Why should Larfleeze have all the fun? CBR’s bi-monthly visit with superstar writer Geoff Johns is back just in time for the holiday season, so slip on your Green Lantern ring and get ready for the GEOFF JOHNS PRIME Christmas Special.
Each time around, Johns answers a number of reader-generated questions while discussing the work he’s doing at DC Comics, which includes telling epic adventures in “Brightest Day,” “Green Lantern” and “The Flash,” while overseeing multimedia projects ranging from the forthcoming Green Lantern movie starring Ryan Reynolds to the recently announced Batman live-action show in his role as DC Entertainment’s Chief Creative Officer.
This time, Geoff let’s CBR readers know where we’ll see Aquawar unfold, which superheroes are featured in “War of the Green Lanterns,” some of his favorite parts of the Green Lantern film and plenty more.
But that’s enough teasing. Let’s open the presents under the tree in this special Christmas edition of GEOFF JOHNS PRIME.
CBR News: I’m not saying 2010 wasn’t a big, bright year for you, but is it safe to guess that 2011 is going to be even bigger?
Geoff Johns: Well, I hope it’s good for everybody, but I am very excited for the new year.
Are you still enjoying juggling your two lives as a big shot executive for Warner Bros./DC Comics and a prime time creator for DCU?
Absolutely. I was always working on other things, like writing “Smallville” or working on “Robot Chicken” or playing “Halo” or “Call of Duty.” So really, what this has done is focus me on strictly DC, which is what I love, working with DC people. But I do miss my Xbox.
Did you have to take out a time management text book from the library to balance all of these projects?
Is there one? [Laughs] Well, sometimes I can be at the set for a week and sometimes I can be in the office for three days or I can be taking days to write. It all depends on what’s going on. Every day is different. There’s no set day, which keeps it interesting.
You originally come from production, having started your career working with Richard Donner, but have you been learning anything new from the folks at Warner Bros. about translating DC comic book characters to other media?
Yes, I’m learning a lot about how the studio works together, in particular how with something like Green Lantern, we can work together on the film and the animated series and the toys and the video game and the direct-to-DVD animated movie and really ensure they all are celebrating the source material.
We can work together with Warner Bros. to shepherd all of our characters, from Agent Graves to Zatanna, to, hopefully, new heights.
You mentioned Green Lantern, which is a great place to start this PRIME. With all the GL projects forthcoming this year, did you consider re-setting “Green Lantern” with a new series or #0 issue so folks fresh from watching the Ryan Reynolds movie next summer would have an easy access point to Hal Jordan when they walked into their local comic shop? Because jumping into the middle of “War of the Green Lanterns,” with no background knowledge, may be a tad confusing.
I think if people go to the comic book store, we can point them to “Secret Origin” or “Rebirth.” And you’re right, there’s a lot going on in the monthly book but there should be a lot going on in comics. That’s what makes it fun. It’s like Season 6 of your favorite TV show. I think that’s why DC re-released “Green Lantern: Secret Origin.” So there’s a real clear, entry-level book for people who have never read it, and then they can pick up “Green Lantern: Rebirth” or “Green Lantern Corps: Recharge” or that amazing new Omnibus of the original material.
That said, I’m wrapping up “New Guardians” and we’re heading into “War of the Green Lanterns,” which is a new starting point that moves the spotlight back on Kyle, Hal, John and Guy.
Is “War of the Green Lanterns” its own series, or will it be told in the pages of “Green Lantern,” “Green Lantern Corps” and “Emerald Warriors?”
It’s in the three books and it focuses on our four Lanterns interacting with one another and playing off each other in a very different way than we usually do. It’s an extremely personal story and turning point in the emerald eye of the storm.
And this storyline will run right through until the movie comes out, correct?
Yes. And then we’ll launch a new story in June when the movie hits.
Javier Izquierdo wanted to know if there is any chance we’ll see a Red Lantern/Red Arrow story in “Green Lantern” #76, either in relation to or as a consequence of “War of the Green Lanterns?”
It’s always possible. Javier must have seen that cover from the episode of “Fringe” when Peter was in the alternate universe. That’s probably what got him thinking about it. But yeah, that’s always a possibility, sure.
With “Green Lantern” #60, you’ve promised some big reveals about the Indigo Tribe. Can you take us back to when you were first developing this compassion corps? They’ve certainly generated a lot of buzz from fans and online forums since they were first introduced way back in “Green Lantern” #25, and we still know so little about them.
