Johns leaves JSA with issue 26

#1 Posted by Nighthunter (28582 posts) - - Show Bio

In the eyes of many readers, it's a clear example of "all good things must come to an end."

Geoff Johns has announced that he will be leaving DC's Justice Society of America with issue #26. At his Comicbloc forum , Johns wrote:

There will always be a JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA book in the DC Universe.

I take a lot of pride in that fact because it wasn’t always true.

It’s hard to say this but officially, I will be leaving the title after JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #26, which is a single-issue story entitled “BLACK ADAM RUINED MY BIRTHDAY.” Following the Black Adam arc with Jerry and I, #26 will be my last issue, Dale’s last and our fantastic editor Michael Siglain’s last. I think we’re going out on one of my favorite stories to date and I’m glad we are all going out on this together.

I’ve been writing JSA nearly my entire career. The book has steadily gained new and old fans and, with the re-launch two years ago, fixed itself as one of the staples of the DC UNIVERSE. Since then we’ve remained one of the top monthly books at DC alongside JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA and BATMAN. A book starring characters like Jay Garrick, Stargirl, Mr. Terrific and Citizen Steel. Heroes that, I think, most people had written off. But not all of them did.

We got Dr. Mid-Nite from the talented Matt Wagner. And the new Mr. Terrific first appeared in THE SPECTRE under the pen of one of my favorite writers John Ostrander. I brought in Stargirl, who will always be a character I write in one form or another – no matter if I’m on JSA or not. And, above all, I think James Robinson’s run on STARMAN opened the door for the JSA on a different level.

How’d I get involved in this? Peter Tomasi and David Goyer.

I was asked by them to come on and co-write JSA back in 1999 right when I got into comics. James had left the book after issue #2. David wrote #3 himself and I came in and wrote #4 with him, but without a credit. I got a special thanks to, but that was enough for me. David then wrote #5 and I came on officially with #6, which featured Black Adam way back when. Over the next two years, I worked with David on the book steadily until he left with #25 and returned later through #51.

The JSA to me represents everything good about life, work and superheroes. In life, generations past, present and future all provide different viewpoints. There can be something magical when it’s past from grandfather to father to son or from mother to daughter or son to grandfather. There’s nothing more important than family – and family means a lot more than just blood relatives. That’s what my very first book, STARS & S.T.R.I.P.E., was about and that’s what JSA, and life, is about.

So why am I leaving?

I have more stories to tell, and the characters are endless, but that’s also true for the DC Universe. I’m ready to move on to some other challenges like returning to THE FLASH and SUPERMAN: SECRET ORIGIN. And I am also obsessed with making sure that GREEN LANTERN, BLACKEST NIGHT and everything around it is the absolute best it can possibly be. ...and that’s only part of 2009. There are some new projects on the horizon.

I have to thank Dale Eaglesham, Fernando Parasin, Alex Ross, Steve Sadowski, Leonard Kirk, Don Kramer, Jerry Ordway, Michael Bair, Alex Sinclair, Jon Kalisz, Michael Siglain, Steve Wacker, Harvey Richards, Eddie Berganza, Adam Schlagman, Peter Tomasi, David Goyer, James Robinson, Carlos Pacheco and the creators that inspired me – Paul Levitz, Grant Morrison and Marv Wolfman.

And although he’s never read the book, Roy Thomas. He held the torch for a long time and did a wonderful job. I wish we could've done a project together.

I’m sure I’ll return to the JUSTICE SOCIETY in some form or another some day, but for now I’m passing them off a new creative team – one who is already working on the book (job’s taken, sorry guys – and it’s someone who’s never worked with these characters before). I really look forward to reading it.

Thanks for all your support and I'll see you all soon!

#2 Edited by Zoom (14668 posts) - - Show Bio

Sad to see Johns leave JSA.  He had an outstanding run.

On the other hand, confirmation that he'll be returning to write Flash after Rebirth freaking makes my year.  Alan Burnett (yet another very temporary writter on the book it seems) is doing a much better job than either Peyer or Waid (who frankly ran out of ideas for the Flash years ago) and several times better than Gungenhiem of course but still.  Johns is the Flash writter.  Fans of the book will be glad to have him back.

