Geoff Johns has officially arrived.
It was only a few years ago that he was a newcomer on the comics scene, best known for “Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E.,” a DC Comics monthly which combined a love for Golden Age comics with a modern sensibility.
Flash forward to 2001. “Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E.” may be gone, but Johns is at the helm of a successful relaunch of the Golden Age’s Justice Society of America in the pages of “JSA” every month, has reclaimed Hawkman from the continuity car wreck he’d be lost within, is giving his own unique spin on the rejuvenated “Flash” franchise, and now he’s just been named the new writer of “Avengers” by Marvel Comics, which has relied on a blend of modern style and classic characters since it was rejuvenated.
But landing what is easily the biggest gig of his career doesn’t mean Johns is cutting back on the DC books he was already committed to doing.
“As it stands right now, no,” Johns told CBR News on Monday. “‘The Flash,’ ‘JSA’ and ‘Hawkman’ will be my focus at DC — along with finishing up the JLA/JSA crossover. I’m having too much fun on these books, working with these characters.”
The Justice Society, the world’s first superhero team, first appeared in the 1940s, and enjoyed a renaissance in the 1970s and early 1980s. But for almost two decades, DC was unable to get another hit JSA title, until now. “JSA” is a hit, and Johns has some ideas as to why and why now.
“I don’t know. A lot of different things. First off, I think we’ve had a terrific group of artists on the book — each selected by Peter Tomasi. Sadowski, Buzz, Morales, Snejbjerg. Our inkers and our great colorist, John Kalisz.
“As far as the team dynamics go, a lot of the times people are sort of ‘ashamed’ to be reading/writing super-hero books. We’re not. We love super-heroes, specifically the characters of the JSA, and we’re just out to tell a really good super-hero team book.
“I also think the JSA have been out of the spotlight for so long, people enjoyed seeing them back in it.”
In 2001, the big “JSA” news was the revamp and streamlining of the massively convoluted and confused Hawkman character, and Johns is writing a new series starring the somewhat simplified old/new hero. In 2002, look for another classic character’s return.
“Our big story-arc, ‘Stealing Thunder,’ kicks off as the Ultra-Humanite makes his return. From there we have a few single issue stories focusing on some of the new members. Then Mr. Terrific and a few other members will be taking the spotlight in a storyarc next fall.”
Hawkman fans will also be able to get more of the character in the pages of the third DC book Johns writes, “The Flash.”
“The plan is for Hawkman to guest-star in an issue of ‘The Flash’ sometime in 2002. [Artist Scott Kollins] and I have been talking about it for awhile, and he really wants to draw Carter Hall. Probably sometime next fall.”
When he initially landed “The Flash,” Johns was reluctant to talk too much about his plans: He was following on the heels of outgoing writer Mark Waid, who shot the character back up in popularity, and indelibly put his mark on the franchise. Now, though, Johns has had the chance to do the same, focusing on other elements of the Flash’s world.
“I’m very comfortable with ‘The Flash’ right now. As soon as Scott came on board, and I started to focus on Keystone City and the Rogues, it’s been a fantastic ride. It was tough to follow Mark, but we’re doing it. So far with very good response. I really look forward to everyone seeing issue 182 — perhaps our best issue of the run since 170.”
Editor “Joey Cavalieri is pretty much letting us sail where we want to. We have some definite controversial turns coming up, but it’s all part of our plan to build up to issue 200.”
Between “The Flash,” “JSA,” “The Avengers” and “Hawkman,” Johns doesn’t have much time to squeeze in other projects.
“Right now, I’ve got a very full schedule. But I’m several months ahead on ‘The Flash’ and ‘JSA,’ which gives me time to get a jump on ‘Avengers’ and ‘Hawkman.'”