Call the Midwife of Burbank1 of 12
Geoff Johns is no stranger to “rebirthing” DC Comics concepts. He’s done it time and time again, with several mini-series titled Rebirth under his belt- and, oh yeah, that little matter of relaunching the publisher’s entire freaking line under the “Rebirth” banner last spring.
With that kind of legacy - and drive to reclaim the DC Universe - it's worth examining all of Johns' "Rebirths" - especially with the upcoming Doomsday Clock adding to the mystery and mythos of "Rebirth."
Superboy Prime Rebirth2 of 12
In Infinite Crisis, Johns brought back all four of the characters who got shuffled off to a "paradise" at the end of 1985's Crisis on Infinite Earths, including Prime-Earth Superboy, Earth-Two Superman, Earth-Two Lois Lane, and Alexander Luthor of Earth-Three.
But Superboy Prime was the only one to survive Infinite Crisis, and for a while he played a significant role in the DCU, usually under Johns' pen. He was a key villain in high-profile events like Sinestro Corps War and Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds.
He was, figuratively anyway, the Superboy from our earth. One a hero, he turned angry and evil when the "stories" of the DCU weren't to his liking. In other words, Superboy-Prime was a fanboy, a Johns-invented twist to his character that sometimes elicited delight — and chagrin — from fanboys themselves.
Hawkman Rebirth3 of 12
Pre-Johns, Hawkman had a variety of origin stories that didn't really fit together without a lot of head-scratching. Then a young Johns took over the hero's solo title (among his earliest comic book work), and he pared down Hawkman's origin to the point where it made sense — a story of death and resurrection that also had a nice love story involved.
Not only did Johns' "rebirth" approach to Hawkman finally make it easy to explain the character's origin story, but the title was one of the more critically acclaimed books at DC, helping to launch Johns into the fan spotlight.
Aspects of Hawkman's mythology are central to the upcoming Dark Nights: Metal.
JSA Rebirth4 of 12
Back in the day (before the "New 52"), it was unusual for a popular team book to relaunch with a new #1 issue — particularly when the same person was writing it that had written it before.
But Johns united with artist Dale Eaglesham to relaunch the JSA after an 87-issue run (and notably, a run that was pretty much single-handedly penned by him over seven years). With that new #1 in 2006, the team was reborn to include new, young heroes, with Johns giving the group a new purpose as recruiters and trainers of young legacy heroes. While Johns was writing the book, it was consistently one of DC's top-selling titles and even had a spin-off (the aforementioned JSA Classified).
Teen Titans Rebirth5 of 12
In 2003, when artist Mike McKone left Marvel to join Johns on a new Teen Titans series, someone said to McKone, "Why? Why in the world would you leave Exiles to go do Teen Titans? Teen Titans is a dead franchise."
As amusing as that statement might seem today (with a TV show and several incarnations since), the statement was pretty accurate at the time. Although many of the characters had been starring in a Young Justice title, the name "Teen Titans" was something most fans remembered from the past, not something popular in 2003.
But then Johns got his hand on the title, and the series established streamlined origins and new approaches for DC's teen characters that have stuck, even in other media. Conner Kent was suddenly the clone of Superman and Lex Luthor, and Impulse grew up to the name Kid Flash. Raven was reborn, and former beloved characters like Beast Boy, Wonder Girl and Cyborg got a fresh new take, while the writer added new characters like Miss Martian and Kid Devil.
Johns is now overseeing and writing an upcoming TV series, Titans, based on the team.
Bart Allen Rebirth6 of 12
Johns wasn't finished with Bart when he left Teen Titans. After Bart Allen had aged quickly during Infinite Crisis, Kid Flash was no longer a "kid." So he ended up taking over the mantle of The Flash in a story by other writers. Not long after, Bart was (quite shockingly) killed by the Flash Rogues.
Johns, who has made no secret of his love for the Titans characters, was apparently anxious to get Bart back. A little over a year later, Johns brought the hero back, as a kid again, in Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds. A speedster reborn, along with...
Superboy Rebirth7 of 12
Conner Kent, or Kon-El, was a character that Johns frequently named as one of his favorites. In interviews, he bemoaned the fact that he had to kill the character in Infinite Crisis.
But just like Kid Flash's rebirth, Conner Kent wasn't gone for too long. Johns revived him in the pages of Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds, during the same story as Bart Allen's return.
And as long as we're talking about the Legion...
Legion of Super-Heroes Rebirth8 of 12
Johns brought back the original Legion — the long-gone but much-missed Legion, that is — during his Action Comics run with Gary Frank. He made them part of Superman's origin again, and he incorporated most of their stories from the past.
Of course, fans wondered… what did that do to the other two Legions that had since replaced the original one? Never fear, DC fans. Johns fixed the discrepancy in the event comic, Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds, giving the "old" Legion a new birth that lasted even through DC's 2011 reboot.
Barry Allen Flash Rebirth9 of 12
Despite Johns winning fan attention for his loving portrayal of Wally West during an acclaimed run on The Flash early in his career, a few years after leaving the title, he returned to write a new Flash story, this time starring Barry Allen, in Flash: Rebirth.
And although Johns didn't technically bring the hero back to life in Flash Rebirth (since that had occurred in Final Crisis), he established Barry's new status quo in the DCU, adding elements that have become part of the current comic book version, as well as CW's The Flash series and other incarnations.
Green Lantern Universe Rebirth10 of 12
It would be easy to talk about how important Green Lantern: Rebirth was to Hal Jordan fans, since it brought the character back from the dead (and away from his temporary role as The Spectre). But there was so much more the series did for the Green Lantern Universe.
Before Rebirth, Kyle Rayner was the one and only Green Lantern. After Rebirth, fan-favorite characters like John Stewart and Guy Gardner had returned to the fold, along with a rebirth of long-time Green Lantern concepts like the headquarters on planet Oa, the overseeing Guardians, and a slew of other alien Lanterns.
It also revamped the Green Lantern Universe in a way that explained the Lantern ring weakness to the color yellow, while also giving readers a sense that Hal Jordan had been redeemed, blaming his bad turn on the embodiment of fear itself. What followed was a new approach to Green Lantern as a space opera that has pretty much stuck in not only comics, but just about every media representation of the characters since.
DC Universe Rebirth11 of 12
Yes, in 2016, Geoff Johns took his "Rebirth" concept to the next level and Rebirth-ed the entire DC Universe.
In a one-shot story that spanned space and time, Johns codified the modern DC Universe as a place that honors its history, reintroducing many elements that were lost in the "New 52" reboot.
Anchored by Wally West - the original, who gets a rebirth of his own in the issue - DC Universe: Rebirth #1 reintroduced the Legion of Super-Heroes, the JSA, Black Canary and Green Arrow's relationship, and many other long-lost DC staples made their comeback.
"Rebirth" is an ongoing process, with the DC Universe still working on reconciling the "10 missing years" outlined in the one-shot.
However, the beginning of "Rebirth's" end is on the horizon, with Johns' Doomsday Clock series revealing the truth of DC Universe: Rebirth #1's other big promise - the integration of the characters of Watchmen into the DC Universe.
1 of 12
2 of 12
3 of 12
4 of 12
5 of 12
6 of 12
7 of 12
8 of 12
9 of 12
10 of 12
11 of 12
12 of 12