Justice Lost

Sorry to be gone so long, I’m spinning a lot of plates these days. I am hearing very kind (maybe too-kind) things about “The People vs. Justice League” (which is actually the first half of a 10-issue run titled “Justice Lost”), which kind of surprises me a little in that I just assumed most fans would either not notice I was over there on JL or would hang me in effigy (as some are doing for my upcoming Deathstroke vs. Batman, a book that’s not even out yet and I am apparently being blamed for ruining Damian Wayne and Talia al Ghul).

The premise of my JL run is fairly simple: what if these people were real. What if there really were, in our real world, in our cynical, zero-sum, statically polarized Fox News vs. MSNBC world, a group of demi gods who has a clubhouse in orbit above us. How would the world respond to a real Justice League? My run wakes the world from it’s Silver Age (and even Grant Morrison-era) coma when what the team perceived as a relatively low-priority mission goes terribly wrong (issue #34). The starts the dominoes falling for the full ten issues, increasing the atmospheric pressure on this group of allies-if-not-quite-friends and forcing their philosophical differences to the surface. The point of the arc is to examine the question of what justice actually means in today’s deeply conflicted and unequal society, and how do the Justice League– a quaint Silver Age concept of people in gaudy costumes seated around a conference table– fit?

Relatively new guy Pete Woods is just a joy, an amazing gift to me for this run. Pete’s ultra-clean style clears away the noodly over-rendering as his amazing gift for storytelling adds depth to these scripts that is not actually on the page. It’s Pete using his head– and an amazing eye– to take these typed words to a new level. He is also a monster colorist whose approach to color adds our dramatic soundtrack to this work, giving it even more life and breadth. I’m just awed and so very grateful Pete took this on.

Unfortunately, Pete’s only got two hands, and we were unable to land an artistic partner who could co-create with us, which has resulted in several issues being drawn by several different artists. All of these folks are swinging for the fences and doing their best work, but the incongruity of art from issue to issue is not the best situation we could have hoped for. I am nonetheless grateful for just how hard each of them worked on getting things right, while the overall continuity of artistic vision couldn’t help but be compromised because everybody is drawing at the same time.

“Justice Lost” beats the drum toward the weekly event called “No Justice” and a completely new vision for JL on the way this summer.


  1. Thad says:

    I’m enjoying it. The angle of the tension between the League and the public reminds me a bit of the Justice League Unlimited cartoon (under head writer Dwayne McDuffie), but only a bit; you’re covering different ground.

    I liked the villain reveal. He’s got potential.

    (And hey, it looks like Martian Manhunter is a founding member of the League again? DC retcons are so hard to keep track of.)

  2. circ says:

    Good to hear from you again. I was planning to stick around reading JL well into the summer, but the ‘redirect’ has me a bit miffed. Looking forward to DS and whatever else (hopefully intriguing) projects you have. Be well!

  3. Dave Van Domelen says:

    It’s less that they’re afraid you’ll ruin Talia and Damian, and more that they’re convinced DC editorial hates the characters. Damian has a hard core of fans who feel he’s being ill-used in general (there’s a lot of “DC is racist” slung around by these people, since Damian is kinda sorta maybe part Arabic and Arabic heroes are realllly thin on the ground), and a few of them have crossed the line into thinking they’ll get their way if only they hurl enough insults and abuse.

    • Priest Priest says:

      A little behind-the-scenes: I had a long and quixotic discussion with my editors who wanted to know how Slade could possibly know Robin was Talia’s son. Which puzzled me– how could he NOT know? I mean, Damian looks like a youthful Edward G. Robinson (for whom many of you are too young to catch the reference); he has such a distinct look that a domino mask and hoodie really isn’t nearly sufficient enough of a disguise, especially when Robin has repeatedly gone toe-to-toe with DS in close quarters. How could he NOT know?

      Reply: Clark Kent’s glasses. It’s part of the readers’ required suspension of disbelief. Which, I said, imposes an awful LOT on the readers. 🙂

      Moreover: Damian should have a distinct skin tone. I mean, he is only half-white at best. But he lacks Semitic features and is drawn and colored like a white American kid, which he really shouldn’t be.

