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Interview: Geoff Johns Talks JUSTICE LEAGUE, AQUAMAN, GREEN LANTERN & SHAZAM!

DC's Chief Creative Officer reveals what's coming up with his characters.

Geoff Johns is doing his best to become one of comics' busiest guys. Not only is he the Chief Creative Officer for DC Comics, he's currently the writer for GREEN LANTERN, JUSTICE LEAGUE and AQUAMAN plus the upcoming "Curse of Shazam!" back up stories in JUSTICE LEAGUE. We had the opportunity to throw some questions at him to find out what we can expect.

Comic Vine: Are we going to see Cyborg going to finally kick some butt in JUSTICE LEAGUE #6?

Geoff Johns: Yes you are...and beyond.

CV: That's great to hear. Many have asked, how come the Bat-emblem peels off Bruce's costume in JUSTICE LEAGUE #5

GJ: Because he gets a new one.

CV: JUSTICE LEAGUE shifts to the present in #7, will that be the case for the foreseeable future?

GJ: Yeah.

CV: Are you going to return to the past and fill in the gaps...?

GJ: Nope. Well, there'll be flashbacks here and there in like issue 8 or 9 but really we're in the present day now.

== TEASER ==

CV: In AQUAMAN. are we going to see villains like Ocean Master, Black Manta, etc pop up?

GJ: Yes...eventually.

CV: Where did you get the idea to go into Atlantis' history? No one's ever touched on that before.

GJ: Because no one's ever touched on that before. [laughs] Because no one's ever asked the question did someone sink Atlantis on purpose. I thought it was an interesting question to pose, an interesting question to explore in the series. The way it ties to Aquaman is probably going to be surprising so that just kind of became a nice spine for us.

CV: Did the 'A' on his belt always stand for Atlantis or is that something you came up with?

GJ: In my mind, I just came up with that. I'd seen the glyph in Atlantis before and it made sense that it stood for Atlantis rather than have the glyph stand for Aquaman all over the place.

CV: Did Aquaman always have super-hearing?

GJ: Not that I know of. I know he has heightened senses, he has to if he's maneuvering underwater. I just figured he'd have these heightened senses outside of water. Some of the stuff we're obviously playing up and amping up, but I just thought it makes sense.

CV: It does. Let's talk GREEN LANTERN. You've been on it for, what, eight years now? How do you keep the book so fresh?

GJ: The characters do it. I think the best thing about the relaunch for me was it gives a chance to, we got so vast and big, it gives a chance to go back down and center it on character. It's really centered on Sinestro and Hal. The arc we have built out, even though it goes into another one of a kind of space opera/Star Wars-style space epic, it really is focused on Hal and Sinestro and that journey. Those characters, by having Sinestro suddenly dealing with this ring and Hal dealing with Sinestro with the ring, losing his ring, having it taken away, given back and being tethered to Sinestro and all the stuff we're going to be unfolding with the Guardians and their corrupt plans. We're really pushing the Guardians to a place that we've been marching them towards this whole time and it's all focused on this journey between Hal and Sinestro. I think that just keeps it feeling new.

We also continue to add new characters. The goal is, if you look at GREEN LANTERN in particular, GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS, of those seven characters, like five are brand new or a couple years old. In GREEN LANTERN CORPS, Pete [Tomasi] is always introducing new characters and concepts. In RED LANTERNS, they're all new. In GREEN LANTERN we have a lot of new villains and concepts that we're dealing with. We're also going to be touching on villains that we've been using, villains from the past but I think introducing new concepts and characters is key to Green Lantern because it is so big and vast. That keeps it feeling fresh too. We don't have them fight Sonar for the tenth time. We're really exploring new things.

CV: You've been adding a lot of new stuff, especially with Sinestro. Like he broke a ring before...

GJ: Twice!

CV: Yeah, twice! Are you just teasing that stuff? Are we ever going to see flashbacks?

GJ: That actually plays into something else that happens down the line. There's no story lines like that for him.

CV: So no SINESTRO YEAR...SEVEN or whenever it would have happened in his career?

GJ: ...You'll have to keep reading for some of that stuff. I don't want to totally reveal what we're doing with that stuff yet.

CV: We can assume the Guardians will find out Hal is working with Sinestro?