#3 Edited by Nighthunter (28582 posts) - - Show Bio

agreed

wonder who will take over Johns, they need another A-list writer for the book if they don't want to see sales drop

I nominate Rucka Simone or Tomasi (I can dream lol)

#4 Posted by AtPhantom (14521 posts) - - Show Bio

Damn, I really liked Justice society up until now. I hope they don't screw it up.

#5 Posted by Watch Dog (834 posts) - - Show Bio

I will miss him.  He's the whole reason I started to  read JSA (that and the return of Hawkman).

#6 Posted by geraldthesloth (33313 posts) - - Show Bio

this sucks

#7 Posted by King Saturn (224190 posts) - - Show Bio
Well... all good things must Come To An End... But..........its so HARD.... to say GOODBYE.... to YESTERDAYYYYYYYYY

lol
#8 Posted by Nighthunter (28582 posts) - - Show Bio
Since we’ve last spoken, word has come that Geoff Johns and Dale Eaglesham will be stepping down from Justice Society. Is a replacement team ready to go?

DD: Yes there is – what we have is Jerry Ordway working with Geoff which takes us up through issue #25, and then starting right behind that is the new writing team of Bill Willingham and Matt Sturges. They have this incredible story they’re working on in Fables right now where they’re crossing over all the Fables’ books, so we’re just waiting for them to come free of their Fables schedule a little, and then they’re going to be taking on Justice Society on a regular basis.
#9 Posted by Supreme Marvel (11264 posts) - - Show Bio

I like Willingham. I can accept him taking over. Good luck to him!

#10 Posted by Nighthunter (28582 posts) - - Show Bio

so the Fables team is taking over JSA? Considering how aclaimed that series is I'm happy

They are replacing an A-list team with another keeping me from dropping JSA

#11 Posted by Zoom (14668 posts) - - Show Bio

That's good news. :-)

#12 Posted by Nighthunter (28582 posts) - - Show Bio
Justice Society of America fans didn't have to wait long to find out who's taking over the comic when Geoff Johns leaves next year. As announced here on Newsarama on Christmas Eve by DC Executive Editor Dan DiDio, JSA will be written by Bill Willingham and Matt Sturges beginning with Issue #26.

Along with DC titles like Shadowpact and Salvation Run, Willingham is best known as writer of the Eisner Award-winning series Fables, the Vertigo comic that topped Diamond's graphic novel sales chart last month and is being developed for television by ABC. While Sturges is also involved in the Fables universe as co-writer of the spin-off Vertigo series Jack of Fables, he's also writing the ongoing House of Mystery title and recently finished a run on Blue Beetle.

"They have this incredible story they're working on in Fables right now where they're crossing over all the Fables books, so we're just waiting for them to come free of their Fables schedule a little, and then they're going to be taking over Justice Society on a regular basis," DiDio said.

Although Justice Society of America was given a new #1 issue and title in 2006, the new series was written by Geoff Johns, who had been a writer on the former JSA title from 1999 through 2006. As a result, the comic has maintained a pretty constant tone for the last decade, while growing from reaching a group of loyal readers to becoming a Top 10 title for DC during the last year.

As DC makes the switch to new writers – with the new artist yet to be announced – Newsarama talked with Sturges and Willingham about their upcoming run on the series and what might come next for the Justice Society of America.

Newsarama: How did you guys end up hearing about this job? Was this something you've known for awhile?

Matt Sturges: Dan DiDio was walking past me in San Diego, at the hotel, and he puts his arm around my shoulder and he says, "Matt, how do you feel about the JSA?" And I said, "I like the JSA! I like them a lot!" And he says, "Good! I'll get back to you!"

Bill Willingham: I found out at breakfast with Dan and [DC Story Editor] Ian Sattler and [DC Coordinating Editor] Jann Jones in San Diego. In the midst of talking, Dan says, "Oh yeah! And we want you to write JSA." And I said, "Uh... OK!" Then later on, talking to Matt, he was saying, "Yeah! And I think I'm taking over JSA." And I was like, wait a minute, huh? So I talked to Dan about it and he said, "Oh! Yeah! You're writing it together!"

NRAMA: When he talked to you about the Justice Society, what were your first thoughts? Were you familiar with the Justice Society?

