DC's biggest heroes have gone up against their share of villains and challengers, but few are as mysterious and immensely powerful as the Frost King. The Justice League learns this the hard way when they are knocked for a loop at the former home of Superman's Fortress of Solitude in the pages of Justice League: Endless Winter #1, and things only get more epic in scope from there. ComicBook.com had the chance to speak to Endless Winter writers Ron Marz and Andy Lanning all about the new event, the effect it will have on our heroes, and who they would love to see bring the Frost King to life in a movie down the line.
First we started with the scope of the story, and with a story and crossover this large in scale, if there was something they wanted to avoid in planning it out.
"Well, we try to avoid it not being any good," Marz said with a laugh. "Andy and I have both been around the merry-go-round on these types of projects before, so I don't know that there's anything that's particularly daunting or anything you try to avoid. I mean, each one is unique in that you are pulling the events and the action out of the characters that you have. I did Marvel vs DC. Andy did Annihilation. Those are very much, big popcorn sort of crossover events, but they're also very much drawn from the characters that are participating."
"So I think Endless Winter was no different," Marz said. "It's a Justice League based story and there are other heroes that come into it, but the spine of the story kept coming back to the six Justice League members. Which just so everybody's on the same page, for our story are Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, John Stewart (Green Lantern), Flash, and Aquaman. Some of those characters had solo issues in the span of the crossover as well, so we try to make sure that everybody got their moment. Everybody got some character stuff to do. Particularly the ones like Superman, Aquaman, and Flash who have their own solo issues. You try to serve those characters as well as the overall story, whenever you do something like this."
"I think what we wanted to do is come up with that big background story, and the real fun stuff I think is when you get those individual issues is trying to tell the story through the lens of that issue," Lanning said. "So not only have you got your Superman, Flash, and Aquaman issues in this, you've also got Teen Titans, Justice League Dark, Justice League, and a Black Adam special in essence. So, particularly with ongoing continuity, you want to slot into that ongoing continuity, and you want to get the tone and the voice of that issue right. The fun bit is seeing how those characters and that team would be responding and playing out against the backdrop of this big event. So I guess, you could say that's challenging."
"Actually, it's fun. It's part of the thing you try to rise to. I guess more challenging really is the fact that overall we had nine issues worth of stuff to do that became a sort of relentless, weekly delivery of plots and scripts. So that we can keep all the various artists working, and coordinating between all of them was somewhat challenging, but something that Ron and I were quite happy to sit back and leave to the hands of the editors on board and trust that they would handle all of that for us," Lanning said.
One of the book's best sequences is a touching moment early on involving Black Lightning's family and The Flash, providing Flash some much-needed clarity regarding his own family life. While there's lots of superhero action in Endless Winter, there's an underlying foundation of what family is, how they affect you, and what you would do for them.
"Obviously part of superhero comics is the soap opera aspect, and part of a soap opera aspect is, who is the superhero dating or trying to date? Or, will your hero have a significant other? Or is there a love triangle? I mean, all of that stuff is part and parcel of what we do and has been for 50 or 60 years. Well, even more than that really. I mean, Lois Lane fell in love with Superman but didn't have the time of day for Clark Kent. I mean, that's sort of the classic superhero love triangle, even though there were only two people in it. So, the family aspect is one that I don't think that superhero comics deal with a lot because a lot of the superheroes don't have families, but I think as superhero comics have evolved, now we can do that kind of stuff."
"There's, more opportunity to do that kind of stuff, and the Black Lightning stuff was just kind of there for us. Because we needed, Flash being someone who's not married, someone who doesn't have a family in this continuity, we wanted to be able to contrast him to someone who has, at least for a superhero, a stable family life. Part of the theme of what we're doing with this story is his family in general. Family for the heroes, family for the Frost King, who was our villain. So we touch on family. I think in almost every issue, whether it's someone losing their family, someone trying to protect their family, someone trying to find their family, or someone who doesn't think they have a family and discovers that maybe they do. So we kept coming back to that notion of family overall in the storyline."
"And it was also a seasonal story. Christmas is a time for getting together with your family, or not as the case may be this year, and that seemed to be thematically something we wanted to build in from the get-go," Lanning said. "So it became a touchstone for all of the issues and actually for the bigger story. The bigger story revolves around that, and it's actually been one of the key ingredients in the story."
"And to that bigger question, I think exactly what Ron said, the notion of comics as soap opera, is something that people keep coming back for, and one of the great elements of drama both within comics as well as soap operas is family dynamics, and all the different iterations of family that you can have," Lanning said. "There's blood relations, there's marriage relations. There's the bigger family of being part of a team and things like that. So, I refer back to things like the X-Men growing up, reading those books and Fantastic Four. I guess, comic's first family as a dynamic. These are great subject matters that we can revisit all the time."
Now, don't worry, there's still plenty of big (and rather frigid) superhero action, but the smaller more personal moments is what grounds it all.
"Ultimately I think this is a big superhero story about ice monsters and an endless winter," Marz said. "We're totally doing big superhero stuff. That's the job. But when we can do that sort of stuff and sort of run those thematic themes through the story as well, without derailing the big action that you have to have as part of these kinds of stories, I think that's where the real sweet spot is for a crossover like this. So it's not just a bunch of noise and fight scenes. There's real character stuff going on here."
The story is called Endless Winter for nothing, and because of the low temperatures, it makes sense that a certain Dark Knight would get a new suit to help deal with the cold. The new Arctic Suit not only looks cool but also makes Flash rather envious, so we had to ask if Bats will be getting new and improved suits along the way, and delightfully the answer was yes, but not just Batman will be benefiting from some upgrades.
"Batman's Arctic suit is kind of cool," Marz said. "Yes. Flash is indeed jealous because he didn't get one. So, Batman gets some new duds, and so does Wonder Woman by the end of the whole thing."
"And again, those were just like cool opportunities that, I mean, of course, Batman has got an arctic suit. He's prepared for everything and the Wonder Woman situation sort of hearkens back to do the Hippolyta backstory. But yeah, anything like that, where you get a chance to see familiar characters, not only in unfamiliar familiar settings, but a new twist on their costume is always good to go for," Lanning said.
Endless Winter will hit multiple series, including Aquaman, Superman, and Justice League Dark, and each of those books will still retain their personality and tone despite being tied to the main event.
"They all have their personality, they all have their bits, and we try to lean into what makes those particular titles unique," Marz said. "So, the Superman story is very much a Superman story, and part of the narrative technique that we use is a newspaper column written by Lois Lane. Aquaman's story is set mostly in Atlantis and leans into some Atlantian mythology. Mera is just it's as much of a part of the story as Aquaman, and Justice League Dark is spooky, spooky, magic-based stuff that actually brings some really necessary plot elements into the story."
"So, I think we did, If I do say so I think we did a pretty good job of making sure each issue retained its personality in terms of what that particular thing is, what that particular character is, but also served the overall storyline," Marz said.
"It's really just part of the fun of researching going into this is getting to really dig deep in those issues and get up to date with all the continuity of what is going on with them, and so you can pick up without missing a beat. They won't seem out of place. They won't jar. The Aquaman issue, it's like, Mera and Aquaman, it's following up from their marriage. And Justice League Dark, it follows after the big events in the other place with the upside down land. And that's all great stuff. It's great stuff to carry on and weave through this bigger story. So you skew it through the lens of the big event we're doing, but you're basically retaining all of those dynamics that are already being played out in those issues," Lanning said.0comments
You can check out the big event right now, as Justice League: Endless Winter is in comic stores now.
What did you think of the issue? Let us know in the comments or feel free to talk all things comics with me on Twitter @MattAguilarCB!