On Eve of Break, GEOFF JOHNS Talks BLACKEST NIGHT, pt. 2


Click here for Part One

Most comic book stores are selling only one new comic this week, but that issue has most fans excited enough to make the trip to pick it up.

In fact, Blackest Night #6, the next chapter in the blockbuster DC event by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis, will be the last new comic released in 2009 – an appropriate designation for the story, since it dominated the sales charts this year.

Blackest Night is the culmination of a story that has been building in the Green Lantern title ever since the title's successful relaunch in 2005. Over the last two years since the Sinestro Corps first battled the Green Lanterns, Green Lantern and its partner comic, Green Lantern Corps, have introduced dozens of new concepts and characters while taking readers through an epic tale of different colored corps and their energy ring battles.

In June, Blackest Night began and has been outselling just about everything else since, while readers also flocked to its tie-in issues, action figures and little plastic colored rings.

Yet now that Blackest Night is over halfway finished, the event has ended up being more than just the space opera implied by a slew of flying aliens with power rings. As readers have discovered over the last six months, Blackest Night is less of a straight-forward superhero story about good vs. evil and more of a twisted, dark story of death and emotional upheaval.

To put all the "blackness" of the story in perspective, Newsarama turned to the architect of Blackest Night, Geoff Johns, to discuss the meaning behind its theme of light versus dark. And as we talked for this two-part interview, we found out more about his future plans for Mera, how Grant Morrison's Batman & Robin picks up from this week's issue, and why Larfleeze might be featured in a special issue next Christmas.

Newsarama: Geoff, in the first half of our conversation you mentioned your own emotional baggage relating to death. As a writer, does it feel good to deal with death as a bad guy you can beat up? Is that almost cathartic?

Geoff Johns: I guess so. [laughs] Probably. Through these characters, I think we all can experience that confrontation with death that we all have to confront sooner or later. We don't deal with it on a daily basis, but it will sneak up on you. And it's something that's a part of life and reality, and I think everybody struggles with it at one point or another.

But you know, there's more to this comic, obviously. Blackest Night is also a fun, superhero crossover. And I worked really, really hard to try to make it open and fun. And colorful. It's the most colorful comic you can find because of all the Lanterns. But also, like we discussed earlier, it's a place with new characters. People always say, "We need new characters in comics!" Well... here they are! Here's a slew of DC characters.

Nrama: You could make an oversized Secret Files issue with just the new characters you've introduced during this run of Green Lantern and Blackest Night.

Johns: Yeah, but I don't only want to do that. I want to do a Larfleeze mini-series and other series with these characters. But yeah, there are so many new characters here, and new characters popping in like this, one after another and filling the pages – that doesn't happen very often.

Nrama: Wait a minute, did you just say you want to do a Larfleeze mini-series?

Johns: I want to do a Larfleeze mini-series! I actually have an idea for a Larfleeze Christmas Special that I want to do really bad. I guarantee that will be out next Christmas. A Larfleeze Christmas Special.

But I'd like to tackle some of these other Lanterns. I think there's exploration to be done, and a lot of them will be in Green Lantern during the post-Blackest Night world. But some of them could carry over into other things. I just want to be smart about exploring these characters beyond Green Lantern.

Larfleeze for me has just been great to write. He's had some great moments in Blackest Night.  But there is still a lot more to explore with Atrocitus, Saint Walker, Indigo and even Sinestro and Carol.  Not to mention what Hal’s going to have to deal with in a post-Blackest Night universe.

Nrama: Let's get back to this idea of "what death means in comics." You had visited the idea of the "revolving door of death" way back in the Teen Titans issue with Kid Eternity.

Johns: Yep.

Nrama: Was there a sense, even at that time, that this issue needed to be addressed? Because right now, at the end of Issue #5, it's become central to this event.

Johns: Yeah, it's front and center. And that was always the idea.

Nrama: Can you explain anything about what Nekron meant when he said these heroes didn't actually escape death but are still connected to it?

Johns: Well, I think it's pretty self-explanatory. I don't want to lay it out word for word. I don't want to dissect its meaning. People can figure it out. Keep reading.

Nrama: Is this connection with death related to why Donna reacted the way she did to what happened to her?

Johns: Well... yes, but she was already well on her way to becoming a Black Lantern.

Nrama: Dan told Newsarama readers that Grant's upcoming story in Batman and Robin ties very closely to the events of Blackest Night #6. Have you coordinated with Grant how this is going to effect the Batman universe? And is there anything you can tell us about it?

Johns: It's pretty simple. We took the skull, and reanimated Black Lantern Batman to get an emotional reaction from the heroes that know him, and that allowed Nekron to retake them. It's blasted apart, but the skull's there. And the skull eventually makes its way back to Batman and Robin, where Dick Grayson then takes the remains of Bruce from the cemetery there and the skull, and he puts them in the Batcave. And that's where you pick up on Grant's story.

Nrama: So this "emotional tether" that "manifested" when Barry touched the skull... that was what allowed Nekron to retake the heroes?

Johns: Yes.

Nrama: The story's been laced with all kinds of clues to the way the Black Lanterns function. Atom says the ring he entered has the same porous structure as bones or dark matter?

