He really stands out from the rest of the comic book writing crowd for his ability to flush out the psychologies of villains (Sinestro, Black Manta, Parasite, etc.), he knows how to use side characters to enrich the story and to add interesting bits of drama (as seen in Green Lantern, Aquaman, and Cyborg), and he knows how to make big reveals feel organic. Until the reboot, his only problems as a writer were that his single could feel a little decompressed from time to time and his main characters could feel a little bit like Mary Sue's from time to time--but it was no big deal because those stories revolved around super heroes.
I was extraordinarily excited about his Justice League run with Jim Lee when it was announced, but I've only enjoyed 2 of the 11 issues that have been released so far (Issues 1 and 9). So what's wrong with Johns's run?
1) The Characters Are Too One Note
Every team book is bound to have types. As a writer, you're working with 22 pages a month, so you often have to boil down your characters to their essential personality traits to make each character interesting. There is nothing wrong with that. It works well for the Ninja Turtles, the Young Justice cartoon, and too many other plays, shows, films, and video games to actually list. The problem is when the characters a TOO one note. How many times do we have to put up with the same Aquaman jokes over and over and over again. It was funny the first time in Aquaman's New52 solo title, but now when I see it again I just want to tear up the issue--it's not funny anymore and we get the joke. It's time to move on because it's just starting to feel like lazy writing to take up a few panels.
Green Lantern is supposed to fit the joker role on the team similar to Iceman, Spider-Man, Human Torch, and Iron Man, but Green Lantern's jokes have no real heart like those other characters. The joker is supposed to feel fun and playful--and his team mates should like his jokes occasionally. The reader and the other characters should laugh WITH the joker not AT him. That's not the case with Green Lantern in the book. He's just douchey. He's a clown. I forgave it during the first arc because he was still a new hero to the scene, but he still acts very rudely 5 years later. No one would actually want to be friends with this guy in real life, so why does the Justice League put up with him? He hits on everything that moves--sloppily I might add. He tries to pick up his friend's girlfriends (see issue 10). He put's people at risk to punk Batman (see issue 7). He's a jerk in a non-entertaining. way (see issue 1-11). I could put up with this if he were A) actually entertaining or B) is it happened rarely. But it's not entertaining, and Hal acts like a jerk every issue (except issue 9). Why is the writer who made Hal popular again writing him as a one note douchebag in an attempt to make him the funny guy? It's such a contrast from the Green Lantern ongoing and from his previous work with the character.
Wonder Woman is supposed to be this team's Wolverine, but she doesn't show the kind of heart needed to balance it out. And we don't need to reference the fact that Barry Allen is a cop who loves the law in every issue. And we know that Batman has no powers. LET'S MOVE ON.
Furthermore, we see the same team ups over and over. Batman and Superman always hang out. Flash and Green Lantern always hang out. Let's change it up. How about Superman and Aquaman? Cyborg and Flash? etc.?
Finally, why does the team constantly fight? They don't seem like they should really be friends because they can't stand each other. Why don't they get along some of the time? The Avengers and X-Men strike a good balance between team conflicts and unity. This team does not.
2) It's Too Decompressed
I understand taking your time to write a good story, but very little development actually happens in each issue. Some times there's hardly any dialog on a page no matter what the panel count is. While this is not a big deal in terms of buying for trades, it does make buying single issues feel like a waste. Now some writers think that they should solely focus on single issues which rushes the story too much (See the Manapul and Buccellato Flash) and other writers like Johns and Bendis write fr trade and leave single issues feeling worthless. There can be a balance between the two as seen in Snyder's Batman and Johns' Aquaman.
