We got to speak with Geoff Johns and Jeff Lemire about their enormous upcoming crossover. Also, we got to learn about Monkey World. What, precisely, is Monkey World? Read on…
Geoff Johns: Have you seen the cover of the Trinity War books? We were talking about what if we could make a monkey version of that, what their names could be, Martian Monkeyhunter, Hawkmonkey…
Jeff Lemire: Madame Monkeydu.
Gamma Squad: Well, Batman and Superman have Silver Age monkey equivalents, so you’re halfway there!
Johns: Beppo… wait, who’s Batman’s monkey equivalent? Gorilla Boss?
Gamma Squad: I’m pretty sure there was a Bat-Ape in the ’50s…
Johns: Who was the gorilla in the pin-striped suit? Was he an Animal Man villain or a Batman villain? He was on one of those Strange Adventures covers…
Lemire: If he’s an Animal Man villain, he’s coming back! (laughter)
Johns: And I know Hawkman had a gorilla villain too, that had wings.
Lemire: Why were they so obsessed with monkeys back in the ’60s?
Johns: Planet of the Apes? Remember how big it was?
Gamma Squad: People just like monkeys.
Johns: I think back then monkeys were like zombies.
Lemire: We’re ahead of the curve, man. It’s coming back.
Johns: Monkey War!
Lemire: Monkey War!!!
Sadly, we had to step away from Monkey World…
Gamma Squad: What was it like cowriting Justice League of America?
Lemire: It was great for me. Geoff and I spent just two or three days focused on this, locked in a room working on the plot. For me, I’ve never done a big event like this before, and he’s done quite a few, so there was a lot I could learn about breaking these giant stories down, keep them character-driven. It was a great experience.
Johns: For me, working with Jeff, he’s a super-talented writer and artist, he’s one of my absolute favorite writers in comics. The way he plots… we’re very similar how we approach story, but he pieces things together really fast, he has great ideas. Green Arrow is a book I think he turned around in one issue. The mythology he brings to the table, it’s a pleasure to see him work his magic on these characters. He really brings an energy and a love to the DC Universe that few people do. He loves the DCU the way that all the hardcore fans and I do, and I think that’s why he delivers such great stories.
We really worked well together. It was very seamless, and as you can see we had to release some stress by going into Monkey World…
Lemire: We always go to Monkey World!
Johns: (laughs) Whenever it goes bad we go to Monkey World! But it was a lot of fun to get in there and just work with him, and learn about Justice League Dark a little more. It’s just been a blast.
Gamma Squad: What are some of the challenges, as a writing team, planning a crossover?
Johns: One of the creative challenges are artists. Who’s going to be able to pull a story this big off? We’re working with three fantastic artists, the pages they’ve delivered so far are amazing. The real weight falls on them, and that they can deliver large-scale action and emotion. If we didn’t have partners that good, the story wouldn’t work.
Lemire: For me, the thrill, I have to say, I love Ivan and Miguel, but Doug Mahneke is one of my favorite artists ever, and getting the chance to work with him, see him draw Frankenstein again was sort of a guilty pleasure.
Johns: Frankenstein really pops out quick! Every line Jeff puts in his mouth, it just makes him a unique character. Some of the other challenges, it’s three books…
Johns: Huge, and you want to make sure Justice League still feels like a Justice League book, it might be part of the story but it’s still a part of the series. Really keeping the identity of the book there, you need to be careful with your point of view.
Gamma Squad: Quite a few characters here have their own books that you’re handling as well: How will events here filter down into the solo books you’re writing, beyond the tie-ins to Constantine?
Lemire: I like that Green Arrow’s in this story, but it won’t directly impact the book.
Johns: Yeah, with Aquaman it’s the same way. The events that happen will affect just about…
Johns: Yeah, everything! (laughs)
Gamma Squad: In addition to the rosters and the Trinity, any other characters you can hint at being involved?
Johns: Well, Shazam’s involved, that’s for sure! (laughs)
Lemire: Madame Xanadu ended up having a very large role in the story, which I don’t think either of us intended. But she just fell into it, and became a major player, which was interesting.
Johns: There are some villains in there, but I wouldn’t want to completely spoil it. There are reveals, two in particular, that will change… this is really a Justice League event, it’s a look at the different philosophies not only between the teams but between Batman, Superman, and ultimately, there are things that happen in this that will change the teams. They don’t necessarily end as the same teams they were.
Lemire: Over the course of the story, we almost get three different Justice Leagues. They mix and match, and that’s kind of fun to do that, put him here and see how they react.
Trinity War starts this July. No current word on the publication of Monkey World.