Sometimes one column of material just isn’t enough, and that’s why Jim Krueger is back for more. Last time, he talked about Dynamite’s new hit franchise “Project Superpowers,” and if you haven’t read it yet (which you should have), simply follow this link.
This week he’s back, and still talking about superpowers, but these one are owned by Marvel and DC Comics.
First, Krueger is dishing all the dirt on his twelve-issue maxiseries “Avengers/Invaders,” which has recently passed its halfway point. So far, we’ve learned that the Invaders have become displaced in time and arrived in current Marvel continuity, complete with Steve Rogers! What happened, how the teams interact with one another and how the Invaders get back to their proper time is yet to come, and Krueger is looking back at the first half of the series and giving some juicy teases as to what lies in store for the two classic Marvel teams, including a major paradigm shift that will alter the very fabric of the series.
But that’s not all! Krueger is also looking back at his epic series “Justice,” which he completed over a year ago for DC Comics. What did he think of the saga that involved almost every DC hero and villain, painted to perfection by Alex Ross, and does he think it holds up?
Enough teasing, now get reading!
Looking back at “Justice,” do you think the project holds up well?
I’m really proud of “Justice,” particularly the first two chapters. I like the entire thing, but the first two trade paperbacks are great. The heroes being defeated and then crawling back from the wreckage to the Fortress of Solitude—I’m proud of all that, and how they relate to one another in friendship. None of that stuff was in the initial plan, I’m proud of how we worked through it.
Who is your favorite DC hero?
That is a hard one for me to say. I always find Superman terribly boring because he does not suffer. I like the characters that suffer the most.
He suffered in the first issue when the world went ka-blooey.
Yeah, but it was a dream and not for real. Not even a dream Superman experienced.
I like characters who suffer and whose suffering transforms them. Like Batman and The Doom Patrol and The Demon. All the people who are tortured. Those characters’ heroism is unexpected and they carry within them the surprise of becoming heroes. Who would have ever expected The Demon would be a good guy?
So then who is your favorite DC villain?
I totally enjoyed writing Brainiac in volume 2. I even remember Joey Cavalieri asking for a little less of Brainiac cutting into Aquaman’s head. We get it! (laughs)
There were some characters featured that we were seeing Alex Ross paint for the first time in their classic costumes. Which one did you get the most kick out of seeing?
I was very excited to see Alex do The Doom Patrol because I really love those characters. I was also excited to see him do, at the end of the series, that Legion of Superheroes spread.
I’m not really a Green Lantern guy. So many people were really excited about the characterization of Hal and how he triumphed in the midst of throwing off his ego in the story. To a certain degree, he never had to suffer for the ring, though one could say he certainly suffered in the continuity before that.
You are now just past the halfway point in “Avengers/Invaders.” How do you feel the series has been progressing?
It feels good to be over the hump! I’ve written through issue 9.
It was a very strange series for me because it isn’t following the rules of story structure. Part of it is the results of co-writing and part of it is Marvel’s wants. You are going to see a major paradigm shift in the series between issues 8 and 9.
What kind of shift?
What happens is that the day is both saved and lost by the end of issue 8. The idea is that everything is set right and everyone is brought together. It very much has the sense that the world is right and the heroes are going back to the past and—BAM!—something happens at the very end of the issue where you realize it is far from over.
What is really exciting about the last four issues is that the Avengers get to go into the past. It’s interesting because of the rule of not changing the future, so the Avengers have to disguise themselves as characters from the past in order to not upset the future.
Poor Alex and Joe and Nick and Tom Brevoort and Steve Wacker. They’ve always got to say “Jim, stop with the Spider-Man jokes. We get that you write a funny Spider-Man but you are making him annoying.” But Spider-Man never shuts up! He does it because he is nervous, and he’s more emotional than other superheroes. If he’s not letting Uncle Ben die, he’s making a deal with the devil to save Aunt May by sacrificing his wife. He’s so (censored) up as a human being, and yet he is a hero. That is exciting because there is a part of us in there. He’s not the everyman; he’s the every-disfunctional-man.
Any chance you would write “Amazing Spider-Man”?
I don’t have that in the works, but I would love to do something with Spider-Man. Or Deadpool. But if I did a Deadpool book, it would be more serious except with the exception of what he says. The way in which he deals with the horror of his life and appearance is with the constant parade of witticisms, jokes and social commentary.
Who else are you enjoying writing?
I really like writing Bucky. I wish that I could have made The Human Torch part of the story for the entire series.
Which is the bigger headache, Marvel continuity or DC continuity?
Oh, I don’t know if there is a bigger headache either way. “Justice” was, after all, out of continuity even though we gave many nods to it. We touched on everything from Aquaman’s hook hand to Hal becoming Parallax.
Even though you weren’t working within the restraints of continuity, you still had to study it and know it through and through.
I’m a big fan of audacity, so that was why “Earth X” was the secret origin of all the macguffins and no one will even know. So in “Justice,” our ego trip took us down the road of touching upon the last ten to fifteen years of continuity that has taken our Barry Allen’s and Ray Palmer’s and Hal Jordan’s out of the spotlight and put them back in while showing how they always should have been. They don’t have to die and have someone replace them to make them great characters. They are already great characters! We wanted to give them their own primal sensibility in the series.
What was the first comic book you read?
It was Kirby redoing the King Kong story. After the giant disaster where everything is in ruins, it’s kind of like “The Planet of the Apes” except that every animal can talk. Basically, Kamandi is grabbed and turned into a sacrifice for a giant King Kong character.
I’m a big fan of all that ‘70s Kirby stuff.
Loved The New Gods too. Well, I loved them when Kirby was writing them at least.
The New Gods is Shakespeare, and you don’t make it P.T. Anderson.
What is the best comic book movie ever made?
“Spider-Man 2” is still the best.
If you were writing a weekly comic book series for a year and had three co-writers, who would they be?
I would choose Jeph Loeb because he has a great ability to tell a story very simply with a great sense of emotion.
I would pick Jamie Delano, who we haven’t heard from in awhile. He was Alan Moore’s choice to take over both “Hellblazer” and “Captain Britain.” He’s gotten shoved into the Vertigo corner, but he’s so good. He has great turns of phrases that add poetry to normal superhero life. I’d love to see him write “Hulk.”
And Phil Hester. He and I are very like-minded.
If you could only write one book for the rest of your career, what would it be?
“Machine Man.” I always had a strong love for the character and think I could do great things with him.
Who would be the artist?
I don’t know who I would have! Alex and I enjoy working together and I get ideas from him and he gets ideas from me, but I don’t think I would envision “Machine Man” with an Alex Ross realism. I liked Kirby’s craziness.
I would want someone who would have a larger-than-life experience and yet still be a little abstract.
Maybe a Ron Frenz type?
Yes, but there needs to be room for craziness as well. Ron Frenz is a great artist. He draws an era that no longer exists, but he still has the classic Marvel look.
What is your biggest strength as a writer?
My big ideas.
I’m too influenced by criticism. I change too quickly based on notes I receive.
If you could only be remembered for one thing in your career, what would it be?
That hasn’t happened. It’s the project I have yet to write.