We here at the International Exchange are very happy to bring our wacky roadshow to ComicBook.com starting with this issue. Our good friends at The Outhouse have hosted us for three issues (check out the content archive here), and we'll continue to provide them exclusive interview content in exchange for all their kindness, but bringing this column to the site Russ calls home these days is something we've wanted to do since before Booster Gold was even finished and before The Gold Exchange had even retired. Since we've been providing exclusive content--but not the column--to ComicBook.com for three months and providing the column itself to The Outhouse, this really should not change much for regular readers. All of your stuff is still in all of the same places, just turned ninety degrees.
This month, readers finally got to see Peraxxus in action, in all his power and brutality. We also gained a little insight into the nature of the Signalmen, which apparently don't really belong to the villain and were (or at least could have been) much more benign in their original intent. Still, with the League largely indisposed and the UN breathing down the necks of their sponsors, things seem to be coming to a violent and desperate head in this, the penultimate chapter of the first Justice League International arc.
As always, Dan Jurgens joined us to discuss the issue. As always, please note that these commentaries are meant to enhance and inform the reading experience of people who have already read the issue in question. There will be spoilers and this is your first, last and only warning on the matter. If you haven't read the book yet, and plan to, then go do that now (you can buy it 24 hours a day on ComiXology) and come back to us.
The International Exchange: I've seen three or four people mention "one-punch Guy" after he got sucker-punched at the end of last issue. I'm guessing that you weren't trying consciously to evoke that, but rather using "the badguy got a jump on him" as more of an all-purpose cliffhanger. Am I wrong?
Dan Jurgens: No, you're not wrong at all. That's exactly how I see it.
IX: Is Guy's constant drumbeat against Booster going to be building to something between the two eventually, or is it just a way of establishing that he's still got a bad attitude in the new setting?
DJ: It's a bit of both.
Yes, we're pushing the relationship between Booster and Guy to a very particular point.
Beyond that, I wouldn't say that he has a bad attitude per se. It's more a question of him not really knowing Booster and regarding him as a lightweight because he does commercial endorsements.
Guy feels he's worthy of the JLA. Instead, he feels stuck in the minor leagues.
IX: I like that Peraxxus spent the first few pages talking in an alien language. It reminds me a bit of Doomsday's inability to talk, and the way that it communicates a lack of agenda that makes him scarier. Did you do that on purpose?
DJ: There wasn't any attempt to mimic Doomsday. But I do have a general approach that says it's rather goofy to expect aliens to simply land on earth and start speaking English with word one.
DJ: You mean in terms of the language barrier?
Look... I suppose that if I can type something into my laptop and get an instant translation, that it's reasonable to assume an alien life form that can travel countless light years to get here would have something similar or even better.
IX: Aaron and Matt are looking sharper and sharper every month, and Peraxxus in action seems like a cooler design than he did when he was just standing around looking menacing. Have you guys made tweaks along the way or is that just subconscious?
DJ: I don't know that we made tweaks along the way.
I think that any creative team takes a couple of issues to hit its stride. Artists might take a bit to figure out what the writer is trying to communicate, how to portray the characters, etc.
Lots of guys can draw a script. Making it sing is another matter entirely and often takes time.
IX: Also, whose idea was it to give him the neon piping? It's very in keeping with the Green Lanterns' updated design, per the sketches Cully Hamner included in the back of Justice League #3, so it feels very “at home” in the world of the New 52.
Whoever came up with it did a fantastic job because it looks really good.
IX: How “at home” are you guys there, this far in? Has it settled into a pretty natural thing or is it still strange to see, for example, Booster's new costume or to write these characters as though they've never heard the word “Bloodwynd”? I imagine it's hard for the shine to stay on forever, but at least for a year I think the fans will continue to think of this as the “new DCU” instead of the DCU.
DJ: It's fair to say that we might be feeling a bit more "at home" in the new digs, but I'm still moving furniture around. I need to get those seats in the home theater just right, y'know?
