DC Comics’ chief creative officer Geoff Johns has been busier than ever these days, developing both the upcoming Flash and Supergirl TV shows while launching the New 52’s Superman title with John Romita, Jr., planning the sequel to his Batman: Earth One graphic novel, and continuing his run on Justice League. We caught up with Johns after a signing in Los Angeles for his latest collection, Forever Evil (pictured above), and the tireless creator gave us an update on his many projects.
Nerdist: Can you say how many episodes of The Flash you’ll be scripting this season?
Geoff Johns: I can’t really talk about that. But I wrote the Captain Cold episode (episode 4) with a writer named Kai Wu.
N: Since you’re also an executive producer on the show, can you talk about how closely it mirrors your own Flash comic stories and how it might differ?
GJ: Well, it’s its own thing. We’re deriving stuff from all of the Flash comics, including my own. But it’s its own thing with television. Obviously there’s some DNA of Captain Cold, because I wrote Captain Cold in the episode. He’s slightly different, because it’s a different world. But a lot of the parts of what made Captain Cold so interesting are in that take. And Wentworth Miller is just unbelievable. I can’t wait till everyone sees him. He’s so good.
N: The show has a different tone than that of Arrow, one that’s lighter and more playful. Does that distinguish it from some recent comics? In terms of offering a sunnier, Silver Age optimism?
GJ: Maybe. One of the things I always thought when Francis Manapul and I started the Barry Allen run is that even though Barry had all this tragedy in his life he was still the Flash. He was still interacting with people, he was still cheerful, and it was still a bright book. It’s just who the Flash is. He’s not a dark character. He’s a blue-sky character. He runs around during the day. It’s just intentional. Obviously we want to celebrate superheroes and this is a way to celebrate them.
N: What can you say about Lex Luthor’s role in your next Justice League comic storyline? You’ve said that in Forever Evil you found yourself ticking off a mental checklist of things you wanted to see him do, like feel guilty for the first time. What do you have planned for him with the JLA?
GJ: Well some of the things I don’t want to spoil. But one of the things we do want to do is push him again. Does he know what sacrifice means? There’s a whole other checklist to go through of things he’s never experienced or we’ve never really challenged him with. That’s something that Jason Fabok, the new artist, and I are working on. Would Lex Luthor ever confess something? Would Lex Luthor ever cry? How do you make Lex Luthor cry? So it’s stuff that we talk about and we’re seeing if we can get there.
N: So you plan to push him as far as you can?
GJ: Just crack him open, and get inside him, and make him experience things, and put him in scenarios that aren’t typical. That’s why he’s in Justice League – to make an atypical book.
N: And you’re not looking to resolve his storyline within the Justice League soon? It’s a continuing, ongoing thing?
GJ: Yeah. It’s an exploration of the character.
N: There’s another character who’s been waiting in the wings in your new Superman title. Will they appear onstage soon?
GJ: There’s a character that’s been watching Superman. We introduced them in issue 1. It’s this mysterious character who’s wearing a robe. That character will bubble up in something pretty big in the book coming up. Sooner rather than later.
N: Regarding the next volume in the Batman: Earth One saga…
GJ: That’s out next year.
N: It seems that book will further develop Harvey Dent.
GJ: Yeah, Harvey Dent is in there and he’s a DA who’s at the end of his rope and he’s frustrated by what’s happened, but he sees the opportunity to clean up the city and he’s willing to break a few rules to do it. He’s got to cut a lot of deals with a lot of people he doesn’t want to, but he thinks it’s for the greater good and he’s involved with uncovering a bigger conspiracy within Gotham that will send him on a crash course with Batman.
N: Speaking of Gotham, you’re also working on the new Fox TV show…
GJ: I oversee Gotham for DC.
N: For those who remain uncertain how a Batman show can function without Batman, what’s your explanation?
GJ: Well, Bruce Wayne’s in there, first off. The thing I love about it is that Bruno Heller has created more of an urban drama.
N: The pilot had the DNA of some classic gangster films.
GJ: Yeah. That’s very much what it is, and we’re exploring the very beginnings of characters that we’ve never really known before. Like Penguin – who is Oswald Cobblepot? How did he become the Penguin? We’ve never, ever seen that in a comic. The same with the Riddler and other characters like that. So some of that is the origins of these great villains will unfold and we’ll also see the impact the Waynes have on the city in their death. We never really have seen that fully.
N: The family dynasty has long been a staple of TV drama. Is there an element of that as well?
GJ: Yes, absolutely.
N: Thank you for your time, Geoff.
GJ: Yeah, sure. Thank you.