SPOILER WARNING: The following may contain spoilers for events surrounding "Final Crisis."
Celebrating the launch of our new site back in April, CBR News dialed up Geoff Johns for a lengthy four-part interview to discuss his four ongoing DC Comics titles -- "Green Lantern," "Action Comics," "Justice Society of America" and "Booster Gold." And as promised, with "Final Crisis" #1 now in stores and #2 solicited to include a "spectacular return from the dead," we checked back in with the superstar writer to discuss his Flash-fueled tie-in miniseries, "Final Crisis: Rogues' Revenge" and perhaps more importantly, the apparent return of Barry Allen to the DC Universe.
Johns, for obvious spoiler-sensitive reasons, couldn't share many details about what role the Silver Age Flash would play in "Final Crisis" or "Rogues' Revenge," but he said the DCU was big enough to support multiple speedsters, with both Jay Garrick and Wally West currently active with "Justice Society of America" and "The Flash," respectively.
"I don't want to comment on it too much, obviously, because it will give away what's coming, but I think the DC Universe is a very big place and the characters are very strong," Johns told CBR News. "I wish I could get more into it [Barry's return] but I think it will probably be a little too revealing."
Johns did admit that a Flash usually plays a significant role in DC's "Crisis," events, and rightfully so. "The Flash is one of most important characters in the DC Universe. He's right there with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern," Johns said. "I think there is no question the Flash belongs in the Top 5. That's probably the reason why Flash is front and center. And obviously, there have been some dramatic changes to Flash during times of 'Crisis,' but I just think, in general, he should be a big part of any big event. Any big story that's in the DC Universe, if it involves the DC characters, he needs to be there, because he is vital to the Top 5."
Barry Allen died in Marv Wolfman and George Perez's "Crisis on Infinite Earths" and returned briefly to confront Superboy-Prime alongside the fourth Flash, his grandson Bart Allen, in Geoff Johns and Phil Jimenez's "Infinite Crisis." Allen's return to DCU was strongly implied in the final pages of last month's "DC Universe" #0 and garnered interest form mainstream media.
On April 30, the morning the 50-cent DCU teaser book was released, Johns was quoted in "New York Daily News," as saying, "When the greatest evil comes back to the DC Universe, the greatest hero needed to return."
Asked by CBR News if he was excited to have the Silver Age Flash back in the DCU sandbox, Johns responded, "Of course. I am thrilled to see that character. Again, I can't say too much because I am in the know but I think the thing about Barry Allen is he's got such a great life outside the costume that really never got to be explored in the last 20 years of comic books. I think there is a lot of potential there for something."
With possible spoilers still on high alert, Johns added, "I am thrilled with what DC has cooked up for the Flash [coming out of 'Final Crisis]. Thrilled."
Johns wouldn't clarify which Flash he was referring to -- Wally, Barry, Jay or even the recently deceased Bart -- nor would he say if he would be involved in the character's future plans. "Right now, Bart's not around. You've got Jay and Wally and for the time being Barry. It's still open," said Johns. "As for me being involved or not, again, sorry but I can't really talk about it."
What Johns can talk about is "Final Crisis: Rogues' Revenge," with #1 due in stores on July 16. The "Final Crisis" tie-in reunites the writer with the artist from their fan favorite run on "The Flash." Johns said Scott Kolins is doing amazing work on the project that readers are going to love. "From the title, you know it's a story that's centered on the Rogues. When Scott Kolins and I did our run on 'The Flash,' a big part of it was redefining and reintroducing the Rogues. The Rogues have gone though a lot of turmoil since we left the book and we have been dying to get back to these characters ever since we parted ways."
The current incarnation of the Rogues includes Flash adversaries Abra Kadabra, Mirror Master, Heat Wave, the Pied Piper, the Trickster, Weather Wizard, and their frostbitten, fearless leader Captain Cold. The band of baddies was duped by Inertia into killing Bart Allen in the pages of "The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive" and are in the midst of finding their way back to Earth in "Salvation Run."
