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Interview: J.M. DeMatteis discusses JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK & Forever Evil: Blight

J.M. Dematteis will be writing JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK with issue #24 and continues to write PHANTOM STRANGERS. What will he bring to these books in the future?

Writer J.M. DeMatteis has been doing some great things on the series PHANTOM STRANGER. He's got a good grasp on the supernatural side of things in the DC universe. The big news for him is that starting with issue #24, he will be the writer for JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK after Jeff Lemire's run. J.M. took the time to answer some questions about his upcoming run on JLD as well as his work on PHANTOM STRANGER.

Cover: Justice League Dark #24

Comic Vine: You'll be jumping on as the writer of JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK, starting with issue #24, taking over after writer Jeff Lemire's departure. How did you get this sweet gig?

J.M. DEMATTEIS: It pretty much arrived with a bow tied around it. Brian Cunningham called me up, offered it to me. I’m a huge fan of Jeff Lemire’s run on the book—I think he did brilliant work—and so I was very flattered when I was asked to come aboard after him. Big shoes to fill! Add in the chance to work with Mikel Janin, one of the very best artists working in the business right now, and you can understand why my answer was an immediate yes.

CV: What, to you, is the most exciting thing about this series and its characters?

JD: I’m in love with the supernatural corners of the DC Universe—there are so many incredible characters, from Swamp Thing to the Demon to Phantom Stranger to Constantine (to name just a few). These characters open themselves to a kind of storytelling that I feel very at home with: mystical, philosophical, and eerie tales that explore the Big Questions about life, the universe and everything—and do it in the context of wildly surreal adventures. Justice League Dark brings all these characters and themes together under one roof. It’s a challenging, and fun, book to write.

CV: How will JLD tie-in to Forever Evil?

JD: In a big way: JLD, Phantom Stranger, Constantine and Pandora will all be weaving together to form an arc called Forever Evil: Blight that will be running across all four titles through March. The story will be directly related to the main FE arc, but come at it from a supernatural perspective and stand on its own. You won’t have to read the other Forever Evil books to follow what’s happening in our books (although you should!). The seeds are all planted in JLD #24—which deals with the immediate aftermath of the Crime Syndicate’s invasion of our dimension and the emotional toll its taken on John Constantine—and then the story builds from there.

Interiors by Mikel Janin.

I’ve been working closely with Ray Fawkes (who writes Pandora and Constantine) and our editors, Brian Cunningham and Wil Moss, putting this together (and we’ve had wonderful input from Geoff Johns, as well) and the collaboration has been great fun. If that fun translates to the printed page—and I hope it does—it’s going to be a very good story.

CV: JLD had two Villains Month books: Eclipso and Creeper. What plans do you have for these characters in the future?

JD: They won’t be appearing in the beginning of the Blight arc but by the time we get to the end of it...well, let’s just say that you’ll be seeing a host of DCU supernatural characters and there’s a chance Eclipso and the Creeper will be in the mix.

CV: This is more of a personal, fanboy question, but will we see the return of Nick Necro? Please? Pretty please?

JD: I shouldn’t tell you this but, since it means so much to you: Yes. In a big way.

CV: This series has had a bit of crossover from classic DC characters as well as Vertigo characters. Will we see any more of this?

JD: Absolutely.

CV: If you could, what classic DC character or Vertigo character would you put into JLD and why?

JD: One of my all-time favorite DC characters is Jack Kirby’s Demon. He’ll play a role in Forever Evil: Blight—but I’m hoping to get him into JLD on a regular basis down the line. I’m also getting a chance to write Swamp Thing—another character that’s been a favorite since the classic Len Wein-Bernie Wrightson era—and I’m hoping to keep him around, as well.

As for Vertigo characters: I think Moonshadow would be a perfect fit for Justice League Dark. (Let me be clear: That was a joke!)

Cover to issue #25 by Mikel Janin.

CV: What does the future hold for the JLD?

