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AICN Q&@: Bug talks BRIGHTEST DAY with writers Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi!!!


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Q’s by Ambush Bug!

@’s by BRIGHTEST DAY writers
Geoff Johns & Peter Tomasi!

Ambush Bug here with another Q&@ for you. I had to blow the dust off of this one. I did it a little while back, but the craziness with the site and the holidays prevented me from finishing this one up. But here it is now in all its glory! Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi have been two of the most influential creators in the DCU. Here’s what they had to say about their game-changing maxiseries BRIGHTEST DAY…

AMBUSH BUG (BUG): Hi Geoff and Pete. Geoff we’ve talked quite a few times, but I think this is the first time I’ve been able to talk with you Peter.

PETER TOMASI (PT): Yeah, it’s only been through emails. Good talking with you.
GEOFF JOHNS (GJ): Hey, good to talk with you too.

BUG: You guys have been working with each other for a long time. Can you talk a little bit about how the two of you guys met?

GJ: The first time I met Pete, I think I was working on STARS & S.T.R.I.P.E.

PT: Yeah, the first time I met Geoff, I think it was on the set of CONSPIRACY THEORY that Richard Donner was directing. He came by the offices and that was the first time we ever met. And then, I met David Goyer and James Robinson about JSA and they wanted to put Stargirl, back then she was Star Spangled Kid, into the JSA. But James left before the JSA book launched, early on in the process of making that book.

GJ: David (Goyer) wanted to write the book with someone and Pete called me to see if I would do it. Luckily, thank god, you said yes (laughs).

PT: (laughs) I did say yes. I was happy.

GJ: Then we worked together on JSA for a long time.

PT: A long time.

GJ: And I was writing that series for about ten years, I think.

PT: Yep. A long, long time.

GJ: And then Pete was the one who hired me for GREEN LANTERN: REBIRTH.
PT: And thank god for that. (laughs)

GJ: Since then we’ve worked on a lot of books together. JSA, HAWKMAN, GREEN LANTERN.

BUG: So what’s it like working together on something as massive as BRIGHTEST DAY with twelve big characters starring in the book? How do you guys make sense of it all? Does one person handle the writing for certain characters and the other work with the rest?

PT: No we pretty much worked on all of them together. It’s been a process. An open line of communication through phone, emails. Meetings. It’s been very easy to keep the ball rolling and constantly be in contact with Geoff. And with our editors.

GJ: Yeah, because Pete and I have been working together for so long, we always talk story and character all of the time. It’s just an evolution of those interactions.

BUG: What were the goals you had in mind setting out with this series?

PT: BRIGHTEST DAY is all about life. Life is complex.

GJ: It’s all about embracing life for what it is and trying to make the most of it.

BUG: With all of these characters having second chances…what went into the choosing of these 12 characters? What was your selection process like picking from all of the dead heroes and villains in the DCU?

GJ: It was all about story. When we were first working on BLACKEST NIGHT, we thought it was a good opportunity for all of the major ones to come back. We wanted Aquaman back because he was one of the biggest characters. We had a lot of conversations about Deadman coming back specifically because that’s very important to the story.

PT: There were some mainstays and then the list evolved from that. Who would best fit the rest of the story? Characters would come and go a couple of times.

BUG: Did you form the story from the list or vice versa?

GJ: The characters and the stories came hand in hand because…like with Maxwell Lord. He convinced the world that he never existed and only the JLI knew he was there and were coming after him. That was an interesting story. And that’s why Maxwell Lord came back because we thought it would be a cool story to tell.

BUG: Which of the 12 are your favorites?

GJ: To me, Aquaman and Deadman are by favorites…and Captain Boomerang.
BUG: Pete, how about you?

PT: I would say Martian Manhunter. Aquaman is my favorite. I am really enjoying Dove at the moment and her interactions with Deadman. I don’t know. It’s like trying to pick your favorite kid. Sometimes one of the kids shine, then one of the other ones do it. They all have their cool moments as the story goes along.

GJ: Yeah, I think Martian Manhunter in particular and his story, I’m really happy how it’s coming along. The story is really adding a lot to his character and his journey into finding out what his character is. Some characters have a lot of depth to him. J’onn J’onnz is one of those characters.

BUG: His previous series spent a lot of time being Earth-based, so it’s exciting to read about his adventures on Mars and what that means to the DCU.

GJ: Yeah, Mars is a really important factor to this story. It’s great to have Mars be a stage for J’onn to play on.

BUG: Were there any characters that you were wanting to bring back but you weren’t able to?