3) It Has Too Many Main Characters and It's Trying To Make Everyone Happy
Everyone has a favorite member of the Justice League who they want to see take center stage. Okay that's fine. Problems arise when you have too many of those characters trying to take a main character slot. Any writer or director will tell you that it is EXTREMELY difficult to coordinate fights with more than 5 characters. It's also hard to write worthwhile dialogue for more than 6 characters. I care more about dialogue and character development than fights, so I think that at most it's okay to have 6 main characters, but you can have hundreds of supporting characters is you'd like. Justice League breaks that rule and has 7 main characters. I know that the League traditionally has 7 heroes, but that doesn't mean that that is a good thing. At best a character just isn't given much to say or do (see Colossus during Mark Millar's fantastic Ultimate X-Men run, see Starfile during Geoff Johns's Teen Titans run, etc.), while the other characters take up the limelight. This can be fixed by splitting the characters up into smaller groups, but all 7 Leaguers are together most of the time which means that characters like Superman, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman say little while everything Cyborg says is exposition. Even the Avengers film and Joss Whedon's X-Men only had up to 6 heroes in the room at once.
The best way to fix this is by making some of the characters (up to 6) main characters while the rest are supporting characters. Yes this will piss people off if you advertise their favorite character on the cover, so just don't advertise their favorite character on the cover. By trying to use all 7 as main characters you're just annoying people who aren't Batman, Green Lantern, or Flash fans.
Some people may say that it's okay to have a zillion main characters like on Young Justice or JLU. But comics don't run on a weekly format like those shows which can neglect a character for a week or two. You can't neglect a main character for a month or months at a time.
Finally, not every character needs to be in the book every month. There are solo titles for that. Don't shove characters in to make people happy. It's about the quality of the time with the character not to quantity. It irks me when Wonder Woman and Aquaman are in the book only to get two lines of dialogue. Just leave them out of the issue that month, then have an Aquaman and Wonder Woman centric book the next month.
4) No Sense of Danger and No Build Up
Okay, we've seen heroes fight block buster style alien invasions a zillion times. Do we really need to see that again? Do the heroes need to win every time? Take a note from the Young Justice cartoon. Have the bad guys actually be cunning and sneaky. It makes the stories less predictable. Also when the bad guys do attack, don't just have them blow up a bunch of cars. If the bad guy is evil he'll do things like kill innocents and his own followers. Take some notes from Watchmen (wipe out of New York) and Ultimate Comics Ultimates (wipe out of DC).
5) It Feels Targeted To Parents Who Don't Read Comic Books
The book feels so bland and inoffensive so as to make parents feel comfortable buying it for their kids at Barnes and Noble when the movie eventually comes out. It's too koscher. Bad things can happen in a book and it will sell (see Watchmen or Batman: Year One). And just because the book is clean doesn't mean that kids will like it. My little brother (10) thinks that the book is for little kids, but he's a big fan of the darker Young Justice. You can be appropriate for children and still be dark and mature (see Dr. Seuss's The Lorax and Bruce Timm's Batman the Animated Series).
What ever happened to stories like Justice, New Frontier, Tower of Babel, etc.?
6) Predictable Reveals
Johns' is supposed to be good at surprises, so why is there nothing surprising in Justice League?
7) Geoff Johns Can Do Better
Why is Aquaman a FAR better team book than Justice League? It makes no sense. There's too much wasted potential in this book.
Can we get some ages for the characters and a timeline please? I get this is supposed to be timeless, but there are just too many holes in this universe.
What is Great About Geoff Johns' Run?
Cyborg is more interesting than he's ever been, so now I want a Cyborg solo book. The characters have personalities instead of being silver age carbon copies of one another. And I like the roster. David Graves seems like he could be a cool villain. That's about it.
@sethysquare: True but not at the same time. It would be great to have a WW film before they do a JL film, seems fair and appropriate.
Actually I think that a Wonder Woman movie would come after. A Justice League movie is further along the development process than Wonder Woman. Furthermore not every hero needs a lead in movie (see Hulk, Black Widow, and Thor). Wonder Woman may mean a lot to you--but the studios are more interested in Justice League than Wonder Woman (probably because the Wonder Woman comic is outsold by the Batman, Justice League, Superman, Green Lantern, Flash, and Aquaman comics in that order). And the original plan was for Green Lantern to do well and then crossover with Snyder's Superman and a rebooted Batman. All the other heroes would be introduced in the movie. Then they would spin off other heroes from the Justice League film. Which is not a big deal since in the Justice League cartoon, Wonder Woman's origin was in the first episode.
