DC will be snowed in this month, proverbially, with their month-long crossover event 'Endless Winter.' Launching on December 1, this nine-part storyline finds an extinction-level ice storm brewing out of the former Fortress of Solitude that will grow to take over the entire world thanks to a new villain called the Frost King.
The Justice League will fight the Frost King on two fronts: one in modern times, and one eons ago with a primordial version of the Justice League nicknamed 'Justice League Viking.'
Here's the nine parts, where they'll appear, and when:
- Chapter 1 - Justice League: Endless Winter #1 (December 1)
- Chapter 2 - The Flash #767 (December 8)
- Chapter 3 - Superman: Endless Winter Special #1 (December 8)
- Chapter 4 - Aquaman #66 (December 15)
- Chapter 5 - Justice League #58 (December 15)
- Chapter 6 - Teen Titans: Endless Winter Special #1 (December 15)
- Chapter 7 - Justice League Dark #29 (December 22)
- Chapter 8 - Black Adam: Endless Winter Special #1 (December 22)
- Chapter 9 - Justice League: Endless Winter #2 (December 29)
Writers Ron Marz and Andy Lanning are behind this event, working with a host of artists including former JLA artist Howard Porter.
With Justice League: Endless Winter #1 kicking off the event this Wednesday, Newsarama spoke with Marz and Lanning about how it connects to ongoing and recently wrapped titles, Black Adam's larger role in the DC universe, and how the two writers came up with the ragtag team of Justice League Viking.
Newsarama: Ron and Andy, Endless Winter has nine parts being released in a month time-span and you're writing all of them. Tell us the creative experience of taking on such a big task?
Ron Marz: The creative experience was not leaving our houses. [Laughs] It was a lot of work in a short span, but honestly not the first rodeo for me and Andy. We just had to buckle down and get it done, and we're thankful to DC for letting us take on what was obviously a fairly large mountain to climb, but everybody pulling in the same direction really made it come together.
Andy Lanning: When I first spoke to the JLA group editor Alex R. Carr. We talked about it in terms of being the winter event book for the family of titles. It was only when Ron and I were talking with Alex and getting into the publishing schedule and what was needed that – Alex said, 'Which ones of these do you want to write?' Then we said, 'We can do them all if you want, if that's helpful,' which in our naivety or our drive that's what we said we'd do. Then we took it on.
Delivering nine, it was kind of like a treadmill in terms of deadline, deadline, deadline, and then when all the artwork started coming back in and printing deadlines start looming. It was like, at that point, we sort of like head-down, elbows-out. I was going to say it kept us off the streets, but we were off the streets to begin with. [Laughs]
Nrama: How did this project come about? Was it something you both pitched to DC or DC pitched to you?
Lanning: Editorial gave me a call out of the blue to say he's was toying with this idea of doing a winter crossover event, and asked me if I wanted to come up with some ideas for it. I wrote Ronnie as well, because like Ron said, we both have a history of working on these sort of grand crossovers. The ability of having done that in the past, you get to play with a lot of different characters and moving a lot of different moving parts around, which is something we enjoy doing. The opportunity to work with Ron on a big project like this was just irresistible because we'd been working together on some side projects, but I've never had a chance to do something like this.
Marz: We've written stuff together before, and it's always been just a joy, but this was our first time doing something on this scale together. And frankly, if we weren't working together on this, I don't think it would've gotten done because it was a fairly heavy lift. It was 200 pages in a fairly short span of time.
Thankfully, we can bounce the work back and forth to each other. He's in the UK, I'm on the East coast, obviously, DC editorial is in Los Angeles. So, it was close to a 24-hour process like every day because Andy would do his bit. I'd get up and take over. He'd jump on later in the day, then I would do some more in what would be the middle of the night for him and be working back and forth with editorial at 11pm or midnight my time. So, we didn't plan it that way, that we were sort of doing this 24 hours a day or damn near, but it worked out in everybody's favor, I think.
Nrama: What made you want to bring in Black Adam for a special - a character that currently doesn't have a title of his own?
Marz: Black Adam was involved from the beginning of how this story kind of came together because he was one of the characters that we could have in the 10th-century framing sequences that are part of every issue. Black Adam is part of what we ended up calling the Justice League Viking, which is heroes of that era who also have a large role to play in this story.
So, Black Adam was one of the characters that could be both in that era as well as in the present era. It just seemed to become more, more, and more of an integral part as we went on and hammered out the details. Then somebody told me a scurrilous rumor that there might be a Black Adam movie at some point. [Laughs]
He's certainly a character that's going to be getting more and more of the spotlight. So, it seemed like a good fit to bring him in here and, without giving away too much - the plans for where Black Adam's character goes in the future are certainly seeded into this story to a certain extent.
Lanning: We tried to frame the entire story as a complete tale. So, if you read all nine issues you get a complete story, but within the other issues that the story flows through - so Justice League, Aquaman, Teen Titans, and Black Adam, etc. We were trying to be respectful of ongoing continuity and tee things up for next year.
