Friday at New York Comic Con, the red carpet was rolled out for the writer of Doomsday Clock and the upcoming Three Jokers and Shazam books for DC Comics during the DC Spotlight on Geoff Johns Panel.
Tiffany Smith introduced Johns, who received a massive round of applause when he took to the stage.
“My favorite thing is to take characters like Aquaman and Booster Gold and show people what we can do with them,” Johns said regarding characters people aren’t necessarily too keen on. This was a segue for Johns to bring up Hawk and Dove from Titans on the DC Universe streaming service, and he then showed a brief clip of them from one of the episodes.
Tiffany then asked what parts Johns gets to play in a show like Titans.
“The best thing about the DC Universe and the Titans universe is when I say, ‘Hey, let’s bring in Jason Todd,’ everyone’s supportive. We have a great room of writers, a great room of people.”
The conversation then turned to Doom Patrol, and Johns discussed the recent casting of Matt Bomer as Negative Man.
“I never thought I’d be lucky enough to be part of the casting process,” Johns said, before comparing Doom Patrol to Hot Fuzz. “It’s different, it’s quirky. It’s sweet, it’s got a heart to it. It’s really similar to Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol.”
As for Stargirl, Johns recalled how the final issue only sold 5,000 copies. “I wrote her for a long, long time, and she is inspired by my late sister, who passed away in ’96. Stargirl, to me, was taking on a legacy and embodying the heroic spirit of the DC Universe. I’m creating this series and writing this show, and I brought on James Robinson to help write. He’s producing.”
Johns then explained that he runs the Stargirl writers room much as he did with DC leading up to and following Rebirth, and compared the show to such ’80s throwbacks as Back to the Future and The Karate Kid.
“We’re casting Pat Dugan and the other characters, now,” Johns added. “It’s so rewarding when you find that right person to play the character.”
Tiffany then asked Johns if writing TV shows based on superheroes is where he envisioned himself.
“I always wanted to do a television show of [Stargirl],” he said. “And if you asked me when I was younger if I ever thought there’d be a Doom Patrol show, if you bet me $1,000, well, I’d be out $1,000.”
Johns also mentioned that Beast Boy actor Ryan Potter is walking around the convention wearing a green fur coat.
“How often do you see the actors embody the character’s they’re playing?” Tiffany asked.
“Oh, Gal Gadot’s like that,” Johns said, joking that birds follow her around like she’s Snow White. “It shows you how important these characters are to people. It’s the human parts of these characters that we love.”
Tiffany then brought up Aquaman, which hits theaters in December. Then, Johns revealed an extended trailer for the film, which featured plenty of footage of Arthur and Mera, Ocean Master, and Black Manta, plus a massive round of applause for the shot of Arthur sporting his iconic orange-and-green scale mail.
“People told me not to waste my time on Aquaman during the New 52,” Johns said, “so it’s great to hear people react like that. And there’s a lot of humor in it, a lot of scope in it. It’s epic. December, the world will meet Aquaman.”
Tiffany mentioned that the film feels lighter than the traditionally dark and grounded DCEU movies.
“Hopefully, people enjoy it for what it is,” Johns said. “Just like Wonder Woman.”
Shazam! was the next topic of discussion. First, Johns played an abbreviated version of the trailer released in July.
“[Zachary Levi] ate a lot of Power Bars for this role,” Johns joked. “The movies all about Billy Batson finding his family. You don’t get a lot of that in the trailers yet. I can’t wait for people to see that, it’s gonna be a lot of fun. I can’t wait for kids to yell ‘Shazam!’ and, then be disappointed when nothing happens.”
Johns also brought up his and Dale Eaglesham’s upcoming Shazam! comic book series.
“The cover kind of tells you the tone of the book,” he said. “It’s gonna be a continuation of the first era of the book, and there’ll be a retelling of the origin, with the Rock of Eternity.” These comments were accompanied by a look at some of Eaglesham’s uncolored interior art.
“I always try to make my books new-reader-friendly,” Johns added. “We’re gonna lean more into the magic, the powers of Shazam. When Billy starts exploring the Rock of Eternity, he’ll find doorways to other places. We’re gonna feature Mr. Mind, who’s a great Shazam villain, and Dr. Sivana.”
Jason Fabok. artist on Batman: Three Jokers, was then invited to the stage.
“The coolest thing about this story is no one knows anything about it,” Johns said. “It’s a pretty mature take. I’ve never gotten to write a Batman and Joker story, and Jay’s never gotten to draw one. We wanted to tell the best Batman story, the best Joker story possible.”
“This whole book is a lotta work,” Fabok said. “But I’m so excited to get up and work, and every time I hand in a page, I’m really proud of it. I feel there’s a magic to this story. I had chills, I really feel like Geoff has come up with the ultimate Batman/Joker story.”
We then got a look at some of Fabok’s interior art, including a shot of Jason Todd’s Red Hood mask resting in front of a bloodstained grave.
“Jason, Barbara and Batman are gonna be the main characters,” Johns said.
The next panels Johns revealed featured Joker covered in blood, someone removing a classic Red Hood mask from a smiling man’s head, and the grave of Thomas Wayne.
Next, Fabok revealed his designs for the three different Jokers, followed by redesigned throwback costumes for Batman, Barbara and Jason. He also debuted a newly designed Batmobile, which pays homage to Batman (1989).
Finally, Tiffany steered the discussion to Doomsday Clock.
“What is it like to experience fans’ reactions to the book so far?” she asked.
“Doctor Manhattan finally made an appearance and revealed a lot about where the book is going,” Johns said. “When he sees nothing ahead but Superman, what does that mean? That’s the question that’s posed, and the question Manhattan’s determined to know.”
Johns then revealed Gary Frank’s cover for Issue #9, as well as a new cover featuring a lone Legion flight ring floating past Mars. He also revealed the covers for Issue #10, one of which featured a boy reading an issue of All Star Comics, but with Doctor Manhattan sitting at the JSA’s roundtable.
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