Summer 2013 gave DC Comics readers the beginning of “Trinity War,” the New 52’s first large-scale event pitting the Justice League, Justice League Dark and the Justice League of America against each other. Orchestrated by writer and DC Entertainment Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns, Jeff Lemire, Ray Fawkes (“Trinity Of Sin: Pandora”) and J.M. DeMatteis (“Trinity Of Sin: The Phantom Stranger”), Johns told CBR News during Comic-Con International 2013 that the end of “Trinity War” is no secret: the bad guys will win.
“The whole idea was to put the villains in the spotlight, unite the villains before we unite the heroes, and kind of contrast our villains, like Lex Luthor, Captain Cold, Catwoman, Black Adam and the Joker and see the differences between them,” Johns explained, speaking from the red carpet of DC’s Superman 75 Anniversary party in San Diego.
To this end, the “Trinity War” event keeps going in September, rolling into Johns and artist David Finch’s “Forever Evil” miniseries, along with several other “Forever Evil” branded books looking at different groups of villains and written by Brian Buccellato (“Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion”), Matt Kindt (“Forever Evil: ARGUS”) and Peter Tomasi (“Forever Evil: Arkham War”).
Stating that this plan had been in the works for “quite a while,” Johns continued, “We’ve never really seen the villains unmasked before, so to us it felt like something new and exciting.
“I love super villains so it was just a chance to explore the DC Universe in a different way, a way people don’t usually see. This story kind of dictated that; the heroes have never come together and this is going to force them to,” Johns added.
After the successful ousting of the Justice League heroes by the DC villains and the mysterious Crime Syndicate, Lex Luthor takes the initiative, along with a group of his fellow super villains, to impose some sort of order on the DC Universe. While Johns may have made a name for himself among fans writing morally ambiguous and sympathetic villains — most notably Sinestro in his recently concluded “Green Lantern” run — his reasons for choosing Lex as the de-facto leader had more to do with the way the story will shape up over the coming months.
“The story will kind of show you why Lex is the leader — and the story is not what I think anyone believes or thinks yet. No one’s guessed what the story really is yet,” Johns said. “Lex plays a very different role than what everyone thinks he’ll play. He kind of sees himself as the hero, so he’s the hero of the story in a weird way.”
Luthor is not the only villain getting the Johns treatment in his miniseries, the cast also includes Bizzaro and the pair-up of Black Adam and Sinestro, two characters Johns discovered were “a lot of fun” to write together.
“Yes!” Johns chuckled when asked about the two characters. “In the first scene they were [in] together when Lex is talking about some things he wants done, both Black Adam and Sinestro are going to start to agree on a lot of philosophical things, and suddenly they just realize they both think the same, in a bizarre way. I never thought they would! They get along, which I never expected,” Johns said.
Of course, according to the writer not everyone in Lex’s group is about to become buddy-buddy. “Captain Cold and Black Manta don’t really mix,” Johns said with a grin. “It’s fun to see those villains come together and unite to do something kind of heroic in a bizarre way.”
With “Forever Evil” beginning September 4, the date also marks the kick-off of DC Villains Month, which features one-shots of various villains and hits the entire DC Comics line-up, before “Forever Evil” finally comes to a close next year. Looking to the future, Johns was mum on whether readers should expect to see more company-wide events hitting the New 52 after that or if they would rather let the individual books in the DCU play the new status quo out.
However, there was one thing he could promise: there would be more Justice League specific plans coming from his corner of the DCU in the near future.
“Jeff Lemire and I have a lot planned for the Justice League franchise and the Justice League world,” Johns said with a laugh, “but I don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves!”
“Forever Evil” #1 hits shelves September 4.