GJ: Eventually, if they did, that would be very bad for Hal and Sinestro.

CV: What about "The Secret of the Indigo Tribe" story coming up? Is that going to deal with the glimpse we had of Indigo-1 imprisoned by Abin Sur in the Book of the Black? And the Indigo Oath that mentions Abin?

GJ: Yes. "The Secret of the Indigo Tribe" really is about two things. First off, every arc is still about Hal and Sinestro. Secondly, it's about what the Indigo Tribe is all about, what compassion is all about and what the secrets of the Indigo Tribe are (as the title says). Can you learn compassion or is it inherent in everybody?

How do you make compassion real? In sociopaths and psychopaths, compassion is actually present, it's just not always triggered. They're very close in personality. They can feel compassion but when something is in their way, compassion kind of dissolves. That's what Sinestro is. They can feel compassion for somebody but if that person stands in the way of anything they want, there's no sympathy for them. It's a really interesting conceit, compassion is not devoid, it's just absent. We're going to be exploring that.

CV: What can you tell us about "The Curse of Shazam!"? Will Billy be Captain Marvel again?

GJ: I will tell you Billy Batson definitely is the main character. It's a very different tone than anything else we're doing right now. Gary [Frank] and I are trying to do something that's a little more magical. It's less a superhero tale and more of a magical tale. It's about a kid who's alone and how he survives being alone.

CV: What about Black Adam? Mary Marvel?

GJ: I can't say much more about "The Curse of Shazam!"

CV: Guess we'll have to wait and see.

Update

To find out more about what Geoff has planned for Shazam, read Geoff's interview with our friends at Newsarama.

50 Comments
Posted by The Impersonator

Nice interview!

Posted by spiderman20991992

Nice, i'm loving all three of john's books, especially Aquaman. Couldn't be happier with the job hes done with the books. and i'm excited to finally see some captain marvel!

Edited by Dernman

Less of a superhero tale more of a magic one? That's going to be tough with his costume.

Posted by Bestostero

i cannot for the life of me get into Green Lantern but i absolutely love Aquaman and Justice League... im looking forward to "the curse of shazam" too!

Posted by Video_Martian

Only excited for Aquaman and SHAZAM

Posted by Herx

can't wait for "curse of shazam", and Aquaman hasn't let me down yet.

Posted by StarKiller809

Interesting. I really am excited for Green Lantern now

Posted by Billy Batson

hmmmmm
BB

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous
@Dernman said:
Less of a superhero tale more of a magic one? That's going to be tough with his costume.
he said in another interview that his costume would very different IIRC
Posted by zackattack529

Geoff johns is such a busy writter he can only give dull answers haha

Posted by Misterwizz

Geoff Johns has been writing the same thing in GL over and over again.

Posted by Dernman
@spiderbat87 said:
@Dernman said:
Less of a superhero tale more of a magic one? That's going to be tough with his costume.
he said in another interview that his costume would very different IIRC
I hope that is true but hope it doesn't end up looking dumb. Did it say if they are going with the Captain Marvel name or the Shazam name? I know some people believed Shazam was his name for awhile. 
Posted by Jonny_Anonymous
@Dernman said:
@spiderbat87 said:
@Dernman said:
Less of a superhero tale more of a magic one? That's going to be tough with his costume.
he said in another interview that his costume would very different IIRC
I hope that is true but hope it doesn't end up looking dumb. Did it say if they are going with the Captain Marvel name or the Shazam name? I know some people believed Shazam was his name for awhile. 
If I could find the interview again so I could be 100% but I'm pretty sure they implied but did't outright say it would just be Shazam.
Posted by chalkshark

Wait... what? No one has ever touched on the history of Atlantis before? Is that a joke? The only way that statement could carry an ounce of truth to it, is if Johns means that no one has touched on it since the 5 month old re-launch. DC put out a mini-series called The Atlantis Chronicles that was nothing but Atlantean history, most of which was further expanded upon, and explored, in Peter David's Aquaman run. Joe Kelly's "Obsidian Age story arc, in JLA, also told a story of ancient Atlantis. That tale revealed that Atlantis was, in fact, sunk on purpose.... by Aquaman! The fall out from that story laid the foundation for the last Aquaman series. Don't even get me started on how many times Atlantean history is referenced in the Silver Age series, let alone that Arion title.