GJ: Uhmmm…no. (laughs)

PT: Not really. No.

GJ: There were one or two characters that were back and forth on the list, but for the most part, that was pretty much the list. But I don’t want to ruin who it was.

BUG: How about Ralph and Sue Dibny? Why were they not brought back?

GJ: I thought Ralph and Sue’s story ended in a really strong way. Those two characters were reunited. But there was a lot of discussion about Ralph and Sue. The moment when Barry comes back and he turns around and asks, “What about Ralph and Sue?” in BLACKEST NIGHT, that really hit him hard. He’s really affected by that. And that made for a great moment.

PT: They had a good ending. Their ending worked out well, so we didn’t want…there are just some characters that they had a good ending, like the Spectre and Ralph and Sue, where there’s a time to bring them back and a time not to.

BUG: A lot of comic book icons are accused of being stuck in amber and not evolving through the years. But you guys have really changed these characters, especially in the last few years. How have you been able to pull off that illusion of change without changing them so much that these icons are unrecognizable?

PT: Geoff is the master of that. He’s good at taking these characters and blowing the dust off of them while still retaining the core of what makes them special from the start. He’s always been great at doing that.

GJ: I think the best thing about these characters is that they’ve survived decades and decades of publication and you want to remember why they’ve done that and build off of that core. And at the same time you want to add new things to it. I love the Martian Manhunter and in this story, the idea that there’s this other green Martian out there and it’s a female and it’s something he’s been looking for for so long, but she’s someone he would never be able to have a relationship with because she’s so evil. That’s a cool idea to me. And it stays true to the core. The core of the character is what makes the character great.

PT: It’s about adding to the mythology.

GJ: I don’t know how many JSA guys we’ve added. A lot.

PT: Our job is to enrich the core of these characters. The diamonds are already there. We’re just hoping some of these acts of enrichening these characters sticks.

BUG: How do you guys juggle all of these different storylines? Do you have a wall like in BOOSTER GOLD where it’s all mapped out and makes sense to you guys?

GJ: We do. We actually have that.

PT: We do.

GJ: We actually have these blackboards at our houses.

PT: That’s where the Rip Hunter board came from. We go through lots and lots of chalk.

BUG: One of my favorite characters is Aquaman. And the most frustrating thing is that, even though I thought some of the last series have been really good, they don’t seem to resonate with the fans. How do you make Aquaman into a popular icon? He’s the one that always seems to get the shaft.

GJ: I mean, when we just talked about Aquaman we talked about him as being one of DC’s top heroes. We try to treat him like that and write a story that hopefully showcases that.

PT: He’s one of the most recognizable characters DC has. I edited the title for a while a couple of years back and I really love that character. He has so much potential. I think some characters just need a little extra love.

GJ: I think it’s working out good. In BRIGHTEST DAY we’re giving him some exposure again and hopefully people will gravitate towards that.

BUG: You guys are working on multiple DC titles. What’s it like to move form one comic to another and section off your time to do that?

GJ: You don’t.

PT: You don’t sleep.

GJ: It’s a lot of work. We’re thankful to have the jobs that we have. It’s all good. But it is a lot of hard work. When you love what you do, it makes it easier to dedicate that much time to it.

BUG: It seems like you guys have the entire DC Universe at your disposal. How much pull do you guys have? Can you kick in Didio’s door and say “I want a Tawky Tawny / Matter Eater Lad team-up series?”, would it get the immediate green light?

PT: Geoff was just pitching that series the other day. (laughs)

GJ: No, the fact that we got a LARFLEEZE CHRISTMAS SPECIAL is a miracle. We’re really fortunate to have the opportunity to work with all of these characters. You definitely don’t take that for granted.

PT: It’s really nice to be a part of a bigger story and company. There are so many creative people working together to make the best comics. It’s great to be a part of a group like this.

GJ: We take a lot of pride in being a part of DC Comics.

BUG: So back to the trade, you’ve got BRIGHTEST DAY’s first trade collection out now with the first seven issues. How close are you to finishing BRIGHTEST DAY?

GJ: Well, we’re finished scripting.

BUG: Can you give us a hint of what to expect in upcoming issues?

GJ: No. (laughs)

PT: Right now. We’re closer to the end than we are to the beginning so the stuff’s going to be happening fast and furious now.

GJ: We’ve got a lot of cool stuff coming. We want to keep the readers surprised and keep as close to our vest how it all ends up.

BUG: Fair enough. Slightly off topic. Can you tell us anything we might not know about the new GREEN LANTERN and FLASH movies and you guys’ involvement in those films?

