GEOFF JOHNS Still Writes Comics, Part 3: BRIGHTEST DAY
GEOFF JOHNS Still Writes Comics, Part 3
As readers have found out, the bi-weekly is anything but upbeat.
Instead, the title conveys the theme of the comic -- one that is the antithesis of DC's last event. As Johns told Newsarama in 2009, explaining Blackest Night's story, "The overarching theme of what these heroes are dealing with is death... What is it? Is it a bad thing? Or do we have to just accept it?"
But this year, Johns and his Blackest Night co-writer Peter Tomasi have turned the white spotlight around, instead focusing on life itself.
It all started when a white light resurrected 12 previously dead heroes and villains at the end of Blackest Night. That kicked off Brightest Day, and during the last 15 issues of the bi-weekly series, Johns and Tomasi have been exploring how the characters' second chance at life hasn't been that easy.
For Johns, Brightest Day also represents his return to the year-spanning type of event he helped establish in the 2006 weekly book 52. (His return to these types of multi-week events is a little surprising, considering the writer works full time as the chief creative officer of DC Entertainment in the Burbank offices of Warner Bros.)
As we finish up our three-part interview with the writer, we talk with him about Brightest Day, although he revealed no details of the story's upcoming beats. Instead, he dropped hints about what comes after the bi-weekly ends, confirming that he'll be writing Aquaman in a comic next year, and that there are plans for him to write a third series outside the Flash and Green Lantern universe. Plus, CCO Johns drops a hint about a Vertigo series that is under development outside comics.
Newsarama: Geoff, we're a little more than halfway through Brightest Day. Will the second half have the same type of intensity? Or are you ramping it up now? Or does it slow down a little before a big ending?
Geoff Johns: I think it ramps up. Especially issue #14, which is entirely Deadman-focused. It's a beautiful issue too. Ivan [Reis] drew the hell out of it. It starts to take things down to the second leg of Brightest Day.
Nrama: When Brightest Day was first announced, people thought it was going to be "upbeat" because of the "bright" title. But we've found out that isn't really true. Since you once told us Blackest Night's theme revolved around death, what would you say is the theme behind Brightest Day?
Johns: It's all about embracing life. And in order to embrace life, you need to accept life for what it is.
Each one of these characters is back, and you see Martian Manhunter struggling with: "I really want Mars to live again." Well, when he's face-to-face with "be careful what you wish for," he's seeing D'Kay, who's this female green Martian who he could technically start Mars over with, but she's everything J'onn fights against in life. She's a psychopath and a sociopath.
I think dealing with that and forcing J'onn down this path just shows that sometimes, in order to embrace life and explore it and enjoy it, we have to accept certain things about it that we can't change, that are beyond our power.
Each one of these characters is going through something where they have to re-examine their own life to fully embrace life and find their new path and what they're going to do. Ultimately, for many it’s a bright future.
Nrama: We had talked so often to you guys during 52 and knew so much about the process. But we haven't heard much about how you and Peter Tomasi work together on Brightest Day. How do you split up the work? Is it by issue? Or by scene? Or by character, like it was in 52?
Johns: We take point on characters, but we plot everything together. We start by plotting everything together, as co-writers, but then we each go off on our own and write the scenes individually.
Nrama: With the characters you're working on, although I'm sure you've worked on some of his characters since they cross over so much...
Nrama: Are there any that have surprised you as you've written them, or maybe you've changed what's happening to them as you got to know the character better?
Johns: Probably, for me, Deadman is the biggest surprise.
Nrama: He seems like a character that a lot could be done with after Brightest Day.
Johns: Absolutely. I think he's a fantastic character. And I'm glad that he's around. I think now that people have seen Brightest Day #14, they really get a sense of who he is and where he is. I'm really proud of that issue.
There are plans for all these characters post-Brightest Day.
Nrama: Can you tell us anything that's coming up in the comic?
Johns: Something pretty major happens to Aquaman in Issue #19 that I think is going to raise an eyebrow or two.
Nrama: Fans are very excited about the solicited "Aquawar." And since you confirmed there are plans for all these characters post-Brightest Day, you certainly made it clear in San Diego that you will be working with Aquaman somehow.
Johns: In my opinion, he’s up there with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash and Green Lantern.
Nrama: Can you confirm that you will be working with him in a comic in 2011?
Nrama: You specifically said earlier in this interview that you'd be concentrating on Green Lantern and The Flash, with "The War of the Green Lanterns" and "Flashpoint." So is there another comic you're doing next year, outside those two universes?
Johns: There might be, once we wrap up Brightest Day. I’m comfortable doing three books a month.
Nrama: Three books. You know, we talked about your job as CCO. Do you feel at all like you've lost any of the drive you had for comics since taking on the TV and movie stuff? Or is it more energizing, since you get to go to the Green Lantern set and see these superheroes interpreted in different ways?
Johns: It is more energizing. And it's also, because I'm working on stuff that is all coming from the comics. Like with Green Lantern, it's thrilling to be involved in other stuff having to do with that characters across other media.
There's some great stuff in development right now that's based on one of the best comics Vertigo has published that I can't wait for people to hear about. It’s one of my favorite comic series ever printed.
It's fantastic to work in this position. I feel very lucky. I work with an incredibly talented team over here at DC in Burbank. It's a growing staff that's just a pleasure to work with and many people are joining me from New York as we gear up to take on 2011.
If anything, it's more infectious than ever.