If you read DC comics, or comics in general, you’ve heard of Jim Lee at some point or other. His work with Batman and Superman has always guaranteed high sales.
In 2010, Lee was named DC Comics co-publisher along with Dan DiDio, and together they plotted a relaunch of its superhero titles, with a clean slate and 52 new issue No. 1′s in 2011. The reinventing of the DCU started with the Justice League and has released over 30 titles since. Lee, who is currently working on Superman Unchained, gave the LA Times: Herocomplex an interview about Villains Month.
HC: What did DC do for Villains Month?
JL: Across the 52 books we published in September, we did these very cool 3-D motion covers that spotlight the villains actually taking over the hero’s book, so instead of it being called Batman, you’ll see “Joker” scrawled over the logo. And then Warner Bros. Home Entertainment also did a documentary called “Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics.”
HC: You modernized your characters a couple of years ago when you relaunched all of your series as the New 52. What makes a villain modern?
JL: What you’ve seen over these decades is less of a black and white between the heroes and villains. Back in the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s, you had clear-cut heroes, clear-cut supervillains. Today, you have more of a blend, more of a gray area between the two. You have the rise of the sympathetic villain and the rise of the antihero. You have a lot of characters who follow the motto “The ends justify the means,” and depending on what the ends are, are they a villain or a superhero? That’s what makes supervillains today more modern. We’ll show their back story, we’ll show their motivation. It’s not just about robbing a bank of $10 million. They’re a lot more complicated and layered and thematically rich today than they were in the past.
DC Comics co-publisher and comics heavyweight Jim Lee is photographed at the drawing table in his office at DC Entertainment’s headquarters in Burbank, Calif., on Oct. 1, 2013. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
HC: Since villains are designed to reflect our anxieties, have 9/11 and the recent economic meltdown had any effect on the DC universe?
JL: Certainly, there are more stories that deal with terrorism and looking at the 1% as possible candidates for supervillains. In the ’50s, a lot of stories were built around radiation and the proliferation of new technology. In the ’70s, there were a lot of stories that dealt with the Vietnam War. So comic books have always been a reflection of the times we live in.
We are publishing a book called “The Movement” that has a lot of thematic resonance to the Occupy movement and characters really standing up for what’s right and making a difference in the world.
Lee also spoke about the newly announced series upcoming series ‘Batman: Europa’:
HC: I was intrigued to read about “Batman: Europa.” What’s going on with that?
JL: That’s a project I began a while back when I was living in Italy for a year. It’s still on deck. I’ve gotten sidetracked with other projects. I’m working currently on [the nine-issue series] “Superman Unchained” with a writer named Scott Snyder.
HC: How would your time in Italy influence a comic book series?
JL: I lived in Reggio Emilia, and it’s a fairly socialist, communist part of the country. I was actually drawing Superman, so it was very interesting working on a very all-American iconic character in an area with very different history.
When I was there I also did some Batman work, and typically I’ve drawn Batman on gargoyles, but I actually drew Batman on various towers within this town that I lived in. There’s a famous square called Piazza San Prospero, and there’s a medieval tower there. I drew Batman standing above it in moonlight. It was really cool to do because it gave me a different point of view of the character.
Check out the source links for more quotes from the interview.
No dates have been released yet on Batman : Europa, but fans will be waiting for them with anticipation.