"The Rogues are characters I really grew to love and understand and I wanted to do more with them," explained Johns. "I always had stories for them; stories for what they could go through and what could happen to them, and where I would want to take them if I got to keep writing them, so it's something that Scott and I have been talking about for a long, long time and the opportunity presented itself where Scott was available, I was available and everything was lining up in DCU to showcase the Rogues and the Flash."
Johns continued, "There's a change in the air. The air is electric. And the Rogues come back from all of this crap that they have been through and they're tired. They are ready to call it quits. And when they find out maybe they can feel a bit better about where they are leaving things if they take out this kid [Inertia], who orchestrated the murder of Kid Flash. They go for it."
Johns revealed there was "no question" that Captain Cold is the main character of the series and that he will also narrate the book. "Everything I love about Captain Cold was encapsulated in the issue I did, 'The Flash' #182, which was my first Rogues' issue," said Johns. "He's a guy who has an extremely tough exterior but deep inside him, as much as he despises it, there's a touch of his heart that still beats and no matter what, he just can't shut that off. And it bothers him. He wishes he was as sociopathic as some of these other guys. But he can't be. At the same time, he is always able to shut it off for a little while, if he has to get really nasty. There is just something that appeals to me about his attitude. He doesn't care about these secret societies. He's like, 'another one, give me a break. It will come and go, like they always do. We're not joining this time. No.'
"That is his whole attitude with Libra and this secret society in 'Final Crisis.' The Rogues are the rogues of the supervillains. And Captain Cold is the rogues of the Rogues. The Rogues are separate from everybody else. They have an allegiance to themselves."
Asked if Captain Cold would ever have his heart warmed so much he would consider switching sides and use his powers for good instead of evil, Johns said, "No way. He wouldn't do it. It would never work for him, long-term. He would never be a good guy. He's crossed that line too many times. And he'd cross it again if he had to. He has no interest in it. He lives hand-to-mouth. He just wants his share. 'Leave me alone!' You know what I mean? That's all he wants. He wants to get from Point A to Point B and not be bothered."
Johns said when writing the Rogues, there is a fine line where they can't be "goofy" or "psychotic." "I call them 'superthugs.' Most of them are blue collar, Weather Wizard being the exception," Johns explained. "He's actually a lot more educated and refined than the others but he still chooses to lower himself to their level and hang out with them for a variety of reasons. Each of Rogues has their own reason for sticking around and each of them has their own problems and goals."
The writer said there is really no other group like them in comic books and that's why he is most attracted to them. "They talk about mundane things once in a while but they don't live mundane lives. They are not the regular guys that sit around and watch a game at a bar. They'll watch it at their place and they'll have some kegs they swiped," laughed Johns. "They are really complex characters. I don't think they get the credit they deserve."
In fact, Johns places the Flash's rogues right up their with the most wanted of any other hero active in DCU, right behind the baddest of the bad, the ones operating in Gotham City. "I am really proud of the rogues' gallery we have built up for Green Lantern," offered Johns. "I think his rogues are growing into something more and more special. I think Superman's got a great rogues' gallery too. Flash has a great rogues' gallery. Flash, for me, has the second best rogues' gallery. Batman has the best. You can not beat Batman's rogues' galley. It's impossible. The characters are so compelling, and so deviant and so sinister. And they're really reflective of Batman. I'd love to do Batman's rogues one day. He just has a plethora of great villains. But Flash has a great range, as well. You've got the Rogues. You've got Gorilla Grodd. You've got Reverse-Flash. You've got Abra Kadabra. You really do have a lot of great villains with the Flash universe too."
Johns said the Rogues are going to go through something in "Rogues' Revenge" that changes their outlook moving forward. "Heat Wave doesn't turn into fire or anything," quipped Johns. "I've got no interest in changing who they are. But what they want and what their motivation is and whether or not they are going to stick around are what the questions are."
Check back to CBR News all this week for more stories spinning out of "Final Crisis," including Brad Meltzer on "DC Universe: Last Will and Testament," Greg Rucka on "Final Crisis: Revelation" and Peter Tomasi on "Final Crisis: Requiem."
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