Since the release of his massive epic "Infinite Crisis" in 2005, Geoff Johns has been without question the man moving the action forward at DC Comics. And after reinvigorating both the Superman and Green Lantern franchises with monster storylines, this week the superstar writer returned to the character that elevated his career to comic book royalty with the launch of "The Flash: Rebirth," illustrated by his "Green Lantern: Rebirth" collaborator Ethan Van Sciver.
Spinning out of the pages of Grant Morrison & J.G. Jones' "Final Crisis," the story chronicles the return of Silver Age icon Barry Allen, who sacrificed his life in 1985's "Crisis on Infinite Earths."
Not wanting to spoil the story for those who haven't yet picked up their copy of "The Flash: Rebirth" #1, Johns answered some questions from CBR News but still playing his cards fairly close to his chest.
CBR: "The Flash: Rebirth" was announced back at Comic-Con International last summer. Are you happy that the first issue is finally out and people can hold it in their hands?
Geoff Johns: Yes. I think the direction and the tone of it is not going to be what some people expect, which is exactly what I want. Barry Allen was a man before his time in a lot of ways. Now is his time.
When it was revealed that Barry Allen was coming back from the dead, it almost broke the internet. Even mainstream media was running the story. Do you consider it an honor to be responsible for his return?
Yes, and it's a challenge. A lot of readers come with pre-conceived notions and, obviously, this is the most controversial return since Bucky Barnes. But I love The Flash, I love his villains, I love every character behind the lightning so getting back to Flash and the Flash universe and diving back in, I did without hesitation when I finally found the story and the direction.
Barry Allen, the character now, is very different from the Barry Allen of old. He means something different than he did when he was still running around. Everyone has pre-conceived notions of who he is, of what he's done and what he's sacrificed. He's a little removed from everything when he returns, when he first stops for a second, after he finally realizes that he's still here. He didn't think his return was permanent and yet he's still here. He's wondering where everything goes next. Where does he run? And he sees so many things have moved on. Wally has become his own Flash. There's a new Kid Flash. The concept and the idea of the Speed Force is not as familiar to him as it is the others. Something is bothering him. There are other forces at work here, things beyond his imagination, that the Flashes are about to face.
Do you see Barry Allen as a tragic figure?
He's not tragic, he's conflicted. Emotionally, he's standing still. There's definitely an ominous tone here. Barry Allen is a wrench being thrown into the Flash Universe and that's what the series is about. That's how he feels. That's what's happening.
Wally West has been DC's main Flash for years. What kind of role does Wally West play in "The Flash: Rebirth?"
He's one of the main characters, obviously. He's one of the main icons in the DC Universe and he'll continue to be. For Wally, he couldn't be happier that Barry's back. He just wants to see him. And Wally is also juggling the fact that he has a family and now he's got these kids. His role and his focus will be shifting and changing as we move forward in "The Flash: Rebirth" in a way that will surprise everybody.
And what about Bart Allen?
Bart is conflicted, and we'll learn why in the issues ahead. It goes beyond emotional...
Are you thrilled to be working with Ethan Van Sciver again?
He's brilliant. He's always delivering amazing work. He's really channelling Brian Bolland and Carmine Infantino . And he's always thinking well beyond the pencil to paper. He's deep into this mythology with me right now. And deep into the characters and deep into Barry Allen and Wally and Jay and Bart and everyone else. We always have a great time working together.
It's been teased as the feature event of "The Flash: Rebirth" #3. Superman versus The Flash. Who's faster? I know you can't say but what can we expect?
Expect the unexpected. The Superman/Flash race is s a simplified version of something that takes place in the book.
Realizing we're one issue into a massive event, we have to ask: coming out of "The Flash: Rebirth" will you be writing a "The Flash" ongoing series?
I don't want to get into what comes next just yet, other than "The Flash: Rebirth" #2 is out soon.
"The Flash: Rebirth" #1 is on sale now from DC Comics.