Geoff Johns is a busy man these days. The DC Entertainment Chief Creative Officer and superstar comics writer currently gets to jump between the core franchises of the DC Universe from scripting the upcoming "Flashpoint" event for comics to contributing the anticipated "Booster" episode of The CW's "Smallville." And that's just tip of the iceberg.
"We're in production on 'Wonder Woman' and shooting right now. We're in heavy post-on 'Green Lantern.' There's all the publishing stuff we're doing. We've got TV with DC Nation, and all the video game stuff we've got going. It's just busy!" Johns told CBR News. "I work with awesome people -- the best of the best -- so it's busy, but it's a lot of fun. I just don't remember when the last time Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Superman and Batman were all in live action production. It's cool. I've just got to get the Flash going!"
Of course, with this weekend's WonderCon hitting in San Francisco, the news is all focused on "Green Lantern." With cast and crew from the June 17 motion picture heading to the show as well as an early preview of the June 7 "Emerald Knights" direct to video release, CBR spoke with Johns about the other major event in the franchise now -- the currently serializing "War of The Green Lanterns" comic book arc. Shared between the monthly "Green Lantern," "Green Lantern Corps" and "Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors" series, the crossover has already seen the bonds of friendship start to break down between earth GL's Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner. Below, Johns explains how the story connects to the history of the entire Green Lantern Corps and renegade Guardian Krona, expounds upon his personal views on how fear is the most central piece of the series mythos and Jordan's life and finally teases how he's influenced the new film to feel like the comics as he also writes the special movie prequel "Sinestro" one-shot.
CBR News: Reading the launch of "War of the Green Lanterns," what struck me is that while you always focus in on emotion and character first, this story feels a little different from past epics like "Sinestro Corps War." Mostly, the last few events seemed to use emotion to build the cosmology of the Green Lantern world while this is turning things back internally for the characters as people. Was part of the goal here to tighten the focus?
Geoff Johns: Yeah. I wanted to get back to Hal, Guy, John and Kyle. It's like we're going back to "Rebirth." With Parallax, the power battery and Krona, I wanted to harken back to the original story I did but do it on a different scale. I wanted to get back to exploring the relationship between the four Earth Lanterns and the rest of the Green Lantern Corps, and I guess it's still not grounded because of the scope of what we're dealing with. It's as grounded as the Green Lantern Corps gets, and I wanted to ground it in these four guys -- turning the stories back on them to reexamine where they are and where they're going to go. They've been working side-by-side for so long and pretty well since "Rebirth." We're going to see how that all works out in this story.
There's an interesting parallel between what we're seeing develop between the four GLs and what happened between Krona and the Guardians. What's the attraction to seeing a falling out amongst a group that was once incredibly tight?
I just love the idea that in a weird way, Krona is more on the same page with Hal and the other guys than he is with the Guardians and vice versa. Krona's always been there, but there hasn't been an awful lot of delving in to who he is and what motivates him beyond his desire for knowledge. There's got to be more to him. What's that emotional component? And I think exploring that schism when the Guardians said, "We have to shut off our own emotions to do this" was really interesting. You think of law and justice -- justice is supposed to be without emotion. It's what's fair. And that's what the Guardians thought they had to do to protect the universe, and Krona disagreed. Krona knew there was power in emotion, and he thought it had to not be ignored but acknowledged. There's a lot more to him to be explored, but I thought exploring that personal relationship between Ganthet and him being once friends parallels a lot about what happened between Hal and Sinestro.
It reminded me too about that first Denny O'Neil Green Lantern issue where Hal confronts the Guardians for their ineffectiveness...and I suppose a lot of classic GL tales traffic in the same arena. Has there ever been a story where we've seen that tension explode out like this?
I don't know, but I know that it's something we sure hadn't done. That's what we talked about while building "War of the Green Lanterns" --Â how can we get some more raw emotions from these guys and put them in a position they haven't been in? Because they've gone through a lot. Hal has gone through a lot, starting off in coming back and escaping Parallax's influence and then going to "Sinestro Corps War" where he came full circle in my mind because he realizes when Coast City makes that stand and the lights turn green and his brother says, "We're not going anywhere as long as you're here," even though Hal's told him to run -- Hal remembers then what courage is all about and what he should embody. Now after "Blackest Night," we're getting into a whole new area for these characters that will push them all into new directions.
I don't want to pop psychologize here, but I know that you bring a lot of your own thoughts and point of view into your characters, and I also see that Hal has become a workaholic...
He totally is! [Laughs]
Is that something that's evolved, not only as you've developed Hal as a character but also as DC Entertainment has grown and those things have been more on your mind?
Maybe? [Laughs] You might be doing psychology on me here, but I just felt like this is all about Hal losing sight of what's important. You go to the Guardians and say, "Why did you decide to protect the universe?" And they can't remember. It's been so long, they lost their passion for it. And if you go to Hal and ask "Why are you Green Lantern?" he just knows that he's been doing it for so long. He's been up to ten and running in the red, and he needs to really stop and think. The less you do that, the more things pass you by. So maybe that is me really exploring Hal becoming Green Lantern again, becoming involved with all these crazy events and then continuing to just be Green Lantern and lose himself to that ring. It's something he's done before. This has certainly gotten in the way of a lot of relationships in his life. And Hal's never been someone who's connected well with people.
The big kickoff to the story is Krona's reintroduction of Parallax into the power battery of the Green Lanterns. Even after you've expanded the emotional spectrum and these various Lanterns over the past few years, what's the attraction of bringing things back down to "Fear" for these characters? Do you feel that as an emotion it's somehow more potent?
It is. It's definitely more prevalent. But I also think you can't have courage without fear. The very definition of courage if overcoming fear, so they go hand-in-hand. It's like light and darkness. Fear and willpower. You can't be a Green Lantern and wield that ring unless you know how to overcome fear. There's a line Sinestro says to Hal and Hal later says to Kyle: "We're chosen because we can cope with fear and deal with fear. But anger, love and regret? All those other things we have to deal with like everybody else." So that's why fear is such an important factor. It's the yin to the yang of the Green Lantern Corps.