‘Justice League': DC will write new first chapter for super team

June 12, 2011 | 7:30 a.m.

DC Comics has been making headlines for weeks, but on Saturday, three of the top creative forces finally stepped into the spotlight to discuss the seismic changes planned for the oldest and most iconic comics universe.

The Justice League, the superhero team at the very center of the DC Comics universe, will get an all-new origin story, beginning Aug. 31 in “Justice League” issue No. 1, according to artist Jim Lee and writer Geoff Johns, the celebrated creators who will be working in tandem for the first time.

Johns and Lee said the story will be set five years in the past, as will the new Superman tale, which will launch with “Action Comics” issue No. 1 in September. “Action Comics” writer Grant Morrison sent a special video message to Saturday night’s audience at the Hero Complex Film Festival at the Chinese Six theater in Hollywood.

Grant Morrison

Grant Morrison

With a sense of awe, Morrison said he considered Superman to be “the greatest-ever idea of the human species,” and he aimed to “re-create that guy for the 21st century.”

“We want to try to create a new language for comics, a new kind of philosophy, a new kind of propulsive storytelling that will do things that only comics can do and that movies can’t even catch up with,” Morrison said in the video message. “We hope everyone’s going to get involved and join us in this voyage into the unknown.”

Lee called the decision to reboot the universe and reinvent the origin stories “unprecedented,” saying the move was a “creative opportunity” for artists and a chance for new readers to jump into comics.

“It’s not just renumbering all of these books, but it’s also about going systematically through the entire DC universe and sort of reenergizing and reimagining a lot of the stuff that sort of formed these characters, the back stories,” Lee said. “We’re talking about ‘Justice League,’ but there’s never been a really awesome origin for the Justice League. … To me, it’s a prime example of something that we can go in and maybe add something to the lore and add a really kickass contemporary story that feels modern and really shows why these characters need to be together, because this is a such a diverse group of heroes.”

jimleegeoffjohns Justice League: DC will write new first chapter for super team

Jim Lee and Geoff Johns (DC Entertainment)

One of the main goals of the new origin story is showing the relationship between the core “classic, iconic seven members” of the league, Johns said.

“Our first arc actually is the origin of the team, so it takes place in the past, and the next arc will take place in the present,” he said. “One thing I was really interested in was how do these guys really get along? Like Green Lantern when he first meets Batman, he’s like, ‘So what are your powers?’ Because you’d assume if this guy is dressed up like a bat fighting bad guys, that he can’t be crazy, that he’s got to have powers. And so Jim and I talked a lot about what their first opinion would be of each other. Like if Green Lantern’s on Earth to patrol to search for extraterrestrial trouble, what’s he think of Superman?”

The new comics will develop the classic characters as people as well as superheroes, Johns said.

“One of the lines I used in my script is, ‘They’re not gods, they’re the Justice League,'” he said. “So what are the people like behind the masks, and how do they interact. Really the three words I use for what we’re trying to do are heart, humor and heroics.”

Lee and Johns said they’re prepared for backlash from hardcore comic fans, but that they are confident they can “execute it correctly,” and fans will embrace the new mythology.

hcffteaser2 Justice League: DC will write new first chapter for super team“I remember when I wrote ‘Green Lantern: Rebirth,’ which brought Hal Jordan back, and people were really unhappy, and the hardcore fans were like, ‘You can’t do that,’ and we did it anyway,” Johns said. “I think if you do it with care … [and stay] true to the emotional ideals and the morality ideals that are in the heroes, that’s the goal. … Let’s try and capture the essence of what these characters can be, show how they could interact. Make it just a little bit different and unexpected. It’s an exciting time.”

The festival continues Sunday at the Hollywood & Highland complex. Sunday’s special guest is Jon Favreau with a screening of “Iron Man” and “Iron Man 2,” as well as an exclusive new preview of “Captain America: The First Avenger” — plus some interesting surprises.

The purchase of an all-day Sunday ticket is now also the only way to get a seat in that day’s sold-out noon screening of “The Incredibles,” which will be followed by a special sneak preview of footage from “Cars 2” and an interview with Dave Mullins of Pixar. Buy tickets for individual days right here.

– Noelene Clark

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