CCI: Johns, Van Sciver Present "The Flash: Rebirth"

We are loath to use the phrase, "because you demanded it," but come on.

Geoff Johns. Ethan Van Sciver. "The Flash: Rebirth."

Really, Mr. Johns, you had us at, "Hello."

Announced today at Comic-Con, the superstar writer told CBR News that he and Van Sciver have a simple goal for the five-issue miniseries "The Flash: Rebirth," scheduled to start in January.

"We want to do for Flash what we managed to do for Green Lantern," said Johns, who wrote the bestselling Van Sciver-penciled "Green Lantern: Rebirth" in 2005 and its sequel "Sinestro Corps War" in 2007.

Johns and Van Sciver are also gearing up for a second big project in 2009 with the highly anticipated conclusion to their Green Lantern trilogy, "The Blackest Night."

"We are trying to do a really fresh start, a re-imagining of the world of super-speedsters and building it into a pillar of the DC Universe like Green Lantern has become. Our goal is nothing less than having the Flash be one of the most popular characters in the DC Universe," explained Johns, who wrote 62 critically acclaimed issues (#164-225) of "The Flash" from 2000 to 2005 featuring Wally West as the fastest man alive.

"The Flash: Rebirth" features Barry Allen, the Silver Age speedster, created in 1956 by writers Gardner Fox and Bob Kanigher and artist Carmine Infantino for "Showcase" #4. He ultimately met his demise 23 years ago in "Crisis on Infinite Earths," only to return to DCU proper, earlier this month, in the pages of "Final Crisis" #2.

"Barry Allen is a massive character in the middle of this massive story," said Johns. "Being able to explore him, as well as exploring the Flash once more, it just gives me a chance to return to this world that I love."

"I have been on 'Justice Society of America' since the book first launched," he continued. "And I love those characters. And it's the same with the Flash. the Flash universe is actually my favorite piece of DC Comics. It always has been. I didn't run out of stories when I left, I just felt it was the right time to leave. [Artist] Howard Porter and I both left at the same time. It just felt like, after that chapter, it was the right time to go.

"So coming back with Barry Allen is really reinvigorating."

Johns wouldn't commit to saying whether or not he would be writing an ongoing "Flash" series coming out "Rebirth" but teased, "I can't really talk about it in detail but I can say I am rededicating myself to the Flash."

He also couldn't reveal much about what will actually happen in "The Flash: Rebirth," but offered "I can't say much about the story yet but there are a couple of things that unfold over the next few months in the DC Universe that will lead directly into it."

CBR News knew we wouldn't get a true answer, but still we asked, "Will DCU post-'Flash: Rebirth' have room for both Barry Allen and Wally West," Johns responded, "That's a question that's going to be answered in the book. I don't want to get into it yet but I will say there is stuff happening that will feed into 'The Flash: Rebirth' that I am working on right now in both 'Rogues' Revenge' and 'Legion of Three Worlds.'"

Johns - who names the Flash as his favorite DC character - said he always finds it hard leaving a book but never was it more difficult than when he left "The Flash" in 2005.

"Marv Wolfman use to say he would never look back. When he left 'Titans,' he wouldn't read 'Titans' and when he left 'Superman,' he wouldn't read the book. But I can't help it. I love the characters so much. And when I left the book, I still had stories for 'The Flash.' I still have stories for his villains, for his supporting cast, for the Rogues. I have ideas to expand his world," said Johns. "Maybe I wasn't experienced before when I did my first run. And Barry Allen is a massive character that I have never had the chance to write. And that's really, really appealing."

Something else really, really appealing about the project is teaming up with his "Green Lantern: Rebirth" co-creator for another surefire hit.

"Ethan [Van Sciver] is a genius. He's like a modern day Brian Bolland. We got on 'Green Lantern' and he needed to be re-educated on Green Lantern and he then found Green Lantern. But with the Flash, he already has the passion for every single one of these characters in the Flash universe. Flash is his favorite character. So we're both coming in wanting to make this the best possible book we can make. We're going to give this everything we've got," said Johns.

"It's going to be a rush like it would be to for a speedster. We're going to be experimenting with a few things too within the book and we're going to be introducing some ideas and some concepts that are going to be new to the world of Flash."

Artistically, Johns said Van Sciver brings speed and energy to the Flash characters. Two things you certainly would want when drawing the fastest man alive. And with Moose Baumann adding his trademark flashes of genius as the book's colorist, Johns is psyched.

"The speed that Barry Allen has, you can see it the way Ethan draws him," said Johns. "You can really just feel it. In that one piece that we have revealed, he's just putting his boot on and he looks like the fastest thing in the world.

