Geoff Johns Talks Big Changes and Spoilers From DC Universe: Rebirth

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gmanfromheck

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Edited By gmanfromheck

In 2011, DC Comics rebooted the DC Universe with the New 52. The characters and world was given a fresh start with a lot of familiar elements from before. Despite the changes and progress made since then, there has been a feeling that something is missing. With DC Universe: Rebirth, Geoff Johns is aiming to bring back those missing elements and return the characters to the legacies that have been created.

DC Universe: Rebirth is on sale May 25. Some spoilers were leaked and DC decided to allow us to discuss the spoilers and changes coming. You can read a review of the issue here . If you really want to see the spoilers, you can find them here. We spoke Johns about the issue. Spoilers begin midway through.

No Caption Provided

Comic Vine: First question, why Rebirth? Why was now the right time for this whole thing?

Geoff Johns: Well, it really started with a conversation with Dan [DiDio] and Jim [Lee] when they decided that they were going to end the titles at number 52. I thought that was clever, but they wanted to relaunch everything again. I think it was probably the reaction that a lot of people had was, "Why? How? What does that mean?" I didn't really think we could do another reboot, which they assured me they didn't want to do that, but at the same time there had to be a reason for it all. Like, what are we doing? Then they used the name Rebirth and knew that it meant something to me both personally and formatically so I asked them to give me some time to think about it. I came up with some ideas and pitched them, and it came together organically because I don't think it's ... I don't know I guess some people would say, "Why would you point out things that you think are missing from the comics?" and "Why would you address that?" To me, I'm like, why wouldn't you?

Why wouldn't we ... If we're going to do a hard look at the books, why wouldn't we look at everything that we think is great and everything that is missing, that we think we lost throughout the last few years? There's some great stuff and there's some stuff that, as a hardcore DC fan, I miss and I think other people miss. How do we take all of it like we've done in Rebirth in the past and build off of what I think is the greatest comic book universe out there? The only way I could do that was by utilizing everything. I don't believe in throwing stuff away, I just believe in putting as many toys on the shelf and letting creators and other people get in there and tell great stories and add to the mythos. We should march this universe forward. I think the only way to march this forward is by addition not subtraction.

Did you basically take a blank slate and write where you felt some of the characters need to go?

Yeah, I did what I'd done on titles of the past. If I was going to step in and talk to everybody about Rebirth and the dramatic of Rebirth, as I have ad nauseam, hope and optimism are the core values of DC universe. That had to be front and center above anything else. I really want to analyze and look at why I think hope and optimism escape people, both in our comic books and also just in the world. I think hope and optimism are two things that are undervalued and maybe not as prevalent as I think they should be.

That thematic was where it started and then from there it really came to what character and characters embody that and embody the other aspects of the DC universe that are vital to it. Things like legacy and cosmic grand operas are the epic story telling of DC, the stories that swoop across the universe. We have stories that say something about us and comics and everything else. That was the goal, to really explore all that. It came down, at the end of the day, when I started to zero in on it, it had to be an emotional story about one character in particular. Emotional story telling is why people engage in these characters.

Some of the characters you're returning to their legacy, bringing back those missing elements, but other characters, like Wonder Woman, you're kind of adding to that. Did you just go on a case by case basis to decide what was needed by each character?

There's the Rebirth special and then there's other aspects of the DC universe, like I came in and spoke with the editors and the writers just about character and tonal direction. There's certain story aspects that came up, like Tom King, Tom has a great story coming up [in Batman]. It introduces some great characters and I'm like, "Oh, I'd love to hint at that in the book." There's a really interesting story in Hellblazer where Constantine and Swamp Thing are reluctantly teamed up to try and save Abby Arcane from the darkness that she's fallen into. There are a lot of storyline that, for me, are coming out of the organic and thematics of the special, of reconnecting those emotional bonds with characters, of introducing new ideas and legacy. As that formed, that stuff became a part of the special.

I really want the special to be one of those giant books where people sit down, read it, are shocked, and feel something. I want them to be excited and feel like, "Wow, I just read a DC universe story." It's something that touches every corner of the DC universe and some of the big characters, like Batman, and others with lesser characters or forgotten characters or new characters, whether it be Jessica Cruz, or Jackson Hyde, or Damian Wayne.

Now, with your new position at DC films, how involved will you be with the Rebirth titles and stories?

