AICN COMICS SDCC 2013 Q&@: Ambush Bug has his yearly Comic Con chat with DC’s Geoff Johns!
@’s by DC’s Geoff Johns!!!
AMBUSH BUG (BUG): Well I’m here on, I guess, Day one and a half of Comic Con.
GEOFF JOHNS (GJ): Day one and a half!
BUG: Yes, and I’m here at the DC booth with Geoff Johns. It seems like it’s a yearly thing where I catch up with you here in San Diego.
GJ: It is. How are your books doing?
BUG: They’re doing pretty well. I’m really happy with how they’re turning out.
GJ: Yeah? Good. Very cool.
BUG: So other than your books, what are you really excited about seeing here at San Diego this year?
GJ: I love that…actually, I think SCRIBBLENAUTS is probably the funniest thing. I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but it literally has almost every DC character that’s ever existed. So you can type in like “The Green Lantern Corps” and a bunch of Aquaman villains and make them fight. So it’s just fun to search through the DC Universe in that game and see it realized. It’s just fun to see.
BUG: Is that brand new?
GJ: It comes out this fall. And it’s just fun to be here and see all the costumes and the fans. I already did my comic book shopping.
BUG: What did you pick out?
GJ: I got the first appearance of Killer Croc, BATMAN#539, and I’ve got the second appearance in DETECTIVE COMICS and then I picked up a bunch of Shazams from the seventies.
GJ: Yeah, closing that gap.
BUG: Speaking of Shazam, let’s talk about JUSTICE LEAGUE and all of that stuff. That’s all coming together right now into the Trinity War. We just read and reviewed the first book, and everybody in the podcast loved it. Everyone on the site loved it. This is another big crossover for you guys. What do we have to look forward to with this?
GJ: Well with Trinity War, what I really want to do, there’s been so much talk about it and stuff and I was working with Jeff Lemire with JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK and JUSTICE LEAGUE AMERICA and what I really wanted to do was get back to that really contained, condensed, insane, event-style storytelling within the books. So it would be two issues of JUSTICE LEAGUE, two issues of JUSTICE LEAGUE AMERICA, two issues of JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK and just really make it the best six issue insanity for two months for what the story is, and the story is, essentially, ultimately it’s about a fractured Justice League. For me, Justice League hasn’t quite come together yet to be the Super Friends, to be the superheroes that we kind of know them to be, and this weakness for them and the fracture between the three teams is exploited by these other forces, and the story really is about corruption and evil and good and kicks off with the death of one of the members of the JLA…I can spoil it now, I guess, at the hands of Superman and there’s a big mystery about what happened and why and how and that’s at the heart of the storyline. I think on the surface Jeff and I really put forth the imagery of all of the heroes fighting knowing that we really wanted to make it more about a mystery. The action is great. Heroes on heroes are fun, but it’s really a mystery at this point.
BUG: Well, I’m a little behind because of the con. JLA hasn’t come out yet, has it?
GJ: It just came out yesterday.
BUG: Okay, well I’ve been here, so everything’s a blur right now. I did read the last issue last week and there were a lot of really big things that happened in there. It seems like that’s what a lot of the fans were clamoring for--they wanted to see Shazam and Superman fight. They wanted to see these two Justice Leagues come together. So as far as the big moments, is that just the beginning of this or is each issue going to have these giant things?
GJ: That’s just the beginning. I think we kick off really loud and mysterious, then it gets a bit more intriguing and then it blows way out, like JUSTICE LEAGUE #23, which is the final part of it, is one of the most insane issues you’ll see this year, I think. Ivan Reis, just drew the hell out of it. It’s absolutely beautiful, and everything that we’ve set since JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 comes in to play. The end of Trinity War, the first two years are really a culmination of one big storyline and then we kick off into the next epic story.
BUG: So can we talk about Dr. Light?
GJ: Sure, yeah. And also what I want to do is make the Justice League stories as big as…they should be events in themselves. I want every Justice League story to be as big as it can be, character focused, and involving the entire DC Universe. That’s my goal from here on out.
BUG: Dr. Light gets his head blown off, essentially. Was that a tough decision for you to make? To kill off this character? I know death is never final in comic books these days, but…
GJ: The one thing I really enjoy doing with Dr. Light is the New 52 gave me an opportunity to look at a character and go “Yeah, I could just introduce him,” but I really wanted to create a sympathetic family man. I mean, he’s married to Kimio, who is the female Dr. Light, and so I really wanted to create a character that was completely 180 from any preconceived notions of the old Dr. Light. I wanted to get away from that and do something new, and I really felt for him in those first few pages. He’s only around for a little bit, but he speaks a lot of sense, he’s very reluctant to get involved, and his powers are very mysterious, and that comes into play later on as well.
