I don’t think it’s out of line to say that Geoff Johns is one of DC’s biggest name creators. He, along with David S. Goyer, brought the Justice Society of America to a new generation of readers. He had a run on The Flash that many consider second only to the beloeved Mark Waid run. He reinvigorated and redefined the Green Lantern franchise. He updated Aquaman for modern audiences (though Peter David sort-of did that before him). But he also has blatant preference for the Silver Age. Infinite Crisis was, although an enjoyable story, a way for him to restore quite a few Silver Age things to canon. He made Legion of Super-Heroes lore confusing with the “Retroboot” Legion (basically the original Legion but with a timeskip). He sort-of ruined the Flash franchise with The Flash: Rebirth (it’s only slightly recovered with the return of Wally West). Then killed off beloved new characters with Blackest Night, an event that seemed to exist partly to kill off modern characters. Then he screwed up the entire DC Universe with Flashpoint… though that was editorially mandated, and he then proceeded to sort-of fix with DC Universe: Rebirth #1. So Johns has a shaky history, despite being DC’s “big gun”.
But he vanished for a while. After finishing his Justice League run (about half of which I haven’t read), Johns moved on. He was focusing more on TV shows and movies. It seemed like he came back just to fix what he was forced to break, and that would be the last we’d here from him… or not.
Yes, Geoff Johns is returning to comics. And while I’m cautiously optimistic about this, given the mixed results of his writing, I can’t say I’m not at least somewhat looking forward to Johns’ return. For all his faults (Silver Age boner, excessive violence, unsubtle leaning on the fourth wall), Johns loves superhero comics, big scope stories and using continuity in (mostly) respectful ways. He’s the kind of writer the DC Rebirth initiative is perfect for. And while I’m sure his comics work will in some way involve the Watchmen plotline from the Rebirth line, I have little doubt he will also be taking on another project. And here are what I hope or predict they will be.
Geoff Johns has dabbled in Batman writing from time to time. He wrote both volumes of Batman: Earth One and likes to use Batman in his larger ensemble casts when possible. Sure, his writing of Batman doesn’t always come off too well, particularly in his Green Lantern-related works, but he clearly has something of an affection for the character. While I think his Batman is stuck in the nineties, with an obsession and darkness and borders on parody — the first thing Batman does in Justice League when he access to infinite knowledge? Ask what the Joker’s name is, because of course — maybe that’s what some people want. I mean, Tom King’s Batman isn’t exactly happy — I could practically hear Linkin Park playing when he mentioned cutting himself — but King’s writing isn’t exactly new-reader friendly. And while Scott Snyder’s All-Star Batman has been an enjoyable read, with its focus on villains, it has its own shtick. So another Batman ongoing from Geoff Johns might do it for some people.
Personally, I’d stay away from it. Johns is obsessed with making Batman as dark as possible, with even Parallax noting Batman’s use of fear, and I found the first volume of Batman: Earth One to be mediocre, one specific scene aside. However, financially, it would make sense; Johns is a big draw and know some readers aren’t enjoying King’s less hand-holdy writing on Batman. But I think DC’s smart enough to realise they can’t oversaturate the market with Bat-books anymore, and–what’s that? Justice League of America has Batman on the team? Well… fuck!
Rise of the Seven Seas
Okay, so maybe I’m just never going to shut up about this. At the end of Geoff Johns’ Aquaman run, Orm, Aquaman’s brother and supervillain (except kinda not in the New 52) Ocean Master, had sort-of settled down with a woman and her son during the events of Forever Evil and seemed to genuinely care for them. However, Mera’s ex-fiance Nereus (whose name I’d forgotten until finding that image) appears to Orm, and says that he has found the lost tribes of Atlantis, and that he and Orm would take their place among the seven kings of the seas, setting up another crossover between Aquaman and Justice League. That was in 2013. Since then, there’s been zero movement on the Seven Seas plot, with Orm apparently having made a brief appearance in Cullen Bunn’s craptastic run that I only read one issue of.
There was movement on the project in April of 2015, but that was before Rebirth shuffled some things around. However, none of that necessarily takes “Rise of the Seven Seas” off the table. In fact, now would be a very good time to bring it out. Mera is about to marry Arthur, it’d be the perfect time for her fiance to return! Adding more drama to the mix, while also allowing for some plots regarding Orm and Tula (she’s his half-sister and the current regent of Atlantis). Plus, Abnett’s Aquaman run was pretty disappointing to me, so having Johns back, if even for a little bit, will reignite my interest.
