Interview: Andrew Kreisberg On ‘Justice League of America’s Vibe #1’

It’s weird to hear Andrew Kreisberg say he and Geoff Johns have “grand plans” for “Justice League of America” and that they’ll involve Vibe.

You remember Vibe? Created by Gerry Conway and Chuck Patton a couple of DC Universe reboots ago, Paco Ramon was a member of the much-maligned “Justice League Detroit,” a strutting ex-gang member who made his way onto the “JL” thanks to his sonic vibration powers? Many DCU readers might not remember Vibe, offering him a respite from the baggage of the mid-80’s “Justice League,” the accent, that costume–all of it.

Well “Arrow” writer Kreisberg and Johns have brought the character over into the new DCU with a major update in “Justice League of America’s Vibe” #1, which debuts in February.

“He was very much a creation of his time,” Kreisberg tells me during a recent phone interview. “I don’t know for sure, but it seemed like ’breakdancing’s popular–we should have a breakdancing superhero!'” Kreisberg co-wrote the character’s reintroduction with Geoff Johns as part of a larger plan to make Vibe the grounded, human view of the major goings-on in “Justice League of America” (the “Justice League” part isn’t in the title for nothing).

From the way Kreisberg describes him, Vibe will share a little bit with Jaime Reyes when that character became the current incarnation of Blue Beetle: a superhero fan-turned-superhero who also has a deeply pragmatic streak when it comes to throwing himself into the middle of a fight with creatures from outer space or home-grown mutant horrors. He’s going to take a step back. “I think one of the most exciting things about this character for me is there’s a lot of mythological, fantastical–but in a way, unknowable characters. Superman, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter. But what’s really nice about Vibe is he’s just a kid, you know?”

That kid–Cisco Ramon–gains his powers over in Johns’ “Justice League” when he’s exposed to the very first boom tube from Apokalips. “When he’s exposed to the event horizon of the boom tube, he’s exposed to the bonds that hold the universe together,” transforming the character at a molecular level, Kreisberg adds. Now he can control “vibrational energy,” with the twist that he can tell when people or things are not from our dimension–which makes him a handy asset when strange invaders come calling. Kreisberg says that in trying to find a reason for the character to exist in the DCU, the take he and Johns landed on was an ironic one given the characters’ Latino heritage: he’s an interdimensional border cop.

The invasion made Detroit a thin place, where things from other dimensions can now come through, and only Vibe can stop them. “His job, in a way, is to patrol this section and make sure that anything that comes through isn’t a threat.” Kreisberg offers that this gives the book more structure beyond a monster of the week stories. Working with Johns, it’ll allow some cross-storytelling between Vibe in his solo book and “JLA,” offering the writers the chance continue stories featuring the character between the two books.

He’s “thrust into that world,” according to Kreisberg, who says that he and Johns very deliberately “re-engineered” the problematic hero for the rebooted universe. When I ask why this particular character, Kreisberg offers that it’s a challenge to create a new character of this type from whole cloth, and that he and Johns instead sought to “take a character who’s been dismissed and given him new life.” Kreisberg says he’s taken pleasure in rehabilitating a character in a way that he and the CW were able to do with “Arrow”–offering a contemporary reboot there that’s been popular with audiences while paying tribute to the character’s past.

Although he looks up to the other Leaguers, Kreisberg says Vibe is definitely a realist, often questioning the wisdom of running headlong into battle. Kreisberg says that unlike Superman or Batman, the first question that comes to mind when he’s standing toe-to-toe with a Parademon will be “Is this thing going to kill me?”

While we’re waiting to meet the new and improved Vibe next month, “Arrow” has returned to the CW with the introduction of Batman villain Firefly while we all wait for word on the state of the “Booster Gold” pilot at Syfy. “Justice League of America’s Vibe” #1 will be on sale February 20.