Two conventions, a retailer summit and a possible bout of Kryptonite poisoning may have delayed us, but we’re back with GEOFF JOHNS PRIME, CBR’s bi-monthly visit with superstar writer Geoff Johns.
Each time around, Johns answers 20 or more reader-generated questions in between writing three major events for DC Comics, including “Blackest Night,” “The Flash: Rebirth” and “Superman: Secret Origin,” as well as two ongoing titles, “Green Lantern” and “Adventure Comics.”
Johns is also working on two movies for Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment – big screen adaptations of “The Flash” and “Shazam” – and he recently became co-owner of Earth-2 Comics in Northridge, California.
Last time we brought you word from Geoff Johns, “Blackest Night” #1 had just arrived in stores. We’re now fast approaching the midway point of the mega event, and “The Flash: Rebirth” is winding down too. With news that he’ll be writing a new “Flash” ongoing in 2010 and a tease that he’ll soon be exploring Aquaman’s arch nemesis Black Manta, as well, there’s no shortage of goodies in this round of GEOFF JOHNS PRIME.
So enough already, let’s make like Arthur Curry and dive right in.
First off, I guess the big news since the last time we chatted is that, after only six issues, you and Francis Manapul are leaving “Adventure Comics” and outgoing DC Comics Publisher Paul Levitz is taking over the book. Michael, Eric, Matthew E, Christian and Dennis want to know what this means for Superboy?
I just finished #6, so I’ve finished the story Francis and I were working on. Superboy is one of my favorite characters. I’m not really the one to tell you what is next for Superboy, but I know he features prominently in the Superman universe from here on out, and the Teen Titans, as well, for starters.
As far as the Legion goes, I’m beyond excited for Paul Levitz to return to “Adventure Comics” and the Legion of Super-Heroes.
HawaiiPJ1959 had a question regarding Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl’s children, Graym Ranzz, and their son, whom Darkseid transformed into Validus and sent back in time. He wants to know if the children of Garth and Imra Ranzz are still in existence.
That will be something to ask Paul.
He also wanted to thank-you for giving Duela Dent more ‘screentime’ when you were on “Teen Titans” than she had in the last 20 years.
I had plans for Joker’s daughter. Since “Teen Titans” #1, [editor] Eddie Berganza and I also talked about Joker’s Daughter, but we never really got to play those plans out.
Is it hard to leave a title when you have big plans for a character or a storyline, or do you just tuck away your notebook in hopes that you’ll return to the subject matter one day?
I have notebooks full of ideas for titles I’ve worked on, haven’t worked and entirely new books (including a graphic novel about a prison escape in the 60s: more on that later.) I have a 50-issue Iron Man run sitting in this notebook. I have a huge Hulk story. I have a lot of Wonder Woman stories, Captain Marvel stories. And then I have my own stuff, most of which I transfer into TV and film. There’s also a huge “Justice Society of America” story, which I was actually going to tell next, that focuses on Wildcat and his son. But the time comes when you eventually leave it.
That said, “Adventure Comics” is one of those rare situations. I usually stay on books for a few years. I’ve had a lot of long runs on “Flash,” “Justice Society of America,” “Green Lantern” and even “Teen Titans” to a lesser extent. I was on “Hawkman” for two years.
Hotep had about 10 questions, so here’s a few about “Blackest Night.” Do Indigo and the rest of the Indigo tribe wear rings or no? Sometimes it seems like they do, and other times it seems like they don’t.
Yes, they do.
There have only been a couple of manifestations of the ‘Compassion’ energy since “Blackest Night” began. With that, along with the mysterious nature of the Indigo Tribe, is there something different/special about the Indigo light that sets it apart from the others in the spectrum?
Yes. The Indigo Tribe will continue to be explored, but there are already elements that are kind of teased out throughout their current appearances but yes, there is a reason behind the enigmatic nature of the Indigos.
So far, only two Corps, Green Lanterns and Star Sapphires – and the Black Lanterns, of course – have earthbound members, with the Green Lanterns boasting the largest number of them. Will we see other humans from Sector 2814 don rings of the various colors at some point?
2814 is a very big sector, and Earth isn’t the only planet with life in it. How’s that?