      Now, wait, I have no dog in this fight– he’s not my character and my story really isn’t about the kid but about the dads. I’m just reading all of this background and the Morrison stuff and wondering why we’re pretending he’s a little white kid when he should obviously, visually, have some al Ghul in him.

      A corrected skin tone would make it even more ridiculous for DS to not recognize him. I am both grateful (and surprised) DC allowed DS to say he’s OBVIOUSLY an al Ghul and a security risk for Batman. But this arc has been a real struggle for me because I’m a guy who tends to write as real-world as I am allowed, and I keep aggravating the hand that feeds me over this Batman Secret ID business, and my being forced to dumb down my guy (Slade) in order to protect their guy (Bats).

      If you want Robin to have a secret identity, then Batman should work harder to protect it. As currently portrayed, it is utterly ridiculous to insist my guy NOT immediately recognize Damian as Robin the minute he lays eyes… er, eye… on him.

      Pre New 52, DS always knew Grayson (and by extension Wayne)’s alter egos. During the reboot, the decision was made that too many people knew Bats’ secret ID so the edict now is nobody knows. I’ve been lobbying for Deathstroke to be the exception to that rule, but there’s a great deal of reluctance (and eye rolling).

      My guy is not an idiot. Please don’t make me write him as an idiot. Write your guy smarter. 🙂

  4. BigShadow says:

    really bummed you r off JL and bummed Vixen and Killer Frost are not part of this event hope to see you on Justice League again someday

  5. Jack says:

    All Robins really are entitled, even when they are infighting they usually agree that editorial has it in for them. I believe even Morrison got hate not just from Jason and Tim fans but even so called Damian fans for giving Damian a lighter skin tone and ofcourse

  6. Jack says:


    Killing him. I’ve always wanted a proper Batman vs Deathstroke story, one that actually offers more than just a cool fight. I’m also a sucker for Rose’s interactions with Damian and Dick. To say I’m looking forward is an understatement.

    • Priest Priest says:

      Jack: hate to disappoint, but Rose does not appear in this arc and the arc really isn’t *about* Damian. I developed this story nearly two years ago and was instructed to minimize Damian’s involvement because marketing was concerned the character was overexposed, so the story is actually construed around the dads, not the kid they are fighting over. 🙂

      Thanks for the info re: Damian– hadn’t realized he’s that controversial a character. I thought it was *just me* his fans hated 🙂

      • Jack says:

        Oh man, was looking forward to Rose, bit of a bummer. Still Addy and Billy are there as is Joey.
        Fascinating to learn more about how the process behind the scenes. I dont think one monthly would have made any difference but it is what it is I guess.
        All Robin characters are controversial to be honest.

  7. Hello sir, new fan here, mostly because Im an old DC reader than never found a comfortable jumping-on point for Marvel stuff.

    I know you are likely weighing options right now, or maybe I am too late and you have already committed, but from someone who has loved your Deathstroke run I just wanted to say I genuinely hope you always have some spinning plates at DC.

    • Priest Priest says:

      Me too! don’t misconstrue any whining I do here– DC is a great place with great characters running around their universe. I value my relationship with the company and the work we’re doing there.

  8. Ian Miller says:

    As someone who’s really been loving your work and Pete Woods’ amazing art, I’m incredibly saddened that this is only 10 issues. However, that is a nice length for an arc, and I look forward to seeing what happens next! I really, really dig the concept of the Justice League as facing real conflicts, instead of the overblown unbelievable cosmic stuff that is currently going on in Metal and I expect will spill over into No Justice.

    I’m really grateful for Pete’s commitment to the book, despite the punishing schedule, and appreciate that they’re getting strong fill-ins to let him catch up and do the finale.

    • Priest Priest says:

      Hey, thanks, Ian. Ironically, had I been allowed to continue with the title, next on the agenda would’ve been the overblown unbelievable cosmic stuff– JL vs. The New Gods or something like that. I just chose to do the smaller, character-focused story because (a) it really hadn’t been done quite like this before, and (b) everybody else was doing the big cosmic story. Ironically, my choice may have backfired on me because people are quick to cubbyhole you, some assuming I *can’t* do the big cosmic story simply because I chose not to. That’s a little silly, but that’s the reality of the biz. For years, I was ONLY offered black characters. Now, I am mostly offered villains. And editors looking for team book writers may pass me over because my JL run did not have a world-threatening galactic menace in it. *sigh*

  9. Ken says:

    It would be amazing Mr/Rev. Priest if this is your best-selling comics month of your career (depending on how well, you did a few weeks ago with having three comics drop at one time). You and Tom King are the only things keeping me buying comics right now.

