Creator Spotlight: Geoff Johns

by GregFahlgren

Shining a light on DC's greatest asset, and one of the best creators in comic books today.

Greetings! In my last creator spotlight, I spoke about the incomparable Brian Michael Bendis, who in many ways has been the flag bearer for Marvel Comics over the last decade or so. So, I find it fitting that I follow up that piece by shining a similar light on a man that has done the same for DC, where another life-long comic book fan has been working for over a decade, shaking up the company with a plethora of classic stories and universe shattering events that have changed the face of DC Comics forever. That writer is Geoff Johns.

Geoff has been in the industry for nearly two decades now, and has had one of the best careers over the past twenty-five years. His runs on Green Lantern and The Flash are legendary, his work with the Teen Titans and Aquaman helping bring those characters back to prominence, and his tireless efforts with the company’s major events have changed the status quo for DC time and time again. Like Brian has been for Marvel, Geoff has been the flag bearer for DC, and is easily one of the most important writers in the company’s long history. More than almost anyone, he changed DC, re-writing the company’s universe time and time again, re-establishing its greatest heroes, and helping navigate some of the most troubled waters of the company’s history.

But who is this man behind the Green Lantern ball cap? Well, let’s take a journey through time to see how Geoff’s career began, and how he became one of the most important creators in comic books today.

Early Years

From Fan to Writer

As with most lovers of the medium, Geoff’s love for comic books and superheroes started at an early age when he found a number of old issue in a box at his grandmother’s attic. He immediately became hooked, drawn to the larger than life characters of DC, particularly the Flash. That love fell away for a while as he got older, attending Michigan State Univeristy and studying media arts, film production and theory, and screenwriting, graduating in 1995. From there he moved out to Los Angeles, and began looking for work in the film industry.

Taking initiative, Geoff cold-called the office of famed Superman director Richard Donner looking for an internship. After being passed around by the office staff, Donner accidently picked up the phone during a transfer, and after speaking with Johns, hired him for the position. Within two months, Geoff became Donner’s full-time assistant, working hand-in-hand with the director of his favourite movie.

In 1997, Johns was in New York with Donner working on the film Conspiracy Theory, and while there met DC Comics personnel Eddie Berganza. After speaking with Eddie, his childhood love of comic books was reignited. Eddie invited Johns to come to the DC offices, where eventually Geoff was allowed to pitch some ideas. The brass at DC liked Johns, and eventually editor Chuck Kim accepted his pitch for Stars and STRIPE, a series based on the Star-Spangled Kid and her stepfather. It was Geoff’s first work for the company, as well as his first comic book period. At the time, he was still focused on his career in the film industry, intending only to write comics on the side. But then came an offer than would change Geoff’s life forever.


Old School is Cool

Stars and STRIPES being a success, DC started to offer more projects, the first of which was JSA. Starting on the book in two thousand, Geoff would co-write the project with David Goyer, they’re mission to write a new chapter for the Justice Society of America, DC’s oldest team. Comprised of many Golden Age heroes, the book was intended to bring the team back into popularity, the team having fallen from grace for some time before that. Geoff leapt at the opportunity, taking these old fashioned character and bringing them full force into the modern world. The old time values of many of the JSA’s members didn’t quite mesh with those of today, but through Geoff’s masterful storytelling, the team rose back into top form, battling old and new enemies alike while setting a new status quo for the team. Geoff would also bring back many popular characters like Black Adam and Hawkman to the team, the latter of which would spin off a solo title written by Johns soon thereafter.

Geoff’s run on JSA ended in 2006, and to date, the Justice Society has never risen to such heights. Often regarded by many of his peers as the greatest writer the JSA ever had, his run is regarded as the best in the team’s 7 decade existence. Writer Gail Simone declared proudly on Twitter when asked if she would like to write for the team, “No one wrote JSA better than Geoff Johns.” That simple statement shows how much Geoff meant to that team, and how sad it was when he had to leave them behind. But as good as Geoff’s work on JSA was, it was only the beginning of his game changing work for DC Comics.


Childhood Love Come to Life

Later in 2000, Geoff was asked to become the writer for his favourite character of all time: The Flash. Coming into a book and a character with such a long and tenured history as a young writer is never an easy challenge, but for that character to be Geoff’s personal favourite just added to the pressure the young man had to have been feeling. This is a moment where one of two things can happen with a young comic book writer: number 1, they implode, or 2, they knock it out of the park.

Fortunately for Geoff, Flash, DC Comics and pretty much the entire comic book industry, Geoff 100% knocked it out of the park. Johns’s run on Flash is considered one of the best in the character’s history, many comparing him to Mark Waid’s legendary run from the 90s. A part of his success can be linked to Geoff bringing Wally back to a more Silver Age feel than in recent years. To that end, Geoff reintroduced and revamped the Rogues, making them viable villains again after a number of years of being laughed at to a certain degree. He also introduced Zoom, the third Reverse-Flash, as Wally’s primary nemesis, as well as expanding Keystone City’s character, making it unique and on par with Gotham and Metropolis in recognition.