Well, Dan and Jim run editorial, I never have run editorial, I just write my books. I helped talk about the foundation of this, but it's really in the hands of the editors and the creators. You have a direction, but they're telling their stories and doing their titles. It's in great hands, you have people like Tom King and writers like Julie and Shauna Benson on Birds of Prey, Steve Orlando, Joshua Williamson on Flash. There's a lot of terrific, Peter Tomasi of course, there's a lot of terrific writers both new to DC and also core to DC working on these books. I'm excited to read these as a fan now, and see what they do.

No Caption Provided

Now we'll get into the spoiler section.

Why did you choose Wally as the main character in this story, in this special?

There's no single character in the DC universe that represents legacy, hope, and optimism as well as Wally West does. He's been my favorite character since I was a kid. I grew up reading Wally West and the Flash, and the whole reason that change comes in the DC universe is always led by a Flash story. Showcase #4, Crisis on Infinite Earths when Barry died, Flashpoint when Barry was back and the universe changed again. It just felt ... Everything fell into place very quickly, he was the representative of everything I thought was missing, and again, you need a Flash on the forefront, it just feels natural to have a Flash on the forefront of change in the DC universe.

Now, we have two separate Wally Wests now, who are cousins is this part of what you said before about not throwing things away?

Yeah, I think there's ... It's a universe, a multiverse and there's no reason to put characters on the shelf. I think everyone should have access to any character they want to play with. That's what is so great about comics, so many characters have died, but they always come back because people love these characters.

I feel like a lot of times there's two modes of comic books, there's tearing things down and building things up. Building things up is much more fun. Bringing the Green Lantern Corps back front and center and then adding mythology on top of that, I find is a much more exciting direction to watch than the destruction of an entire world or the contraction of mythology. It has to be an expansion, that's the whole point of this. You build on what's come before and try and add some things that people can build on later. That's what a living breathing organic DC universe should be doing. The greatest creators add thing that survive the test of time. That process continues.

Now as far as characters who don't have their own titles like Saturn Girl and the Two Atoms, will we just have to keep an eye out and they're just going to pop up in different books?

Yeah, there are some story lines that have been planted that are very long term. There are some that are followed up immediately. To me, that's the fun of the multiple organic story tellings. You get to watch things unfold throughout the universe. So, yeah you'll have to keep your eyes open. I'm sure they won't be shy about pointing you in the direction of those stories when they start to come out.

Is this the last we're going to see of Pandora?

Yes, it is. Unless someone has a story down the line [laughs], but for me she represented that New 52 era. I think by having a character like that at the end, and Ray Fawkes did a really good job with this, but to have a character like that, she learned to embrace hope. Someone who had released all the evils on the world eventually began to embrace and live by hope. Hope is the most powerful fundamental force in the DC universe.

Okay, the big surprise villain at the end, if you want to call it a villain...

I wouldn't call it a villain, call it more of a presence.

What made you go this route?

Well, you'd have to read the book, I don't want to totally spoil it. I would just say for everyone who hasn't read the book, and I know spoilers are getting out there online and I hope people who want to read them are reading them, but I hope people who want to save the book and take it all in wait on surprise. I would just say, thematically and logically, once you read the book, it makes a lot of sense. We're exploring a very big theme in that book. That theme is the power of optimism and the power of hope and how no matter what you do it will shine through if you try and help it shine through. That's the reason it was chosen. Again, the subtleties and the nuances of it, you'll have to read.

All right, I think I know the answer to this, but as you mentioned being now like a comic fan reading since you're kind of stepping back, what are you most excited to see develop from here?

I'm just really excited about seeing all of the characters develop because we talk so much about character. All I care about is character. What James Tynion IV is doing on Detective Comics by exploring those characters. What's going to happen to the Teen Titans, the corner of the Green Lantern universe, and Flash of course. There's just some great exciting stories coming up. I'm excited by books like Deathstroke with Christopher Priest. I think it's just an exciting time because we ... This is because I've spent so much time talking about character with everybody, and everyone is making sure that this is all character driven because it's about character first, it's about telling first and building the DC universe and celebrating it. There's a lot of books I'm excited to read. When the time is right, I'll be excited to come back in and do another story.

Is there any characters that we should keep an eye on that might not be obvious at this point?

