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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Aquaman Shrine Interview with Greg Weisman

Summer is over and Cartoon Network begins its much-anticipated fall season of DC Nation programming this Saturday, September 29th and guess what that means? You got it--Young Justice returns with new episodes of Invasion, its  blockbuster second season storyline!

Diving right in, we are super-honored to have had the opportunity to speak with Producer Greg Weisman last week and we hope his insight gets you even more primed for what’s coming up on the show:

The Aquaman Shrine: Season Two of Young Justice returns on Saturday--how excited are you guys about that? 

Greg Weisman: We're very excited. We've been sitting on Episode 8 for quite some time and we're very anxious for fans to get finally look at 8 and 9 and 10 and all the way through 20. We've been chomping at the bit to go forward...I think Episode 7 of Season Two was a great place--if you’ve got to go on hiatus--that was a great place to leave off. It wasn't like we planned it that way when we made the show, we didn't know where the break would come, but if you had to pick an episode to go out on I think you couldn't have picked a better one. 

AMS: Oh yeah, the mission of the YJ’s inner quartet comprised of Aqualad (now a card-carrying member of the Black Manta Corps!), Nightwing, Artemis and Kid Flash was revealed and the final line "It only gets more dangerous from here..." was a perfect cliffhanger for the end of the first part of the season. We were blown away by all the twists and turns of "Depths"!

GW: I agree. So we were thrilled about just how that timed out and so we’re very much looking forward to getting that other stuff out there. I enjoy the process, it’s a lot of fun for me but I have to admit the final piece is to get the episodes out there and see what everybody thinks of them. 

AMS: So how do you feel the 5-year jump was received by viewers? The transition from the last episode of Season One "Old Acquaintance" to Season Two’s premiere "Happy New Year" was seamless and, we feel, particularly well done...

GW: I think there was an initial shock reaction, some of which we anticipated. I wish it hadn't leaked right before the first episode aired...I wish people had not gotten themselves worked up in advance of the airing of the episode, but only got worked up after the airing of the episode [laughs]. I think there were a lot of people who were not necessarily thrilled, but I think the majority of people seemed to either get what we were doing or trust enough to give us some time and I think by the end of Episode 7 they saw that we weren't ditching our Season One cast, they may not have all appeared in Episode 1 but they're all in the show and they’re all extremely important and have big roles to play. They're still really our League fundamentally.
AMS: That's good to hear. In Invasion you guys added eight members (Wonder Girl, Bumblebee, Blue Beetle, Lagoon Boy, Mal Duncan, Beast Boy, Batgirl and Tim Drake as Robin) and somehow managed not to dilute the core six--instead you made them even stronger characters, that's no small accomplishment!

GW: Well thanks, I appreciate that [laughs]! We tried real hard.

AMS: And it really feels like five years have passed, I mean, the original six are still the characters we know and love but they’ve grown and developed, and some have had to make some difficult choices…

GW: One thing I will say, Brandon (Vietti, co-producer) and I and Kevin Hopps (staff writer)--when we broke the season, even before we brought the writers in, we paid phenomenal attention to these characters. We really tried to work out where they would be in their lives at this point. It was really important to us that that we didn't jump five years ahead and go "Yeah something happened in these five years, I'm not sure what--we'll figure it out later..." We know what happened during those five years. Brandon is just great at this stuff and Kevin is terrific, so we have a very good team and then we brought in some fantastic writers and great directors, its just a great crew on the show. We're pretty thrilled.

AMS: Your efforts really show. The jump feels extremely well-orchestrated and so many really interesting subplots have come about as a result. Do you want to talk about where fans can get filled in on some of the details of what happened during the five-year bridge to Invasion?
GW: We've got a couple of things--three things really. Everything you need to know will be on the show itself. I’m not saying we will have whole entire flashback episodes--we will not have whole entire flashback episodes, but everything you need to know about that five-year gap in order to enjoy the television series will be revealed in the television series. 

But that doesn't mean everything will be revealed in the television series, there's a lot of stuff that happens that doesn’t have much to do with the Season Two story that you won’t be able to get on the show and there are two other great sources for that: One is, we are working with Warner Brothers and Little Orbit very closely as they develop the Young Justice: Legacy video game. The game is going to be in continuity with the show--its going to have times-stamps on it just like the show. It all takes place about a year before Invasion and it tells an event that is important to the continuity. You don't have to play the game to understand what’s happening on the TV show but if you like gaming and you want to know more about these characters, the Legacy story is significant. It's a story that matters. That was something that was very important to Brandon, myself and the people at Little Orbit--that a lot of games based on TV shows--they're not canon, it's a separate thing. Legacy is not a separate thing, the story matters to the continuity.
The second source obviously is the Young Justice companion comic book published by DC which I'm personally writing. We just published issue #20 on the stands and digitally this week and this first arc which runs #20 - #25 takes place one month before the start of Season Two but also flashes back to events that took place during Season One that we haven't revealed yet and events that took place immediately following Season One that we haven't revealed yet. It's a big story--it introduces new characters, it shows how, for example, Blue Beetle was recruited on to the team. If you curious how he was recruited, the comic book is the place to find it. And that's just one example of what's going on in the comic...
AMS: Young Justice really encompasses the whole of the DCU and you guys have done such a great job of capturing the core essence of the characters you’ve included while throwing in a whole lot of new concepts and dynamics.  Let’s talk about the Aquafamily and specifically Aqualad and his surrounding cast. You’ve really drawn from characters throughout the Aquaman mythos--last time I counted it was at least fifteen--more than any other legacy family in Young Justice!
GW: Well, you've got Aquaman and Mera and we introduced La'gaan in Season One who became Lagoon Boy in Season Two and he’s got a very important role to play...I'm having a lot of fun with Lagoon Boy, he's a little bit on the obnoxious side but I like that (laughs) and I think well see other facets of him as the season progresses. He's very loyal so when he feels betrayed as he does by Kaldur he's going to react very strongly to that because loyalty is a fundamental aspect of who Lagoon Boy is and also because he really hero-worshipped Aqualad so it becomes an even greater letdown when it appears Aqualad is a traitor.