I get that this is the "new" 52, & that nothing is the same as it was.... except that it is. Superman was still rocketed from the doomed planet Krypton, as an infant, and raised by a kindly farm couple in Kansas. Batman's parents were still gunned down in Crime Alley by Joe Chill. Hal Jordan still got a Green Lantern ring from a dying Abin Sur. Barry Allen was still hit by a bolt of lightning & doused in chemicals, improbably giving him super-human speed. DC might have changed the sauce but the meat is still the same.

If there's any history that hasn't been touched upon, it's Aquaman's, by Johns. All these questions he's raising have already been answered. Including the symbol on Aquaman's belt, which isn't actually an "A" at all. That one was fielded in another mini-series, Aquaman: Time & Tide.

I'm not trying to be negative here. I'm actually enjoying Johns' Aquaman series. Certainly no one is happier than I am that Aquaman is enjoying a renewed popularity among the fan base. It's just this kind of commentary from the writer really burns me. Geoff Johns is not operating in a vacuum. It's not that he's ignoring Aquaman's history as a character. That's actually not the bothersome part. It's that it's dismissive of all the creators who came before him, who contributed in great ways and small, to the overall Aquaman milieu. It says that those people are no longer of value. That what they did is meaningless. There's no way I could ever be cool with that, no matter how much I might enjoy a current writer's work on a current series. Anyone who has ever been a fan of any character should feel the same way.

Online
Posted by G-Man

@zackattack529: He was totally laughing about it.

Staff
Posted by The Stegman

I love how most of his answers were five words or less

Posted by feargalr

Because he gets a new one.. I hope was hoping for something a little less cryptic :/

Posted by Dernman
@spiderbat87 said:
@Dernman said:
@spiderbat87 said:
@Dernman said:
Less of a superhero tale more of a magic one? That's going to be tough with his costume.
he said in another interview that his costume would very different IIRC
I hope that is true but hope it doesn't end up looking dumb. Did it say if they are going with the Captain Marvel name or the Shazam name? I know some people believed Shazam was his name for awhile. 
If I could find the interview again so I could be 100% but I'm pretty sure they implied but did't outright say it would just be Shazam.
That does fit better with them choosing to go a magical type book instead of a Super hero type book.
Posted by Amegashita

The Sha-ZAM story may get me back into reading DC comics. Only if Mary and Billy are both characters in it that is.

Posted by Danial79

I've only been reading DC since the relaunch, and Aquaman, JL, and GL are three of my favourites, so Johns must be doing something right :)

Posted by sweetesttoaster

I hope they update shazam's costume. There was always something...off about the old one. Idk it might just be me.

Posted by sora_thekey

I really enjoyed the first issue of Aquaman but I didn't continue reading. Green Lantern has been really hard to get on-board with since Blackest Night so I haven't read anything Green Lantern in the New 52. In the case of Justice League... I guess I'm going to have to buy the trade.

Moderator
Posted by ArturoCalaKayVee

@spiderbat87 said:

@Dernman said:
Less of a superhero tale more of a magic one? That's going to be tough with his costume.
he said in another interview that his costume would very different IIRC

Yeah, they're completely changing the original CM costume

Posted by SpidermanWins

Cool interview. I'll be looking forward to Geoff's plans for Green Lantern and Aquaman

Posted by notarandomguy

SHAZAM

Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

Because Batman gets a new Bat-emblem now? Huh, that was very brief but very diplomatic. I'm intrigued now.

Posted by papo

Geoff Johns so good I can't wait to get green lantern #6 and Im about to read aquaman #5 and JL #5 big fan right now

Posted by WizardShazam

I don't anticipate this Captain Marvel story to be anything but a disappointment considering I have never liked anything Johns has written but with Cap being my favorite character, I'll probably tough it out and hope he gets a new writer for the (hopefully) inevitable ongoing.

Posted by BatClaw89
@RedheadedAtrocitus said:

Because Batman gets a new Bat-emblem now? Huh, that was very brief but very diplomatic. I'm intrigued now.

Hope its the earth one emblem 
Posted by Ganthetsward20

This guy is super busy but putting out some great work!!