Geoff’s run on the book would end in 2005, leaving The Flash a much better book than before he came aboard. He would return to the character multiple times over the years through other books however, even penning The Flash: Rebirth, which featured the return of the Silver Age Flash, Barry Allen. Both Barry and Wally would become central figures in the major DC events over the next few years, with Barry becoming a centrepoint for the universe altering Flashpoint storyline (which we’ll talk about later), and one of the main character during Geoff’s Justice League run.

Given his love for the character, I doubt Geoff is done with Barry or Wally by a long shot, and when he does return to the character, I’m sure it will be another classic story in both his career and the Flash’s history.

Teen Titans

Youthful Resurgence

By 2003, the Teen Titans, once one of DC’s most profitable and popular titles, had lost a good deal of their mojo, and with their books’ sales dropping, some thought that the Titans would face cancellation. To stop that from happening, DC Editor in Chief Dan Didio put Geoff on the book, with the express purpose of making the team a top flight property again. Thus, Geoff began work on a both a new Teen Titans book as well as a companion book was released featuring Nightwing, Starfire, and Arsenal, entitled The Outsiders. With Geoff helming the project, both these books renewed interest in the Titans, and soon the sales went up exponentially, saving the franchise.

However, Geoff’s tenure with the Titans was not without controversy. His first story arc featured the death of Donna Troy, one of the Titans’ oldest and most beloved members. In addition to that, Geoff majorly changed the persona of Bart Allen, whose went from being the fun loving, wide-eyed, high energy Impulse to the more serious, somewhat unlikeable Kid Flash. Other changes Geoff made to the Titans was the romantic relationship between Superboy and Wonder Girl (Cassie Sandsmark), as well as the retcon that Superboy was the clone of Superman and Lex Luthor’s combined DNA. The latter was met with a little resistance, but in the end it created more depth to the character than had been added in years.

Despite the ups and downs, the Titans flourished under Geoff’s guidance, the team becoming one of the top teams in DC once again. In the lead up to Infinite Crisis (which would see the return of Donna Troy), the team would be front and centre throughout the storyline, taking the Teen Titans to heights unseen of since the Wolfman/Perez era.

Geoff would leave the Teen Titans in 2007, but the team and the books that featured them were greatly benefitted by his time with them. This was the second time that Geoff had taken a property that was struggling, revitalized it, and took it to new heights beyond even what the company thought was possible. During his run on with the Titans, couple with his success with JSA and The Flash,readers and creators alike were starting to recognize just how good Geoff really was, his love and passion for DC making him easily one of the best writers in the company. Nothing made that more apparent however then when Geoff took over writing duties for one of DC’s biggest and most controversial characters in...

Green Lantern

His Brightest Day

In 2004, Geoff would begin work on possibly the most recognizable project of his career, as he took on the mammoth task of bringing back to prominence the Silver Age Green Lantern, Hal Jordan.

Now, to say that Hal had had a rough time of things in the Post-Crisis DC Universe would be an understatement. In 90s, Hal had become the villain Parallax after the destruction of Coast City during Reign of the Superman story arc. As Parallax, he left a path of destruction across DC, decimating the Green Lantern Corps. After several years, he finally redeemed himself during Final Night, before giving his life to save the Earth. Sometime after that, he became the host for the Spectre, but it was not as well-received as DC had hoped. That, combined with how popular Kyle Raynor had become since replacing Jordan as Green Lantern, many readers felt that Hal was never going to return to upper echelon of DC’s heroes.

However at the beginning of the new millennium, DC went through some fairly major editorial changes. This lead to the discussion of bringing back many old characters, and revamping them for a new generation (ie JSA, Teen Titans, ect). Thus, in April of 2004, DC made the announcement that Hal would be returning in a mini-series Green Lantern: Rebirth, written by Geoff Johns and drawn by Ethan Van Scriver.

By the end of Rebirth Geoff would rewrite the rules for Hal and the Lanterns almost to the core of the franchise. The first step was retconning the Parallax character as an ancient entity of fear that had possessed Hal, which allowed Hal to shed the responsibility (somewhat) of the atrocities he committed in Parallax’s name. Sinestro was also reintroduced as the architect of this plot, bringing back on of DC’s most hated and powerful villains. Green Lantern’s weakness to the colour yellow was also retconned, explaining that yellow was the colour of fear, which in turn was the enemy of will, the source of a Green Lantern’s power.