No, I'd say I think you're going to probably see ... You're probably going to see people follow the Titans book and Flash maybe more than they would after they read the special.

DC Universe: Rebirth is on sale May 25. Here are some officially released images, courtesy of DC Comics.

Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6

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TheExile285

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#2  Edited By TheExile285

Nice interview. I'm gonna miss reading comics by Johns. =/

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Jonny_Anonymous

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Wait, so Johns isn't really in charge of any of this? Then why would I have faith that this isn't just going to turn out like the last time?

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darkdetective27

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So basically he doesnt explain why he felt the need to incorperate a classic graphic novel into the DCU. Seems to me like the real reason is money as they will probably try to milk it for everything its worth.

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Nite_Nite

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#5  Edited By Nite_Nite

Pandora dies. Never really seen her in action anyways, the little we did wasn't impressive whatsoever.

Putting all DC properties on the playing board. Interesting. Looking forward to it.

Dr. Manhattan killed the Presence?#juststartingshit

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Mark_Stephen

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Hate to point this out but isn't this the same thing we hear before every big event/reboot/re-shift/re-alignment? The creators are all excited and now everything is going to be fixed and they're going to address everything that went wrong and the fans are in for some really exciting times!

And in a year I pick this stuff up out of the discount bin and nothing really changes but the next event will be the real game changer!

At the moment I can't afford comics, but I'm not sure that circumstance is as bad as it would have once been.

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apokos7

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Geoff Johns is my favorite person in comics and I genuinely trust this guy. Excited for things to come!

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TheExile285

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@apokos7 said:

Geoff Johns is my favorite person in comics and I genuinely trust this guy. Excited for things to come!

Same

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apokos7

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#9  Edited By apokos7

@theexile285 said:
@apokos7 said:

Geoff Johns is my favorite person in comics and I genuinely trust this guy. Excited for things to come!

Same

And I agree with your comment about the lack of new comics from him and how sad that is. However, we do know Rise of the Seven Seas is underway, Jason Fabok stated on twitter that after he takes some time off he will return for a project with Geoff Johns, Batman Earth One Vol.3 is also underway and he could always be writing a Rebirth Wave 2 project (Legion of Super Heroes, New Gods, Shazam) or even a Wave 3 one as soon as he gives a clear direction for the movie universe.

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TheExile285

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@apokos7: Those are all good points. I can't wait for Rise of the Seven Seas.

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casper4690

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Awesome interview . Really enjoyed the the article. Geoff johns hasn't disappointed me, so I trust his judgment.Wally is back , can't freaking wait to read about him again !! :D

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Nite_Nite

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#12  Edited By Nite_Nite

Pandora dies. Never really seen her in action anyways, the little we did wasn't impressive whatsoever.

Putting all DC properties on the playing board. Interesting. Looking forward to it.

Flash the most important character to DC. Which is strange to me seeing how Zolomon's ability has more to do with time than white Wally's ever did.

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dondave

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#13  Edited By dondave

@nite_nite said:

Pandora dies. Never really seen her in action anyways, the little we did wasn't impressive whatsoever.

Putting all DC properties on the playing board. Interesting. Looking forward to it.

Flash the most important character to DC. Which is strange to me seeing how Zolomon's ability has more to do with time than white Wally's ever did.

Time Travel has featured heavily in many Flash story arcs.

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Nite_Nite

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@dondave: I know that. But it's still strange that it was never Zoom at the forefront given his abilities

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tensor

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#15  Edited By tensor

I have been saying that for ages on the vine about Flash. Nice to see Geoff pointing it out.

Tomorrow cannot come fast enough.

I wish you guys had ask him about Shazam.

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CaptainMarvel4Ever

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Hope, Optimism and an emphasis on the past.... so what about Captain marvel? :(

While I think too many people are too hard on the New 52 and say it's dark (I was actually drawn to the heroics and color of it as a new reader) no other character represents something joyful and optimistic being torn down more than Captain marvel who's now basically a different character (different name, personality, powers, city, costume). Even more so bothersome since so many people loved Thunderworld and Cap's Convergence book, which clearly means that there are people who are willing to invest themselves into that version of the character and buy a book if he were to get a series with that same tone and personality.