JDK wants a better understanding of what drives the Black Lanterns. He says that in “Blackest Night” #3, it’s theorized by the Flash, and pretty much accepted by everyone, that the Black Lanterns are essentially corpses being controlled by the rings – no souls, simply rebooted brains with leftover memories. If this is true, then why wouldn’t the black rings be able to resurrect Don (Dove) Hall’s corpse? Regardless of whether he was ‘at peace’ or not, his dead body would be a dead body which would not concern the afterlife. If it’s not true, if indeed some remainder of the soul is in the corpses, this would explain why Hall’s body couldn’t be stiffjacked. But it would imply the Black Lanterns running around right now were more than just automatons with crib notes.
Dove is a completely different entity all together. The power of Hawk and Dove and what that means, there’s a lot more to that. We’ll see some of that played out in “Blackest Night: Titans” and through “Blackest Night” itself.
But the Black Lanterns raise the bodies. They download the memories. They are essentially program simulators.
Here comes one of our beloved and always vocal Atlanteans. Joe says making Mera a spotlight character in “Blackest Night” was a risky move, but nonetheless it has been received by fans both new and old with lots of excitement. Are you surprised by the positive reaction, or were you expecting it, and do you have plans to write Mera and Aquaman in the future?
I’m very happy with the reaction to “Blackest Night.” I know I’m pushing boundaries. It’s a big superhero horror epic. And I think it’s a lot of fun.
And I’ve really enjoyed writing Mera, especially. The core center of DCU when it comes to “Blackest Night” is Barry, Hal, Mera and the Atom. And I hope to write more Mera in the future. I think she has the potential to be one of DC’s most prominent female heroes.
â€¨Thomas says he’s not sure if Doomsday’s even dead, but if he is, will we see him as a Black Lantern because that would be just pure evil.
Watch the Superman books for Doomsday.
Sean has blown my mind with this last question on “Blackest Night.” If black is the absence of light, and white light scattered through a prism splits into the colors of the seven corps, and light recombined through a prism returns to white, will we ever see a White Lantern?
You know when you wear a black t-shirt in the summer and it’s really hot? Because black absorbs light. And black is also the absence of light. And Sean should keep reading.
Here’s some more science for you, and this time it’s Speed Force related. Ian says, traditionally, the Speed Force has been an energy source of infinite magnitude. It was created in part to explain the Flashes’ physics-breaking velocities. I love the idea in “Flash: Rebirth” that Flash [Barry Allen] is the Speed Force generator – literally, a dynamo of speed – but this seems like a major departure from continuity. What inspired the revision?
For me, the Speed Force was an energy that you could tap into to move fast. And that was it. I wanted to explore more of it. It’s almost like a layer between reality and the Timestream. It’s the cartilage between the present and the future and the past. It’s something that touches upon every era and goes through every time. And it’s pure information. I like the term Max Mercury uses. He calls it literally, “The Flash Fact.” But it’s also that elusive “enlightenment.”
As people, we run through life, and, at various stages, look to that enlightenment, or that reason for being. Throughout the world, the various religions are about achieving enlightenment, of breaking through into the next level of life. We are all seeking purpose, here or beyond.
I’ll be building on that concept and seeing what the Speed Force is capable of and what Thawne can do with it compared to what Barry can do with it and what Wally can do with it. There’s still a lot to uncover concerning the Speed Force.
For the Speed Force, for speed, I think of an engine. Something that drives the entire sub-universe of the Flash. The idea that every step Barry Allen takes, he generates more of it. And literally if he builds up enough energy, just like anything else that builds up energy, boom, there’s a discharge somewhere or somewhen. A stray lightning bolt from the Speed Force that pierces time. Whether it is in the past or the future, or a different dimension, there’s a discharge of lightning that strikes somebody that shares the same sense of justice that Barry Allen has. Those men and women. They are the true Speed Force.
Those last two questions were very science based. Do you do a lot of reading about science, or do you run your ideas past scientists to see if the science you’re using is at least, in part, based in fact?
In college, I took a lot of classes on the physics of light, the physics of sound, and the physics of time. And I’ve read a lot of books and had a lot of discussions. But I just enjoy peeling back the layers of the universe and looking at the fundamental building blocks that we can’t see, be it atoms or time or light. Light still can’t be defined. Is it a wave or a particle? It’s the one thing we can’t capture and really study. There’s something still mysterious about light. And that appeals to me – the mystery. A black hole. Where does a black hole go? What is it? Is it just the complete absence of light? Is there something more to it? How is the universe shaped? How does it end? But beyond all of that – how is it tied to our spirituality. Our souls. Is this universe an accident? Or something else?
Some would say that’s pretty heady waters for a comic book to explore.