That was the plan. I never wanted to reveal too much about them. That’s why they don’t speak English. I don’t want everyone to know who they are or what they are or where they’re from. I don’t want people to know what their angle is just yet, because ultimately, it will be revealed. You never know if they’re good guys or bad guys. The Indigo Tribe is a strange thing and should remain mysterious.
Is that why you enjoy staying on books for so long, letting characters and storylines develop and grow and deliver big payoffs months and even years down the line?
That’s my favorite thing about monthly comic book stories. It’s just like TV. You can build things and let them breathe and let them live and let them change and grow. If you look at all of these new characters that first appeared and now have become integral to both the Green Lantern and DC Universes, they grow and change. If I was only doing five issues of “Green Lantern,” I’m not capable of telling that kind of story in five issues.
I love working long form and I think it’s the great thing that monthly comic books give us, to tell long-form stories and build these universes up.
Look at what Grant’s done with Batman. It’s amazing. Or Brian on “Avengers” or Ed on “Captain America.” I get the same thing with Paul Cornell on “Action Comics” with Lex Luthor now and even Scott Snyder in one issue of “Detective.” You can feel how invested the writer is.
Spinning out of your landmark run on “Green Lantern” is a one-shot featuring one of the title’s breakout characters, the “Larfleeze Christmas Special.” Did you have any idea when you created him that he would become such a fan favorite?
I’m thrilled with the response Larfleeze has stolen. The one thing I’m probably most proud of coming out of my run on “Green Lantern” is growing the universe to such a place where you can have all of these new characters that can live and survive on their own, not only as supporting cast members but they can have their own specials or storylines or whatever. Larfleeze, in particular, is just a lot of damn fun to write. He’s really a fun character to dig into because he’s lethal and he’s dangerous but he’s also oddly hysterical. His view of things is so uniquely alien yet completely understandable. In a very strange way, he’s very naive and simple in his thinking, yet he does it for complex reasons and it all comes from a very personal place. Despite the fact that the Christmas special isn’t the most serious thing I’ve ever written, you do actually learn a little more about Larfleeze as a character and what motivates him. Much more to come for him.
Ryan wrote in said he loves all of your “Green Lantern” work, especially Larfleeze. He says, “When he first showed up, he was in control of an entire galaxy and the Guardians were so afraid of him that they left him alone for thousands of years. He was so powerful he had constructs all over the galaxy and was killing Green Lanterns” and asks, “Now you seem to play him as a goofball, and Green Lantern just pops his constructs like they are nothing. Why have you chosen to de-power him so drastically? Why is no one afraid of him anymore?”
Larfleeze can switch on a dime. He’s completely unsuspecting. There was a scene in “Green Lantern” a couple of months ago where he was about to kill a guy and Hal has to step in and stop him. He does extremely dangerous. We’ll actually see how dangerous he is as we move ahead. He’s got two real sides to him.
Jeff C. wants to know if we’ll finally see the Orange Lantern oath in the “Larfleeze Christmas Special?”
No, that’s mine. [Laughs]
Can you tease what we will see in the story?
It’s Larfleeze. He can’t wait until Christmas so that he can get everything on his list. When he doesn’t, he is not happy. Plus, there’s a great cookie recipe.
What do you want for Christmas?
“Call of Duty: Black Ops.” That’s what I asked for.
You don’t have time for video games.
I actually am trying to make time to catch up and play “Halo: Reach.” I love “Halo: Reach.”
Ryan Reynolds has been quoted as saying he used your run on “Green Lantern” as his bible in preparing for his portrayal of Hal Jordan. Did you get to spend much time with him on the set of the movie talking to him about the character?
Yeah, we spoke quite a bit about Hal Jordan and Green Lantern. Ryan was extremely passionate about getting it right.
I also think the coolest thing is that Martin Campbell is a really tough director. He’s not afraid to show people getting hurt. The stakes get pretty high in the movie and Ryan delivers.
As someone that is so connected to this character and so connected to the final product, were you jazzed about finally getting to tease even a bit of what we’re going to see next summer with the recently released trailer?
As the film’s getting more and more finished and the effects are coming in, the guys are just doing a tremendous job on it. It’s super-exciting. I mean, come on. It’s the first-ever Green Lantern live action movie! I can’t wait for people to see Oa. Oa just blows me away every time we go there.
I know you can’t give away too much just yet, but beyond Oa, is there anything you can’t wait to unleash on fans of the character?