JD: The driving force behind the upcoming storyline will be Constantine and his desperate desire to find Zatanna. After the events of Trinity War, and the invasion of the Crime Syndicate, he doesn’t know if Zee and the rest of the team are alive or dead. John’s less concerned with saving the world and more concerned with saving the woman he loves—that’s what motivates him to put together a new team (which includes Nightmare Nurse, Swamp Thing, Phantom Stranger and Pandora). But how far will John go to save Zatanna? What compromises will he make? What sacrifices? It’s going to be an interesting journey.

CV: For those who may have missed out, what's going on in PHANTOM STRANGER?

JD: The events of Trinity War had a massive impact on the Stranger...not the least of which was the fact that he sacrificed his very existence in attempt to help Superman and save Doctor Light. PS #12 picks up right after that—and begins a journey that leads the Stranger straight into the heart of the Forever Evil: Blight arc. But what’s most important is that, in the course of this story, we’re going to see PS go through a major evolution. The Blight storyline will be important to the Stranger—and to Pandora and Constantine, as well. Everyone involved in this crossover wants the story to matter not just to the overall Forever Evil arc, but to the individual characters. We want to see the Stranger, Pandora and Constantine change and grow through this ordeal. And they will.

CV: The Question and The Phantom Stranger have had a really rocky relationship, and by rocky, I mean "murderous." The solicit for issue #13 has these two clashing again. What can we expect to see in this issue and what makes their relationship so interesting?

JD: It’s a major clash that will carry over into PS #14. What makes the relationship interesting to me is that, although the Question is viewed as part of the Trinity of Sin, he doesn’t see himself as evil. He sees himself as a victim. To the Question, the Stranger and Pandora are the sinners—and he blames them for his situation. All of this, and more, comes to a boil in Phantom Stranger #14.

Blight design by Mikel Janin.

CV: What's going on in the upcoming Forever Evil tie-in?

JD: I don’t want to give too much away, but here’s the (very) short version: The Stranger—for his own reasons—gets involved in John Constantine’s quest to find Zatanna and the rest of the JLD. In the process, they come up against a new villain, Blight (beautifully designed by Mikel Janin), and the mission gets deeply personal for the Stranger. We’ll also be learning things about PS’s past that even he didn’t know and introducing an old Phantom Stranger cast member—Cassandra Craft—to the new DCU.

CV: Will we see the return of Sin Eater and Spectre?

JD: Yes. You’ll see Sin Eater again in PS #s 12 and 13 and he will absolutely be back after that, because SE is hugely important to the Stranger’s story. (We’ll also meet an entity called Non, who’s intimately, and mysteriously, involved with Sin Eater.) The Spectre will turn up in the Forever Evil: Blight arc—and, given his loathing for the Stranger, there’s very little chance that will turn out well.

CV: How can Phantom Stranger come back from non-existence?

JD: Good question! (And I’m not going to answer it.)

CV: Do you have any challenges writing a character who has been alive for centuries and essentially "seen it all?"

JD: He may have “seen it all,” but, in many ways, he’s just starting to understand himself and his place in the world. There’s so much mystery to this character. So much we don’t know (and, as we’ll soon discover, so much he doesn’t know) about his past and who he really is. We’re just getting started.

CV: What does the future hold for Phantom Stranger?

JD: For now it’s his involvement in Forever Evil: Blight. After that, expect to see (among other things) the return of Sin Eater and Non (who, no surprise, are up to no good) and the blossoming of new (or is it old?) love. The main goal is to deepen and evolve this fascinating character and to have some strange and wonderful adventures along the way.

