he is a hero. He will do the right thing. He just has to fuss a little bit getting to that point. And the only thing worse than not being leader is being ignored. Despite his qualms, he wouldn't want to miss the party that is the JLI!