Nice interview. I'm gonna miss reading comics by Johns. =/

:(

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darkdetective27

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@captainmarvel4ever: Yes, we need more of that classic Captain Marvel like in Thunderworld. He lost what made him special with the reboot and they need to bring that back.

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TheExile285

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#18  Edited By TheExile285
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CaptainMarvel4Ever

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@theexile285: Yeah, Johns really is the Captain of DC, feels kinda sad knowing he's not leading the way just so he can attempt to salvage Snyder's wreckage

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Outside_85

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Wait, so Johns isn't really in charge of any of this? Then why would I have faith that this isn't just going to turn out like the last time?

Because Johns isn't in charge of this so it wont turn out like last him.

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@jonny_anonymous said:

Wait, so Johns isn't really in charge of any of this? Then why would I have faith that this isn't just going to turn out like the last time?

Because Johns isn't in charge of this so it wont turn out like last him.

Johns wasn't in charge last time, he's never been in charge.

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Outside_85

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@outside_85 said:
@jonny_anonymous said:

Wait, so Johns isn't really in charge of any of this? Then why would I have faith that this isn't just going to turn out like the last time?

Because Johns isn't in charge of this so it wont turn out like last him.

Johns wasn't in charge last time, he's never been in charge.

He's been the chief creative officer since 2010, if anyone has been in charge of anything at DC, it's him.

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Jonny_Anonymous

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@jonny_anonymous said:
@outside_85 said:
@jonny_anonymous said:

Wait, so Johns isn't really in charge of any of this? Then why would I have faith that this isn't just going to turn out like the last time?

Because Johns isn't in charge of this so it wont turn out like last him.

Johns wasn't in charge last time, he's never been in charge.

He's been the chief creative officer since 2010, if anyone has been in charge of anything at DC, it's him.

He literally says in this interview that it's always been Jim and Dideo who have been in charge.

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Outside_85

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#24  Edited By Outside_85

@outside_85 said:
@jonny_anonymous said:
@outside_85 said:
@jonny_anonymous said:

Wait, so Johns isn't really in charge of any of this? Then why would I have faith that this isn't just going to turn out like the last time?

Because Johns isn't in charge of this so it wont turn out like last him.

Johns wasn't in charge last time, he's never been in charge.

He's been the chief creative officer since 2010, if anyone has been in charge of anything at DC, it's him.

He literally says in this interview that it's always been Jim and Dideo who have been in charge.

Which is a bloody lie when he's been in charge of every single major event at DC since 2005 with the exception of Final Crisis.

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HandOfPrometheus

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Saturn girl was in this? Im really into the legion of superheroes all of a sudden and this is cool.

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MadeinBangladesh

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#26  Edited By MadeinBangladesh

Johns is our saviour

~MiB

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ccraft

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@MadeinBangladesh: Nah he never takes credit for stuff people have problems with like BvS

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MadeinBangladesh

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@ccraft said:

@MadeinBangladesh: Nah he never takes credit for stuff people have problems with like BvS

He wasn't involved with BvS fool!

~MiB

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Squalleon

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#29  Edited By Squalleon

@outside_85 said:
@jonny_anonymous said:
@outside_85 said:
@jonny_anonymous said:
@outside_85 said:
@jonny_anonymous said:

Wait, so Johns isn't really in charge of any of this? Then why would I have faith that this isn't just going to turn out like the last time?

Because Johns isn't in charge of this so it wont turn out like last him.

Johns wasn't in charge last time, he's never been in charge.

He's been the chief creative officer since 2010, if anyone has been in charge of anything at DC, it's him.

He literally says in this interview that it's always been Jim and Dideo who have been in charge.

Which is a bloody lie when he's been in charge of every single major event at DC since 2005 with the exception of Final Crisis.

  1. You have a wrong definition about Johns job. His job doesn't actually involve the actual comics. His job means he has to make sure the characters are being represented well in other mediums.
  2. He doing the events doesn't mean he can dictate the direction. Example, Blackest night and Flashpoint where meant to be stories in the respective titles of the characters, but Didio wanted them to be events. Johns has said so in various interviews look it up.
  3. Didio and Lee are superiors to Johns. No matter what Johns wants really doesn't matter, if Didio/Lee/Harras/Nelson want otherwise.
  4. The only reason he is involved in Rebirth is because Didio and Lee asked him too.

He really has no significant power over the comics. Hate him about his writing, but his CCO job really doesn't affect the DCU.

