Geoff Johns Thinking Big in the DCU, Part 1

Superstar writer Geoff Johns helmed what was arguably the Event book of 2007 -- and it wasn't even intended as an Event. The epic "Sinestro Corps War" saga (named one of CBR's Best Of 2007 titles), told in the pages of DC Comics' two Green Lantern books – "Green Lantern" and "Green Lantern Corps" -- was both a commercial and critical success, and gave the other green guy a run for his money while he was making love and war over in Marvel Universe.

2007 also saw Johns bring the original Legion of Superheroes back to the future in the pages of "Action Comics;" welcome Alex Ross' "Kingdom Come" Superman to "Justice Society of America;" and made "Booster Gold," well, for lack of a better term, boosterrific.

Oh, and there was that little side project named "52," as well. You may have heard of it.

How does one follow up such a performance in 2008? Well, CBR News recently enjoyed a lengthy conversation with Geoff Johns (one of CBR's picks for Best Writer of 2007), in which he shared his plans for his many ongoing books and revealed a new project – a return of sorts for the writer and an old friend of his, to the world of the Fastest Man Alive.

This summer, Geoff Johns and artist Scott Kolins ("The Flash") roll out "The Flash: Rogues' Revenge." Of course, Johns and Kolins collaborated on a fan favorite run of "The Flash" from 2001 to 2003. Johns was unable to share too much on the new Flash title, but did say, "Returning to the Rogues and Flash with Scott is something I've been looking forward to since we ended our run together with #200 of 'The Flash.'"

In other Flash news, Johns confirmed for CBR there is still more story to come from "The Lightning Saga," the best-selling five-part crossover in his "Justice Society of America" and Brad Meltzer's "Justice League of America" books that marked the death of one Flash (Bart Allen) and the return of another (Wally West).

As usually is the case, with addition comes subtraction, and Johns revealed his time on "Booster Gold" with co-writer Jeff Katz and artists Dan Jurgens and Norm Rapmund would come to an end sometime in 2008. "With other projects coming up and some pretty big storylines growing in 'Action Comics,' 'Green Lantern' and 'Justice Society of America,' I'll be moving on from 'Booster Gold' later this year."

The next "Booster Gold" arc will feature characters from a subplot in "The Lightning Saga," but the two stories aren't substantially connected. "If you read 'Booster Gold,' you will see Degaton, Ultra-Humanite and Despero in the next storyline," said Johns. "They will be in 'Booster Gold' for a while." The villainous time traveling trio was introduced into "Booster Gold" continuity last month in #5.

"Brad [Meltzer] had those three characters together in 'Justice League of America' and we picked up the ball and ran with it," said Johns. "The time traveling villains appeared together in Brad's issues of 'Justice League,' and they were perfect for what Booster Gold faces coming up. We'll be getting more into Supernova, Booster's origin and the Justice League."

The Booster Gold storyline is not tied to any developments in Dwayne McDuffie's "Justice League of America." "No, 'Booster Gold' is its own story," said Johns. "There is no tie-in there other than the characters growing out of it.

"Dwayne and I want to do a story together," Johns added. "We don't know when we will do it. I don't know if it will be this year or not but we have talked about it. You will see the Justice League called upon coming up in 'Justice Society of America.'"

As for the JSA, Johns did say what is a definite is that things are only going to get bigger for comicdom's original superhero team in 2008. No small task considering "Kingdom Come" Superman was introduced into the DCU proper in the latest arc. "I don't want to divulge what happens following our 'Kingdom Come' arc yet, but it deals with somebody that is very important to the JSA," Johns tased. "For now, I want to keep the focus on what we're doing with Alex and 'Kingdom Come.'

"[Artist] Dale [Eaglesham] and I always call the JSA Norman Rockwell superheroes," continued Johns, who has been writing the Gardner Fox-created team for nearly eight years. "It's the one book where you can have these quirky characters. All of our characters are a bit weird and a bit off-center. All of our characters are a little bit strange. They're weird because they are real people. They're funny, they're tough, they're cool and they're tragic, all at the same time."

They are also a top-15-(or better)-selling book month in and month out.

"And the one thing you can do in 'Justice Society of America' is have them go to a pancake breakfast, it doesn't feel out of place," continued Johns. "You can have them in a boxing ring. You can have a character, who talks incessantly and that's okay. You can have a character who talks to nothing. You can have another guy who hides behind a mask and grumbles a lot. But underneath it all, he's a good kid. I love these new characters with the old classics. That's the point of the Justice Society and, to me, always will be. We're introducing more heroes, more members of this ever-growing society, but it's all for a reason. Every character plays a part, and the team as a whole and its expansion, plays a part in the 'Kingdom Come' storyline. We've really only begun to scratch the surface of it."

Johns said fans of "JSoA" should pay special attention to the opening pages of an upcoming issue for a little more insight into one the team's biggest dreamer. "There's a scene at the beginning of 'Justice Society of America' #14 with Sandman that I really, really like. It puts him a little bit more in perspective," said Johns. "And it's scene like that that are a lot of fun to work on with Dale, who is unbelievably talented, and Alex. I feel that 'Justice Society of America' is a central, important book to the DC Universe and I feel those characters are vital to the continuation of the DC Universe.

"Superman is always going to be Superman and he should be, but in the JSA, you can see generations and growth and legacies. And that corner of the DC Universe, the JSA corner, is a good corner for the legacies to develop and grow, where at the same time you have Superman."

And what about that other Superman?

"The introduction of 'KC' Superman to the cast has been a great challenge. We've been really happy with it," explained Johns. "I don't mind taking on the projects that might be a little bit risky. Like someone said to me, why aren't you writing 'Superman' instead of 'Action Comics' because 'Superman' would sell better? And I said because 'Action Comics' is the first one and it's okay to be the underdog Superman book. As long as I'm telling Superman stories with Gary Frank, I am ecstatic.

"No matter the book, the goal is to make it as great as we can make it. With Kingdom Come Superman, with Alex riding shotgun, it's been a new experience, and a very good one. We just finished plotting out through issue #22. Also, we are taking our time with it. The fact that he shows up is a big deal. And we need to make sure that people react to it as if it is a big deal within the book and within the story.

"The fact that he is there is a major event for the JSA team. You don't just pop in a Superman and pop out. It doesn't work that way for us because we wanted to show the gravity of what it would be like to meet someone from an alternate universe, from a parallel world. And that's what the storyline is about. That he comes from a parallel world and in many ways, he is a great reminder and a great image of what the world would be like without the Justice Society."

Were a similar "Action"-over-"Superman" scenario to manifest and Johns was able to choose between "Justice Society of America" and "Justice League of America," the writer said, "I have been on 'JSA' for eight years. I love the book and I love the characters and I'm not ready to move onto something else yet. That said, I'd love to write 'Justice League of America' one day. I'd love to do it. For now, I am with 'Justice Society of America.' And I'm perfectly happy. For me, writing these characters like Hourman and Liberty Belle is as exciting as writing Superman and Batman.

"I would love to do Aquaman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, all those guys together. A real classic JLA lineup book would be sweet. I love Aquaman. I really, really love Aquaman. I'd love to work on Aquaman. I'll just leave it at that."

Check back tomorrow for more from Johns on subjects ranging from bringing "Action Comics" and "Superman" more inline by the end of '08 to the two-years' worth of Iron Man stories he has plotted out should an opportunity ever present itself. All that and more Aquaman, too.

Now discuss this story in CBR's DC Comics forum.

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