‘Justice League United’ writer on cherry-picking ‘the craziest, most fun team’

(CBR) Since arriving at DC Comics in 2010 to write a co-feature for “Adventure Comics” starring The Atom, Jeff Lemire's projects for the publisher have grown in stature at the same rate that Ray Palmer shrinks his. Currently writing the critically-acclaimed “Green Arrow,” Lemire just concluded his run on “Animal Man” to make way for his biggest project yet — a relaunch of “Justice League of America.”

The newly-retitled “Justice League United” #0, featuring art by superstar artist Mike McKone, debuts on April 23, and CBR News connected with Lemire to discuss the roster which includes now-Canadian Adam Strange, no-brainers Green Arrow and Animal Man, long-time Leaguers Martian Manhunter and Hawkman and three teen titans in Supergirl, Stargirl and a new character, the latter of which the Canadian cartoonist is keeping top secret. Lemire also shared his personal history with many of these characters, how Matt Kindt affected his roster and collaborating with McKone, the British artist who started his North American career by illustrating “Justice League International,” a series the Eisner-nominated writer loved in the 1980s while growing up in southwestern Ontario.

CBR News: We have talked about your love for DC Comics growing up as a kid in Canada before, and you've mentioned the two big ones for you were the Marv Wolfman/George Pérez run on “Teen Titans” and the Paul Levitz/Keith Giffen run on “Legion of Super-Heroes.” Were “Justice League” and “Justice League International” by Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire your introduction to the world's greatest super heroes?

Jeff Lemire: Yes. That was the one for me, for sure. I remember buying that first issue on the newsstand and just completely falling in love with it. The characters just seemed so human and I loved the way they added humor to the book and used it in such a great way to develop these relationships and interactions. That book was so groundbreaking when you look back on it based on how team books are written now. Of course, I am working with Keith [Giffen] now on “Future's End,” which has completely ruined it for me. [Laughs]

I wouldn't classify you as a humor writer but there is certainly a lighter side to many of your books. Will humor play a role in your run on “Justice League United” as you explore budding relationships apart from the blockbuster-y action sequences?

Absolutely. That's what's fun about writing team books. There is big drama and big high stakes action-adventure and there is also really small human moments whether that be through humor or whatever. For me, I think the strength of my writing has always been the emotional content or the character work so I have never been one to shy away from that. Trying to find the right balance between the big action stuff and the human moments is something that I am getting better at. My run on “Justice League Dark” was my first time writing a team book and I struggled a bit juggling all of the different characters and all of the plotlines. And maybe the human stuff got buried under plot a bit so that was a good learning experience for me that I am eager not to repeat. It's all about the dynamics of the team and how all of these different characters react to one another.

I have spoke with many writers over the years from Brad Meltzer and Dwayne McDuffie to James Robinson and Geoff Johns about writing the Justice League and getting to form their very own roster. Was the process, as expected, an exciting one for you?

It's super fun. It's that fanboy dream when you get to play fantasy GM and you get to cherry pick players for your team. I went with the craziest, most fun team that I could go for and most of those picks made it into the team.