BW: Who's not familiar with the Justice Society? What self-respecting person in the comic book world is not familiar with the Justice Society? It's like being in the Olympic swimming world and not quite knowing what water is. You can't not know that.

MS: JSA has been one of my favorite books for a long time, and I've really enjoyed what Geoff has done on the book. And the new series that started just a couple years ago has really been a must-read, get-it-when-it-comes-out book for me.

NRAMA: Matt, this is a pretty big comic for somebody who's newly DC exclusive, isn't it?

MS: Oh yeah, it's a really big opportunity for me. And I think it will be one of those make-or-break things. I don't want to mess up a cornerstone of the DC Universe, but if I can pull this off – and I think I can pull this off – then it's an opportunity to shine. And an opportunity to work with some of the best characters in the DCU.

NRAMA: Although you've each done different things both inside and outside the DCU, comic book readers are probably most familiar with your work on Fables and Jack of Fables. People who are fans of those books – are they going to see some of that flavor in JSA? Or are you approaching it in a completely different way?

BW: Sure. Matt and I are slowly going to move some of the characters you're familiar with out of the book and replace them with talking ducks and cows and goats. And they will actually be legacy characters to some golden age or silver age character you've never heard of.

MS: [laughs] And we're changing the name of the book to the Justice Society of Animals.

NRAMA: They're joking, people. They're joking. But seriously, can you see the reason for a comparison between the comics? Justice Society has a mythology of its own, doesn't it?

BW: Well, the Justice Society is the Fables of the superhero world. It's a giant cast of legendary heroes from old that are being continuously updated. My god, now that I think of it, it's exactly like Fables.

MS: But without the talking animals.

BW: I may have to turn this down now, simply because, now that you've drawn these comparisons, why write the same thing twice? No, but hopefully, we'll bring the same moments of drama and terrible loss and jeopardy punctuated by inappropriate bathroom humor that inform the Fables/Jack of Fables kind of work.

MS: [laughs] JSA does have a similarly epic feel and ensemble cast. But you know, there's also the elements of lightheartedness and charm that Bill does so well in Fables and that I think has always been a cornerstone of what the JSA is about. It goes beyond people in tights beating people up. There's this notion of continuity and family and genuine feeling.

BW: It's an actual society. They aren't the Justice Club or the Justice Machine. They're the Justice Society with all that name implies.

NRAMA: You're following a long run on Justice Society by Geoff Johns. And talking to other writers, there seem to be two schools of thought on following a run like that: You either try your best to continue that run, or you just go in a completely different direction and don't worry about trying to match what the last guy did. What are your thoughts on that as you start on Justice Society?

MS: Well, Geoff's a tough act to follow. And this is something that I also experienced coming in after John Rogers on Blue Beetle – because that was a very beloved run with a strong fan base – and I think what I did then, and what we're going to do in this case, is we're not going to think in terms of what Geoff did vs. what we're doing. We're just going to come up with the stories we want to tell, and we're going to tell them the best way we know how.

BW: I for one am not going to attempt to be Geoff Johns-like because, what a silly thing that would be to even attempt. It's going to be about the stories and the characters. It's going to be a grand, sweeping, exciting book. We have lots of interesting things planned.

NRAMA: Let's talk about the characters. Will the characters on this team stay the same as you come on board? The team is pretty large right now...

MS: It is pretty big. And we will be addressing that.

BW: In a way that will be profound and exciting.

MS: Yes! It takes two writers to write this book now.

BW: You can tell we're not going to say anything related to who's on the team. You'll just have to wait and find out.

NRAMA: But are there any characters that are just a "given" that will be sticking around? Characters that are necessary for it to still be called the Justice Society?

BW: See, now, that's a dirty reporter trick. We didn't answer the first question, so she comes back another way, thinking that by process of elimination, if we say who is definitely on the team, then she can figure out who is and isn't on the team.

NRAMA: [laughs] I'm busted! But surely you can understand the interest from JSA fans in what might be changing as you take over.

BW: Well, there are some things that aren't going to change – the idea that this is a home for legacy characters of DC's past. That will not change. And the idea that they consider themselves a family as much as a superhero team. That will not change. Why mess with things like that? What else are we not changing, Matt?