Posted by kagato

I have only limited exposure to Captain Marvel (mostly from what was in Flashpoint and the Mortal Kombat vs DCU game), from those it appears that the word Shazam both creates and seperates Billy from the Captain Marvel personna. I guess that means this is going to change since Batman calling out to him could turn him back into a kid midflight and potentially kill him.

Posted by christopher84

@Dernman @spiderbat87 in another interview Johns said his name would be Shazam. It has been for a while because he said Marvel threatened to sue over the name "Captain Marvel" so they had to change it.

Posted by GamerGeek360

To be honest, the only stuff I cared about was when he talked about Green Lantern. I'm glad that was the only section he actually answered with real answers and not those 5-word cryptic sentences. You should have asked him why he hates Batman so much. That may have been interesting, or he would have just said "Because."

Posted by KidSupreme

Billy's Back, Billy's Back, Every body is screaming Billy's Back! SHAZAM!!!! BOO YAA ... yes i`m excited! :D

Posted by Green ankh

I love the Aquaman series.

Posted by Adnan

I was worried he was gonna make Billy darker like his Flashpoint appearance, glad that doesn't seem to be the case. A lot of characters work when given a dark portrayal, but Billy isn't one of them imo.

Posted by redbird3rdboywonder

In the interveiw you should've asked him why is it that none of the "New 52" seem to tie in with each other

Posted by Phaedrusgr

@Billy Batson: This...

Posted by Mr. Dead Pool

@Dernman: Maybe if they change it to something like this?

Posted by hulkmakedoodoo

HAL JORDAN MAKE HULK FEEL SHAME FOR BEING GREEN!!!

Posted by TheWitchingHour

I really love Johns' work. But man does he play it close to the vest in these interviews. That guy locks up his secrets tighter than Fort Knox

Posted by jrock85

You should have asked him why he's trying to debase Hal Jordan and prop up Sinestro, even though the former has been handing the latter his a** for over half a century.

Posted by BlackArmor

@spiderman20991992 said:

Nice, i'm loving all three of john's books, especially Aquaman. Couldn't be happier with the job hes done with the books. and i'm excited to finally see some captain marvel!

Posted by Miss_Garrick

I can't wait for all this stuff! I'm so happy with how Geoff made Aquaman cool.

Posted by missingpriest

@chalkshark: great post chalkshark!!! and i agree with you 100%!! reading this crap about how he's coming with all these new story ideas for Aquaman is freakin irritating when that idea already been done!! i can practically hear Johns sucking himself off while he talks about all these great ideas he's putting on the table... or is it because G-Man's too busy kissing his ass to realize how ignorant and unresearched his comments are on the nature of theses characters. i mean it's no big deal to retell a story, but to claim it's never been done ?!?! STFU!!!

even with that said, i actually like what's being done with Aquaman right now. so his powers are being amped up... that's cool, but no it doesn't make sense to say he has better hearing just because he spends his time in water. there goes Johns again pulling shit out his ass. it's like whenever some religious nut tries to put a scientific spin on his sermons that don't make sense. some people would just nod their heads and say amen, others would stop and look around with that stupid look on their faces and say, "huh!?!?" but i guess in both of your defenses, his super/enhanced hearing wasn't really defined in the comic, echo location comes to mind... i wouldn't call it "super" hearing, but maybe enhanced, so i guess it's open to interpretation... i just hope later on, we can get a better explanation of what all these new "enhanced" senses are and what it can do...

okay that's more than what i wanted to type, but i still have to say, it sucks that all those trench guys got killed off already, but since it's Georff Johns that's writing the series i'm not too worried about it, he always brings back the dead people... ha.

Posted by AirDave817
Posted by TheMadMonkey

@chalkshark: Thank you. I mean that very sincerely. I'm glad I'm not the only one who remembers these things. :-)

Posted by thatlad

Good to see some interviews on here, not a lot of interesting answers but enjoyable all the same

Posted by Mr_Wayne69

Comic Vine: Why do you seem to write Batman so out of character at times?

Geoff Johns: It's a gift really.

Posted by Gylan Thomas

@chalkshark: the words of a true fan :)

Lovin' Johns work on Aquaman right now but that interview reads like he's the first writer ever to work on the character.