Geoff Johns on Leaving Justice Society of America

Geoff Johns on Leaving JSA

In 1999, Geoff Johns joined the creative team of DC Comics’ JSA, the latest reincarnation of the Justice Society, co-writing the series with David (Batman Begins & The Dark Knight screenwriter) Goyer. The two co-wrote the series through issue #51, and starting with issue #52, Johns took the series solo, writing (with a few fill-ins) and plotting the course of the team virtually through to issue #81. Though that series later ended with issue #87, Johns was in the driver’s seat when Justice Society of America launched in 2007, and has written the new series since, co-writing the massive “Thy Kingdom Come” storyline with Alex Ross.

And next year, 10 years after he wrote his first Justice Society story for DC, Johns is stepping down from the series. The news broke last night, and Newsarama was able to catch up with Johns after he had posted his open letter on his forum about departing the series.

Newsarama: Geoff, to a lot of fans, this sounds like a case of "all good things..." so why, after two incarnations, and, what…over a hundred issues are you headed out from Justice Society of America?

Geoff Johns: Thanks, Matt. I'm not sure how many issues, I think it’s more than 100, which is kind of insane. This wasn't an easy decision - Dan DiDio can tell you that - I spent a long time weighing it all. But with the projects I had on the horizon, the potential for some new things to develop, I knew it was the right time. There was no way I could handle it all with Blackest Night being what it is. Although I didn't see my departure this early, I knew it wouldn't be far off from #25.

But I feel like I've helped solidify this team as one of the cornerstones of the DC Universe. I feel good about that. Every run comes to an end. The book is one of DC's top selling monthlies, the characters are more popular than ever, I think we're leaving it in a good place to continue to grow and thrive.

NRAMA: From what solicitations suggest, you'll be leaving at the end of "Black Adam and Isis" - is that right? Why end there?

GJ: I'll be leaving at JSA #26, which is an epilogue to the Black Adam arc and my run in general. It's called "Black Adam Ruined My Birthday" and it focuses on, of course, Stargirl.

NRAMA: I think that, in the eyes of many fans, you're the heart of the JSA, as you've been associated with the team and the characters for so long. What has the book meant to you over the years?

GJ: It's meant everything. The JSA are a shining example of the wonderful depth, heart and adventure within the DC Universe. The team is literally tied to every other hero through one way or another. There's a class and a sense of history to them that can't be found in any other book to this level. They represent the past, present and future of the DC Universe like no other.

The JSA means a lot to me beyond the world of comics. It's a lifelong dream realized. Like them, I'm not part of a legacy -- and one that started when superheroes first formed a team. Paul Levitz and Roy Thomas introduced me to the characters, along with James Robinson. I have to thank them for that.

NRAMA: Did you get to do everything that you wanted with the characters and the series?

GJ: There are stories I still have, but I'll save them for a rainy day.

NRAMA: What, if any, regrets do you have?

GJ: I have no regrets. There are always things you'd do differently, but on the whole I'm very happy with how the run turned out.

NRAMA: Looking back at your time with the JSA - what stands out for you? What do you feel is your personal best over the issues?

GJ: One of my favorite arcs is the first arc of this current run – “The Next Age.” I thought that came together really well, and working with Dale for the first time, it all felt right. The Citizen Steel issue, the upcoming issue #22 were also highlights. I think #26 will be my favorite one however.

Of the previous series, “Black Reign” is my favorite arc I worked on. “Return of Hawkman, Injustice Be Done” and JSA/JSA are also up there, but “Black Reign” really brought it all together for me. Also, ironically, the Joker's Last Laugh issue ranks way up there. It was a stand alone issue with Stargirl and Jakeem Thunder that really clicked for me.

NRAMA: Looking at things as realistically as you can, do you have any trepidation about leaving the series? When you depart from series, after all, bad things tend to happen to them afterwards...

GJ: I'm not entirely sure on the plans coming up, I don't stay involved when I leave a book because it's not my business.

I don't always follow a series after I leave either, because sometimes it's hard when you have such a specific vision of a title and characters or characters. There are choices that are made that you don't agree with or directions that you sit there and look at the book and go, "What are they doing?"

That said, I do like the creative team that's slated to take over. I plan on reading the book.

NRAMA: Did you have any say in helping to pick a successor?

GJ: I did not, but the writer coming in asked for my blessing before taking the job which I thought was incredibly classy. It's not my place to say and I don't think it'll be announced for some time to come.

NRAMA: Given the news of Superman: Secret Origin, moving off of Action, and of course, your coming work with Ethan Vansciver on Flash: Rebirth, you seem to be realigning your schedule from what it is now - this time next year, what will your workload be looking like?

GJ: I am. With my runs on Action Comics and Justice Society of America coming to a close I'll be focusing on Green Lantern, The Flash: Rebirth , Superman: Secret Origin and Blackest Night. Technically that gives me one monthly book and three mini-series, but by the time 2009 is over I'll be back on three monthly books. So that's what it'll look like a year from now.

It's bittersweet, but when you have projects like those coming up, and others to be announced...I'm excited for the future. And you can bet the JSA will be kicking ass in Blackest Night.

Thanks to everyone for their support over the years and thanks especially to people I've worked with.

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