DC reintroduces ‘Justice League of America’ as ‘Justice League of Canada’

(CBR) Jeff Lemire likes to bring his work home. Literally. Last week at FanExpo in Toronto, DC Comics announced that the Canadian cartoonist is taking over writing duties on “Justice League of America” in the spring. His first item of business is moving the team north of the border and renaming the series “Justice League of Canada.”

That noise you just heard was the sound of thousands of bottles of maple syrup bursting open simultaneously in celebration.

Sworn to secrecy about plot details and the majority of his roster due to the possibility of spoiling the ongoing “Trinity War” crossover in the Justice League books and the upcoming “Forever Evil” maxiseries, Lemire did share with CBR News exclusively that Adam Strange will be joining Justice League of Canada and that he will be introduced into the New 52 as a Canadian character.

Lemire also teased the introduction of an all-new character that will also be Canadian but wouldn’t reveal anything beyond the superhero’s citizenship.

The current roster of the Justice League of America — formed by the government as a counter balance to the Justice League that boasts heavyweights like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman — consists of Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow, Hawkman, Catwoman, Stargirl, Katana, Vibe and the new Green Lantern, Simon Baz.

Lemire revealed that three of the current members will move to Canada to join Adam Strange on the new roster alongside some other “fairly major” DCU superheroes.

CBR News connected with Lemire in advance of the official announcement and he also shared his thoughts on what it means for him personally to showcase Canada as a part of the greater DC Universe, how picking his roster was not unlike being a GM for a fantasy hockey team and why British artist Mike McKone is the perfect choice as the artist for “Justice League of Canada.”

CBR News: You and Geoff Johns have been working together on “Trinity War” for most of 2013. Was taking over “Justice League of America,” moving the team north and renaming the series “Justice League of Canada” always the plan or did that come about organically?

Jeff Lemire:  I knew my “Justice League Dark” run was coming to an end with “Trinity War.” I just felt like it was a good place for me to stop. I’m happy with the run that I’ve done and I knew that the events of “Trinity War” and “Forever Evil” were going to have some pretty dramatic repercussions across the DC Universe but especially with the Justice League franchise. Without spoiling what’s coming, this is only one of the changes that will happen in the “Justice League” books after “Forever Evil.”

It all came out of those stories and working with Geoff and working with a lot of those characters. At the same time, it’s obviously something that’s pretty personal to me. It’s me taking the reins on a “Justice League” book and making it my own and building something here that I can be proud of.

Like me, you’re Canadian. Did you threaten Geoff and DC Comics by saying that you would only take the book if you could move the team to Canada?

[Laughs] No, not at all. I took it as “Justice League of America.” And I was really excited to have that. The actual idea to move the team to Canada wasn’t mine. It was [DC Co-Publisher] Dan DiDio’s. When we started talking about the book and the direction we were taking it, he actually threw that idea out there. At first, I thought he was just joking but then I realized that he was serious and I embraced it. And really went crazy with it. This “Justice League of Canada” storyline is going to be a lot of fun and I’m really going to try to make something really special for Canadian fans. And it actually leads to something even bigger for the team.

While Superman resides in fictional Metropolis and Batman lurks in fictional Gotham, Spider-Man swings through the streets of a very real New York City in his comic adventures. Is this move to Canada in name only, or will readers see landmarks and cityscapes that quintessentially set the story in Canada?

Yeah, I don’t want it to just be a fight scene happening in a city and the banner reading “Toronto” instead of “New York.” I really want this to feel Canadian. And I really want to use real locations and create an atmosphere and a backdrop for these stories that feels authentic.

Toronto will be used as one of the main locations. I’m not going to reveal who the team is going to be just yet but I can reveal that one member will be Adam Strange and the New 52 version of Adam Strange that we’re going to introduce in my first issue is Canadian.

He lives and works in Toronto and that’s where the story begins but it’s going to spread across the country. And actually, a bulk of the action is going to take place in northern Ontario near Moosonee and Moose Factory. That’s going to serve as the backdrop for the main action of the story.

You mentioned that you are hoping Canadian fans are really going to dig this. Do you think locations like Moosonee and Moose Factory, and an overall move to Canada, will be a distraction for American readers?

By no means is this an anti-American move or me trying to slander our neighbors to the south. It’s very much just me trying to put my own personality into the book. And to do something that reflects where I live. And, like you said, to show that the DC Universe extends around the world and not just in the United States. I’m showing other places of the DCU and trying to build them up and frankly, show Canada as a big part of the DC Universe, as well as the States. And this story gives us a chance to do that.

When mainstream media in Canada picks up this story, they may not understand that this is “Justice League of America” and not “Justice League,” which means Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman aren’t coming north of the border. I know you can’t share the complete roster just yet but picking your own Justice League team must be pretty intoxicating.

It was super fun. It was like fantasy GM time when I got to sit down and go through the whole DC catalogue and try to see whom I could get and whom I could use.

I’m not completely throwing out the current “Justice League of America” team. I’m not going to say whom but three of the current members will continue to be part of the team and the rest of them will be new characters — some that we haven’t seen in the New 52 just yet and some who you have. It’s a really diverse group of people and in addition to Adam Strange being Canadian I’ll be introducing a brand new character who is also Canadian. The rest of the cast will be pulled from across the DC Universe and there are a couple of cosmic characters, as well, so it’s a huge scope.

You’ve revealed Adam Strange as a member. Is he a personal favorite or did he just fit into the story you wanted to tell?

I love all the old 1950s “Mystery in Space” DC cosmic characters. In addition to me infusing Canadian flavor and personality into the book, the book is going to become a very cosmic “Justice League” book, as well. The stories will be cosmic in scope but all grounded in rural Canada so we will have the juxtaposition of the rural setting and home base with these big, cosmic adventures. I think it’s going to be a cool contrast.

Adam Strange is Canadian, but what else can you tell us about him?

I can’t tell you too much without spoiling it but Adam is a Canadian scientist and… I can’t say anything else. [Laughs]

I think the only other Canadian character that’s been introduced into the New 52 is Booster Gold. Again, I know you are sworn to secrecy on the roster but does Booster play a role in your book?

No plans for Booster. I wish I could talk about my roster because it’s my dream team — a couple of other cosmic characters and some current, fairly major characters will be part of the team.

You’ve been writing an epic run of “Animal Man” since the New 52 relaunch and you’re now building a major story in “Green Arrow” too. At present, Ollie is a member of the Justice League of America. Still sworn to secrecy, I know, but can you confirm that Buddy Baker and Oliver Queen were at least considered for JLC membership?

They were both up for membership. They were both seriously considered. And I cannot tell you the results of the voting but I do love both of those characters and they may well soon develop a pretty strong bromance with one another.

While I would love it to be you, I’m assuming you’re not doing the art. Do you know who is doing the art yet?

I’m glad you asked because we have an awesome artist. Mike McKone is drawing the book. He’s fantastic. He’s the perfect choice to bring the character stuff out that I love to do. He’s just as excited about the team as I am. He’s actually giddy about the characters that he gets to draw.

He’s not Canadian, is he?

No, he’s from the U.K.

So lots of postcards from northern Ontario.

There will be much reference sent his way probably to the point where he will be annoyed with me. “Justice League of Canada” written by Jeff Lemire and featuring art by Mike McKone moves north of the border in Spring 2014.