Legion of Super-Heroes
This is one I’ve got mixed feelings on, but I can see happening. Geoff Johns brought back the Pre-Zero Hour Legion of Super-Heroes with his “Retroboot” team, basically the original incarnation of the team up until a certain point in their history (i.e. when things went to shit). Now, I’ve read the Retroboot. They were my first exposure to the Legion. And I like bits and pieces of the Retroboot. But the fact that Johns shunted two other versions of the Legion away (the Reboot Legion was said to be an alternate universe’s Legion, while the Threeboot Legion hails from the same Earth as Superboy-Prime (yes, really)) hurt it in my eyes, and it didn’t help that the Retroboot Legion’s backstory was mostly thoroughly dated Silver Age work. The follow-up stories by Paul Levitz hurt it more, with weak characterisation and overall forgettable stories. The Retroboot Legion, two stories aside, were just boring. But hey, they were the original and operated during the Silver Age, so obviously they needed to be back, right? Well, the end of the New 52 Legion comic, which was basically a continuation of the series that existed prior to Flashpoint, kind of implied that they were the Legion of Earth 2 or something anyway. What this means for the Legion as a whole is still up in the air.
Now, the Legion is set to return already. The franchise has had numerous appearances and references in the Rebirth relaunch, and has already been teased. In fact, the writer has already been teased, with Johns ruled out. But that was before his tweet. I’m not sure if plans changed, but it’s possible. And Johns clearly has a love for the Legion and the star power to ensure that the new series is at least a financial success. If he’s able to stay on the ReLegion (a term I made up for the Rebirth Legion) for a longer run this time, I can see it fairing much better. He can retcon Levitz’s crap away or do a time skip or something, and we can go back to some good Legion stories.
While I’d much rather have Tom King writing the title (he was one of the candidates when the writer was tease, Batman is one of the series setting up the Legion’s return and he’s used Legion stuff in all of his Dc works except Grayson, and I might just be missing it there, so it also makes more sense), given his amazing work on The Omega Men, I can see Geoff Johns doing okay. If he learns from the flop that was the Retroboot Legion, the ReLegion would be in good hands with him… mostly.
Something that obviously has appeal to Johns would be a Flash run with Barry Allen. His last run was a few miniseries, a short ongoing, then an event that sucked and rebooted the Flash family out of existence. Johns loves the Flashes, and I could see him reinvigorating the franchise… or destroying it (again). Now, I know turning Bart Allen into Kid Flash wasn’t his idea. Or Flashpoint as a way to reboot the DCU. But he did cheapen the Speed Force to the point of absurdity, where friendship can pull you out instead of a truly strong love, meaning every speedster ever besides Wally West just didn’t want it bad enough, including Johnny Quick, who left behind a daughter and ex-wife! Oh, and Wally can pull others out of the Speed Force, so why he didn’t pull out Johnny and Max Mercury is beyond me. Oh well, we got to see Barry run and… do things? Also, “Negative Speed Force”, because that isn’t idiotic. Yeah, I don’t have a high opinion of Johns’ post-Wally Flash work, and Flash: Rebirth and Flashpoint are just huge dumpster fires. But he did do some neat things, like making Jesse Chambers into Jesse Quick again and making Irey West into Impulse. So it’s a mixed bag, though mostly one filled with crap. And his Wally West run was good (though definitely not as good as I initially thought), introducing some cool concepts and a perfect villain for Wally West in the form of Zoom.
Anyway, Johns does have enough sway that he could probably wrestle the main Flash ongoing away from Joshua Williamson, whose run has been pretty average, Wally stuff aside. In fact, if Johns does do this, I feel we’d get an excellent second Flash ongoing from Williamson focused on non-Barry speedsters like Wally, NuWally and Jesse Quick… so long as Johns doesn’t want them. And therein lies the problem: Williamson’s Flash ongoing would be at the mercy of Johns’. And that’s just a scary thought.
I’d actually prefer to see Johns do a Flash Corps book, where he uses the non-Barry speedsters. Sure, he’ll obviously still have some sway and drag Williamson into about a dozen crossovers, but Johns writes the Flash family well enough that I’d love to see him do so without his pet character to shill. So c’mon, DC; give the other speedsters some Johns love, and keep him far, far away from Barry Allen and Eobard Thawne.
Justice Society of America
This one is a no-brainer. Geoff Johns’ (and David S. Goyer’s) work on JSA is still well-regarded to this day, introducing the first super-team to a new generation of readers. It was one of my gateway drugs into the DC Universe. Johns gets the appeal of the Justice Society while being able to tell interesting stories with them. His Justice Society is a family, where the Justice League are co-workers, and he told some epic yet emotionally grounded stories. And while the Justice Society hasn’t been teased as much as the Legion of Super-Heroes, their teases are much easier to follow and dissect.
I would love for Johns to write another Justice Society ongoing. He’s great with older characters, and he’s really good with Jay Garrick and Alan Scott in particular. While he obviously has preference for the Silver Age Flash and Green Lantern, he has a respect for their Golden Age counterparts that shows in how he writes them. He’s excellent with legacy characters, and I think it would be awesome if he reintroduced a few who’ve gone missing or just new characters in general. Hell, with Hawkman scheduled to die, Johns could reintroduce him (again), and have enough power at DC to ensure people don’t screw him up! In fact, I think a Justice Society ongoing would be a great way for Johns to retroactively establish legacies and history within the Post-Flashpoint DC Universe. For all his faults, Johns excels at world-building and using old continuity, so this is the project I most want from him.