It’d be hard to find another writer with more irons in the proverbial DC Comics fire than Geoff Johns. Between he and artist Gary Frank’s earth-shattering Doomsday Clock to his work with the DC Universe digital service and it’s slate of streaming TV shows like Titans and Doom Patrol, Johns has been a pretty busy guy. Now, we’re set to get a first hand look at all his work as he takes to the stage at Comic-Con International in San Diego in a special spotlight panel hosted by DC co-publisher Dan DiDio where Johns plans to share the secrets of his multiple projects across multiple mediums.
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DiDio and Johns took the stage, kicking off information about Johns’ new roll. “In a weird way, more than half my day is exactly the same — I’m writing and producing — but I’m writing and producing more now. It gives me an opportunity to do stuff I wouldn’t be able to do.” Johns explained, “I get to directly write, directly produce, and no one’s going to tell me what to do,” he laughed by way of explaining the differences in his job now.
The panel was then shown the Titans trailer in full, profane color on the screen, complete with a content warning for Johns himself. (Sorry kids.)
“So that might not be what some people expected,” DiDio joked, “why did we go in this direction?”
“The trailer really highlights Akiva Goldsman, Greg Berlanti and I have done to honor Marv and George in the 80s. It was the first time you ever saw two superheroes in bed together. We’re trying to honor that spirit of envelope pushing.”
Johns went on to tease appearances for Donna Troy and Jason Todd as well as an eventual Nightwing evolution for Dick Grayson, “Dick is really trying to leave Robin behind,” he said, talking of his “bad break” with Batman, “so you might guess where he’s going to end up.”
“The first season is really about Rachel and Raven, when we meet her she’s really just starting to figure out her powers and doesn’t know what they are or why they’re there,” Johns said.
“When we put this trailer together, we had a lot of talk about the language and the potential controversy but I think you guys are going to surprised to see where this show goes,” Johns promised, trying to assuage some anxieties. “And then an early episode will spin off into Doom Patrol which if you love Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol you’re going to love this show.”
Johns announced his new show for the DC Universe service, which Johns will be writing with his company Mad Ghost. Stargirl which will feature Courtney Whitmore uncovering the secrets of her family and the Justice Society of America.
“We’ve already talked about how she’s going to fight and what the Cosmic Staff does, what the other JSA members are going to look like.” Johns, “I’ll be putting together a writing staff, and then we’ll get in a room and talk about all thirteen episodes of Stargirl and the Justice Society.”
“I love spending my time telling stories,” Johns said, “I loved my job at DC at a desk, but with an opportunity like this with Stargirl and run my own show — this is the kind of opportunity I couldn’t have had if I stayed in my old role.”
“Stargirl is the tone of Superman: The Movie and Wonder Woman, that’s what we’re going for, it’s where I like to live the best,” Johns said, after confirming that the show will have a “PG-13” rating.
DiDio pivoted the conversation to Johns’ work on Wonder Woman 1984, “When Patty [Jenkins] and I were talking about the sequel, we were writing back and forth. She’s shooting right now, they just wrapped in Washington DC and are moving to London now.”
The new monthly Shazam book with Dale Eaglesham will be launching in November on the 21st. “It’ll continue the story we started in the New 52,” Johns explained, elaborating on the idea behind the book. The Shazam family will try to unlock the secrets of the Rock of Eternity and take its cues from classics like The Phantom Tollbooth. “It’s kids with superpowers but no manuals. They have the powers but they don’t really know how to use them,” Johns said. The book will feature classic villains like Mister Mind and, of course, everyone’s favorite anthropomorphic tiger Tawky Tawny.
The panel moved their attention to Doomsday Clock. “This takes me five times to write as any other comic I’ve ever written and it takes Gary five times as long to draw it. So thank you, everyone who is reading,” Johns opened, before giving fans a look at the upcoming 6th issue.
Johns teased the imminent explanation of Doctor Manhattan’s appearance in the DC Universe. “It’s going to be revealed very soon,” he assured. DiDio called out issue #6 as a major turning point of the book. “It’s about Mime and Marionette and the super villains existing in a world where the Superman Theory exists. The villains are wondering hat their role is in the looming Super War,” John explained, “the other half of the story is the origin of Mime and Marionette. It’s a very emotional story, probably the most emotional we’ve had in the books.”
“When we first set out to compare Watchmen and the DC Universe, people thought that the Watchmen world would be the more screwed up, darker world and that’s true and it’s not,” Johns said.
Johns then spoke about his Three Jokers mini series with Jason Fabok which he calls “a grounded, emotional story about the mystery of the Joker, and it will focus on Bruce, Barbara and Jason,” Johns said, and explained that though the book will be on the Black Label imprint, it will still have elements that take place in the main DC Universe continuity.
“I’ve never really done a Batman story beyond Batman: Earth One and if I’m going to tell a Batman story I want it to be amazing and cool and something no one’s ever seen before. This is a story about the shared pain between Bruce and Barbara and Jason and the way that some scars heal wrong and some heal right,” Johns went on, “I think of this as a Joker story.”
“By the end of this series, Bruce and Joker will have a relationship that is completely different than the one they have now,” Johns teased. “There’s a really fun scene where Joker drives this truck and he gets to the woods and he goes up to this cabin in the woods and there’s another Joker standing there in the door wearing a Hawaiian shirt and the Joker who drove up says ‘that’s my shirt.”
Wrapping up, DiDio teased another project Johns had in the pipeline for the Killing Zone banner which will be “a bunch of different books that form one big tapestry. It’s a bunch of different stories that take place from the 1940s to the 2040s so over a century. It features a bunch of characters who haven’t been at the forefront of the DC Universe for decades and some new ones too.”
Killing Zone will be releasing “early-ish” next year, “around May” Johns said. The characters will be totally new to Johns, he said, he has never written them before. “I said I want the worst characters that no one pitched,” Johns laughed, “I can’t give specifics but it’s a very important, very big story, over a century — a year long book effort with multiple stories that all ties into one project.”
Johns then elaborated that Killing Zone will also have a TV and film component from his company Mad Ghost.
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