BATMAN and Superman’s latest and greatest enemy is going viral.There is an eerie echo of Ebola – but writ larger-than-life for the comic-book medium – with the dangerous outbreak occurring in the four-part The Amazo Virus storyline which kicked off last week in DC Comics’ Justice League #36.
A new disease infects the book alongside a new artist, Jason Fabok, who joins writer Geoff Johns as the current arc leads into next year’s The Darkseid War and other big stories in store.
“It’s really hard to find someone who can do a book like Justice League because you have to be good at drawing everybody; Wonder Woman, Batman, the villains, an empty Metropolis,” says Johns.
Adds Fabok: “I want to give something to the fans where they’re really going to want to dig into the background and look at all the detail in there.”
The first version of Flash that Fabok, best known for Batman Eternal and other Dark Knight works, draws in Justice League is actually lying on a bed surrounded by some of his ailing pals. Originating from the labs of Lex Luthor’s Lexcorp, the Amazo Virus has inadvertently been unleashed in Metropolis, and one day later the place looks like an apocalypse has blown through town and those infected show extraordinary abilities before dying.
The situation is only going to get worse as the virus continues to evolve, the secrets behind its creation come out and Lex Luthor, who’s wormed his way onto the Justice League, is targeted by assassins. Johns came up with the story months ago, with the current Ebola scare beginning around the time the new issue was going to press.
The writer’s idea was to explore what would happen if not only superheroes, supervillains and other metahumans were not the only life forms on Earth that have moved to the next stage of their development. What if a virus suddenly could survive indefinitely outside of a human body and acted as if it almost had a mind of its own?
“Really, it was about the Justice League being unprepared to fight a villain they can’t talk to or face or be rational with,” Johns says. “There’s nothing to do – this is what a virus does and it mutates and grows throughout the arc, and we see how dangerous something like this could be.
“If a man can fly and is invulnerable, if that’s scary, what does a virus that can’t be stopped going to do?”
Lex Luthor and his armoured outfit has been one of Fabok’s favorite things to draw in his Justice League run, but he’s also enjoyed designing Batman’s new hazmat suit. He had previously hatched one for him in a Detective Comics story involving Clayface but wanted to do something decidedly different.
“It’s flexible, he can move around, he can jump and do whatever he needs to do but he is vulnerable as a human” in his “haz-Bat” ensemble, Fabok says. “We’re going to have some fun with that later on.”
Adds Johns: “He’s risking his life in there and we’ll see the camaraderie between Batman and Superman grow.”
Wanting to perfect his takes on these A-list characters and see where Johns takes them in the storytelling inspired Fabok to create “this really different-looking first issue where you’re going to pick it up and go, ‘What the heck happened to Metropolis?’. It is kind of creepy. From there, it’s just going to keep evolving into something bigger and bigger and darker.” — USA Today/Tribune News Services