The Flash on a supersonic quest to find a rapping duck doll; Superman trying to peek at his Christmas presents with his x-ray vision; and a Green Lantern/Hawkgirl snowball fight that couldn't be any more rife with sexual tension-these are some of the highlights from "Comfort and Joy," a one-off "Justice League" Christmas episode that Paul Dini ("Duck Dodgers", "Batman: The Animated Series") premiered this Friday at Wizard World Texas. A Q+A followed the screening, where Dini touched on the future of "Justice League," another upcoming "Batman" direct-to-video project, and even a possible foray into Marvel territory with a tentatively planned Spider-Man project.
The episode finds the team in the aftermath of saving the world, as they go their separate ways to celebrate the holidays (except for Batman, who "begged for monitor duty"). "We thought it would be fun to see them on their day off, to see what they do when they're not off saving the world," said Dini. "When you're writing superheroes, if you can have fun with it but not ridicule the characters themselves, or what they stand for, that does humanize them quite a lot." The episode also includes a subtle homage to the Keith Giffin run on the "Justice League" books (hint: it involves Oreos).
After the screening, Dini opened up the floor for questions, and the conversations quickly steered toward future plans for the "Justice League" animated series. He confirmed that another season of "Justice League" is being planned, although the style of the episodes may be changing somewhat. "You may not see all the members in every episode. They won't be the unit of seven as much. You might see different members interacting, kind of off on their own, or you might see different characters from the DC Universe coming in and out of the show. They're looking at broadening the League, and perhaps bringing in some other characters."
When asked if Hawkman would ever appear in the show, Dini hinted that the winged warrior might turn up sooner rather than later. "I know they have a big arc concerning Hawkgirl and her origins, and Thanagar will play a big part in that." The arc in question is likely the season-ending three-parter "Starcrossed."
Dini addressed one fan's question about the budding relationship between Green Lantern John Stewart and Hawkgirl. "We have the whole history of the DC Universe to play with. We can do straight adaptations, and we have, but it's also fun, once you hit your stride with a character, to keep it going and broaden it a little bit. Take them in a direction that may not be the same as the comics, but which works in the context of your show."
Dini said that, after the success of "Batman: The Mystery of the Batwoman," there will likely be another direct-to-video Batman project in the future: ironically, one which was started several years ago. "That's something that was started two years ago by Alan Burnett and myself, but was put to the side when they finished 'Mystery of the Batwoman.' It's a lot of fun. It's a Batman team-up with a lot of heroes."
Dini also indicated that he might be stepping into Marvel's sandbox at some point down the line: "I will say that there is a special project I'm looking to do with Mike Kunkel, who did 'Herobear & the Kid,' which is a Spider-Man based project. It's a real light-hearted interpretation of Spider-Man that goes back to his first couple of years."