Here's a checklist for Forever Evil: Blight, an 18 part story, which runs through the supernatural DC books:

PART 1 – JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #24

PART 2 – JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #25

PART 3 – TRINITY OF SIN: THE PHANTOM STRANGER #14

PART 4 – CONSTANTINE #9

PART 5 – TRINITY OF SIN: PANDORA #6

PART 6 – JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #26

PART 7 – TRINITY OF SIN: THE PHANTOM STRANGER #15

PART 8 – CONSTANTINE #10

PART 9 – PANDORA #7

PART 10 – JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #27

PART 11 – TRINITY OF SIN: THE PHANTOM STRANGER #16

PART 12 – CONSTANTINE #11

PART 13 – TRINITY OF SIN: PANDORA #8

PART 14 – JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #28

PART 15 – TRINITY OF SIN: THE PHANTOM STRANGER #17

PART 16 – CONSTANTINE #12

PART 17 – TRINITY OF SIN: PANDORA #9

PART 18 – JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #29 -

Image source:

DC Comics

Big thanks to J.M. Demateis for answering our questions and make sure to check out issue #24 of JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK, on sale October 23rd, and PHANTOM STRANGER #12, which came out October 9th. Also, check out Forever Evil: Blight!

45 Comments
Posted by Trevel8182

Edited by 2cool4fun

I like J.M. DeMatteis his pretty good, but come on, jeff lemire is the boss :(, too many writers changing there titles, why can't any one stay for like 50 issues...he better not leave animal man as well

Posted by Ben3000

An 18 part story...yeah I'm going to pick that up in trade. With that said I'm looking forward to J.M DeMatteis taking over the book.

Posted by turel_hash_ak_gik

man, zatanna is so hot. dat art, son.

Posted by manwithoutshame

Can't wait, I love this corner of the DC Universe.

Edited by doombot890

this is my favourite justice league team. I especially like how its a sort of play on how the Avengers work (particularly in Marvel NOW). Where the Avengers are many heroes in one team selecting heroes for each encounter, the 3 Justice League teams are separate entities that pretty much hate each other. haha

Posted by ComicKing7

How long exactly is Forever Evil going to last?

Posted by The Stegman

18 parts??? Jeez

Online
Edited by kanadiankozak

My question is if I am only reading Phantom Stranger and Pandora, are they not gonna make any sense if I don't read the rest of the Blight storyline?

Posted by Outside_85

I am quite glad to see him take over. Partly because I think his Phantom Stranger is the most interesting of the current Dark books, and because Lemire's superhero take on the JLD was getting pretty boring.

Posted by MrMazz

I love this side of the DC U but man does it really have to b 18 parts? why not like 12 ya know something reasonable.

Still super excited for more JLD

Posted by TheFirstLantern

My wallet will suffer, hard.

Posted by Larcheese

@kanadiankozak based off the check list saying Part 1 - Part 18 like with Battle of the Atom I would say it is a safe assumption that you either buy every book or none of the books for the Blight storyline. They aren't just Tie-Ins like with Trinity War, otherwise I think it would say that.

That's just how it seems to me anyway.

Edited by longbowhunter

An 18 issue crossover is going to kill JLD's sales. I'm sure this was done hoping to give the other books a sales bump but this along with the price increase will be the death of this title.

Online
Posted by jwalser3

What is happening? I'll just wait for a TPB.

Posted by Grey56
Posted by Eivion

@trevel8182: This is the only Blight I can ever accept in my comics.

Edited by Ando123

I'm gonna give it a try

Posted by fACEmelter88

They lost me with the tail, I was liking the idea but that dumb tail on Blight ruined it for me.

Posted by BR_Havoc

Way too long for an event and its just a shameless way to get people to buy comics that are struggling.

Posted by inferiorego

@br_havoc said:

Way too long for an event and its just a shameless way to get people to buy comics that are struggling.

It is a long event, but I think most people reading JLD are reading at least one or two of the other supernatural books. This is really only taking place over four very tied-together books.

Posted by Vaeternus

So two Blights in DCU now lol.

That's cool. I like the BB Blight.

And anyone else notice a new entity named "Non" homage there ;)

May seem cool, I'll definitely be buying the issue where Spectre shows up again.

Posted by ArturoCalaKayVee

I only read JLD. I'm sorry to say but there's no chance I'm picking up 3 more titles just to read this. Perhaps I'll pick this up in trade but until then I must depart with JLD until March and maybe use my money to buy new books or maybe Hellblazer volumes to fill my Constantine needs >:)

Posted by NightFang

I'm looking forward to this.

