Ever go to the Canadian tundra to do research for a superhero comic? Jeff Lemire did, and he shares his ideas and motivation behind the research for his new Justice League United series.
Charlie Chang: I’ve been a big fan of your Animal Man run and excited to see him join this new teaming you’re assembling for Justice League United. I’ve also been a fan of the Adam Strange character and happy to see him back in the DCU. I was told that you went to Canada and the tundra to do some research for the new Cree superhero.
Jeff Lemire: Yeah, well I’m from Canada but I spent a lot of time the last couple months visiting a really remote northern community in Canada called Moose Factory, Ontario and it’s home to one of our first nation’s Cree Nation. It’s a community and a culture that I’ve really become invested in in my own work. So I’ve spent a lot of time in the schools up there talking to kids and sharing my story with them and researching this new Cree superhero that we’re creating that will hopefully be a really positive role model for kids up there who really need it.
CC: How did that concept come about as far as drawing inspiration from that culture? Is this something you’ve wanted to do for a long time?
JL: Well a couple things inspired it, I decided I was moving the team to Canada and Canada is a really big country and from region to region is very diverse and each region has it’s own personality so I could either try and capture the whole personality in one comic book which would’ve been really hard or I could pick one specific area and really focus on that. First nation culture and aboriginal culture is something that I’ve had a growing interest in, just in the literature I’m reading and social issues I’m interested in so it felt like a really great way of taking my interests and put it into a superhero comic and hopefully it’ll be something really positive.
CC: The makeup of the team is so interesting just based on the first look of Cover #0. This might be an odd question but is there any significance to the frog, the owl, and the monkey surrounding Animal Man (Buddy Baker)?
JL: …No *laughter* I think those are just the animals Mike McKone wanted to draw.
CC: Martian Manhunter is a really cool character.
JL: Yeah, I love that character.
CC: Struggle is definitely not the right word here but a lot of writers have tried to figure out exactly how he fits in with the big characters in the DC Universe because he’s so powerful. What is his dynamic in the Justice League United team?
JL: Yeah, he’s one of my favorite characters in the DCU and in my mind he really is the most powerful superhero in the whole universe. For me it’s really clear and easy take on him, he’s a leader, he’s the leader of the team, he’s the center of the team, and he’s the heart of the team. To the younger characters he’s a father figure, to other characters like Hawkman and Green Arrow he’s sort of a disciplinarian and he’s a fantastic character and he’s the head of the ship. He’s got a really beautiful soul about him and he’s a very calm and very peaceful character too despite having all this power so that’s interesting to me.
CC: Adam Strange coming back to the DCU, how did you go back figuring out how to bring him into this team?
JL: I’ve always loved Adam Strange, I even pitched an Adam Strange story a few years ago. It actually kind of became Trillium but that’s a different story *laughs*. I love that character, I love that 1950s space hero reinvented with a modern edge. What I’ve always loved about the character is his relationship with Alana Strange who’s this alien woman that he fell in love with and married and he was always torn between two worlds. I wanted to put a new twist on that and I don’t want to spill what I’ve got planned in the book but I will say that Alana Strange is actually big or just as big a part of the team as Adam which is really going to surprise people. I also think readers will be really surprised by the unqiue spin that I’ll be putting on Adam Strange and that relationship.
This interview was conducted by Amazon comics expert Charlie Chang. Interested in comics and graphic novels? Sign up for Comics Delivers, a weekly email featuring the best in comics each week - from weekly booklists to deals and exclusive content from creators.