Johns: I find that fascinating. Grant and I were talking about it.  Dark matter, which is this understructure of the universe, looks like the structure of bones. They have the same kind of ornate structure. That's not an accident. There's something to that.

Nrama: Nekron also mentioned that there are microscopic wormholes. Is that the way they take emotional energy instead of releasing it like the other Lanterns.

Johns: See? You can figure this stuff out. [laughs] I don't need to spell it out for you.

Nrama: The Indigo Tribe has been revealed...

Johns: If you ask me any questions about them, I won't answer. [laughs]

Nrama: This language they use – oh, and I love that their oath rhymes.

Johns: Yeah! Of course their oath rhymes!

Nrama: Do all those words in their language actually mean something in English?

Johns: Yes.

Nrama: Is there a dictionary somewhere you're keeping?

Johns: Nobody will ever see it. It stays with me.  I will say that “Nok” is an expression of affirmation and enlightenment urging others to participate, invest or sacrifice.

Nrama: Nok is used a lot. But the rest of the words' meanings aren't going to eventually be in the back of an issue so we can find out what they're saying?

Johns: Nope. You'll never, ever see it.

Nrama: But you do know what that oath means.

Johns: Yes.

Nrama: Is "Abin Sur" in the Indigo Tribe's oath?

Johns: He is! Weird! [laughs]

Nrama: This guy Abin keeps showing up. People are saying they've met him who we didn't know had met him. And the Indigo Tribe mentions him in their oath. What's up with that, Geoff?

Johns: Huh. It's very strange. [laughs]

Nrama: Is it related to his connection to the prophesy?

Johns: Maybe. Of course, Abin was the first one who stumbled upon the idea of Blackest Night.

Nrama: I know you don't want to say anything about the Indigo Tribe, but you had told me awhile ago that they weren't what people expect. And it's so true. In my head, I can't resolve the question of why the "compassion" corps would kill a Green Lantern, or play judge and jury. Will this be explained?

Johns: Sure. But it's an ongoing process. I just don't want to put it all out there.

Nrama: With the scope of this series and what comes after it, are you coordinating all these Blackest Night tie-ins and how the series affects things even outside the issues you're writing?

Johns: I spent three months at the beginning of the year in New York, and I've been working non-stop with Eddie Berganza and Adam Schlagman who are my Guardians. The three of us are really the ones at the center.  I’m so grateful to all the hard work Eddie and Adam have put into this.  They are amazing.

Nrama: You had a lot of experience coordinating this kind of thing because of your work on Infinite Crisis, didn't you?

Johns: Yeah. And with Eddie, which helped Blackest Night. We knew some of the challenges we’d encounter early on already.

Nrama: Earlier in the interview, you touched upon your issue of The Atom and Hawkman. Is there anything more you can tell us about the story you'll be telling in that issue?

Johns: You'll see Atom go to places that he's never been. I don't know what else I can really say. I mean, it's Ryan Sook. That's all you guys really need to know. He's amazing. Every one of his pages should be framed. The Atom's never looked this good.

Nrama: OK, so which of the Black Lantern action figures is your favorite?

Johns: Saint Walker. But Larfleeze, when he comes out, might beat him because he comes with his man-purse Glomulus.

Nrama: Do you have them?

Johns: I have Saint Walker and Atrocitus and I just got Indigo-1.

Nrama: I remember talking to Ethan about Saint Walker, and he didn't specifically intend this to be the final character, but he used him in the costume design sketches and you loved the way he looked.

Johns: Yeah, we talked about a fish-looking guy, I think. But I think the way he looks is perfect for his character. Then Ivan did some alterations to make it what you currently see.

Nrama: Were you involved at all in the decision to release Blackest Night #6 this week, when Diamond isn't shipping comics?

Johns: No, that was DC. But it's a great idea, and I'm really happy we can do that. I think it means Blackest Night #6 will be the only new comic that comes out that week. I’ll be at my store tomorrow.

Nrama: You've added so much to the mythology of Green Lantern, from this idea of the creation of the emotional spectrum to the history of all these characters to the oaths and the formation of the corps. And yet, last time we talked, you told me most of this is just up there in your head. It's not really written down anywhere. Is that still true?

Johns: I should write that down. My girlfriend is always telling me to write this stuff down before I forget it. [laughs] And all these new guys have massive stories. I mean, I could write a multi-book for every one of the corps members, easy, because they have so much story behind them and, more importantly, in front of them. Saint Walker, Indigo, Atrocitus, Larfleeze, Sinestro. It's more than what you see at first glance. Like Atrocitus, there's so much more to him than just the rage you usually see. And Saint Walker, there's more to him than just this peaceful, zen-like Blue Lantern.

Nrama: Dealing with all these colors and emotions for the last couple years, Geoff, do you start seeing emotions in your head the way the Black Lanterns do?

Johns: What do you mean?

Nrama: Like this idea that love is violet. Or rage is red. Have you found yourself, when maybe you're writing a love scene, or a fight scene... do you see those colors?

Johns: Oh, you mean me? [laughs] No. But I was in New York, actually, and one night I was having some weird dreams, and I remember just waking up and thinking “there are so many colors.” I blame the pizza.

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