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Joshua Williamson goes behind the scenes on 'Justice League: Road to Dark Crisis'

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Joshua Williamson goes behind the scenes on ‘Justice League: Road to Dark Crisis’

The giant-sized DC event kicks off in earnest this month.

DC Comics’ big summer event is already in motion with the Death of the Justice League, and the Dark Crisis is on the horizon. It’s literally kicking off in a real way this Saturday, May 7 (as part of New Comic Book Day) with the release of Dark Crisis #0. From there, on May 31, Justice League: The Road to Dark Crisis launches the DC universe into true and proper Event Mode.

To gain a better understanding of Road to Dark Crisis, we sat down with writer Joshua Williamson to hash out the anthology one-shot (which opens with a story by Williamson and Dan Jurgens). We discussed Williamson’s approach to writing Nightwing and Jon Kent as well as digging into the curation of the one-shot and the event at-large.

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But wait, there’s more. With the final order cutoff for Justice League: Road to Dark Crisis landing this Sunday (May 8), we also dig into the details of a number of the stories within the issues, as well as some general talk about the event that’s been years in the making. For even more on Dark Crisis, don’t miss our interview with Williamson around “The Death of the Justice League” — then you read his spoiler-takes on the special as well.

Joshua Williamson goes behind the scenes on 'Justice League: Road to Dark Crisis'AIPT: You write the first story in Justice League: The Road to Dark Crisis and it’s about Nightwing and John, why are these characters important to start this one-shot?

Joshua Williamson: They’re sort of the children of Batman in Superman right? And it started out of a conversation I was having with the editors when we were talking about Dark Crisis and it was part of the whole plot of Nightwing is really important to Dark Crisis. So are the Titans, the Titans and Nightwing are really important to what we’re doing with Dark Crisis. And we were talking about Nightwing and one of the editors asked, “Why don’t people go to Nightwing immediately? Isn’t that the first person that Jon will go to, especially when you look at the relationship they have in Nightwing and the Son of Kal-El series? So I was like, well, let’s show that story. Then let’s show that happening. Let’s show John going to Nightwing and talk about their dads dying. And what does it mean?

AIPT: What was it like working with Dan Jurgens on your story?

JW: Before I even wrote it, I called Dan and we talked through ideas and talked about what the story was gonna be and talking about what death means. You know, it’s Dan Jurgens, the most iconic death ever in comics he wrote and drew.

Dark Crisis

A page from Justice League: Road to Dark Crisis. Courtesy of DC Comics.

AIPT: Did he give you any tips about killing off characters?

JW: We talked about all kinds of other stuff about death. I talk to Dan about other stuff involving comics or the things that we’re doing, but he didn’t necessarily gimme tips about that, about killing a character off <laughs> no.

AIPT: Did you have a hand at all in curating Justice League: Road to Dark Crisis?

JW: Yeah, a little bit, mostly working with editorial and talking to the creators. Most the creators I know. You know, with Brandon Thomas and Chuck Brown, they both write Aquaman and I’m friends with Brandon Thomas. And so I get to talk with him and talk about some ideas with him about what we were gonna do. Phillip Kennedy Johnson, I did talk to them about this a lot now that I’m thinking about it. I have been talking for months about this because obviously with him writing Action Comics I didn’t wanna mess with the stuff he was doing over there, but he’s also working on one of the one-shots that we’re doing. He and I just got on the phone and we text throughout the week and we talk every few weeks, but I just got on the phone with him and I was like, yo, this is what you got to do.

Like, it’s a Pariah story. You wanna showcase who pariah is because–one of the things that I recognize is like, I’m a big old DC nerd and I know all this stuff and I’m like addicted to and obsessed with it. I can’t expect everyone else to be. And I can’t expect everyone else to be obsessed with Pariah the way I am. And when we were building the list of who was gonna do what, I knew I wanted Philip in there and it came up like what if Phillip did Pariah and that’s perfect. Philip is really, really good at world-building and epic stakes. I just talked to him and I’m like, “Listen, we need to do a story that kind of tells you who is, and what his motivations are.” And, and that was really it. I was, like, go for it. And he did a lot of research on Pariah. Then he came up with this idea and I was really happy with it.

Stephanie Phillips did one and we talked through that one on the phone. We started talking about what it was gonna be about, cause we knew I wanted it to be about villains. So I want it to be the villain’s perspective on what’s going on. And so we talked out which villains she was going to use. She like pitched me this whole idea about Nocturna, Spoiler, Batman, and Firefly. I was like “This is perfect.” She nailed it. You’d also have the cool last page that also kind of connects with some of the stuff we’re doing right over in Shadow War Omega. The stuff we’re building in Shadow War, the idea of like Deathstroke building this army. I was talking to all of the creators, pretty much about their stories and editorial handled a lot of it.

Joshua Williamson goes behind the scenes on 'Justice League: Road to Dark Crisis'

A page from Justice League: Road to Dark Crisis. Courtesy of DC Comics.

AIPT: How long has Dark Crisis been percolating?

JW: For a few years. I was actually looking at this document the other day that is over two years old now and I was looking at it and at the bottom of the do planning document for some stuff. And I was looking at it and it had Death of the Justice League and it had a lot of the stuff that we were building toward. And I was like, “Oh man, we really did all this stuff.” Like I was really happy with some of it. I started thinking about it long before Death Metal started coming out. Pretty, pretty deep into some stuff.

It’s been a long time, like end of 2018, early 2019 that I started thinking about it. You know, we have all these summits where we plan out stuff far in advance, especially when I was working with Scott [Snyder] and James [Tynion IV]. We would really talk about what we were doing really far out. Ideas on how to seed things and build to these stories. “Death of the Justice League” and Dark Crisis was always kind of in my head and part of those conversations. It was just something I was just kind of building toward personally. Once we got to the end of 2020 is when I really started knowing what this is going to be. All this stuff has been planned for a very, very long time.

Joshua Williamson goes behind the scenes on 'Justice League: Road to Dark Crisis'

A page from Justice League: Road to Dark Crisis. Courtesy of DC Comics.

AIPT: So when did the road to The Road to Dark Crisis start?

JW: I feel like it started with Infinite Frontier Zero. You could pick it up there. I mean, there’s definitely pieces from the end of Death Metal that kind of started us on this path. To me, if you start there and you read stuff across the line, we started building toward it then. Road to Dark Crisis is really a bridge between Justice League #75, Dark Crisis #0 — which is the free comic book day book — and then Dark Crisis #1. I kind of wanna explain some parts. I wanted to explain how Hal [Jordan] finds out. I wanna explain the stuff with Jon and Nightwing and how they’re reacting to things. Showcase a little bit of Pariah in case someone didn’t know who Pariah was and then I wanted to show a bit of about the villains and what was going on with them.

There’s a Flash story in the anthology we did because I really like what Jeremy Adams is doing with the Flash and because Flash directly connects to Dark Crisis because Barry’s been missing since Infinite Frontier. Jeremy and I talked and then we started talking about how was Wally gonna react to all of this, considering what he’s gone through, you know, like Barry dying, Barry coming back, like how does he handle it? The stuff that Jeremy’s doing is really cool, too. It was cool to see Wally and Wallace together. Because we don’t get to see it very often. The stuff he does on Flash is so good let’s connect some of this stuff together.

Dark Crisis

A page from Justice League: Road to Dark Crisis. Courtesy of DC Comics.

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