DC Comics

The 'Justice League' Faces Their Sickest Villain Yet With The 'Amazo Virus'

Writer Geoff Johns and artist Jason Fabok discuss the new storyline.

The "Justice League" is sick. And not just as in DC Comics' premiere super-team is super-sweet and popping a wheelie or whatever, but that as of today's "Justice League #36," written by Geoff Johns and welcoming new artist Jason Fabok, most of the team is dying due to a mutated, mutating "Amazo Virus" accidentally released from Lex Luthor's lab.

Spoilers for the issue past this point.

In the book, Metropolis is in ruins, most of the League is on their deathbeds, and its up to Batman and Superman to find Patient Zero, the person -- or thing -- who started the virus. To find out more of the behind the scenes of the issue, including how due to certain aspects of the comic Johns and Fabok now have a great back-up career plan, we hopped on the phone with the duo:

MTV News: Jason, you've been bouncing around the DC Universe for quite a while, but what's it like to finally take on "Justice League?"

Jason Fabok: Taking on the Justice League has been awesome. I haven't had this much fun in a long time. I've been working on Batman stuff, and that's a ton of fun, but this is a totally different level. I'm getting to play with characters who have been around longer than I've been alive.

They're legendary characters. You feel that pressure and a little bit of stress. You don't want to let down these characters. You don't want to let them down, and draw them garbage!

But at the same time, there's that excitement. I say to my wife every day, "I can't believe I'm working on 'Justice League.' " I'm so proud of this opportunity. I'm excited to see what fans have to say.

MTV: Obviously you have a handle on Batman, but have there been any of the other characters that have given you any trouble?

DC Comics

Fabok: Superman. The first ever book I drew professionally was an issue of "Superman/Batman" pre-New 52. That was the only time I ever really drew the character. So coming back four and a half years later, I still feel like I haven't found my Superman yet.

Characters like Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor just came to me. I feel like I got those characters right away, but practice makes perfect. I've spent years drawing Batman, I've got him down, but now it's time to work on these other characters.

MTV: Geoff, for this arc, did you start with the idea of the Amazo Virus, or did you tailor the story knowing Jason was coming on board?

Geoff Johns: I had the idea for the story quite a while ago, but when I wrote the script, it was definitely tailored to Jason. The story was designed to throw the Justice League against a world level threat they've never faced before and couldn't analyze the motivation for. It's a virus.

DC Comics

The idea is, just as humans have evolved into metahumans. What if another life-form on Earth evolved in the same way? What would a superhuman virus do to the world? I wanted to tap into that fear and paranoia, because the Justice League aren't prepared for something like that.

When I wrote this script, it was all about putting Jay through his paces. I wanted to do a very slow, creepy, what is going… Why would there be money floating around? And then the action of Batman and Superman, the strangeness of Lex Luthor investigating the League, so that Jay would have to do everything in this first issue.

Like the Diana/Lex scene, it's Lex projecting onto Diana all this stuff that she would never do. She just wants to figure this out. That scene in particular scene has a nice subtly of character that Jay captured beautiful.

MTV: Not that your art isn't hyper-detailed anyway, but Jason, what's it like drawing dozens of hundred dollar bills?

DC Comics

Fabok: [Laughs] Surprisingly not as bad as it seems. I work digitally so I was able to take some nice scans of money people have posted online, and had that detail I needed. I drew the money a few times, and then would slap those on to layers as I went through the issue.

If I had to do that by hand, I would have been cursing Geoff! This is supposed to be a secret. It's supposed to seem like it's really hard, but I drew it once or twice. I feel bad for Brad Anderson, the colorist. He had to go in there individually and color each one of those hundred dollar bills.

But things like that add so much depth to the page… I love when I can do something like that.

Johns: It's funny because when I wrote that first scene, I was on the set of "Flash" in Vancouver, and I was e-mailing Jay late at night, called him at midnight and said, "Hey, do you want to do 'Justice League'?" We talked about the book and talked about how our goal is to deliver the highest quality character driven book and also have some fun with the characters.

But one of the things I thought while writing the opening scene was, Jay's going to read these first few pages and think, "What is he doing?[Laughs] Where is the Justice League, why am I drawing hundred dollar bills floating on the street."

MTV: If the comic book thing doesn't pan out, at least now you guys can counterfeit money.

Johns: Exactly! I was surprised, they look exactly like hundred dollar bills.

MTV: It is an interesting choice to take the League off the board for this first issue…

Johns: To raise the threat level, but also give us a bit of focus for the beginning of the storyline, so we could focus on Batman and Superman, and Diana and Lex -- and even Captain Cold for a bit.

In this storyline in particular, it's going to examine the relationship between Lex and Superman, Lex and Batman, Lex and Diana. They're all very different. I wanted to focus it down to let the characters breathe and interact.

One of the big pieces of this is that there are a lot of secrets to this virus. Lex hasn't told everybody the truth about it. This is what Bruce said to him, "You can't erase the past."

It blows up in his face, and now he needs to clean up the mess while trying to hold on to the secrets it has, and the reputation he thinks he has.

DC Comics

MTV: You mentioned you were working on this while on "The Flash" set… Now that you've become so heavily involved in DC's TV shows, has that affected how you approach your comic writing at all?

Johns: It's still two different mediums in a lot of ways, but for me the thing I love about "Justice League," and why those scenes with Batman and Superman, and Diana and Lex are so important… It's all about character at the end of the day, and we have a lot of characters.

What's really changed my approach is Jay, having him come on board. It's a pretty accessible issues, and our goal was to give an accessibility which is, I think, important to a team book like this.

You learn any time you write something different, when you're writing a film script, or a TV script, you always learn something when you're writing a different medium. I love it because there's all sorts of different challenges. But for this, the main influence that's altered our approach is Jay coming on board and talking about it together.

And there's an element of fun to this book. Despite the life-threatening virus, there's got to be something keeping hope alive. Not only having the stakes high, but you enjoy being with these characters, and a little humor goes a long way… But it's a must have for this stuff.

There's a great scene coming up with Diana and Cold coming up, and it's the most bizarre "Brave and the Bold" team-up ever. And they talk about it! So that's our goal: delivering the highest quality, but having some fun with it, too.

DC Comics

"Justice League #36" is on shelves now from DC Comics.