Geoff Johns Bids Farewell To JSA

Prolific DC Comics scribe Geoff Johns explains why he's leaving the Justice Society after ten years and what's next.
On the forums, which has an entire section devoted to him and his work, Johns announced that April's Justice Society of America #26, a single-issue story entitled "Black Adam Ruined My Birthday," would be the last for him, artists Jerry Ordway and Dale Eaglesham, and editor Michael Siglain. The title character for the issue is appropriate since he featured in Johns' first JSA story way back in 1999.

He expressed pride that "there will always be a Justice Society of America book in the DC Universe...because it wasn't always true."

Indeed there was a time when most of the Golden Age heroes -- such as Jay "Flash" Garrick, Alan "Green Lantern" Scott and Ted "Wildcat" Grant -- had been ushered off (literally) to oblivion, and the interest of devoted fans was ignored by DC's editors.

Then, in 1999, young Geoff Johns was invited to script his own series, despite having never written a comic book before, and he created the acclaimed Stars & STRIPE, which resurrected a number of Golden Age characters. No sooner had he that under his belt than Johns was invited by two accomplished writers, Peter Tomasi and David S. Goyer (future co-scripter of The Dark Knight), to join them on the new JSA. That book steadily gained a following, and the relaunched version begun after the Johns-scripted Infinite Crisis miniseries has become a staple of the DCU.

"The JSA to me represents everything good about life, work and superheroes," he wrote. "In life, generations past, present and future all provide different viewpoints. ... There's nothing more important than family -- and family means a lot more than just blood relatives."

"This is sad news, because the last time he left a lot of things went wrong," commented SENTINEL119 of the period before JSA ended when it was shepherded by other creators. "If Peter Tomasi or James Robinson take over I think that things will be fine."

As if anticipating such musings, Johns confirmed that the new creative team on Justice Society has not worked with the characters previously.

He admitted he'll likely return to the team someday and that in some form he'll continue writing Courtney Whitmore, aka Stargirl, the spunky teenager he created for Stars & STRIPE. But it's time to move on to other challenges.

"Challenges" was his word. It appears, however, that he'll be returning to familiar ground. At the top of his agenda are The Flash: Rebirth, Green Lantern: Blackest Night and Superman: Secret Origin -- all of which deal with characters Johns knows well.

Another ComicBloc poster had a simpler explanation for the writer's move: "The guy can't write everything forever."

That's only a slight exaggeration. In a decade of scripting for the four-color medium, Johns has amassed an astounding list of credits. Limited assignments to -- among others -- Impulse, Superman: The Man of Steel, Booster Gold and two Final Crisis spinoffs have acquainted the LA resident with most of the DCU, and at one time he was juggling multiple monthly books including Flash, Hawkman, Teen Titans and JSA. But he also picked up work from Marvel, Dark Horse, Top Cow, Image and Aspen before signing an exclusive with DC. That deal, however, didn't preclude him from scripting TV shows such as Justice League Unlimited, Smallville and Blade.

It's exactly that level of proflicacy to which fans have pointed in the past few years when complaining that Johns sometimes produced less-impressive work. Perhaps he's been thinking the same thing, because he mentioned in his post that he wants to make sure Green Lantern: Blackest Night is "the absolute best it can possibly be." It's an understandable concern since he set the bar so high for himself with last year's smash hit Sinestro Corps War.

Then there's Superman: Secret Origin, the standalone, six-issue miniseries to be illustrated by Action Comics veteran Gary Frank -- whom Johns called "one of the greatest storytellers and artists in comic books" -- that finally will dramatize all the changes made to Clark Kent's backstory in the wake of Infinite Crisis. Johns and his mentor, film director Richard Donner (Superman the Movie) brought General Zod into modern continuity with Last Son; now Johns and Frank will present the new origins of other Superman nemeses. The Legion of Superheroes was reestablished as part of Superman's history in a recent Action Comics storyline; Secret Origin will show the teenaged Clark's first adventure with the Legion, and at the same time will bring back another "big part" of his canon: Superboy.

"But with a bit of a twist," teased Johns, who promised that Secret Origin ties into his and Frank's work on Action. "This isn't Smallville or Superman: The Movie or Superman: The Silver Age... It's a different look at the beginnings of the characters and mythos of Superman."

As for Justice Society of America, Johns is pleased with the swan song composed by Ordway, Eaglesham, Siglain and himself. "I think we're going out on one of my favorite stories to date and I'm glad we are all going out on this together."

[Thanks to MATT BRADY at Newsarama, where you also can read Gary Frank's comments on Superman: Secret Origin.]
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