    • Priest Priest says:

      Tom may possibly be the coolest and best-adjusted human being writing comics these days. I have a non-sexual man-crush on him. Seriously: an extremely nice guy and fun to hang out with, a rarity in this biz.

  10. BigShadow says:

    this is an unrelated question but if you ever had the chance would you write The Mighty Thor? and if you did what would be your game plan?

    • Priest Priest says:

      Sure, I’d take a swing at Thor. as to what I’d do, well, first I’d have to catch up on about a decade’s worth of Thor stories 🙂 I’ve only written two of them, my favorite being set in the Old West, drawn by the great giant John Buscema. I’ve been trying, aggressively ad nauseum, to convince Marvel to let me do a mini series in my Old West universe, which Thor was a centerpiece of along with the Marvel Western characters, but Marvel Marketing (perhaps rightly) points out westerns do not sell 🙁

  11. Dove of Peace says:

    Dear Mr Christopher J Priest, I was very upset after reading issue #42 of (Rebirth) Justice League, which you had put your name to as the writer. I was so upset that I spent the better part of a zodiacal month using the worldwide web to send messages of protest against your writing (and to complain about the artwork of Mr Pete Woods). I also wrote several emails to Time Warner, AT&T, Warner Bros., DC Entertainment and various popular culture and feminist websites.

    You may be confused as to which aspect of your writing resulted in such an extreme reaction on my part, and as to why I became so distressed. The truth is that I perceived your decision to bloodily maim a feminist icon as being a cruel rebuttal to recent advances in women’s rights (similar to Lars von Trier’s apparent motivation behind writing and directing his sadistic new film, “The House That Jack Built”). Now I could cite lots of quotations from your interviews and blog posts in an effort to prove my suspicions correct. I could point to what I view as examples of sexism and misogyny in your previous work. However, I have not come to your personal blog in order to attempt a demolition of your reputation.

    Clearly you have all the power when it comes to which fan’s comments are published on your website, so I am making myself somewhat vulnerable by reaching out to you in this way. I would like to connect with you as a human being, because until fairly recently, I had been feeling incredibly angry towards you and Mr Woods. In fact I passionately hated both of you, which is not something that I am proud of. Thankfully, those strong feelings have now dissipated and I am feeling a lot better. By way of further explanation, I will again make myself vulnerable by admitting that I have suffered with a condition that psychologists call “post-traumatic stress disorder”. Some of the opening panels in the JL #42 comic triggered traumatic flashbacks to previous situations when unpleasant people wished to exert power over me (and I am not using the word “triggered” in the casual sense, as it is often used these days).

    At first, I felt as if I had no choice but to fight back against the cause of the recurrent memories and emotions, because doing nothing in response seemed unacceptable to me. And after I calmed down a bit, I decided that it was still appropriate to continue my protests for a while longer, for various reasons. However, I have no desire to hold a grudge against you forever, and that is why I am reaching out to you like this. I want you to understand where I am coming from. Maybe you will explain why you and Mr Woods created the storyline in question (along with Mr Phil Briones, although he chose to draw an ambiguous image which was unlike Mr Woods’ more disturbingly graphic artwork). Perhaps I was even wrong about your motivation to write certain plot elements for JL #41, #42 and #43?

    P.S. I am not demanding that female comic book characters should never appear vulnerable in their stories. I also know that you recognise Wonder Woman’s special significance as an emblem of female empowerment, so you ought to know why an attack against her legend will tend to be perceived in a different light, compared with a strike against a less feministic heroine. If you click on the link below you can read some of the highest-rated replies to that article (and if you do, you will be reminded of how much Wonder Woman’s superheroic strength, durability and aura of indomitability means to many people around the world). Thank you for reading my comment.


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