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Interview: J.M. DeMatteis Discusses JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK writer J.M. DeMatteis talks about the aftermath of Forever Evil: Blight and the shift in leadership for the JLD.

In the wake of Forever Evil: Blight, there's been a change in leadership for Justice League Dark. Writer J.M. DeMatteis answered a few of our questions about the series and current events of the book to figure out what's going to happen with Justice League Dark in the upcoming months.

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COMIC VINE: Constantine and the rest of the Justice League Dark are on the outs. Who’s going to step up to take a leadership role?

J.M. DEMATTEIS: Zatanna stepped forward at the end of the FOREVER EVIL: BLIGHT storyline. Given her history with the team, I think she’s the natural choice. And the House of Mystery seems to approve.

CV: How will this leadership change affect the team?

JD: Well, for one thing, we’ll have a leader who’s trustworthy, who means what she says and who isn’t juggling a dozen secret agendas. Constantine also has his own monthly book—written by the very talented Ray Fawkes—which limits how far we can, and should, take him in JLD. Zatanna, on the other hand, is all ours. We’re able to take her character anywhere we’d like without worrying about stepping on someone else’s continuity.

CV: Will fans get to see new members added to this team? And what do you look for in a character when putting them in a team book like this?

JD: The team is going to evolve in the coming months. For the immediate future our line-up is going to be Zatanna, Deadman (one of my favorite characters in the DCU), Swamp Thing (another all-time favorite) and Nightmare Nurse. (With Constantine continually turning up like a bad penny.)

By the time we get to the fall—and the events of our JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK ANNUAL—we’ll be bringing back some old favorites, including a character I created at the very beginning of my career.

As for how I choose: Honestly, I don’t. In the end, the characters choose. That happened with Zatanna at the end of the BLIGHT storyline. As soon as she stepped back into the book she naturally took command. In many ways, it was her decision to lead the team, not mine.

I’ve learned, over the years, that the more I get out of the way and let the characters lead, the better the stories will be.

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CV: What is going on with Nightmare Nurse?

JD: That’s the question, right? And you’ll get answers in JLD #31 and #32. Nightmare Nurse is another character who’s all ours to develop. And the fact that she’s pretty much brand new—Dan Di​Dio and I introduced her in PHANTOM STRANGER—means there’s lots to explore, in both her psyche and her mythology.

CV: Every team needs a base, and the JLD has really made the House of Mystery their home. What makes this place the perfect home for this team?

JD: What I discovered early on—and, again, this is another example of the characters leading the way—is that the House is conscious in some way. It’s reflecting the psyches of the JLD, interacting with them in strange and subtle ways. In the end, the House of Mystery is a physical manifestation of the greater mystery of Creation. A perfect place for a team that continually tries to pierce those mysteries.

CV: The JLD draws pretty heavily from the Vertigo universe. What are some of your favorite reads from Vertigo?

JD: Karen Berger, the architect of Vertigo, is an old and dear friend and I was intimately involved with the imprint right from the launch, with my graphic novel, MERCY. After that I did THE LAST ONE, SEEKERS INTO THE MYSTERY and brought two of my Epic Comics projects—MOONSHADOW and BLOOD: A TALE—over to Vertigo. It’s a rich universe that allows creators to really develop, and express, a unique, individual voice.

There have been so many extraordinary projects over the years that I don’t think it’s fair for me to single out any one. I’d end up ignoring so many worthy projects.

CV: Any concepts or ideas from Vertigo you wanted to explore in this book that just didn’t work out?

JD: Nope.

CV: Without spoiling things, obviously, what can we expect from JLD in the upcoming months?

JD: Once the Nightmare Nurse storyline concludes, we’ll be shining a spotlight on Deadman, in a two-parter that explores his connection to Nanda Parbat. After that we’ll have our Annual, which will launch us into a massive six month storyline that I’m very excited about: a story that will span time and space and significantly expand the ranks of the team. I’m really looking forward to that one.

Thanks to J.M. DeMatteis for answering our questions and make sure to check out JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK, issue #30 is in stores now!