io9 Talks To Geoff Johns About Making Superheroes Scifi

Illustration for article titled io9 Talks To Geoff Johns About Making Superheroes Scifi

In the last few months, comic book writer Geoff Johns has taken Superman out of Metropolis and into space, the future, and alternate dimensions, as well as making former has-been Booster Gold into a time-travellin' paradox-defeatin' hero. With his alternate-world-spanning DC Universe: Zero (co-written with Grant Morrison) in stores tomorrow, it seemed like a good time to quickly catch up with Green Lantern and future Legion of Super-Heroes writer Johns, and ask him what's with his recent reintroduction of science fiction into the superhero genre.


Time travel in Booster Gold, Space war in Green Lantern, and a sci-fi melange in Action Comics (time travel, alternate dimensions, planets full of Bizarros) - You seem to have taken almost all of your superhero books at DC in a more science fiction direction than usual over the last year or so; even your Justice Society of America currently has the Superman of a parallel Earth as a member. Is this intentional, and if so, what brought it on?

Not really intentional, no, but I have been striving to push my books and writing in general into a different direction. Delving into the concepts and characters a bit more, exploring the DC Universe as a whole in a different light. Coming out of 52, I really felt reinvigorated for some reason. Or maybe inspired is a better word. And with everything that DC's been gearing up for in this post-DC Universe #0 world, it just adds more fuel to the fire. Science-fiction is inherent in a super-hero universe in general and I'm just trying to take advantage of that.

Would you ever want to tackle straight scifi, away from the familiar superhero characters?

Sure. I'd also like to tackle an historical story, a western, a horror adventure. All genres. The film I'm working on with the Robot Chicken team is more of a family/comedy in the same vein as a Pixar movie, but with a bit more humor and Christmas espionage action on top of that. I've been very focused on the DC Universe in the comics world and, quite honestly, that's where my passion lies when it comes to comics. I'll be venturing outside it a bit with some creator owned projects, but my focus is the DC Universe. It's what I enjoy doing more than nearly anything else.

A lot of DC's Silver Age books were essentially pretty straight science fiction stories disguised in superhero costume (Sometimes without that much of a costume; Adam Strange and Hawkman, for example) . While Marvel books seemed to be based on atomic age fear of what could go wrong, DC had a more optimistic take on the wonders of technology, even if their idea of what technology could actually do was somewhat mistaken. Do you think that one side or another has been proven right in the longterm?

That's a long conversation and extremely subjective in my opinion. Everyone has something that speaks to them. There's something in Wolverine that speaks to people that I don't entirely get. But a lot of people don't gravitate towards the Legion of Super-Heroes. They don't see the struggle that team goes through, the dynamics and characters that their fans and I connect with. My goal when I tackle these characters is to really show, not tell, why I subscribe to the DC Universe. Why am I fascinated by Captain Cold and the Rogues or the Justice Society? When a reader comes up to me and says, "I never really got into Green Lantern before Rebirth or Sinestro Corps." that's what it's all about to me. Someone at the NYCC show pointed out Gary and I's work on Action Comics and said, "When Superman said, 'I'm for everyone.' I finally understood Superman after all these years." So who was proven right? There's no right or wrong answer in the take on technology and scifi, there's just the one we prefer.


If you're in the Sunnyvale, CA area tomorrow, you might want to go and tell Geoff that you're a fan yourself: he's celebrating the release of DCU: Zero with a signing at Comics Conspiracy between 2 - 6pm (Click here for details). Otherwise, just pick up the 50 cent book at your local store and get in on the ground floor before Superman and Batman spend the summer getting their asses kicked.

DC Universe: Zero [DC Comics]




I think that DC has taken a more "Utopian" approach to storytelling. In most instances technology and super powers end up being a force for good.

Marvel always was a bit more ready to pick up the anti-hero genre and as a result had a bigger following in the 80s and 90s. I haven't been following comics lately but I see a lot of DC Graphic Novels in Borders nowadays. I don't know if that means they're gaining ground.

I think the approaches are like music. When kids outlook is poor, the anti-hero is more popular and grunge music comes around. When things look good utopia and pop music boom.