Everybody thinks about it. Everybody thinks about why we’re here and what we’re here for. Are we here for anything? Is it random? When I say “Is it random,” I almost knock my fist against a piece of wood or a wall and go, “Why is this here? What is this for?” Is it a happy accident? And if so, why is it an accident? What denotes this as an accident? What isn’t an accident? Nothing? I like to explore that, the fundamentally spirituality that rises in all of us seeking answers. But wrapped up in a fun, kick-ass superhero comic.
Look at what Indigo-1 says in “Blackest Night” #3. She says, “There was nothing. And then there was white light. And for seven centuries, white light was just in the universe. And then darkness fought back and splintered that light. And creation was born.” I don’t know. I guess I like looking at things on the spiritual level within the superhero context, because I think superheroes are spiritual to a lot of people. They’re very spiritual to me. What they’re capable of and what they strive for. Despite all of the darkness and challenges that they’re faced with, especially in the DC Universe, because I think DC characters shine brighter than any other hero universe. You see Green Lantern rise up. You see The Flash race forward, despite the odds. You see Superman stick to his morals. That’s why I really respond to these characters, because Green Lantern still lights the way, The Flash still steps forward no matter how hard it may be some days, and Superman never wavers. He never compromises his moral integrity. No matter what you throw at them and no matter what situation you throw at them, that’s who they are.
Slewo was wondering if we’d see any explanation into why Barry would allow XS, his granddaughter, to live away from him at such a dangerous time, instead of having her live a semi-normal life with him and Iris.
There are very big plans for XS in the future of the Flash universe. “The Flash” book and the “Kid Flash” book start next year, and the Flash universe is something I’m very committed to, both in comics and film.
Dan wants to know when we’ll see Wally’s new costume.
“Flash: Rebirth” #5. And it’s very much a Flash costume. It’s tweaked, but it’s certainly not crazy. It’s not blue and white. It’s Flash. We never wanted to completely change it. We just wanted to accentuate what makes Wally’s costume, Wally’s costume. It will feel very familiar.
With Major League Baseball playoffs upon us, T.J. has slipped you a curve. If you could assemble a team of superheroes, with no rules and no boundaries in terms of brands or publishers, who would you pick?
The Flash would be in there. Green Lantern. Spider-Man. Hulk. Cap’n Crunch. Mera. Black Lantern Firestorm. And Krypto. For starters.
What’s Cap’n Crunch’s super power?
He pilots their big boat – their flying boat. He’s the navigator. He’s like their Oracle.
Michael from Berlin knows that you are already planning your next big event, and that it will likely be coming in 2011. He also knows you won’t share any details yet. He’s very clever [laughs]. What he doesn’t know is which players, specifically villains, will be featured prominently.
Players to watch that I’ll be working with in the future? The Flash Rogues obviously. Hector Hammond. And one character, I’m looking very, very forward to working with is Black Manta.
The Aquaman forums are lighting up.
Are you doing something with Aquaman next year?
Not in the way you think, but Black Manta for sure. He’s a character I’ve always liked, and I’ve got some pretty big ideas for the direction I’d like to take him. For me, Black Manta is in the same vein as Black Adam and Captain Cold and Sinestro and Black Hand. He’s a character that I’ve had ideas about for a long, long time. He’s a character I really want to crack open and explore. Black Manta is one of the vilest of the villains, if you look at what he’s done over his history. And he’s certainly a great visual.
Schluffy, not sure if he or she is related to Slewo, but Schluffy wants to know if you’ll be returning to “Action Comics” or any of the other Superman titles after “Secret Origin” is complete?
I will not. My stint on Superman ends with “Superman Secret Origin.” The guys have a lot of big plans ahead, but I am going to be focused on the Flash and Green Lantern. Gary Frank and I are moving on to a different project.
That leads into a question from Dennis, who asks, when will we hear more about your next project with Gary Frank? He understands it may be a bit premature because “Secret Origin” is just beginning, but he loves when you and Gary work together.
You’ll probably hear more about it closer to when “Secret Origin” wraps up.
And here’s one more before we wrap up. Nathaniel is looking for an update on your Flash and Shazam movie projects, and also wants to know when Warner Bros. is going to give you the Superman movie to write?
I’m working on the Flash. And I’m working on Shazam. That’s all I can say at this point.
That’s it for this latest installment of GEOFF JOHNS PRIME. We’ll put out the call for questions once again in late November and will be back in mid-December with a holiday edition of this reader-generated Q&A.