In celebration of the launch of our new site, CBR News dialed up superstar writer Geoff Johns for a lengthy interview to discuss his four ongoing titles for DC Comics.
We begin our weeklong presentation of INFINITE GEOFF JOHNS with a conversation about “Green Lantern,” and follow-up tomorrow with “Action Comics,” “Justice Society of America” on Thursday, and “Booster Gold” on Friday.
Johns told CBR News the story arcs and long-range plans that he develops for his four monthly books grow organically from his previous tales. As such, if readers feel a synergy between characters like Superman and Starman, or Rainbow Girl and Green Lantern, they shouldn’t be surprised.
“I guess 'Booster Gold’ even had the Sinestro stuff in issue #2,” laughed Johns, referring to the comical revelation that the time-traveling Booster Gold had inspired a young Sinestro to create his own Lantern corps.
But while Johns loves to play connect-the-dots with his casts of characters, he also has a real focus for them, too. Especially the Green Lantern assigned to Space Sector 2814 -- Hal Jordan. That’s why it was so important for Johns to follow up his landmark “Sinestro Corps War” storyline with “Secret Origin” in the pages of “Green Lantern.” The six-issue arc started last week in issue #29 with art by Ivan Reis and Oclair Albert.
“I always planned on doing a secret origin arc, and I wanted to do it right after 'Sinestro Corps War’ because 'Sinestro Corps War’ was such a huge, action-driven epic,” explained Johns. “I wanted to slow it down and after the epilogue, in which we see the introduction of the Alpha Lantern. I wanted to get to 'Secret Origin’ and show you where Hal came from as we gear up for all of these other stories. This is where this guy came from. This is why the guy acts the way he does. This is what his relationship with his family is, with Carol Ferris is; with the Green Lantern Corps is. This is how all it all started. And this is how it all ties into everything that we have been doing. And it really fleshes out Abin Sur. Why was he on Earth? Why was he coming to Earth?”
Johns said the time is right for an origin tale in “Green Lantern” because “it just didn’t make sense” to produce it at the start of the series that launched in 2005.
“I didn’t want to start #1 with the 'Secret Origin’ arc because we had just been through [the Hal Jordan revamping graphic novel] 'Rebirth’ and I wanted to see Hal get back in the saddle; get back into play, back in the job, back in life, back to Coast City, back to his brother. And it just wasn’t the right time. Plus, I just wouldn’t want to start a monthly book like that.”
And besides, it’s not like “Secret Origin” is some kind of an Elseworlds tale that doesn’t play into Johns’ master plan for the book. In fact, the arc is crucial reading leading up to the “Rage of the Red Lanterns” arc. “It’s way too early to start talking about the Red Lanterns but I’ll say 'Secret Origin’ has all the set up you are going to need, believe it or not,” teased Johns, who admits readers should prepare for further revelations on the first Red Lantern, Atrocitus.
It was revealed in “Green Lantern” #28, Atrocitus’ first appearance, that he is an arch enemy of the Green Lantern Corps and was the one who “planted the seeds of fear within Abin Sur.” “['Secret Origin’] is not the 'calm before the storm.’ It’s a different kind of story,” Johns continued. “Personally, I like change of pace and the change in pace in writing. You can’t drive 95 miles per hour all the time. And I wanted to slow down. I wanted to see this guy. I wanted to re-introduce Hal to people who just got on the book now.
“The last time they [DC] did his origin was 1986 or ’87, like over twenty years ago. And that was a vastly different Hal Jordan then the one I think we are portraying.”
Johns said while he won’t be directly involved with James Robinson’s forthcoming “Justice League” book, he is thrilled that his writer pal will be giving Green Lantern some love as the team leader of the recently announced spinoff title.
“One day, Dan called me and just said, 'We’d love Hal Jordan to set up his own Justice League. James is writing this second 'Justice League’ book because John Stewart has come into 'Justice League of America,’ and we’d love to have Hal lead it up. And I said, 'Great.’ It’s great to have Hal do that. He’s a natural leader. He’s not going to be the best leader in the world, because of the decisions he makes sometimes. He’s not going to agree with everybody but he’s a great choice for a Justice League leader. It’s going to be interesting, in the least.”
Johns did tease, “I will be playing with ['Justice League’] a little bit, but not exactly in the place that you think I will.”
Asked if he had any words of advice for Robinson as he prepares to make Hal his leading man, Johns responded, “I just said, 'Don’t screw him up. And please, do not make him a Straw Man. Don’t make him the guy who always makes mistakes.’”
Not that Hal shouldn’t make ANY mistakes.
“Hal’s a regular guy. You hear people say, 'Ah, Hal Jordan is too perfect.’ Are you kidding, me? This guy makes mistakes all the time,” Johns remarked. “And he mistakes for the wrong reasons. He has this fire inside him where he’s got to prove to himself that he can do this. And sometimes he’s so intent in overcoming fear; everything else falls by the wayside. And that all stems from him as a kid hearing, 'You’re not going to fly like your dad did.’ 'Yes, I am.’ So he’s always having to prove himself. With Parallax and everything else, he is still doing it. At that same time though, he’s got a confidence about him. 'I can do it. Just let me try. Please let me try. I may screw up one way, but I’ll get it done.’ And I really respond to that kind of character.
“It’s all about having the guts to just say, 'Alright, you know what. I am going to go and if I screw up, I will screw up and fall on my face, but at least I am trying.’ He always does that. This is happening, 'Well let’s go.’ 'What’s the plan?’ 'I will figure it out. I will probably figure it out a second after I should have but hopefully it will happen.’ And to me, that’s Hal Jordan and I think that’s pretty admirable.”
Johns wasn’t sharing too much on the hugely anticipated storyline “Blackest Night,” expected in 2009, the third part of his Green Lantern trilogy that began with “Rebirth” and continued with “Sinestro Corps War.” And while some light is expected to be shed on “Blackest Night” in the forthcoming “Final Crisis” lead-in “DC Universe: Zero,” written by Johns and Grant Morrison, Johns did say, “’Green Lantern’ is going to be the main book for 'Blackest Night,’ but again it’s way too early to talk about. 'Green Lantern Corps’ is part of it, too, but it will be different than 'Sinestro Corps War.’
“I already have it all planned out, but we’ve got more stuff that we are focusing on right now.”
INFINITE GEOFF JOHNS continues tomorrow with Part II: “Action Comics.”
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