Jeff Lemire Takes On ‘Justice League Dark’

Animal Man's success allows Lemire to jump on board the flagship "Edge" title, among other creative shifts..

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

Justice League Dark #5

DC announced some creative changes on some of their "Edge" titles, the first of which was that Jeff Lemire, who has been writing the critically-beloved Animal Man and Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E., is leaving the latter title to take over Justice League Dark from Peter Milligan, starting with issue #9, after the JLD's crossover with I, Vampire.  Artist Mikal Janin will remain on JLD.

“This is my dream gig at DC Comics, no doubt about it," Lemire says. "The characters in Justice League Dark are my absolute favorite in the DC Comics stable, and I can’t believe I’m actually getting a chance to write John Constantine, Zatanna and Deadman (as well as a few new team members!).  I have a huge amount of respect for Peter Milligan. I’ve loved everything he’s done since his original Shade run in the pre-Vertigo days of DC to his current run on Hellblazer and JL Dark. It’s a bit daunting to take over this title from someone who I revere as much as Peter, but at the same time I can’t help but be inspired by the work he’s already done with this book."

Milligan, for his part, will remain on Hellblazer and Red Lanterns, and is going to be taking over Stormwatch from Paul Cornell, but he doesn't sound thrilled about leaving JLD.  "It’s a bit of a wrench leaving JL Dark, of course, and not working with the increasingly outstanding Mikel Janin. But the fact that Jeff Lemire is taking over makes me very sanguine. I think Jeff is great. And I think he’ll be great for this book. It’ll be intriguing to see how he handles the great conman mage, John Constantine, whose twisted life I’m continuing to chronicle over in Vertigo’s Hellblazer."

That leaves an empty space over on Frankenstein, which will be filled by Matt Kindt, who collaborated with Lemire not only on the final issue of Men of War this April, but also on the Vertigo series Sweet Tooth.  He's also been working on the Robotman story for My Greatest Adventure

"“I’m so excited to be writing Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E.!" Kindt says.  "I’ve been good friends with Jeff Lemire since we both broke into comics years ago and I remember spending the weekend at his studio and kicking his ideas around for his take on Frank and Crew and just having a blast. Lemire was having so much fun putting these characters into action…and I think that fun really comes through."

So, what can we expect from these new writers on their respective new titles?

"Working in the DC universe is liberating in a lot of ways," Kindt explains. "I’m getting a chance to hit more directly on a lot of genre stuff I haven’t gotten to yet – science fiction and horror with all of my past espionage experience mixed into it. It’s a crazy mix. I have to say that writing the scripts for Frankenstein has seriously been some of the most entertaining hours of my writing career.  Taking over for Jeff is just the added bonus – knowing where he was going with the series from the beginning and talking about these great characters he’s rebooted has been fantastic. And it’s going to be fun to surprise him (and the readers) with where it ends up going. There’s Frank and his relationship with so-and-so (can’t spoil it), the Mummy and his crazy origin. And we’re going to get to see a lot more of S.H.A.D.E. and see how the agency works around the globe and visit a lot of crazy field offices. What is life as a S.H.A.D.E. agent really like? It’s basically Steranko meets Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy, with some of the best spy-gadgets ever invented."

Lemire has big ideas for JLD.  "One of the things I’m anxious to explore is just why the name 'Justice League' is in the title of this book? I want to explore and create new connections between this team of mystical misfits and Geoff and Jim’s big guns in The Justice League. On that note, Geoff and I have had many discussions on how to link our two books and make the Justice League franchises connect in new and unexpected ways. More on that in the near future."

Anything else, Jeff?  "Well, you’ll see an old haunt becoming the team’s new HQ. Constantine, the master manipulator that he is, will emerge as the clear leader of the team, and there will be 2 new members as well! (Hint one’s a man and one’s a woman. One uses magic, one doesn’t.)  Not enough….hmmm…how about a classic Justice League villain re-imagined as The Justice League Dark’s new arch-enemy? And that’s just the start. I have a huge storyline planned with implications across the Dark line of books."

How about you, Mr. Milligan?  "Stormwatch has the craziness, the paranoia and the occasional bursts of odd humor that really grab me. This is my kind of book. In other words, when I re-read Paul Cornell’s excellent first series with a view to taking over the writing duties I was really excited. And I’m excited too by what I have planned, from Stormwatch facing a ferocious character from the Red Lantern Corps, to hidden secrets being revealed about the origin of Stormwatch, and some shocking revelations about the mysterious Shadow Lords. It’s going to be a very intense ride."