BYRON BREWER: Joe, as you and co-writer Kyle Higgins reach the grand finale of this most unique tale of The Avenger and Justice Inc. with October’s issue #4, did you tell the story you set out to relate? I know sometimes circumstances, page counts and characters can dictate a direction.
JOE GENTILE: I think ultimately we did. Sure, there are always going to be scenes you wish could be longer, or extra scenes that wouldn’t fit … but Kyle and I managed to tell a bit of a different Justice Inc. story, yet remain true to the characters.
BB: Any great subplot threads which had to be left out? Any that might be the basis for another spin at Justice Inc. in a future series?
JG: Building supporting characters is always a thing with me. Whether it’s a villain or law enforcement … we want the characters to sound and act like three dimensional people. So we had more scenes with our main FBI character at home but we had to cut due to lack of room. We had more interaction with the D.A. as well, where he was played up as kind of a jerk that had to be cut.
As far as a future storylines, we would just want to build off of this story, where “justice” and “trust” still come into play. Plus the revelation here would continue to affect all of Justice Inc. and hopefully help in their understanding of their Chief.
BB: So, in issue #4 coming, we have some secrets of the Avenger’s past revealed, which should thrill longtime fans as well as followers of this series in particular. We won’t touch on those, of course, but could you give any hits at all about the origin of the conspiracy against his good name?
JG: Well, as the main story of the series…um, what can I say to not give it away? Hmmm… Let’s say that is not all about the WHO, it’s about the WHY as well as WHO the main culprit is tied to.
In the original Avenger tales, his origin is he forces himself and his wife and child onto a booked airline flight. The flight turns out to be a group of smugglers, which he doesn’t find out about until later. On the flight, he goes to wash his hands, and when he returns, his family is gone. AND the big part of this is that no one on the plane or at the airport remembers him getting on with anyone at all. After much ado, he is sent to a mental hospital to recover. The story goes that he had some unusual treatments, but leaves the hospital a changed man…a justice machine. He cant move his facial muscles, his hair turned white, etc.
Our story goes into that time he was in the hospital. what really went on there and what was the purpose of him being sent there. Our story is a story behind the story.
BB: Ahhh …! Hands-down, one of the brightest spots of this book has been the spotlight so heavily thrown on the JI crew. Joe, what has been your favorite moment with any of these characters?
JG: I’m glad you liked that, for that was one of the goals. Give the supporting cast stuff to do that’s important to the story.
One of my favorite things is early on, when Rosabel takes a life indirectly, which is against the code of Justice Inc. She doesn’t do it on purpose, but it really affects her throughout, and Josh doesn’t quite know how to reach her.
BB: Also, keeping with the above, what would you say Benson has learned about himself, and his compatriots, from this adventure?
JG: He would call Justice Inc his friends, and/or the only family he’s got. All relationships need attention. You can’t just keep shutting your friends out all the time. In the case of a man like the Avenger, like in this story, his friends could have been way more helpful and sooner, had they known something more about his past.
BB: Villains from the Avenger’s past are a’calling? Tell us who! Come on! (laughs)
JG: Ha! I guess in hindsight that’s a bit misleading, as its not a villain per se that’s coming back, but a situation from his past…with heretofore not named characters from that situation now revealed.
BB: Oh, okay … Great moody art has been essential to this book, and Alexandre Shibao has been fantastic, IMHO. What has been your favorite scene or series of pages by Alexandre from the issues of Justice Inc. that have run as of this interview?
JG: Mood is such an integral part of who the Avenger is. Without art to match, the story would fall flat without resonance. Alexandre did some great shots of the Avenger held against his will. As of this writing, I have not seen any art from issue 3 or 4 yet, so this is all based on the first two issues. In addition to the overall mood, there is lightness amongst Justice Inc. which Alexandre handled very deftly as well.
BB: So, Joe, as alluded to above, would you like to handle either the Avenger or one or more of his assistants in a new Dynamite mag should that ever arise? What is it about these characters which makes all writers want to do more pulp, more Avenger?
JG: How could I say no to more Avenger? Most definitely I would love the chance to do more! Pulp brings justice in an unjust world, is all I can say.