DC Villains Month: ‘Justice Leagues’ revealed; Greg Pak on Darkseid

June 04, 2013 | 9:00 a.m.

Darkseid steps to the front over the out-of-commission Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman for his Villains Month spotlight issue. The event's titles feature 3-D motion covers and will be priced at $3.99, a dollar more than usual for some titles, before reverting to normal pricing in October. (DC Comics)

Which Justice League enemy is big enough and bad enough to seize and rename DC Comics’ flagship series? Darkseid is.

The stone-cold cosmic conqueror’s star turn comes in DC’s New 52 Villains Month this September, when evildoers will rule in the DCU, with a different one temporarily taking over each title – and getting a 3-D motion cover. Hero Complex offers readers a look at the covers for the four wicked Justice League re-titles and an exclusive interview with “Justice League: Darkseid” writer Greg Pak about what to expect from that great gray terror. See the “Darkseid” cover in action here.

Villains Month is the kickoff of the New 52’s first universe-spanning event, “Forever Evil,” which will be anchored by a miniseries bearing that name from regular “Justice League of America” creative team Geoff Johns and David Finch. It all flows out of the events in this summer’s Justice League crossover “Trinity War.”

It’s the third straight big September for DC, following 2011’s New 52 debut, which relaunched the entire DCU line five years into a new reality’s time line with No. 1’s, and last year’s No. 0 issues, which offered telling tales of the heroes’ pasts in the changed continuity.

There will be four “Justice League” books in Villains Month, led by No. 23.1 (Sept. 4), starring Darkseid, with writer Pak joined by artist Paulo Siqueira (cover by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado). Interstellar bounty hunter / killing machine Lobo lands in No. 23.2 (Sept. 11) in an adventure by Marguerite Bennett and Ben Oliver (cover by Aaron Kuder). Writer China Mieville and 20 artists (including Mateus Santolouco, Jock, Jeff Lemire and David Lapham; cover by Brian Bolland) debut 20 new villains in No. 23.3, “Justice League: Dial E” (Sept. 18), a coda to the “Dial H” series, which ends in August.

And much will be revealed in No. 24.4 (Sept. 25), which stars the Secret Society, a group that’s been building up on the path to “Forever Evil”; the issue will be written by Johns, the big event’s architect and DC’s chief creative officer, with art by Manuel Garcia and Rob Hunter (cover by Mikel Janin).

In this email interview, Pak discusses what to look for in “Justice League: Darkseid” and recalls his first exposure to the ruler of Apokolips.

Darkseid

“Justice League: Darkseid,” written by Greg Pak with interior art by Paulo Siqueira, features this cover art by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado. (DC Comics)

HC: Darkseid was the first major foe the Justice League faced in the New 52, and that onslaught ended with him being shot back away from Earth through a boom tube by Cyborg. Where does “Justice League: Darkseid” find him, and what can you say about what he’s planning?

GP: We’re exploring some of the unanswered questions around Darkseid’s war on both Earth and Earth 2 in the New 52. We’ll get a glimpse of some never-before-seen corners of his terrifying homeworld, Apokolips. And we may find out more about what exactly he had planned for Superman and the other victims in the horrific flesh-reprocessing chamber we saw in “Justice League.”

HC: His earlier appearance in the New 52 “Justice League” mentioned he had a missing daughter, and “Justice League of America’s Vibe” No. 1 revealed in February that his daughter is under lock and key on Earth, a captive of JLA organizer Amanda Waller. Will his as-yet-unseen daughter figure into “Justice League: Darkseid”? And if so, what you can tell readers about that?

GP: Pretty intriguing stuff, isn’t it? And we may indeed touch on it. But the big reveals regarding that mystery will come elsewhere, later on down the line. However, within the pages of “Justice League: Darkseid,” we will be exploring a female character critical to Darkseid’s story in the New 52. Strangely enough, there’s also a big “Batman/Superman” connection. So dontcha dare miss it!

HC: What aspects of Darkseid are you most interested in exploring for this issue?

GP: He’s one of the greatest comic book supervillains of all time. He’s got an epic, mythic, cosmic back story that’s right up my alley. And his exact motivations and mind-set in the New 52 remain mysterious enough to present a huge opportunity for fun, risky storytelling. I’m having a blast.

HC: This character has more than 40 years of history – from his creation in comics by Jack Kirby to recent animated and TV iterations. You’re writing within New 52 continuity, but are there any other versions of him that stood out to you as you approached writing this issue?

GP: My first introduction to Darkseid was through the Chris Claremont / Walt Simonson X-Men / Teen Titans crossover book back in the day. I remember buying two copies of that book at the then-astonishing price of two bucks a pop, so you know it made a big impression on me. These days I’m having a ton of fun catching up on the original Jack Kirby Fourth World saga.

HC: How’s the collaboration with the artist been?

GP: I’m still scripting, so we haven’t yet gotten into it. But the artist is Paulo Siqueira, and he’s amazing. The guy can draw anything, and he’s got a fantastic imagination, as his “Voodoo” covers indicate. I think he’s going to go nuts with both the small, telling character moments and the huge cosmic moments the book will feature.

HC: After establishing yourself at Marvel over the last many years, you’re making your DC debut this month with “Batman/Superman” No. 1, and now you’re taking on one of the DCU’s biggest villains with Darkseid. Are these characters you’ve wanted to write, and how are you handling all this?

GP: I’m having a ridiculously fun time working at DC. It is indeed a huge blast tackling such iconic characters — particularly in the New 52, where I’ve been encouraged to think big and take risks while exploring the meaty emotional questions of what really makes these characters tick. It’s my favorite kind of writing and I couldn’t be happier. Superman and Batman were at the top of my list of DC characters I hoped to have a chance to write someday, so my head just about popped off when I was offered the “Batman/Superman” book. These are characters that I’ve been thinking about since I was 5 and it’s been incredibly fun diving into their worlds and minds and hearts and seeing Jae Lee bring them to life. And yes, I definitely have a list of other DC characters I’m itching to get my hands on. Without spoiling too much, I can say that in the last month, I’ve checked off three more names on that list.

Click here to see larger versions of the above photos: Darkseid | Lobo | Secret Society | Dial E

– Blake Hennon | @BlakeHennon

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