"My first published book was Justice League #1," said Maguire.  "I did a book that never got published called 'Wild Card,' that I think Kurt Busiek wrote that Andy was editor on. Marvel offered me 'Silver Surfer,' and Andy, to counter that, offered me 'Justice League,' Fabian Nicieza, who was working at Marvel at the time, is like 'You should definitely do 'Justice League.' You should definitely do that because you get to do Batman and Superman and Green Lantern,' and I thought, 'Great, I'll do that.' Then I get there and I get Blue Beetle and Guy Gardner and Dr Fate and Dr Light. 'Wait. who are these people? I thought I was getting Superman and Batman' and they said 'Well, Batman's on the team.'"


A new Justice League had been born in the Legends crossover event, and the book had a much lighter tone when compred to many books in the post-"Dark Knight Returns" comic landscape. While the book would go on to deliver strong sales and a loyal following, early reactions were dismal. "No one in their right mind would have put the three of us, especially in combination, on this book," said Maguire. "It actually made no sense to put the three of us on this book. And we all thought our careers were over."


"I was looking for my next assignment, Kevin had his portfolio ready to go to Marvel," said Maguire. "When it came in at the sales figures it did, we figured we could go for another year. I don't think for those first twelve issues that there was ever a time when I didn't think they were going to rip the book out from under us."


Helfer had an interesting method to ensure his rookie artist hit deadlines. "He had me actually come in to his office, and he had a little table next to his editing desk, and had me come in every day and sit there draw. That way I would actually draw," said Maguire. "It was actually babysitting. That's how I got through most of two years on the project."


The Justice League was a mix of established and lesser-known characters. "We were handed the membership," said Giffen. "I remember Andy came to me a said 'You're putting Booster Gold in.' and I'm like 'Who's Booster Gold?' Andy would just throw these things at me and go 'Make it work.'"


Though initally assigned members, the creators liked the editorial freedom that lesser-known characters afforded. "After a while we started hunting down lower tier characters like Fire and Ice, who were Green Flame and Ice Maiden. And Green Flame's [original] power was she could spit fire like a Bic lighter," said Giffen. "If you have third- and fourth-tier characters they leave you alone. To this day, I don't want Superman or Batman or Green Lantern or Wonder Woman or the Justice League because it's just too much interference."


While the book's signature became its humor, that wasn't the initial focus. "I didn't look at Dark Knight and go 'Wow, jeez that's more a villain than a hero, let's throw a pie in somebody's face,'" said Giffen. "It just sort of grew that way. We didn't even realize we were doing a book with a sense of humor until 'Moving Day.' Up until then we were just trying to turn these characters into human beings."


"Doing those early issues, I was much more interested in who they were, than what they were. I didn't care that Guy Gardner was a Green Lantern, I cared that Guy Gardner was a loud-mouthed lout. Black Canary, we rarely used her powers because she was there as a foil for Beetle, and eventually Beetle and Booster. It was what happens when they are out of the public spotlight, and they take off their masks and they sit down and just goof around with one another," said Giffen


"There was a certain tone to Keith's plot and . . . the direction we were going, and I did what I usually do when we work together and beat it into the ground. I'll take whatever joke he makes, and repeat it 50 times to hammer the reader over the head," said DeMatteis "It wasn't like Keith and I were sitting in a room. The plot would show up, I would read it for the first time and just dialogue it. I would often literally just write the first thing that came to my mind and be spontaneous. And very often I would change the story. I would create relationships between the characters. I would start running gags. I'd start running plot lines that weren't in his plot. With somebody else if I would have done that with their plot, I would have been fired. Keith on the other hand thought it was great, and would take the things that I layered in and then build on that, and throw it back to me, and that was the fun of it."


"We would see each other on the occasional Friday when we both went up to get our checks at DC, and find Kevin chained to a desk," said DeMatteis. "Please Andy, let me go home, please" Maguire whined in mock agony. "Other than that, we were working in this glorious isolation, and yet, and this it the magic of comics, there was this chemistry," said DeMatteis


Giffen credits a lot of the book's feel to its artist. "We could do a silent panel and let the character's reaction carry the moment. I think if we had any other artist on the book, it wouldn't have taken off the way it took off because a lot of it had to do with Kevin's approach to the characters. His characters acted, they didn't just stand there and pose, he said.


"It was the confidence level that I didn't have to tailor my plots to fit him, like I would have to tailor my plots for certain artists. Whatever we threw at him he was capable of doing . . . except backgrounds," Giffen said. "We knew he could pull of the gag and sometimes take a panel that I just had as one and break that panel up to get different emotional reactions to Marc's dialogue."


Giffen and DeMatteis remained until issue 60, and Maguire, who had left the book after two years to pursue other projects, returned to pencil their farewell issue. The trio didn't work together again for 11 years, until editor Dan Raspler urged them to reunite for the "Formerly Known As The Justice League" mini-series.


"I didn't want to do it. I felt kind of like Steve Ditko felt about returning to Spider-Man, I thought, 'what if we suck?' Can we trap lighting in a bottle again?," said Giffen. "Eventually I sort of came around and said let's do an issue and see if we've still got it -- and Marc and I certainly did."


While they had freedom to bring back their brand of storytelling, some ideas for the series didn't make it in. "Mary Marvel showed up wearing a white costume, and I wanted her to lose her virginity and switch to the red . . .and they might have shot that down," said Giffen.


Additionally, the mini and its follow-up were faced with current DC event stories. "I can still remember when Dan DiDio called me into his office. We were still working on

'I Can't Believe It's Not the Justice League' and he goes, 'Uh, Max kills Blue Beetle' and I thought 'and?.' There was really no reaction. The Maxwell Lord we were doing was consistent with Maxwell Lord as we saw him, and in the end of the day it's just a comic book"


With just two issues to go in the series, they decided to just forge ahead. "Let's just ignore it. Okay it's an alternate universe and Max is not a villain, and we don't care and they're going to live Bwah-ha-happily Ever After, screw you."


"I was more pissed off," said Maguire. "We're playing in DC's sandbox, and I respect that and understand. What bothered me about the way it was done was that we were still doing the JLI mini-series at the time, and basically what the shooting in the head book was saying was, 'Forget every creative decision these guys ever made about Maxwell Lord . . .that's all be a lie, this is what Maxwell Lord has really been."


"The last issue came out after the whole shooting in the head thing. It was supposed to be Fire and Mary Marvel flying away with the strip mall in the background," said Maguire. "I was like, no, no it's got to be a shot of Blue Beetle and Maxwell Lord standing side-by-side laughing with each other because that's who those characters are."


Since reuniting, the team have frequently collaborated including a Defenders mini and Metal Men back-up stories. "It just works somehow, I don't know how it works, it just does," said DeMatteis "The beauty of what we do is that we all ignore each other."