MS: We're not changing the line-up in a substantial way, at least not at first. Readers will very much recognize the cast of this book. There's not going to be a wild departure from what's come before.

BW: Ah, see? You answered her question. I wanted to be vague and obscure about that.

MS: Oh, then I take it back. We're changing everything. Now you can decide which one of my statements is true.

NRAMA: I'm banking on the former. As I'm sure you know, there are a lot of long-time fans of the Justice Society who've been reading everything related to this team for years – for decades, really – so to finish up the interview, I'd just ask: Is there anything you want to tell JSA fans as they react to the news that you're the new writers?

BW: In all seriousness, I just want to reassure everyone that these characters are beloved to me. And to Matt as well. We're not going to do the new, dark Golden Age Flash or things like that. All of the standard stuff that people will sometimes do to inject some "life" back into an old property? That's ridiculous. That's not going to happen here. The life of these Justice Society stories comes from just constructing good stories and characters that are both interesting and, in most cases, people you would want to consider friends.

MS: And in this book, maybe more than any other in the DC Universe, this is a book where you want to be true to the these characters. You don't want to mess with them. You don't want to mess with success. So our goal is that long-term readers of the book are going to see the characters that they're familiar with.

Like Bill said, there are going to be a lot of sweeping, epic things happening with the book, and the conclusion of the first sweeping thing is, I think, pretty startling. But it will still be the characters you know and love, because we care about them just like all of you do.
#13 Posted by Darkchild (40624 posts) - - Show Bio

hmmm anythings better than Johns right now. Im still hoping he wont f@#k Flash Rebirth.

#14 Posted by Nighthunter (28582 posts) - - Show Bio

you are kidding right?

#15 Posted by Nighthunter (28582 posts) - - Show Bio
Johns' final issue on the team he has been writing for a decade:





















JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #26

Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Dale Eaglesham & Nathan Massengill
Covers by Alex Ross
Featuring three painted covers by Alex Ross depicting the entire Justice Society of America! In a very special day-in-the-life story of the JSA titled “Black Adam Ruined My Birthday,” the team celebrates the birthday of one of their own – Stargirl! Don’t miss this momentous issue.
    Retailers please note: This issue will ship with three covers by Alex Ross that can be ordered separately. Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.
On sale April 29 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
#16 Posted by Push (1552 posts) - - Show Bio
Nighthunter said:
"agreed

wonder who will take over Johns, they need another A-list writer for the book if they don't want to see sales drop

I nominate Rucka Simone or Tomasi (I can dream lol)"

I'd go Tomasi, myself.
#17 Posted by Nighthunter (28582 posts) - - Show Bio

When fans discovered superstar writer Geoff Johns was leaving “Justice Society of America” – a title he’ll have written for twenty-five issues, plus nearly ninety issues of its predecessor, “JSA” -- many likely considered dropping the best-selling DC Comics title from their pull lists.

But lo and behold, if DCU Executive Editor Dan DiDio didn’t score himself a dandy of a replacement -- actually two replacements -- with Bill Willingham and Matt Sturges, the writing team behind Vertigo’s hit “Jack of Fables” as well as “House of Mystery.”

CBR News checked in with Willingham and Sturges for a lively conversation and discovered each had their favorites of the JSA, and found both were eager to follow Johns on the popular team book despite fears they might be throwing their careers “in the crapper.”

CBR: Were you looking at writing a superhero book together as your next project?

Bill Willingham: No, I wasn’t. The thing is, the conversation between me and DiDio when I was offered it and the conversation between Matt and DiDio when he was offered it were separate things. For a while, we had that confusion of which one of us was actually offered the gig. It was like that guy who asks seven different girls out to the prom. I was thinking this could be a sleazy thing to do to us. And then, of course, later on they cleared up that “No, no, no, no. of course not. We want both of you.”

Matt Sturges: And when Dan talked to me about it. He asked me, “How do you fell about the JSA?” And I said, “I love the JSA.” And he was like, “Great.” And then he just keeps on walking [laughs]. I didn’t have any idea about what he was talking about. I never really thought that he was asking me if I wanted to write the JSA.

Alan Scott and Jay Garrick are among Willingham's favorite JSA members

Are both of you comfortable being treated as a two-headed monster; with Dan DiDio expecting both of you to realize he was asking both of you to work on “Justice Society of America” together?