Every time Hal and Sinestro are on screen at the same time, that’s when I’m lost in the movie. Those scenes with Hal and Sinestro together steal the movie.
Is that the characters or the actors playing them, Ryan Reynolds and Mark Strong?
Well, it’s to see those two characters in live action. When you see it, you’ll know what I’m talking about. But yes, of course, Ryan and Mark are amazing actors.
“Brightest Day” has been a huge success both critically and commercially and has proven an awesome showcase for some characters that I know we both love, like Hawkman and Aquaman. In the early issues, you and Peter [Tomasi] were moving around a lot more giving each character one or two pages per issue, and now you’re starting to give more and more pages to specific characters in some issues and then spotlighting other characters in subsequent ones. Did story drive that transition?
I think people like spending more time with the characters. But the way the story works is seeing all of the characters together and then apart and then as the story grows and becomes bigger, they need more space. And as they get more space, we start wrapping up the story and the characters come back together again for the big finale.
How much of its success do you attribute to the rapid serialization of the series, being release in a bi-weekly format?
I think it’s great to have a bi-weekly book. It keeps going. We get to tell our whole story – 24 issues – in a year, which is fantastic. The pacing is much different and you can get more story every month. It’s hard to do. Pete and I are working quite a bit on it and we’re in the home stretch now, which we are grateful for. It’s a lot of work, but I feel very fortunate to work with Pete, [editors] Eddie Berganza and Adam Schlagman on this.
Like you mentioned, all of these separate storylines are starting to ramp up and we’ve already passed the halfway point of the series. Ciro Espinosa wants to know if the story will be complete by the end of “Brightest Day,” or does this series serve as a launchpad for some new series and what’s to come in the DCU?
Well, there is a lot that happens to everybody at the end of “Brightest Day,” which affects the DC Universe. It’s an organic, or even jarring in a way, step for the DCU.
What I can say is that the story of the White Lantern’s mission for resurrecting these twelve people ends in “Brightest Day,” but the ramifications of the storyline carry on into the DCU. These are all main characters: Aquaman, Firestorm, Martian Manhunter. They’re big characters.
Is there one character you feel has outshone the rest in terms of raising his or her profile to the masses?
Definitely Deadman. He’s been so compelling to write. Deadman is a character that I don’t think a lot of people knew. And if they did know him, they didn’t know much about him. Hopefully, he finds more fans, because I think he’s a tremendous character.
Any chance you’ll be writing him again after “Brightest Day?”
I hope so.
Another character that’s enjoyed a great amount fanfare with the release of “Brightest Day” is Aquaman. It’s been nice to give him a chance to shine, because he’s had some lean years of late.
It’s great when people say, “I want more Aquaman.” When’s the last time you heard them say that?
I think Aquaman is one of DC’s A-List characters, but he’s got to be treated like that. He’s got to be showcased like that and he’s got to kick ass like Green Lantern or Batman or the entire Justice League.
And I know you love writing Mera, too.
Mera is one of the strongest female superheroes in comics, in my opinion. She’s regal, powerful, smart, confident and stands on her own. She doesn’t need to stand next to Aquaman to be her own character. There are plans for her post-“Brightest Day.”
Sticking with the Aqua Family, you have to be pleased with Jackson Hyde, too, the new Aqualad? I loved seeing him in “Young Justice,” as well.
If we were going to introduce a new Aqualad, we had to decide that we were all going to do it. It’s very hard to launch a new character, so this was our first try using DC in various ways, between the comics, animated series, licensing, everything. Let’s showcase him. And he has a great role in “Brightest Day” #16. There’s a big revelation about who Aqualad is and where he comes from.
Sage wanted to know about Aquawar. Can you give us any teases of what we’ll see and where we’ll see it?
It happens in “Brightest Day” #19 and 20. And it’s a culmination of what Aquaman is about to go through that results in a pretty stunning revelation for what he’ll be doing next and it leads him into the finale of “Brightest Day.”
I recently spoke with Alan Ritchson, who plays Aquaman on “Smallville,” and he was pretty confident we were going to see an Aquaman movie in the near future. Any news on that front?
I hope we do one day, for sure. But I can’t say anything more about that right now. Let the rumors keep flying!
Check back with CBR soon for the second part of our GEOFF JOHNS PRIME Christmas Special when Geoff and Jeff discuss “The Flash,” “Smallville, the Batman live action arena show and everyone’s favorite feline, Dex-Starr.