Part of the juggling act of doing this sort of a big crossover is to be true to those continuity things that are needed. Obviously, you're going to be seeing a lot of Black Adam next year, and I think just in DC terms and plans for continuity and everything - it's like knowing what he's up to and know where he sits within the bigger DCU is something they wanted to spotlight.
Nrama: On the flip side, what was it like jumping into franchises like Justice League, The Flash, Superman, Aquaman, and Justice League Dark that do have their own ongoing series still running. Were there any particular storylines from those runs you had to tie into for these one-shots?
Lanning: We're obviously trying to keep absolute continuity going, which is always good. So, issues like the Aquaman issue particularly picks up quite literally in the ongoing story. It details Arthur and Mera supposed to be on their honeymoon in that issue because they've just got married.
The ramifications for the Teen Titans having come out of the storyline with Damian and all of that stuff is very much ongoing, same with Justice League Dark. Those are really good signposts and places to pick up from because it means you can weave that into a bigger story, but we always wanted to focus on - what would the team be doing in this big emergency crisis that we're throwing them into as well?
Marz: We were thankfully in a position a lot of the ongoing storylines that we were connecting to Aquaman, Superman, Flash, Teen Titans were sort of coming to the end of a large storyline or even the end of a large creative teams' run. So, we got to reflect where those books had been, but we could chart our own course for where these stories were headed.
We had the best of both worlds, really. We're coming in at the end of like Kelly Sue's run on Aquaman and the end of the Teen Titans run period. So, we could give a nod to where those stories had been, but not have to continue a specific storyline in the midst of this crossover.
Nrama: What can you tell us about the unlikely team/proto-Justice League made up of Queen Hippolyta, Swamp Thing, the Viking Prince, and Black Adam?
Lanning: Well, that stemmed from the villain of the piece - the Frost King. We came up with a backstory for him, which takes place in the 10th century. Thinking about that we wanted him to be confronted by the heroes of the time, and it seemed to us too irresistible to think that in times of great emergency and crisis the heroes of any given time would band together then to say that grouping was just the Justice League at the time.
So, to come up with the Justice League Viking, again it was like that was too good an opportunity to pass up. We were then looking at the whole team at that time, who we could put into that team. Hippolyta - sort of thing, Black Adam was definitely there. Then Ron tossed in the idea of bringing in Viking Prince because he's one of Ron's favorite characters. And again, obviously, is a Viking.
Marz: You can't have the Justice League Viking without, you know – a Viking.
Nrama: How did you come up with the cold theme for the book? I know it's DC's winter event, but what made you guys go I want winter coats here?
Lanning: It was no more or less brainpower of what you just said went into that. [laughs] No - it was that we were doing the big winter Christmas crossover. We're talking again with Alex at the get-go.
It was like 'Well, let's do something that really doubles down on that.' We went thematically into the whole notion of what the cold, what the winter, what the weather conditions mean. The time with your family, the fact that people are staying indoors and being together. The fact that as current situations have it, people can't be together over winter. It just seemed to be quite a nice thematic through-line that had resonance with the current climate - no pun intended, sorry, I can't help myself. [laughs]
Nrama: Did you have any creative input when it came to the Justice League's new winter looks?
Marz: Batman has a new costume for this. Wonder Woman ends up with a new costume, which is part parcel of the story. I don't think we want to give away where that comes from. But the artists did some cool stuff.
The design of the Frost King himself, a number of different artists weighed in with some design options and the Frost King has a few different iterations in the story - from a more human one to a more monstrous one.
So, different artists along the way gave their input on it. It was really kind of a team effort that a lot of different people contributed to. It was one of those situations where too many cooks in the kitchen just made the whole thing stronger. Everybody was pulling in the same direction, which is how these crossovers have to go. Thankfully, the editorial did a really nice job of coordinating everything for us and, made the process as smooth as possible.
Lanning: We were lucky with that because there's an iteration of Swamp Thing in the flashback sequences - getting to see some very cool different interpretations of familiar characters. In terms of Batman in this sort of Arctic gear, it was like, well, of course, Batman would have Batman arctic gear. He'd be prepared for anything, and as Ron said Wonder Woman's change of costume is actually part of the story too. Anything like that, where you can mix things up a bit is always good and good for the artists too. They get to play around with some new toys.
Nrama: Will Endless Winter have a wider impact on the DC Universe? If so, what titles/characters do you think will be affected the most?
Marz: We tried to make sure that this was a self-contained storyline. Endless Winter from the first issue to the last issue is one complete story. You get a beginning, middle, and end in this, but having some sense of where certain characters are headed for 2021. We certainly tried to seed that stuff into the stories. Some character stuff - where Black Adam might go, where John Stewart might go. There are hints of that stuff seeded into the story, and those will be paid off as the rest of the DC line unfolds in 2021.