Sources for original plans:
While the original plans didn't work out since Green Lantern was a flop, the Justice League film has been scripted for a while now. A Wonder Woman film is NOT scripted--a writer has been hired though.
The current slate of DC movies looks like this:
"• DC are looking to release 2 films a year. So expect something like this:
Man of Steel (2013) Zack Snyder; David Goyer & Christopher Nolan; HenryCavill
Lobo (2014) Brad Peyton; TBA
Justice League (2015) TBA;
The Batman (2016)
Wonder Woman (2016) TBA (Most Likely Nicolas Winding Refn); MichaelGoldenburg
The Flash (2017) TBA; Greg Berlanti, Marc Gruggenheim & Michael Green; TBA"
In the way that Superman's supposed to stand for men but at least he's allowed to have some kind of element of sexuality, Wonder Woman is expected to stand for women without any element of sexuality, and that seems wrong.-Morrison
@AweSam: It's more offensive to be completely ignored. And John Stewart adds more to the team than just being Black. He's a more compelling character than Hal and his relationship with Wally and Bruce are hilarious.
WAYYYYY Better than Douche Jordan and Milktoast Allen.
I have six of them...
Oh, and it should be for all ages but mature like the Bruce Timm cartoon.
The news was inevitable, I just didn’t think it would happen so soon after The Avengers came to theaters.
I’m talking, of course, about the big Justice League movie announcement. Warner Bros. picked an odd time to tell everyone its plans to starting work again on that project. Granted, we knew they were going to make one sooner or later but talking about it right now makes everyone jump to the obvious conclusion – that they’re doing it in an attempt to balance the scales that Marvel’s The Avengers made so one-sided.
Most of you know a Justice League project was seriously underway back in 2007. They had a script by Kieran and Michelle Mulroney, George Miller was going to direct, and they were planning to shoot in Australia. Nothing official was announced at that time but word was they had contracted several younger actors to take on the iconic roles in the hopes that they would be able to carry on a franchise series. The line-up was said to include Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Green Lantern, Flash, Aquaman, and the Martian Manhunter.
Now, there’s more at work with the back story of getting a live-action League together and this isn’t a history of the team in the media (I’m sure Alan Kistler is already at work on something like that), so I won’t go any further in that direction. Frankly, as I fan, I’m just dying to know what’s going to happen next. As of right now, we have absolutely no idea what direction they’re going to go in. We don’t even know if they know what direction they’re going to go in. Warner Bros. attempting a connected universe like Marvel has done with their films is certainly an option but DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson has said that’s not their goal. I see advantages in both standalone properties and interconnected films but the bottom line is if it’s a good movie, it will sell.
Unfortunately, DC’s Green Lantern didn’t sell.
Well, didn’t sell as well as they’d hoped anyway. I enjoyed it, and it certainly brought some great fan moments to life for me, but it wasn’t anywhere near as good as I thought it would be. I know there’s been talk of a sequel but actor Ryan Reynolds, who took on the role of Hal Jordan, is also still supposed to be in a Deadpool movie for Marvel, right? True, he could still potentially do both but then what happens when the Justice League movie rolls around? They are almost 100% not going to have Christian Bale to play Batman, and depending on how Man of Steel goes, they may not want Henry Cavill to continue as Superman. All eventualities aside, I just don’t think Hal Jordan is the right Green Lantern for this Justice League film.
For the record, I don’t think it would be difficult to introduce another Green Lantern to audiences. Whether viewers had seen Reynold’s film or not, they’ve probably heard about the “space cop” concept already and know there is more than one Green Lantern. If they don’t, well, it’s really not hard to allow one of the other characters say just that.