BW: I don’t think of it as a two-headed monster. And I don’t think of it as a married couple -- although that is some of the snickering that is going on about this. I think of it as Buddy and Sally from “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” A team of funny, intrepid writers who head off to the writing room and get that next episode of “The Alan Brady Show” together. And sometimes you get Rob as a solo act on his own to do something. When you dealt with Buddy and Sally, you always got them together. It’s practically one name – BuddyandSally.

MS: Can I be Morey Amsterdam, at least?

BW: I want to be the one that lies on the couch and just spins out ideas and you can be Sally, who actually slaves at the typewriter and does the work.

MS: I had a feeling it was going to be something like that.

Do you have your favorite JSA members already figured out?

BW: Almost imagine that “Justice Society of America” is two books written simultaneously. Because Matt and I did, almost like a softball team, choose up players for our sides. “These are my favorite characters and these are the ones I want to concentrate on or take the lead on.”

Who did you pick?

Stargirl and Power Girl are two of Sturges' favorite JSA members

MS: I am a big fan of Stargirl. I think she’s pretty cool. I have long been a fan of Power Girl and I have wanted to write her for a long time. And I would love to say something inappropriate but this is CBR. I think those would be my main two. I am really fascinated the Magog character. We’ll have to see what happens to him.

BW: It worked out almost complementary to each other because even though I don’t dislike Power Girl, the character hadn’t really inspired me. I started right off telling Matt that I don’t really have a handle on this character yet. I didn’t have an idea of what to do with her that would make her unique and outstanding. And Matt said, “Oh, I do.”

But my favorite characters, first and foremost, are the three old dudes: Jay Garrick, Alan Scott and Ted Grant. As a rapidly approaching old dude myself, I just like the challenge and the no-end-of-interesting-story-ideas that come from three powerful superhero guys who might be a bit past their prime. Who could be, and could certainly justify, close to hanging up the capes, the masks, the tights right now. They’ve certainly done their part. It’s time for the younger guys. And yet, they still have that sense of duty to keep going. To hand off good training and good values and everything else to the younger generation that’s coming up in the same team. So those first.

Obsidian. I love that character. Mostly for the untapped potential in my mind and the stories I have been dying to tell that only that character is right for and has never been covered and I’m going to be eternally thankful to Geoff Johns.

Let me digress a little bit. Agreeing to take over “Justice Society of America” from Geoff Johns is a whole lot like if DiDio approached us and said, “How would you like to throw your careers in the crapper right now?” It’s almost the same decision. It’s foolish to agree to follow him on this. And yet, we’re going to do it.

Mr. Terrific and Hourman

MS: It’s like which is more foolish, following Geoff Johns or saying, “No.” It’s a toss up.

BW: The nice thing is -- and the other way of looking at it -- it’s almost a perfectly safe choice. If we fall flat on our asses, if we fail miserably, we get a free pass because everyone will say, even the readers -- who know more about the comics industry then we do -- will say, “Well, you’re following Geoff Johns.” So we get a free pass if we fail. But if we succeed – oh, the glory of that.

But to get back to your question, I am thankful to Geoff Johns for doing what I would consider to be a huge favor, and I have no idea why he did it because it was way before any notion that we would be coming up, but he took Obsidian sort of off camera, off stage for a long time. He made him kind of a do-nothing background character, a sort of force inhabiting the brownstone as a security system. He was that little set of numbers that you go “boom, boom, boom, boom,” and that was his role. Not a lot has been done with the character. He was evil for a while. Geoff took Obsidian and let him lay low for a while so when we take him to the forefront again, it’s brand new and fresh and invigorated. What a wonderful gift. So Obsidian is going to be a major focus for me. As a matter of fact, so much so, that he appears in the very first panel of the very first issue.

So there was the old guys, and Obsidian... oh, and Liberty Belle. I love that character.

MS: If you get Liberty Belle, I get Hourman.

Now you’re going to look like a married couple again. Readers will think you are just writing each other into dialogue.

BW: Oh, thanks for mentioning that.

And remember, there are gradations to this. There’s not a character on the team that I don’t think is interesting and full of potential.