BUG: Sounds good. And in the old DCU it seemed like he was the guy that hung around in a van by the schoolyard, and now he is a completely sympathetic character.
GJ: He was probably the most vile character in the DC Universe. I think arguably the most vile character in the DC Universe because of the way they ended up reinterpreting him and taking him in a certain direction. So to go and look at it and tackle it differently was a lot of fun and unexpected.
BUG: And also the final page of that issue reveals the presence of The Outsider. I know you can’t reveal a lot of stuff, but what went into using this guy? Has this been a plan from the beginning, to bring in The Outsider?
GJ: Well, you’ll have to keep reading. I mean, everything is there. Everything is in that first issue. Literally everything you need to piece together the entire mystery and what’s going to happen, and I haven’t really talked a lot about what the story is other than his character is on the cover, and really I don’t want to spoil it just yet. Once we get there, it will be…we’ve revealed a few teaser images as a clue to what the whole story is.
BUG: You seem to have a lot of fun really collaborating on these kinds of evil characters.
GJ: I love villains.
BUG: What is it about the villains that you like?
GJ: Well, I think ever since I wrote THE FLASH way back when I focused on the Rogues like Captain Cold in particular became a favorite of mine, and then Black Adam, and obviously Sinestro is a character I love rebuilding. I’ve loved writing Catwoman into JUSTICE LEAGUE AMERICA, even though she’s kind of an anti-hero more than a villain.
BUG: You seem to be having a lot of fun with Hawkman as well.
GJ: Yeah, I love Hawkman. There’s a scene in JLA where he’s just…he’s a brute and he’s unstoppable even though he’s fallible. I love that he can have broken bones sticking out of his arm and he’s still fighting--that’s Hawkman. Everyone else is going to cry like a baby and Hawkman can get up and finish his job. The villains, Black Manta and Luthor, and Superman when I was on SUPERMAN with Gary and being able to write all of those villains…I’ve never written a story with those villains interacting as the main characters, like Black Manta and Sinestro: “What’s that like?” Well, it turns out they kind of have the same viewpoint. Black Manta is protective of his people and Sinsetro, when Korugar was around, was very protective of that, so at first glance you might think they have nothing in common and you slowly realize that philosophically they actually do have a lot in common, whereas Captain Cold and Luthor probably have nothing to talk about. So there’s a lot of the villains that…and it will become clear as Trinity War unfolds, a lot of it is about the opportunity to explore and contrast these villains. They are the greatest villains in the DC Universe.
BUG: And obviously you’re referencing to the Legion of Doom and all of that a little bit. What’s it like to watch those cartoons as a kid and then all of a sudden now you’re playing with all of these characters here?
GJ: It’s great. I’ve loved all the DC characters from Aquaman to Metamorpho, Cheetah…I’ve loved all the DC characters since I can remember reading comics. So to be able to play in the DC Universe, I still feel extremely lucky.
BUG: Great. One last question about BATMAN: EARTH ONE. When are we going to see that?
GJ: Gary is drawing it right now. I just saw the first seven pages. We just wrapped up SHAZAM, and…speaking of Gary Frank, he just went on stage. It’s going to continue the crazy badass Alfred and the angry Bruce Wayne that we’ve started in BATMAN: EARTH ONE.
BUG: I love that dynamic between Alfred and Bruce.
GJ: It’s a great dynamic. The Gordon relationship we started…you’re going to see the evolution of the police department in Gotham City. You are going to see a couple of villains that we haven’t mentioned yet, because we don’t want to, but it’s going to be…I think the very first panel of the first page is a metaphor or a symbol of what the book’s about. So when you see that first panel on the first page, it will tell you exactly what…a world will come into your head…two words will come into your head and that first word is the theme of the book.
BUG: Awesome. Well, I can’t wait. I’m a huge fan of your work.
GJ: I appreciate it. You too, man. Thanks a lot.
BUG: You can read Geoff Johns’ writing every month in AQUAMAN, JUSTICE LEAGUE, JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, and the upcoming BATMAN: EARTH ONE VOLUME 2!
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of AICN COMICS for over 12 years & AICN HORROR for 3. He has written comics such as VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS THE TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, THE DEATHSPORT GAMES, & NANNY & HANK (soon to be made into a feature film from Uptown 6 Films). He has co-written FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND’s LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (to be released in October 2013 as a 100-pg original graphic novel through Hermes Press). Mark wrote the critically acclaimed GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK from Zenescope Entertainment & GRIMM FAIRY TALES #76-81. Look for GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK: LAST OF THE SPECIES available in February-July 2013 and the new UNLEASHED crossover miniseries GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS WEREWOLVES: THE HUNGER #1-3 available in May-July 2013! Follow Ambush Bug on the Twitter @Mark_L_Miller.
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