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Outside_85

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@outside_85 said:
@jonny_anonymous said:
@outside_85 said:
@jonny_anonymous said:
@outside_85 said:
@jonny_anonymous said:

Wait, so Johns isn't really in charge of any of this? Then why would I have faith that this isn't just going to turn out like the last time?

Because Johns isn't in charge of this so it wont turn out like last him.

Johns wasn't in charge last time, he's never been in charge.

He's been the chief creative officer since 2010, if anyone has been in charge of anything at DC, it's him.

He literally says in this interview that it's always been Jim and Dideo who have been in charge.

Which is a bloody lie when he's been in charge of every single major event at DC since 2005 with the exception of Final Crisis.

  1. You have a wrong definition about Johns job. His job doesn't actually involve the actual comics. His job means he has to make sure the characters are being represented well in other mediums.
  2. He doing the events doesn't mean he can dictate the direction. Example, Blackest night and Flashpoint where meant to be stories in the respective titles of the characters, but Didio wanted them to be events. Johns has said so in various interviews look it up.
  3. Didio and Lee are superiors to Johns. No matter what Johns wants really doesn't matter, if Didio/Lee/Harras/Nelson want otherwise.
  4. The only reason he is involved in Rebirth is because Didio and Lee asked him too.

He really has no significant power over the comics. Hate him about his writing, but his CCO job really doesn't affect the DCU.

Coming from a man with ZERO idea what Johns actually does and why HE IS IN CHARGE OF EVERYTHING!

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Squalleon

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Coming from a man with ZERO idea what Johns actually does and why HE IS IN CHARGE OF EVERYTHING!

When was he, he just got a bigger role in the comics and movies because he was asked by his SUPERIORS to be more involved. He knows the characters and he sells. DC keeps promoting him for that reason.

But he is very low in the hierarchy and any editorial decision is out of his jurisdiction. He can't dictate where a line will go, only what they allow him too. And he and Didio disagree in very fundamental things.

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ccraft

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@ccraft said:

@MadeinBangladesh: Nah he never takes credit for stuff people have problems with like BvS

He wasn't involved with BvS fool!

~MiB

He was executive producer on bvs you muck!

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MadeinBangladesh

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@ccraft said:
@MadeinBangladesh said:
@ccraft said:

@MadeinBangladesh: Nah he never takes credit for stuff people have problems with like BvS

He wasn't involved with BvS fool!

~MiB

He was executive producer on bvs you muck!

Producers don't have any say you sheep! Zack Snyder made all the crappy final decisions.

~MiB

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darkdetective27

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#34  Edited By darkdetective27
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ccraft

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MadeinBangladesh

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@ccraft said:

@MadeinBangladesh: He executive producer he had things to do with the film

He was probably responsible for all the little good parts then.

~MiB

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Mrfuzzynutz

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So conflicted...the comic geek is excited and curious how this will all come together. the cynical adult is annoyed that this didn't have any answers as to WHY...rebirth, was 52 just not working, was it part of the grand scheme to end the books at 52 when they first conceived the idea? WHY..Wildstorm and now The Watchmen, but still zero attempt to integrate Milestone characters, especially with a 10 year window to work with, you have to figure you could slide Static in there pretty easily...

Again, I will check out to see where it goes, just would've liked more answers

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Galactic_1000

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Okay, the big surprise villain at the end, if you want to call it a villain...I wouldn't call it a villain, call it more of a presence.

I haven't understand.Can someone explain me please?:-)

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ccraft

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@ccraft said:

@MadeinBangladesh: He executive producer he had things to do with the film

He was probably responsible for all the little good parts then.

~MiB

If you had your head up his butt you'd try to smell for the "good" farts!

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The surprise ending made me go woah, and i was hit with sudden reliasation, Geoff Johns talking about Hope and optimism of the DC universe and the apparent threat represents a cynical and pessimistic world...That's some thematic beauty right there. Insanely curious to see where it all goes...Saturn Girl, the atom, doctor fate and the blue beetle, the justice society.....Hope burns bright!

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asjmooney

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Nite_Nite

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@outside_85 said:

Coming from a man with ZERO idea what Johns actually does and why HE IS IN CHARGE OF EVERYTHING!

