So, what did you think?
I will say up-front that I really liked this story as it was written, but I'm not a big fan of my art. Again, I have to say that I think of myself more as a writer-designer and less as an artist.
That being said, I *did* like how I started and ended the story with the traditional straight-lined comic box outlines, then with all of the dream sequences using rounded outlines. Did you notice that? That's the only artistic point I'm really proud of in this issue.
As for the story, I wanted to bring back Dr. Destiny because I really didn't like the way his original story went (issues 15 and 16). One of the stories I have been thinking about for years was his return. I had all sorts of ideas for nightmares and dreams that I considered using. I finally settled on this plot.
Did you think there was any resemblance between this story and the STAR TREK episode, "The Naked Time"? That was the episode early in the series where the characters face their own personal demons via a space flu. I liked the idea of showing the Justice Leaguers' weaknesses head-on and showing them (and the readers) what I think they would think to "snap them out of it." After all, if the JLAers were real, wouldn't they also face depression and "blue funk" days just like the rest of us?
With this idea in mind, it was easy for me to imagine that heroes like Batman, the Flash, and Aquaman would sometimes feel overwhelmed, or that people like Red Tornado, Green Arrow, and Elongated Man would sometimes think of themselves as being unworthy of the company they were keeping. Then who or what could threaten the world's strongest super-heroes? Why, a dark New God, of course. If Darkseid doesn't give Superman, Martian Manhunter, and Wonder Woman nightmares, I can't imagine who or what would! And lastly, in the most chilling nightmare sequence to me, haven't we always second-guessed whether we really were loved or not? For people like Black Canary and Green Lantern, who are similar to Marines or Police or Fire Fighters in the way they "belong" to their separate histories, wouldn't those groups disowning them be the most painful hurt imaginable? If you disagree with any of these theories I'd love to discuss this with you.
Then as I wrote myself into a corner (how WOULD the Phantom Stranger save them!?!) it suddenly occurred to me that they would depend on their friends. Don't we all depend on the support, love, and encouragement of our friends, co-workers, and family when we face adversity? Of course Superman would be the Boy Scout to help Batman et al face their responsibilities. Of course Aquaman, the most maligned super-hero ever, would tell Green Arrow et al that they, too, were important. Of course Batman, who has no powers whatsoever, would convince the strongest people on Earth what it means to not give up. And of course the whole JLA would convince Black Canary and Green Lantern that they were only dreaming; that their families *did* love them. I'm awfully proud of the way this story unfolded; I hope you liked it, too.
A shout out to my daughter Anna for helping me color this issue. Together we managed to find some good coloring techniques and styles and I think next issue will look even better~! Thanks again, honey!
And now here are some of my favorite bits from the issue....
The story starts out at the penitentiary in straight-lined boxes until Dr. Destiny begins dreaming...and after that panel (with no panel lines at all!) the rest of the story features rounded panels. I liked this idea a lot!
The first sequence I ever drew for this story was the Flash-Aquaman-Batman super-villain attack. However, mid-way through I didn't like how the pens I had were working so I bought new ones and tossed that art away to do it over. I had fun with this sequence, because although The Flash has plenty of bad guys, Aquaman and Batman had fewer that I wanted to use. Black Mask? Ra's Al Ghul? Nope. So I had fun using obscure Aquaman bad guys and some foes from the BATMAN TV series.
I'm not a big fan of God-villains such as Darkseid or Ares. You won't ever see them in my actual stories. However, they are good "boogie-men" to use. And I thought it would be appropriate for Darkseid to call The Justice League of America "super friends," especially if he means it derogatorily.
Likewise, I figured Darkseid would totally misunderstand the affection the JLA has for humankind. In general I liked my take on Darkseid. He "worked."
Anybody notice how I slipped in a Marvel Universe "Vision" reference when talking about Red Tornado? The Vision and Red Tornado made their debuts at roughly the same time, and have been compared to each other ever since.
I liked how this scene works, partly because my co-colorist Anna Toyama did a good job on it. Yellow equals cowardice, and pink is traditionally less than whole (neither red nor white); that is why this sequence bounces back between those two backgrounds. Here we have all the most nefarious bad guys laughing at our heroes. What an idea!
Unlike all the other characters, Black Canary and Green Lantern "belong" to other organizations in addition to the JLA. And I always love drawing the Justice Society and the Green Lantern Corps!
This to me is the most disturbing scene in the story. Imagine your friends and loved ones saying this to you, above and beyond the physical attack. Chilling.
According to JLA writer Len Wein, who introduced the Phantom Stranger into the Justice League universe, the Stranger is NOT an actual member. So I kept it unclear in "my" universe, too. He definitely feels like he can call meetings and attend whenever he wants to, though, haha!
So there I was trying to imagine being in a dream sequence, then being confronted by somebody telling I was dreaming. What would I do? Why, call the guy crazy, of course. I really liked this sequence. It rang "true" for the scene and for the Phantom Stranger.
What's the best way to defeat a guy in a helmet shooting lasers out of his eyes? The Three Stooges had it right. Take that, Black Manta, nyuk nyuk nyuk!
I've been wanting Aquaman to punch out the Scarecrow since they faced each other in JL #23. Finally! As an extra bonus this scene gives us another link between this All-New series and the previous bilingual series. Yes, we're back in the same universe.
I totally believe that Batman believes this.
My favorite panel in the entire book. I think every JLAer believes this, which is what makes them heroes.
Another favorite scene for me. The true meaning of what is going on here is better understood if you remember that A) Red Tornado was originally a member of the Justice Society, and that B) in "real" comics Green Arrow and Hal Jordan-Green Lantern were best friends. Red Tornado in the comics stepped away from his JSA roots, but I am having him embrace them. As for GL, I still haven't established just who or what Hal Jordan is in "my" universe, but it seems likely that of all the JLAers, Green Arrow would be the one to know him (besides John Stewart, of course).
And finally, of course the JLA will confront Dr. Destiny. Does J'onn J'onzz actually *do* anything to Destiny in this scene? Does he gently massage his mind to try to shut it down? Does he give him a lobotomy? I leave it open to interpretation, but I'd like to know what you think is happening here
That's it for this time. I'll be back in May with my new issue, a story that is my favorite so far...!