I suppose Kyle Rayner could make the most sense if they chose not to go with Hal because he was the replacement GL in the comics too. I like Kyle a lot but I prefer his personal stories and feel like he gets lost in a team setting. I’d absolutely LOVE to see Guy Gardner on film since he’s the loud mouth people hate to love and love to hate. And he is just so much fun to watch, isn’t he? But as to the Earth GL I’d most like to see in this upcoming Justice League movie, well it’s hands-down John Stewart.
Supposedly they had John lined up for that 2007 Justice League but we don’t know yet if they’ll stick with that choice. They totally should. Not only is he a great GL (and also served as a Hal replacement back in the day), he’s completely unlike any of the other Earth Lanterns. He’s a marine and an architect but above all else, a real presence. You don’t see many denying John’s authority when he comes on the scene.
And yes, also important is that he would add some much needed diversity to the cast (if they are going to stick with the same characters from the last attempt) They could certainly use some more woman on the team, too. Hawkgirl/Hawkwoman would be a lot of fun, Vixen as well, or someone like Zatanna since they don’t have any magic users on board as far as we know. But I digress. You can’t forget that what John brings to the table is a whole generation of comic fans (and non-readers) who grew up thinking he was the only (and best) Green Lantern, something the Justice League/Justice League Unlimited animated series helped facilitate. Kyle and Guy still aren’t that well-known outside of comics.
And let’s face it, they’re going to need all the help they can get. Relative unknown Will Beall has been tapped to write the script for this new incarnation. He’s written several episodes of the ABC series Castle and has three films in different levels of production but that’s really nothing to go on at this point. More importantly, they have a long way to go before they get there. Warner Bros. currently has movie projects in the works starring Superman, The Flash, Lobo, and Wonder Woman.
But you know me, (or at least you should by now, I’ve been doing this column for Newsarama for over two years). I’ll be at every one of them opening night! Why? Because these are the stories and characters I love and the reason I do what I do.
Which brings me to some important business. I’ve decided it’s time for me to move on from my home here at Newsarama.
Don’t everyone gasp at once!
I honestly can’t believe it’s been over two years since I moved my Hey, That’s My Cape! column from Heartless Doll to Newsarama. I guess it’s right what they say, time flies when you’re having fun. It seems like only yesterday I suggested Aquaman get a new costume... and had almost everyone tell me what a stupid idea that was. But seriously though, I love you guys and gals who read my work on a regular (or irregular) basis, whether you agreed with what I had to say or not. I loved what I did here and wouldn’t take back a word, even when those words started controversy I never intended. I just put my thoughts to the page and was happy to get people talking. And if any of my columns got at least one person to pick up comics for the first time (or again), then I consider my job done.
So what does this all mean? I’m not going to stop writing, that’s for sure! You can still find me posting on my personal blog, TheNerdyBird.com as well as read my other work at my full-time gig, TheMarySue.com. I’ll still be talking about what I love and yes, what I disagree with, every chance I get. And hopefully I’ll see you all some time in the future...or in the past if the world turns out like I hope.
Until then, be excellent to each other and remember...Batman always wins.
Read more of Jill’s columns at the Hey, That’s My Cape! topic page!
It could be worse...
It realy looks like a kids movie. I had something a little more mature looking in mind. Also, adding one black guy doesnt make it a diverse team. I dont realy see why they have to have one at all.
LOLOLOL! One is more diverse, better, and more acceptable than none, and John is a freaking beast! He's the reason that it got into Justice League in the first place. Also, it's a 4 person team. That mean's 25% of the team is Black and 25% of the team is female. That may be the most diverse Justice League team of all time in terms of percentages. =P
And it looks like the Incredibles or any other Pixar movie which cater to audiences of ALL ages. Plus the action scenes look intense and you can see the boobs of the Amazons.
And the kiddiness could be way worse:
Great art! I'm actually going to change my profile pic to John Stewart because of this.
Use your keyboard!
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