Eisner Award winner James Robinson cemented his name in comic book history back in the nineties with his epic run on "Starman," and while the title became a critical darling, the eponymous hero, Jack Knight, was hardly a household name.
Now, Robinson is writing franchise titles like "Justice League of America" and "Superman" for DC Comics, as well as, the event miniseries, "Justice League: Cry for Justice."
The latest issues of all three books are in stores today, and while Mon-El's swan song as the headliner of "Superman" begins and two previously unattached superheroes lock lips in "Cry for Justice," the biggest news is the return of Vibe, the Detroit era superhero who famously became the first JLAer to die in the line of duty.
Killed by one of Professor Ivo's androids in "Justice League of America" #258 in 1987, Vibe was - and still is - arguably one of the most disliked heroes in the history of DC Comics.
Robinson told CBR News he wants to change that when he brings Paco Ramone back from the dead – or at least makes him un-dead – in the Blackest Night tie-in, "Justice League" #39.
CBR News: This is a busy week for you, as you have three books coming out on that same day, all of which are tied to some pretty major events in DCU.
James Robinson: Yes, this is a very big week. It's the first part of "Blackest Night" tying into "Justice League of America," it's the first part of the "Man of Valor" storyline in "Superman," and it's also a big issue in "Cry for Justice," as you'll see when you read the book.
Let's start with "Justice League of America" #39, or as I like to call it, "Vibe: Rebirth." You're no stranger to bringing back long-forgotten heroes to the fold, but I'm not sure if you've ever tackled someone as universally maligned as Vibe, who we know returns this week as a Black Lantern.
It's certainly a challenge to make him cool and a malevolent force - because that's what the Black Lanterns are - when he was treated with such disdain at the time he came out.
He was really the first populist choice for a hero's death. He preceded Jason Todd being killed by The Joker. Everyone seemed more excited for him dying than for the heroes succeeding at the time, so it's nice to try and make him cool and scary and everything that a Black Lantern should be.
Do you think Vibe got a raw deal back in the day?
I think there were maybe some poor judgments in his costume design initially, but I think that even his costume got worked out down the line. And I think any character can be good, you just have to write them well. As Joe Straczynski showed us [in "Brave and the Bold" #29] with Brother Power, the Geek, any character can work if written with creativity and sensitivity.
We obviously don't know what's in store for these un-dead superheroes post-"Blackest Night," but could Vibe work in today's DCU?
Like I said, any character can work well in today's DCU if you choose to write him or her in the right way. And I'm always interested in characters with different ethnic backgrounds, so yes, Paco Ramone could work.
The other big tease we get from the solicitations and the cover art is a superpowered lip-lock between Supergirl and Shazam in "Cry for Justice" #5. That's potentially a pretty explosive kiss.
I can not tell you what happens, but I guarantee when you see what happens, you'll be shocked.
OK. What about "Superman" #694? This issue is hyped as the start of "a new 5-issue storyline that will rocket readers all the way to the monumental 'Superman' #700!" So what's ahead for Mon-El, the current protector of Metropolis?
It will tie in all the elements that we've been lining up for Mon-El. It will reveal what Legionnaires are on Earth and what their objective is. It will strengthen the ties between Mon-El and Superboy. And it will, I think, wrap up his arc neatly. He won't be going back into the Phantom Zone for a while, yet, but his personal arc will be over in "Superman" #699, and I think everybody that has stayed with the title and with the character – thanks to all of those people by the way – will be very happy with the way his time as the central figure of the "Superman" comic will be concluded.
You've been writing Mon-El now for over a year now. With his story coming to an end, will you miss him?
I love Mon-El. Unfortunately, he has to go to the Phantom Zone, but I would be quite happy writing a monthly Mon-El comic book. If he didn't have to go to the Phantom Zone, I would lobby hard for a Mon-El comic book.
But he'll be playing a role in your "Justice League of America," correct?
He'll be in it for a period of time until he can't be in it anymore.
So I guess it's safe to say that Superman will be back headlining "Superman" when #700 arrives next spring? And while we're at it, can you confirm you're staying on board as the writer when Superman returns?
Much to the horror of some Superman fans, I will be writing the book after #700. And to the delight of those same fans, Clark Kent/Superman will be the main character and all of those elements that they love will be featured in full effect.
When we talked last year, after you were first announced as the new writer of "Superman," you spoke very highly of the Last Son of Krypton and what an honor it was to write the world's greatest hero. As much as you've loved writing Mon-El, can we assume that you're equally pleased to have the big guy back all to yourself?
I came on the book and did the "Atlas" arc and then "New Krypton" happened, and then he was gone from Earth, and I don't think I really got a good chance o show readers what I can really do with Superman. I know I did "Face the Face" with Batman in the "One Year Later" story, but I was still shaking off the rust from my non-writing years when I did that. Now I feel I can do justice to Superman and do a fantastic job with him, and getting a chance to prove that is something I am very happy to be doing after #700.