During his spotlight panel at this past weekend’s WonderCon, Geoff Johns used the entire hour to answer fan questions about everything from his upcoming “Batman: Earth One” project with Gary Frank, to the difference between love and compassion to the upcoming relaunch of the “Flash.” He also told the attending crowd that he’d have another project to announce in about two weeks.
What Johns wouldn’t talk about, however, was “Blackest Night” #8. The first question of the panel was about a plot point about the issue, but Johns quickly cut off the question and asked the crowd if everyone had read the ending to DC Comics’ big Green Lantern-centric miniseries, which had just wrapped up the previous Wednesday. When some folks indicated they hadn’t, he took the topic off the table for the rest of the panel – despite numerous attempts by fans to bring it up again.
Most audience questions about DC’s possible film slate also brought a “I can’t talk about that” response from the writer and new Chief Creative Officer of DC Entertainment, the key word being “most;” Johns did discuss the “Green Lantern” film starring Ryan Reynolds., noting that the film is about three weeks into production right now.
“Ryan Reynolds is hilarious,” Johns said. “Mark Strong is going to be a totally badass Sinestro. We’ve got Kilowog, we’ve got Tomar-Re, we’ve got Salaak, eight Green Lantern aliens, Oa’s there, the Guardians…it’s going to be cool.”
He also mentioned that a “Flash” film is in development, but wouldn’t share any further details. When a fan asked about the possibilities of “interconnected” JLA movies, similar to Marvel’s plans for their Avengers franchise, Johns said he couldn’t say anything, but “we’ll talk in San Diego.”
When asked what being DC’s Chief Creative Officer means in terms of his day-to-day responsibilities with the publisher, Johns explained, “I’m in charge of the creative consistency across everything in DC,” he said, saying that includes movies, television, animation and of course comics.
A fan told Johns that Weather Wizard was his favorite rogue and asked if he’d survive the “Dastardly Death of the Rogues!” storyline in the upcoming “Flash” relaunch. “I can’t really tell you who lives and who dies, but I apologize,” Johns replied, adding later, “Don’t worry, I’m kidding.”
Johns then spoke about his and Gary Frank’s ongoing series of Batman Earth One graphic novels that will look at the Batman mythology in new light, starting from day one. “Our Alfred is a little more gruff and grumble, and you’ll see why,” Johns said. “He never intended to be a butler, he hates wearing suits and he has a big attitude problem.” The first book will feature a new villain, while the second will feature the Riddler. And he noted his Batman wouldn’t be as good at his job as the regular DCU one.
Johns told the audience that he is mostly influenced by screenwriters, rather than prose writers. He recommended two books for amateur comic writers – The Writer’s Journey and Shot-by-Shot, a book for directors.
“I have a lot of stories still to tell with ‘Green Lantern’ and all these characters, and I love it. It’s my favorite mythology in comics, so I thought I’d stick around,” Johns responded when asked about staying on the title now that he was finished with “Blackest Night.”
Another fan requested a manual so readers could translate what the Indigo Tribe says. “The translator stays with me unfortunately, but you will see a lot more of the Indigo Tribe in ‘Green Lantern’ in the months ahead.”
Larfleeze, the popular Orange Lantern, will not only get an oath, but also a Christmas special this year. “He finds out there’s this being who gives people things, and goes to find him,” Johns said. “Hal Jordan has to explain to him what stories are. He’s not happy.” He later promised one fan that if the Larfleeze special sold enough copies, he’d do a Red Lantern Valentine’s Day Special, and another fan that, yes, there would be more Black Hand in the future.
The next question had a fan asking if the writer would ever consider turning his attention to prose, specifically, writing a novel. “I will probably not do a novel until I retire, because there’s just so many words. It feels like writing a paper to me now. I need pictures with my books,” Johns answered.
A “Smallville” fan asked if Johns and the JSA would be returning to the long-running series. “They have a season ten. If I have time and they want me to come back, I could come back and we could do more JSA and do some more characters,” Johns said. “That would be a lot of fun. It all depends on a lot of factors.” He added that Dr. Midnight almost made it into the original JSA episode, but was cut because of budgets.
Johns then refused to answer what it was like to be the sexiest man in comics, deflecting the inquiry with a quick “What’s the next question?”
When asked what his biggest regret was as a writer, Johns responded, “I tend to look at all my books very critically after I write them, not issue per issue, but story. No matter what, people drop the ball on things. You have a bad day and it gets turned into a comic page.”
Johns continued, saying that said he looks at these not as regrets, but learning experiences so he can “do better” next time. “If you’re a writer out there, and I know a lot of people do want to be writers, the first thing you have to do is take responsibility for your books, for your projects. If it doesn’t work you can’t blame anybody else, you can’t blame the editors, you can’t blame the artists, you have to take responsibility for it. That’s how you become a better writer.”