GJ: Well, I’ve been cast as Guy Gardner. (laughs) But nobody’s supposed to know that.

BUG: Nice. We’ve got a scoop here. So we’re about finished here. Is there anything you want to say to the readers about BRIGHTEST DAY?

GJ: It’s a story about some of DC’s greatest heroes and villains and trying to find out their role in it. Pete and I are really excited about our role in this.

PT: That sums it up. Life is a key factor to it and all of them are going to be facing some big life choices. We hope everyone digs it and follows the fallout that’s coming out of it.

BUG: Thanks for taking the time to talk with me about BRIGHTEST DAY.

GJ: Thanks, Mark!

PT: Good talking with you.

BUG: You can read the excellent BRIGHTEST DAY maxiseries continuing right now from DC Comics and pick up the first BRIGHTEST DAY trade in stores now!

Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole / wordslinger / reviewer / co-editor of AICN Comics for over nine years. Support a Bug by checking out his comics (click on the names to purchase)!
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Readers Talkback
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  • Feb. 3, 2011, 10:12 a.m. CST

    Ok, no mention of killing the Hawks for the 100th time?

    by shutupfanboy

    I kinda see the White Lantern has the cure all for everything. It brings people back from the dead, kills for no reason and has made little or no sense. I like this series, but 52 was better, yet so much better then Countdown by a lot. It is a great idea of having a book dedicated to the DC universe alone without having to focus on one person or group. A very smart move.

  • Feb. 3, 2011, 10:29 a.m. CST

    What was the point of killing the Hawks?

    by Rex Carsalot

    If they stayed dead, I'd be shocked and actually salute DC for this - but they're too popular, so they'll be back...which would seem to fly right in the face of what their story, and this series, was supposed to be about.

  • Feb. 3, 2011, 12:20 p.m. CST

    Pass me the butter.

    by Spiderwalk

    Maria Schneider RI.P.

  • Feb. 3, 2011, 1:04 p.m. CST

    Johns is still Captain Cryptic

    by A_Die_Hard_Fan

    He offers NO real answers to anything. It's tiresome.

  • Feb. 3, 2011, 1:10 p.m. CST

    GJohns is the best writer DC has

    by Detective_Fingerling

    maybe ever. He's revitalized so many brands over at DC and given them substance. For far too long I've felt DC's books were stuck in the 80's. I'm not the biggest fan of Brightest Day from what I've read of it but I can pick up a Johns book and know I'll get my moneys worth. Also, does anyone know a site that has a list of all the trade paperbacks for each hero up till now (2011)? I'm trying to catch up on Batman through the library and they release them so oddly that I never know if its the most recent without remembering the individual issues listed within. It sucks that they can't serialize they TPB's.

  • Feb. 3, 2011, 1:31 p.m. CST

    collected editions for Batman.

    by polisciguy83

    here's a link I've used: look under the heading for "Modern Batman"; it goes from Year One to the Return of Bruce Wayne.

  • Feb. 3, 2011, 5 p.m. CST


    by Detective_Fingerling

    Thanks very much. I guess wikipedia truly is the answer for everything.

  • Feb. 3, 2011, 7:29 p.m. CST

    Bit o' Geoff Johns trivia:

    by BlueDjinn1

    He and I, along with 2 other guys, collaborated on a Darkman sequel script back at Michigan State University in 1992 as part of a screenwriting class project. Got some praise for it from Ivan Raimi, but nothing ever came of it (the horrible straight-to-video sequels came out soon after...our script wasn't great, but it was better than they were...). I don't remember much about Geoff except he seemed like a nice enough guy.

  • Feb. 3, 2011, 7:42 p.m. CST

    Well I'm on the subject...

    by BlueDjinn1

    One of the other two guys was another Geoff, Geoff Murillo, who's also gone on to some success in Hollywood: I, of course, haven't done sh*t since then, but it's nice to be able to name drop once in awhile lol... Don't remember the fourth guys' name...I know that script is around here somewhere...

  • Feb. 3, 2011, 7:59 p.m. CST

    Peter Tomasi is a fantastic writer

    by NeoDevilbaneX

    DC and Geoff are very fortunate to have him.

  • Feb. 4, 2011, 3:59 p.m. CST

    I'd actually like to see a Tawky Tawny/M-E Lad Mini Series

    by JudgeDredd

    I like both those characters. Always have. Johns is this generation's Roy Thomas, and Tomasi's a gem as well. If anyone could make it work, my money would be on them.