When DC Comics CCO Geoff Johns launches the "Throne of Atlantis" event with "Justice League" #15 and "Aquaman" #15 in comic shops today, it won't just be the beginning of a crossover story between two of the writer's best-selling books. It will also be a new era for DC's premier superteam. And as Johns tells it, it's the era he's been wanting to write since day one.
"When I first got on 'Justice League' with Jim Lee, the first story we had planned out wasn't an origin story. It wasn't until the New 52 came where we went, 'I guess we should go back and retell the origin.' They dynamics changed for me, so I feel like now I'm just getting to the stuff I wanted to start with. And I think 'Justice League' #15 feels like a different book," he explained. "Jim's amazing, and I was really happy working with him to establish the team. Now Ivan [Reis] and Joe [Prado] are helping me delve deeper into the team and go in a new direction. It's just going to start to build – especially with 'Justice League of America' starting in 2013. Those two books might be separate, but eventually they have to come crashing into each other."
For now, the addition of his former "Aquaman" collaborators to "Justice League" means plenty of crashing as the forces of Ocean Master's Atlantean army challenge the League and Aquaman's place in it across the story. "This storyline was always going to happen," Johns said. "You'll see things from 'Aquaman' #1 paid off in this storyline. We've talked about relaunching Aquaman and introducing the Trench, the Others and Black Manta, getting into the history of Atlantis and some other things with the perception of the character. I hope that's gotten this to a place where 'Aquaman' crossing over with 'Justice League' wasn't a thing where people would go, "Why is a scrub book like Aquaman crossing over with Justice League?' Now it's okay, and people are just excited about the story. Aquaman is a huge part of Justice League, so it just makes sense....I thought about, 'Do I try to make this story standalone in the two books?" But at the end of the day, they have to synch up completely."
But just because the sea king and his brother drive the action of the story, that doesn't mean the rest of the Justice League are forgotten as issue #15 gets underway. Johns particularly praised Reis and Prado's work giving definition to Superman and Wonder Woman's burgeoning romance across the issue. "That scene is my favorite in the book," he teased. "It humanizes those characters, and as we get into the relationship with Batman and Aquaman or what happens to Cyborg through 'Throne of Atlantis' or when we bring Shazam on the team, the dynamics will start to change where you'll really feel like 'This is the Justice League.' They're all in synch now. They're the League we know and love. And soon they're going to have to deal with the Justice League of America."
And the revitalization of Aquaman is only the latest second act the writer has been able to give DC's formerly second string characters. Johns has plans to continue expanding the upper echelons of the DCU's pantheon, but he has a handle on the fact that making formerly ignored characters major names is no easy task. "You just have to earn it. It's just like with 'Justice League of America,' David Finch and I have to show up and earn the readers money and time. These are characters that a lot of people don't read regularly or aren't interested in or don't really know. It's our job to make them appeal as much as the X-Men or the Justice League themselves. But I love doing that. A challenge is always great. I love when people throw me a character and say, 'This guy will never work. You can't do that.' I want to try to make them work."
But before the likes of Vibe and Katanna get their chance in the new series, "Throne of Atlantis" beckons to put the League's underwater hero in a new kind of family drama. "Aquaman is trying to do everything he can to avoid war," Johns said. "You'll see next issue that he's got to prove that he's not against Orm. He has to say, 'You don't need to take the next move. I'll handle this.' It's something that escalates. In 'Justice League' #16, you'll see more of that."
"Justice Leauge" #15 and "Aquaman" #15 are on sale today from DC Comics. Stay tuned to CBR for more on "Aquaman" with artist Paul Pelletier.