Liberty Belle and Wildcat & son

MS: I just called you other day, foaming at the mouth, about wanting to do something in particular with Alan Scott. So we definitely have our favorites and probably one of the ways we’ll be doing it will be voicing our favorites and writing scenes with those characters but that doesn’t mean we’re not going to have input on everything that happens.

Are there plans to have any members leave the team? You probably don’t need any new members considering there is already about 86 people in the Justice Society.

BW: It’s a pretty fully staffed team. It’s not like we’re saying, “This would be a great book if we could add a few more important characters.”

MS: Actually Bill, you haven’t seen the editorial mandate. We have to get the membership up to 100.

BW: Well that’s only 50 each. That’s doable.

No, there are some definite plans but they would all give away some important plot points.

So there will be a roster shake-up?

BW: The roster will be an important aspect of the first storyline. Let’s just say that.

MS: They wouldn’t have needed two writers if there were any plans to cut the membership too significantly.

"Justice Society of America" Vols. 1-4 on sale now

Who are villains in your first arc?

MS: All of them.

BW: And that’s absolutely true.

MS: Every one we can possibly get our hands on.

BW: Every one they will let us use and in some cases, when they weren’t available, we’ll just create new villains.

Can you tell us who the artist is yet?

MS: I don’t think they have officially chosen one yet.

BW: They have run some samples by us but I don’t think, until one is chosen, we should be naming names.

Why is “Justice Society of America” a good superhero book for you both to write? Is it the humor elements? Does it have similar pacing to that of “Jack of Fables?”

MS: I think what makes it a really good fit is that the JSA is a team composed not only of a lot of different members, but a lot of different viewpoints. And it’s very character-heavy. It’s not just people who go out and hit other people and the fun and exciting tactics of how that works which a lot of team books are and that’s great. But to me, the core of the JSA, which has always made it special or different, is that these are characters that fell like family to the readers. And any family has a lot different ways of looking at things. And there is a sense and a feeling of all of that stuff. And so I think Bill and I have a lot in common but we also disagree on a lot of things too. But one thing that we definitely agree on is putting character first and foremost in our stories. And keeping a range of drama and light-heartedness.

BW: I ran into a thing on an earlier series, and I won’t indict any particular editor or anything, where the notes back were, “Don’t you have a few too many light-hearted moments here? Because this is supposed to be a very dark and grim thing.” And I said, “Yes. And that’s because I have had to up the number of humor or light moments because it’s so dark and grim.”

Also by Bill Willingham & Matthew Sturges, "Jack of Fables" Vols. 1-4 on sale now

You set up the tragedy with the comedy. If it was all dark, grim, woe is me, unrelenting, then it loses any of its dramatic power. And pretty soon the readers would very likely say, “Yeah, I get it, you’re depressed, you’re grim, you’re gritty. I’ve seen that. Done that. I think I am going to go and find something else.”

You take moments of humor, black or graveyard, or whatever we are calling it these days and you think, “Okay, light-hearted things are okay.” So when the big, heavy hand of fate and crushing despair comes, it comes as a bit of a surprise again.

That’s a philosophy of writing that Matt and I both share. Just like a football game where you have to have a good running game to set up the passing game. You need both to have either.

MS: And “Justice Society of America” is doubly so because to make that particular book work, you have to give the characters room to shine, because these are beloved characters. And people want to see them not just as superheroes beating other people up but as human beings.

BW: And there’s the family aspect, which is important too. It’s not the Justice League. Or the Justice Commando Squad. Or the Justice Machine. It’s the Justice Society. It’s a family. You know that family that everyone has experienced at least once growing up, they will fight like cats and dogs amongst each other, but if you come up to one of them, suddenly you’re facing all of them. It’s very much like that in my mind. With all of their squabbles and petty things, the Justice Society will always come together.

Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges begin their run on "Justice Society of America" with May's issue #27. The writers invite interested readers to head over to www.clockworkstorybook.net for more news about their continuing and upcoming projects and to ask them questions directly.

#18 Posted by inferiorego (24633 posts) - - Show Bio

'm a HUGE Sturges fan! House of Mystery is amazing. I hope he does well.

Staff
#19 Posted by Nighthunter (28582 posts) - - Show Bio

Jesus Merino is the artist for the new creative team

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