At Comic-Con International in San Diego, spotlight panels on the most well known members of the industry are part and parcel of the convention experience, but this year’s focus on DC Comics writer Geoff Johns held a little more to experience outside of the general comics hype as the scribe this year became DC Entertainment’s Chief Creative Officer and had plenty of news outside his full slate of monthly titles at his own DC Focus: Geoff Johns panel Thursday afternoon.
“I’m supposed to have a moderator but he didn’t show up. He’s my editor on ‘Green Lantern’ and I think he’s mad because I’m behind on some scripts,” joked Johns at the start, although editor Eddie Berganza did appear eventually to add in to the proceedings.
Johns spoke early about his role in expanding the DC brand into other media saying he wanted to work everything including “Green Lantern, Blue Beetle, Wonder Woman and 100 Bullets” into other media, saying “We want it done well and done properly.” Chief amongst his work on this front was the test footage made for a proposed “Blue Beetle” live action show, who Johns noted he helped introduce in “Infinite Crisis.”
“There’s tests all the time and stuff they do, and I want to start taking that and showing it to you guys early because why not?” he said, adding that fans could look forward to more Blue Beetle news this weekend.
Asked by a fan dressed as “George Reeves” (a black and white version of the classic Superman outfit that many at the show had confused with Bizzaro and Black Lantern Superman) asked after the connection between the forces that returned previously dead characters to life in “Blackest Night” and those resurrected by the Lazarus Pit, Johns said that Batman will appear in “Brightest Day” to help clear up the confusion.
Asked after how he approached rewriting Hal Jordan’s past in Green Lantern to “fix” somewhat illogical pieces of the character’s past, Johns said “I just looked at everything Hal went through and the history of the Green Lantern Corps…for me it was all one big tapestry.” He compared his work to Grant Morrison’s Batman run in that everything that’s happened to the character counts for them emotionally.
Green Lantern was a major theme returned to by fans asking questions about the movie and who would appear. Parallax will be in it, but when asked about Kyle Rayner, Johns said he didn’t want to give away anything else except to say “Our goal is not to do one Green Lantern movie…I’d love to get to everybody in there.”
Johns other monthly work on “Flash” came up from a reader who wanted to see Wally West return, to which the writer said “I wanted the first arc in ‘Flash’ to just be Barry Allen and no other speedsters just to get him back up and running, so to speak” promising more Wally would be on the way within a year.
Aquaman, a character the writer is in the early stages of giving a polish on like some of the other DC heroes, came up, and Johns said that all his past would count to the character’s history – including the hook -Â but that as far as “Brightest Day” was concerned, he’d be doing “more delving into the back stories of Black Manta and Mera.”
A fan who’d been reading Johns’ work since he first came onto “Flash” years ago asked when he might start another run that would run of a similar length. Johns admitted that he originally had 25 issues of Superboy in “Adventure Comics” planned, however it came down to some extent to “Superboy versus Green Lantern movie” in terms of his work time. “I’ve got to prioritize. I could have stuck on that book and phoned it in, but I didn’t want to do that to you guys.”
“Green Lantern: Secret Origin II” is on tap for the future, of which Johns said “It’ll be about Sinestro. Ivan Reis is going to draw it. I don’t know when it’ll come out but sometime next year.”
Work has begun on a “Suicide Squad” video game which Johns said would be “hardcore violent.”
Asked if there were more characters he’d like to save from obscurity, Johns said he has a soft spot for traditional B-listers like Metamorpho and Katanna of the Outsiders, however his main goal moving forward is to continue to create new characters like Larfleeze, which is something he’s particularly proud of in recent years.
Part of a running theme of Geoff Johns con panels, a very young fan appeared to speak to the writer. The boy said he’d made his very own “Green Lantern” comic where after being a Green and Red Lantern, he had turned Guy Gardner into a Black Lantern. He asked if Johns would do the same for a time in the real comics, and the writer replied “Just for you, we absolutely will.”
Johns spoke about making “Blackest Night” like a zombie movie and how he sits around his apartment thinking about how he might be able to escape a real life zombie attack. “I’ve got two windows I could board up in about five minutes, and I’ve got a gas grill on my balcony that I could make food off of for a few months, so I’d be set,” he joked.
Green Lantern Kilowog is in the upcoming GL movie and according to Johns “He looks amazing. He looks just like Kilowog.”
Another young fan asked after any more origin tales being done like was done with Dex-Star, and Johns said that the big red head Red Lantern would be done next. William “Black” Hand will be the focus of the next issue of “Green Lantern” where the Indigo Tribe’s origins and motives would be under the microscope.
Asked after the future of the “Batman Earth-One” project, Johns said he just got new pages in from artist Gary Frank, and of his take on the character, the writer said, “Everyone knows Batman’s the best at what he does…this Batman is the worst at everything he’s done.” In the book, the character’s gadgets, methods and Batmobile would all backfire on him, but not necessarily in a comedic way. Berganza added that the reinvention of Alfred was even more of a twist, with Johns saying “Alfred is probably the coolest character in the Earth-One universe.” Berganza added, “He could kick your ass with his one leg.”
The creation of Black Hand’s story and personality was intense for Johns as he said, “The one thing I don’t like about writing is that it’s in a room by a computer by yourself” and how getting in Black Hand’s head was hard because he had to “break my mind” and the process was not fun personally even though the output was ultimately good. “It was just creepy. I’d finish it, and I’d go get in the shower.”
Asked if he had to choose between a “Sinestro Corps War” or a “Blackest Night” animated movie, Johns said, “‘Sinestro Corps War’ because then I can do the sequel!”
Asked after the Twitter-proposed crossover between Green Lantern and Marvel’s Iron Man that he and Matt Fraction were batting about, Johns responded to the question of “Who do we pray to to make that happen?” with “I don’t know…maybe Odin?” He then said, “I would love to see Hal Jordan in Iron Man’s armor because he’d kick ass in it, and I’d love to see Tony Stark trying on Green Lantern’s ring because he’d suck at it.”
Johns will work on the upcoming November 2011 “Green Lantern” animated series, of which he said “It’s CGI and it’s the whole Corps and a lot of other familiar faces.”
There may be plans outside of comics for Cassandra “Batgirl” Cain, said Johns. A Flash movie is also in development.
Asked if a story about Doomsday finding a Green Lantern ring and using it was still part of continuity, Johns said, “Doomsday should be a Red Lantern, so we just have to re-color that book, and it’ll be in continuity.”
“I certainly have no plans to leave ‘Green Lantern.’ It’s still my favorite book to write, and it has all of my favorite characters,” Johns said to a theoretical question of when he might move on from the title and why.
At some point, Johns will write a Vertigo series because he’d love to try something different.
When asked about the Indigo Tribe and their connection to an aqua war, Johns said that eventually you may see an Aquaman-themed event, but he said that if he revealed anymore, Berganza would hit him.
A series is planned to follow up on “Blackest Night” and “Brightest Day” which Johns already has a name for, however Berganza again was very strict about him revealing the info. Johns did say it would be slightly different than the previous two stories had been.
Johns is not involved in the proposed “Fables” TV series, but he would say that the team at DC is constantly looking at ways to bring “Fables” into other media where possible.
The writer has a creator-owned book that he’ll be working on next year.
The final question was about DC’s proposed move to Los Angeles from its longtime home of New York City. Johns declined comment saying, “Everything out there is speculation.”