Seriously, it's coming along. I think we have some cool ideas coming up that should continue to show that we're dealing with a different DCU here.
IX: This is the first we see Briggs and Esposito really seeming to ANSWER TO someone; even in the opening scenes we were told that Briggs was manipulating the people he was “pitching” to and got exactly what he wanted. Will we be seeing more from their bosses or will it be more like Vera Peterson in Cheers, just a voice on the other end of the phone?
This is a team formed by a bureaucratic entity, after all. You know they're going to keep messing with it!
IX: In a continuity-driven universe where 2/3 of everyone is somebody's brother or cousin or former sidekick, do you consider while you write that off-camera characters may be assumed by the readership to represent an upcoming twist?
DJ: Yes. Absolutely.
IX: Esposito doesn't act altogether like she's surprised or upset that she thinks the group has failed. Is it possible she thinks that she'd be next in line if Briggs wasgone? Because frankly I had assumed that if he was gone so was his #2.
DJ: If Briggs were to go, I think Esposito probably would as well. A new broom sweeps clean and the UN might want to exert even greater control.
IX: They're going to carpet-bomb the place and potentially wipe out the supporting cast, in order to take a shot at these robots? Jeez, where's Dustin Hoffman when we need him?
(That's an Outbreak reference for the uninitiated.)
DJ: I get the reference.
But when you look at what the world is facing, that sort of makes sense, does it not?
IX: I like that Batman stays on point, ignoring the rest of the team teleporting mysteriously in front of him and trying to keep Peraxxus's Bond villain speech going.
DJ: Batman does not deviate from the subject at hand.
I always look at it this way: If Batman was playing on the company softball team in the most casual of leagues, he's the one who'd slide into second base, spikes high, in order to break up the double play. Even if the person covering the base was 35-year-old soccer mom just trying to enjoy some time outside.
IX: Peraxxus admitted this month that the Signalmen aren't really his. Will the identity or nature of the original owners be revealed?
DJ: That's the plan, though it's not going to happen right away. We have other things we want to get to first.
IX: After reading some comments by Erin [Note: This was originally credited to Morganstern, whom I love--but credit where credit's due] over at the Boosterrific message boards, I was wondering: Was it a conscious parallel that Peraxxus is basically in this for the money, which in some ways evokes how most people perceive Booster at this early stage in his career?
DJ: I think that's stretching things a bit too far. I don't know that I'd say that Peraxxus is quite so interested in money. Think of this more as his purpose... this is what he does. He provides a service that people need and collects for it.
But it isn't always money. He's a trader.
IX: The team works together nicely here; Godiva and Ice, two characters who I think most fans would perceive as comparably the weak links in terms of power levels, come through in the clutch and Booster picks up right where Batman leaves off when Bruce needs to focus on his belt rather than the baddie. I know it's almost a convention of this sort of storytelling, but do you think it's important on some level to give readers that kind of “No, really, she belongs here” beat, especially for someone like Godiva with whom most fans don't have an emotional connection?
DJ: Yeah, I do.
Godiva would seem to be clearly outclassed by the others around her.
At least on the surface.
Beyond that, and beyond her more immediate reactions, I think there's depth that we need to see a bit of here and there. She's going to be an important presence on this team.
IX: With not a ton of work as a unit (they've been split up as much as together), is this more a reflection on how these second- and third-string heroes are still pretty capable at what they do?
DJ: Yes, though I don't think they like to think of themselves that way.
The point is to show that they can be an effective unit.
In fact, considering the threat, they're going to have to become a highly effective unit in a hurry.
IX: I think I know the answer to this, but in the wake of this week's spate of DC creative changes it's worth getting down for the fans: Aaron's not solicited as the artist on Justice League International #6. That's just a matter of him wrapping up his work on My Greatest Adventure, and he'll be back with us in #7 or #8, right?
DJ: Yes. Aaron took a break on #6 and is already hard at work on issue #7!