The next question regarded the possibility of Johns returning to any of his previous series or characters at some point in the future. John said he’s “pretty booked” right now, but would like to write the Titans again at some point. As far as Mera is concerned, Johns said he loves the character, who will play a role in “Brightest Day.” He has plans for her for the next two years.
Johns was then asked to explain the difference between love and compassion, in the context of “Blackest Night,” to which the writer responded, “I think everyone has a different viewpoint of what love is and what compassion is. I think compassion is much more complex than love. On the spectrum, they’re right next to each other, so there’s going to be some overlap. But I think, for me, compassion is much more complex because it takes more effort to reach out and help somebody, while love just hits you.”
As far as why it was that Wonder Woman apparently imbued the concept of love and not compassion in “Blackest Night, “I wanted her to be the only Black Lantern that broke out and chose the ring,” Johns explained, noting that the violet ring the Star Sapphires wear had to be chosen to be worn, unlike the rest of the rings that choose who wears them. “So I wanted her to be more proactive in the way she was transformed into one of the deputies. I think Wonder Woman loves this world more than anyone else. She’s not like the other Star Sapphires. The other Star Sapphires are missing love in their lives.”
The next fan to take the floor said that he had read that said Johns wouldn’t support any crossovers with Marvel as a result of their “Siege #3” Deadpool variant cover promotion. Johns clarified, saying that that was a misquote. “I have a lot of friends over at Marvel,” he said, adding he plays Xbox with them. “I try to kill them as much as possible.”
Gears quickly shifted back to Green Lantern once more as a fan asked about Hal Jordan and Carol Ferris. “They’re in a bar drinking in the next issue,” Johns said.
In discussing “Brightest Day a bit with the audience, Johns explained that “[it ] is a story, it’s not a banner. There’s actually a purpose to all the books that have a ‘Brightest Day’ banner on it – it’s not just a big theme.”
Another fan asked about the promised confrontation between Dex-Starr and Krypto. Johns promised that fans will see this fight, but before that, Dex-Starr will fight Lobo’s dog in “Green Lantern #54.”
When asked about his dream JLA lineup, Johns replied with a simple, “I can’t answer that question.”
Looking back at his career so far in an effort to find what the biggest “defining moment” was for him, Johns said that from a creative standpoint, “Flash #182” was a big breakthrough, but he said his best and worst moments are really up to the fans.
Johns told the audience that one of his favorite scenes in the series was when the black ring failed to force Don Hall (Dove) to rise from the grave in “Blackest Night.” “I like that, because it made Dove more powerful than any other hero that was dead, because he was completely at peace, he’s fine with his life,” Johns said. “You look up to Dove and you think, ‘Wow, when I’m in the ground, I hope I’m that satisfied with my life.'”
When asked about the concept he introduced in “Blackest Night that Earth was the first planet anywhere to have life on it, Johns replied, “That will be explored,” Johns said, in “Brightest Day,” “Green Lantern” and “Green Lantern Corps,” as will the various Corps.
Renumbering long-running series to their higher issue numbers has been a hot issue over the last few years, but when he was asked if DC was going to do this for “Green Lantern” or “Flash,” the answer was that there were no plans to do so.
Johns does have plans to work on some creations of his own in the future, though he didn’t elaborate beyond that.
Barry Allen and Wally West’s relationship will be explored in the Flash book. “I think Barry and Wally, it’s a very healthy relationship,” Johns said. “I think in a weird way Wally has surpassed Barry in the private life. He’s got kids, he’s got a wife, and Barry’s struggled with that a bit. But you’ll see it in the coming year.” The new Flash book will also feature a lot of new villains in the first issue.
Ganthet will hang on to his Green Lantern ring and will not return to the Guardians. “He has specific reasons for that,” Johns said.
When asked why there were no New Gods appearances during the course of “Blackest Night, Johns replied that there was a reason for that, but he was unable to elaborate on it as of yet. “I gotta watch what I say,” he said. “I’m three months ahead of you.”
Johns told the audience that he did have the ability to work for both Vertigo and Wildstorm if the opportunity presented itself. When asked if he would be doing so, Johns replied with a simple “Maybe.”
Johns then praised Ivan Reis’ “Blackest Night” work, pointing out that “Every issue shipped on time, every page looked beautiful, he never took shortcuts, this guy’s a pro,” Johns said. “I’m glad he’s being recognized as the superstar he is, because he really is unparalleled in the business. There’s just nobody else who can do what he does.”
Fans can expect more Booster Gold time travel stories, “but we’ll talk about those next year.”
The panel wrapped with Johns settling Jay West’s superhero status. “His nickname is currently ‘The Turtle’ because he has no superpowers,” Johns joked, noting Jay’s sister gave him the moniker and “he isn’t happy about it.”
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