And obviously we've got Kaldur'ahm in a very significant role--the son of Black Manta, under deep cover in his organization to bring down not just Manta but also The Light and discover who their "partner" is. We’ve also shown other characters who are significant--there's Tula as Aquagirl, Garth as Tempest and in cameos we've had Vulko and Lori Lemaris and the comic had King Shark and a bunch of other characters. I like the undersea part of the DCU and its a lot and its fun for us to play there.

AMS: I have to say that Kaldur as Aqualad is an extremely compelling character and the fact that he’s the only member of YJ original to the series (not created in comics) makes him even more so. Kaldur’s mother Sha'lain'a (another series creation) and the man who he always believed to be his father, Cal Durham (from the 70’s run of Aquaman), have appeared in the comic book, any chance we’ll see the two of them again on the show?

GW: Given enough issues and episodes we'll see everybody again because I've got plenty of stories to tell for all of these characters, but don’t want to give away who is and isn't appearing later in the series. There isn't a single character you've seen on the screen or on the page so far that I don't have more stories to tell about. I love this world and love playing in it and I’ll keep doing so as long as Warner Brothers, Cartoon Network and DC let me.

AMS: If you can talk about it, do you know when you’ll be hearing about 2013 and if Cartoon Network is giving Season Three a go-ahead?

GW: Right now we’re focused on finishing up Season Two and its up in the air...I don't have an answer on that yet.

AMS: Before this interview, we opened up the Shrine's Twitter feed for YJ viewer questions and  the status of Season Three was the number one suggestion we received...oh and a lot of requests for new characters should there be a Season Three (laughs).

GW: I'll say this: if there’s a Season Three, we already know who's in it. We've got all this stuff worked out very much in advance. We already know the basic storyline, not exactly what would happen in every episode but we have the basic story and we know who the players are at this stage. It would be interesting to see who viewers would request to see...

AMS: Starfire and Firestorm were popular requests but also mentions for Raven, Golden Eagle, Supergirl, Amethyst, Terra--just to name a few...

[At this point, we were told that time is almost up and time for one last question--I chose this one off our long list] Why Wolf and not Krypto?

GW: Wolf is our Krypto--he's an amalgam of a couple different characters and is the big white dog with super-strength, the Earth-16 version of Krypto for us. We thought about calling him Krypto but it just felt like Superboy being Superboy would be like "Why can’t I just call him Wolf?" It also fit with some characters we have fond memories from Enemy Ace and stuff like that. I think in essence Wolf is an amalgam character but a big, big chunk of who Wolf is, is Krypto.

So there you have it! We thanked Greg for granting the Aquaman Shrine this interview and asked him if the YJ team would be appearing at any conventions in the near future--sadly they don’t have anything scheduled at this point but we’ll keep a look out for 2013 and keep you guys posted!

And remember, new episodes of Young Justice: Invasion and DC Nation programming begin this Saturday with Season Two, Episode 8 entitled "Satisfaction." If you need a recap of Invasion thus far plus trailer scenes for what’s coming up, head on over to Warner Brothers Comic Con 2012 site--you won't believe who shows up next!


r duncan said...

Thanks for the interesting interview. I'm looking forward to Saturday.

I'm very curious to see what happened with Mera's pregnancy. Considering the 5-year jump, her son (or daughter) would be nearly 5by now. AC Jr. was five when he was kiled by Black Manta.

I'm guessing future YJ episodes may echo the Death of a Prince storyline, hopefully without the death. (Nobody ever dies in YJ do they?)

Shellhead said...

People have died on the show, but I doubt they'd be able to pull off killing a child (unless that's part of what happens in the video game). But Secret died off screen, so who knows?

Rob, you had time for just one more question and it wasn't Aqua-related? For shame!

Cool interview, though.

Joe Slab said...

Actually, someone in the Aquafamily doesn't make it thru Season 2...

Anonymous said...


Joe Slab said...


But watch on Saturday and you will know who!

Joseph Brian Scott said...

If you really wanna know I think one of the comic news websites has an article on YJ, showing a screenshot of a "Fallen Heroes" gallery that lets the catfish out of the bag.

Shellhead said...

Don't forget Tula is already dead.

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My hats off to everyone that's out there helping and for the rest who are making it possible for them to be there.