"And Moose Baumann, who colored 'Green Lantern: Rebirth' is coloring 'The Flash: Rebirth' and he's lighting it up like nobody else could. That lightning bolt in his eye, it's unbelievable."

Johns said what he loves most about The Flash's costume is his boots.

"He had the treads before but Ethan and I actually had a long conversation about specific visuals on the Flash and Barry Allen in particular," said Johns. "His boots are different than Wally West's. His boots are a little heavier. They don't contort to his calf. They go straight down. They have wings. His belt is different too. Barry Allen is just a different idea, a different character. And we will be exploring all that in 'The Flash: Rebirth.'"

Again, while not spoiling any plot points just yet, Johns said, "We want to tell amazing stories and we want to bring new energy to it. We want to show people how fantastic and larger than life these characters are in the world of the Flash. "

Johns added that Barry Allen himself has a very different attitude and a very different demeanor than any other hero in the DC Universe. And that too will bring a new dynamic to the book.

"I think a lot of people see Barry as black and white but he's not black and white. He just has a very strong sense of right and wrong," said Johns. "With Hal Jordan in 'Green Lantern: Rebirth,' there was a lot of continuity we had to untangle as far as everything that had happened to him. I think we forget he was actually part of The Spectre. But with 'The Flash: Rebirth,' there is going to be a lot more exploration of Barry Allen as a character within this huge adventure and this huge story that peels back the Flash universe and explores it deeper than it has been explored before.

"We will be looking at Barry Allen in a different way, in a modern setting, which is really the key to this book. He's really a fascinating character. Living and breathing with him these last several months and cracking into him has been pretty intense."

Johns said the reason he loves the Flash is probably no different than anyone else who loves speedsters.

"I think everybody, at one time or another, wishes they were faster. Everyone wishes they had more time. Everyone wishes they were never late. Everyone wishes they just had a little bit more time to do something. And that's a really important element to the Flash," said Johns. "Because if we had super-speed, we could get everything done that we wanted to do. What would you do if you could do everything that you wanted to do? Instead of thinking, 'Hey, I could run 10 miles in a second,' what if you could do everything on your 'Hey, I want to do this,' list? If you could do all of that, what would you do? Everyone has a stack of books that they say, 'Oh, I'm never going to read those.' What if you could? What if you got all of them done? Then what? You want to learn a language? You just did it.

"It's about exploring a lot of different thematics that we haven't explored before with the Flash. And looking at Barry Allen, he is a very different Flash than anybody else. And there are specific reasons we are focusing on him as the story unfolds."

Johns laughed off the notion that writing characters like the Flash is a challenge due to their seemingly limitless powers, since theoretically, they are impossible to defeat.

"I've been asked the same question about Superman. 'He's so powerful. How do you stop him? Do you de-power him?' No. You throw everything you have at him. That's how you stop him. That's how you challenge him," defended Johns. "Why do you think the Flash always has the Rogues and groups of people fighting him at the same time? Because he can fight more than one guy."

Johns, considered one of the top talents working in comics today, has carved out his own sector in the DC Universe, developing threads and storylines between all of his ongoing titles and limited run projects.

"The one thing I really like about everything I am working on is it doesn't feel so much as one assignment or another, it feels like this is mine. Where I spend most of my time is in this world. 'Action Comics' feeds into 'Legion of Three Worlds' and 'Green Lantern' feeds into the larger story too. There is an organic nature to the books I am working on because they are in the same universe, yet they are separate," explained Johns. "Some characters or thematics or ideas generate and they roll over into something else. They weave back and forth and separate and then they come together. That's how I see my books in the DC Universe. 'Sinestro Corps War' grew out of a lot of different things. You had Superboy Prime from 'Infinite Crisis.' 'Green Lantern: Rebirth' and 'Legion of Three Worlds' grew out of 'Action Comics' and 'Justice Society of America.' And at the same time, you have elements of Starman in 'Justice Society of America,' and that ties right into 'Legion of Three Worlds.' But my goal has always been to make sure you can read the books separately. Or you can read them all together and get a different experience and different layers."

And if you love visiting Johns' sector of DCU, you'll be happy to hear "The Flash: Rebirth" is a culmination of many of stories Johns has been working on since he re-upped with DC Comics exclusively the first time in 2005.

"I feel 'Flash: Rebirth' is really exciting, but I also feel that it's something I have been building up towards for a long time," explained Johns. "I have been gaining my writing chops on everything else and learning from the projects that I have done, the ones that have been successful and the ones that could have been better and the ones that turn out exactly like I hoped they would be and the ones that got bigger than I thought they would be. I feel like this stage in our careers, Ethan and I are really ready to deliver the absolute best Flash story we could do."

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