When was he, he just got a bigger role in the comics and movies because he was asked by his SUPERIORS to be more involved. He knows the characters and he sells. DC keeps promoting him for that reason.

But he is very low in the hierarchy and any editorial decision is out of his jurisdiction. He can't dictate where a line will go, only what they allow him too. And he and Didio disagree in very fundamental things.

Reminds me of the army which is why I tot understand your points. No matter how good of an enlisted soldier you are, your job is to follow orders, not make decisions. That's what Johns role in DC is, he's a great writer, so he's trusted as the go-to guy; but he has zero decision making power. He can only suggest.

So conflicted...the comic geek is excited and curious how this will all come together. the cynical adult is annoyed that this didn't have any answers as to WHY...rebirth, was 52 just not working, was it part of the grand scheme to end the books at 52 when they first conceived the idea? WHY..Wildstorm and now The Watchmen, but still zero attempt to integrate Milestone characters, especially with a 10 year window to work with, you have to figure you could slide Static in there pretty easily...

Again, I will check out to see where it goes, just would've liked more answers

No I hope they don't desecrate milestone anymore than they've done already. Especially with their agenda to "blacks" and homosexuals hand n hand. I'm already pissed out of all the thousands of characters they've got, they turned Hyde gay, and I don't even follow the guy remotely. If they do incoporate milestone, it should be wave 3 or 4 and spearheaded by David Walker.

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Zeeguy91

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Dark_Stranger

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Hate to point this out but isn't this the same thing we hear before every big event/reboot/re-shift/re-alignment? The creators are all excited and now everything is going to be fixed and they're going to address everything that went wrong and the fans are in for some really exciting times!

And in a year I pick this stuff up out of the discount bin and nothing really changes but the next event will be the real game changer!

At the moment I can't afford comics, but I'm not sure that circumstance is as bad as it would have once been.

I remember all the stuff for "New 52" back in 2011.

Pretty much about the same sort of stuff as being said and done now. lol

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Zeeguy91

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#45  Edited By Zeeguy91

No offense, dude but are you really just accusing Johns of lying even if he's straight up telling us that he doesn't have much editorial control? And your evidence is that he's written a lot of events? Marvel events have been almost exclusively written by Bendis and Hickman for the past several years. However, can anyone really say that either of those two have any sort of editorial sway at Marvel Comics??

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adrikito

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#46  Edited By adrikito

Fortunately they will no longer fool me, too many disappointments in 2 years to trust in this...

I never thought I would say this..but I start to buy marvel, and buy less here.. Not worth trust in anyone.

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@zeeguy91 said:

No offense, dude but are you really just accusing Johns of lying even if he's straight up telling us that he doesn't have much editorial control?

And your evidence is that he's written a lot of events? Marvel events have been almost exclusively written by Bendis and Hickman for the past several years. However, can anyone really say that either of those two have any sort of editorial sway at Marvel Comics??

Hey, you could give me a good reason why I should believe him on this one. Like isn't it faily convenient for him to make this claim now when he was all for the New 52 5 years ago? Likewise, isn't it odd that his scapegoats in all of this is the fairly polarizing Dan Didio and that he's indirectly blaming Alan Moore for the cynical tone of the New 52 by making Manhattan the center of it? There is a point where you have to stop accepting his bs excuses for himself. He's as much to blame for the current state of things as Dan and Jim.

Unlike Johns, neither of those two have been handed a fancy title or is constantly placed front and center of their company's universe. And despite Rebirth claiming otherwise, Johns still has a gearleaver up the collective butts of every single writer working at DC to coordinate the post-Rebirth effort... just like he had post Flashpoint.

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Still better than Cap nazi.....

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#49  Edited By WarDishy_

@outside_85: Sorry to jump in here, but in a similar interview with The Hollywood Reporter, he states that there are titles like Teen Titans and Superboy where he didn't really care for the direction they'd gone in and he didn't recognise the characters anymore. If he had such editorial control over the post-Flashpoint lines (as you say he does), he wouldn't be saying that... because he would have been controlling how they were written.

Here's the link if anyone's interested, he goes into a bit more detail than in this interview. The Hollywood Reporter - Geoff Johns REBIRTH

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@wardishy_: I was referring to that Johns is responsible for the overall tone and feel of the DCU not that he ghost-wrote the DCU for them, the broad strokes but not all the details, like how Superboy turned out.

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