INFINITE GEOFF JOHNS III: Justice Society of America

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 spoke earlier with Johns about recent developments in “Green Lantern” and “Action Comics,” and tomorrow it’s “Booster Gold.” But before we catch up with The Greatest Hero You’ve Never Heard Of, we explore today “Justice Society of America.”

What better place to begin than with the teaser image for “Justice Society of America Annual” #1 that Johns himself posted last week on his personal forum with the accompanying tag line, “Welcome to Earth-2.”

Naturally, Johns won’t play spoiler and didn’t tease too much, although he did confirm the story centers on Huntress and Power Girl. “I am really excited for people to see it. And I think that image says everything,” Johns told CBR News. “The obvious thing is that a lot of the original characters from Justice Society of America are on Earth-2. And Justice Society of America is from Earth-2.”

Prior to 1985’s classic “Crisis On Infinite Earths,” Earth-2 -- or Earth-Two, as it was known -- was an alternate reality Earth and home to the Justice Society of America and many of DC’s Golden Age characters including the Superman of the 1940s and 1950s, also known as Kal-L.

Originally, Power Girl was introduced as Kal-L’s cousin and lived in the Earth-2 universe as Kara Zor-L. “Crisis on Infinite Earths” eliminated Earth-2 and the rest of the DC Multiverse, and also came with a revision of Power Girl’s origin, one that systemically confused the character and readers for years to come. Later, in Geoff Johns’ bestselling “Infinite Crisis” in 2005-06, Power Girl was restored to her status as a refugee from the Krypton of the destroyed Earth-2 Universe.

Earth-2 was itself restored, in a fashion, in the pages of “52” (co-written by Johns), and with the appearance of the “Justice Society of America Annual” teaser, it would seem the writer has set his restorative sights on Earth-2’s Huntress, the daughter of Earth-2’s Batman and Catwoman.

“Huntress is the reason we are doing this. She’s Batman’s daughter and she kicks ass,” laughed Johns. “She’s awesome. And it’s a thrill to write her.”

Another reason, said Johns, was that he was desperate to work again with legendary artist Jerry Ordway (“All-Star Squadron,” “Infinity Inc.”), who provided artwork for both the original “Crisis on Infinite Earths” and “Infinite Crisis.”“Nobody else can draw the story because it’s Jerry’s story,” explained Johns. “It wouldn’t work without him. Jerry Ordway is one of my absolute favorite artists in the business. He’s one of the greats and he’s one of the few whose craft still improves today. I worked with him on ['Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Superman-Prime’] and it was brilliant. We have worked here and there before but for me to actually work with him on a full project, and it’s just all for him, is really exciting. I hope I get to work with Jerry on more and more things.

“The way we are looking at the Multiverse in 'Justice Society of America’ is very art driven; it is very creator driven, so when ever you see something that takes place on the world of 'Kingdom Come,’ Earth-22, Alex [Ross] paints it. Because that’s what that Earth is. It’s creator driven.

“The same thing happens with Earth-2. Whenever you go there, you have to see Jerry draw it. It’s just got to be him because it’s HIS Earth. Jerry Ordway IS Earth-2. That’s his. It belongs to him.

“I think anyone with a strong creative vision can own a world,” Johns continued. “But that’s what we already do in the mainstream DCU. There is more of an interaction between characters. That’s what makes it fun. That’s what all the great creators do. You see them take stake in a world. You see them take stake in the DC Universe. Like Darwyn Cooke ('DC: The New Frontier’) for example, he has his OWN view of the DC Universe.”

Geoff Johns’ present view of the DC Universe, with Justice Society of America playing a central role, is knee-deep in a story that has fueled fans’ imaginations for months, 'Thy Kingdom Come,’ billed by DC as the sequel to “Kingdom Come.”

“Kingdom Come” is of course the bestselling 1996 graphic novel written by Mark Waid and painted by Alex Ross that depicted a dark future of the DCU, one where Superman will retire and Kansas will be obliterated. And while marked as an Elseworlds book at the time, “Kingdom Come” was anticipated by many as a possible future of the then-current mainstream DCU. With Ross on as co-creator of “Justice Society of America,” he and Johns cemented this concept in DCU proper when Kingdom Come’s Superman appeared in the pages of issue #9.

The Arc continues in “Justice Society of America” #14, in stores next week, but Johns jumped ahead when discussing the book. “There’s a big twist in #15 that carries into #16 that turns the entire story on its head,” he said. “Alex was great on this. We were all talking about it and he said, 'This is what would happen in every other comic book. Your mind automatically knows exactly what’s going to happen because you have seen it so much. So let’s do this instead. There’s a complete different scenario and it spins the story off into a completely different analysis of whom these characters are and what they want and where they are going.

“That’s what excites me now that we are playing with this character and the villain or 'villain’ they face coming up is such a fun character to write because he is just so different from anything else I have ever tackled before.”

The “villain” of which Johns speaks is Gog, hyped in solicits as “Earth’s future savior.” The character was first introduced in the FIRST sequel to “Kingdom Come” -- the 1999 's “The Kingdom.” Gog goes Groundhog Day in the tale and travels a day backwards each day to kill Superman.

Johns said, “You will learn all you need to know about Gog when you see how the JSA interact with him. I can’t say anything else, but I don’t think it’s what [the JSA] expect and I don’t think it’s what the readers will expect either.”

Asked why having “Kingdom Come” characters appearing in DCU proper is so important to him, Johns responded, “The easiest concept that I can wrap my head around is that 'Kingdom Come’ didn’t have a JSA. And that’s why it all went to hell. And that’s why we are doing this story. And we’ll see a specific example of that, coming about in an upcoming issue. If the JSA were there, would they have stopped what happened? Are they going to affect the future of the DC Universe? Is their influence on the other characters going to stick? We’ll see whether that’s true or not and how hard it’s going to be to do that, to train and teach and usher in this next generation of heroes.”

Johns said he knows 'Justice Society of America” is a very different kind of superhero book, and that’s the way he and series artist Dale Eaglesham like it. “Dale and I equate it to what if Norman Rockwell created DC superheroes,” said Johns. “It’s Americana. They are real people. Dale and I always say it’s a mainstream book. It looks like a mainstream book, and then there is stuff in it that you won’t see in 'Justice League of America’ or 'Avengers.’

Dale brings a lot of that to all the characters. There’s a wonderful shot of team in the meeting room next issue and it’s like having too many people over Thanksgiving. There are not enough chairs. You see Starman and all the other guys bringing in chairs from all of the other rooms. And they are shoving them around the table. And there is some humor in that. And I don’t think you’ve ever seen that in any other team book.

“Starman is holding this big La-Z-Boy and is like, 'Who else needs a chair. This one’s mine.’ And he’s all excited about it. And you see Mr. America on a lawn chair. Someone’s cramped on a stool, unhappy about it. I’ve had to pull out the lawn chairs at Thanksgiving that don’t match the table. They’re not as comfortable as the other ones. And that’s playing off the idea that this Society is growing. It’s getting bigger and they’re not ready to contain it. It’s getting too big, too fast.”

And that’s the way Geoff Johns likes it.

Don’t forget to return tomorrow for INFINITE GEOFF JOHNS IV: “Booster Gold.”

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

PREVIEW: Superman #7

More in Comics