Posted by saoakden

I'm actually intrigued by this crossover. I kind of like the idea of a crossover going on within the crossover. I'm behind on Phantom Stranger, I've read Pandora since it tied-in into Trinity War. I only read JLD & Constantine because of the books being part of Trinity War. I'm going to have to go back and check out these books out. This story has my interest.

Edited by BR_Havoc

@inferiorego: That is true but it's very similar to the Green Lantern books now. They have these massive events that you really need to read every book to understand the story were not walking cash machines. If this was once in a blue moon that is fine but its almost every other month there is some massive event that has a tie in after tie in. Plus 18 issues is a longer story than the actual event its spinning off from. I know books like Pandora and PS need a boost to keep them alive but this is the wrong way of doing it because sales go up for the tie ins, they fall back to normal and sometimes it can alienate fans to dropping an already struggling book.

Posted by inferiorego

@br_havoc said:

@inferiorego: That is true but it's very similar to the Green Lantern books now. They have these massive events that you really need to read every book to understand the story were not walking cash machines. If this was once in a blue moon that is fine but its almost every other month there is some massive event that has tie in after tie in.

I'm a bit biased on this one because I already read all the books, but I completely agree that the crossover events suck because we all go broke.

Also, do we need to have a big event, one right after another? Can't these books just grow on their own?

Posted by CitizenJP

Blight looks sick. That artwork kind of reminds me of a Dragoon from the Final Fantasy series.

Posted by Perfect 10

loving zatanna's new 'stume and it looks like someone has been reading manga/watching anime with all these new character designs. the blight looks like something straight out of claymore

Posted by BR_Havoc

@inferiorego: I agree with you. It's why I find books like Dial H and Wonder Woman so refreshing they are self contained yet the story still seems big and epic. I think the idea of doing big events one after another makes them have no weight there hear they seem like a big deal then they are forgotten 6 months later. So far the only event that seems like a big deal to me right now is Infinity at Marvel but I am a Hickman fan.

Edited by blkson

@longbowhunter said:

An 18 issue crossover is going to kill JLD's sales. I'm sure this was done hoping to give the other books a sales bump but this along with the price increase will be the death of this title.

Also, tact on the fact the roster consistently shifts, the creative team has changed several times, and there is never a central or over all purpose or goal. The price increase definitely did it for me personally. Also it's they could have very well titled this book Constantine and The Magical Less-Than-Important Heroes.

Posted by Nightwing128

I'm sorry but 18 PARTS?!?! WTF? I'm sticking with the JLD parts. I'm looking forward to what J.M. DeMatteis will bring but seriously, do I really have to read them all to understand this arc? Cause that's just nuts D:

Edited by nappystr8

I'm struggling with whether I think it is super cool or utterly preposterous that Blight looks like a Digimon. And, I was probably dropping JLD anyway, but I'm glad DC made it so easy for me to do so. An 18 issue commitment for a side of the universe that already only garners a niche audience? Awful idea.

Posted by RaggedScarecrow

This sounds pretty cool, but I think I'll tradewait it. After Blight, JLD will be back on my pull list though.

Posted by Saren

Nightmare Nurse!

Moderator
Posted by Jeremy1989
Posted by Ama_Sama

Seriously? I can't afford to pick up all of these extra issues outside of JLD! Jeff Lemire's shoes are going to big to fill, so hopefully this "Blight" arc and DeMatties won't disappoint. On the bright side, at least Zee's costume has improved through the Trinity War arc (but I miss the top hat still).

Posted by TheManInTheShoe

Hm, another team being changed. Well, at least he promises Etrigan. YAY!

Posted by snarkybits

Coolio!

Edited by RustyRoy
Posted by locuas

@inferiorego: nop, because that would mean DC believes their books are something else than things to give gimmicks over to earn short-term profit!

Edited by RedheadedAtrocitus

Yowza, Forever Evil really is being milked every which way. Nice! And I really look forward to JMDM's works int he Dark side of the event.