Rebirth turned into a major success, and has since been recognized as one of the great Green Lantern stories of all time. However, it was only the beginning of Geoff’s relationship with how, and what followed next was a defining run for writer and character alike.

As time went along, more changes were made to the to the Green Lantern franchise. Former Green Lanterns John Stewart, Guy Gardner, and Kilowog were all brought back, as well as the Guardians of the Universe, helping form a new Green Lantern Corps, with Gardner ever becoming an officer (yeah, great idea boys). This would see the launch of not only a Green Lantern book, but a companion series as well entitled Green Lantern Corps, the first story arc of which would be written by Johns.

For Hal, the challenges of returning from the dead took centre stage as the series got launched in earnest. Classic villains such as Sinestro, the Anti-Monitor, the Black Hand, the Manhunters, and Cyborg Superman all returned, presenting as series of challenges that forced Hal to overcome his past in ways he never could have predicted. In addition, the Green Lanterns that had died during Parallax’s rampage were revealed to still be alive, absolving in part Hal’s guilt of his actions while possessed by the fear entity. Geoff would also rekindle the relationship between Carol Ferris and Hal Jordan, finally bringing them together after years of reader frustration, and making them one of DC’s power couples.  Another relationship Geoff explored in full was Hal’s constant confict with Sinestro, plurring the line between friend and foe multiple times throughout the run. By the end of Geoff’s run, Sinestro and Hal had become DC’s version of Professor X and Magneto, two men who were best friends, but had such different ideologies that they would never see eye to eye in their pursuit of justice.

The biggest impact Geoff had on the franchise however was the creation of the emotional spectrum. Throughout Geoff’s run, he explained that the Green Lanterns were tapping into a part of the emotional spectrum of the universe, Will. Once that was established, he began exploring the spectrum to the utmost, using a series of stories that would introduce each part of the spectrum in turn, each new emotion bringing with a new Corps. The rage filled Red Lanterns, the greedy and only Orange Lantern Larfleeze, the fear driving Sinestro Corps, the hopeful Blue Lanterns, the love wielding Star Sapphires, and the compassionate Indigo Tribe, all these “Corps” would begin to fill with its own leaders and warriors, bringing with them the War of Light that would encompass much of Geoff’s run. By the time that war would culminate, the undead Black Lanterns were also introduced, as well as the White Lantern, completing the spectrum by the end of the Blackest Night event.

What I just described is just a portion of what Geoff was able to do for the Lantern books. So much was added and expanded during Geoff’s time with the Lanterns that it is truly difficult for me to sit here and try to put how much he really did into words. He made Guy Gardner and John Stewart superstars again, he turn Carol Ferris from a love interest to a hero in her own right as the Star Sapphire. He expanded the Green Lantern universe to one of DC’s biggest and most profitable lines, and made Sinestro one of the most sympathetic villains in modern comics as he did so. Geoff truly changed the game forever for the Lantern books during his run, and breathed new life into a franchise that many readers had frankly given up on. By 2013, there were at least a half dozen Lantern books being published monthly, each one with characters that Geoff had molded and brought to the forefront, and it all started with Rebirth.

After 8 phenomenal years, Geoff wrapped up his run with Green Lantern with Wrath of the First Lantern in 2013, finishing a near decade worth of stories that is widely considered to be the best run of any comic book creator in the new millennium. What Geoff accomplished was truly spectacular when you think about it. Not only did he bring back one of DC’s most popular heroes, he redefined that hero in ways no one could have imagined, and then built a universe around that character that has become of the most exciting in comic books. Geoff’s work on Green Lantern should be studied by aspiring comic book creators for years to come on how to build a story, build a mythology, and bring a character from their lowest point and rise to become the hero they were always meant to be, and I’m not just talking about Hal either. With that run, Geoff solidified his place not only in comic book history, but as one of the industry best creators across the industry, a place that he rightly deserves.

Infiinte Crisis

Changing the Universe... Literally

In the middle of everything I just talked about with JSA, Teen Titans and Green Lantern, Geoff would pen the first major cross-over event of his career, Infinite Crisis. A mega-event that would change the face of DC forever, Infinite Crisis was by far Geoff’s most ambitious project to date.

The story was conceived as a sequel to the universe shattering Crisis on Infinite Earths, the first mega-event in DC history. Geoff (along with a host of other creators) was lead the charge, building up to the event itself with a series of stories that would build until the destruction of the JLA Watchtower, and herald the beginning a whirlwind of events that would leave the DC Universe changed forever.

The event saw the return of Superman from Earth-1, who had been trapped in a pocket dimension at the conclusion of Crisis on Infinite Earths along with his wife Lois, Alexander Luthor Jr of Earth-3, and Superboy of Earth-Prime. Breaking out of this dimension to find a world vastly different from their own, the story unfolds as the forgotten past of DC’s multiverse returns in incredible form, the climax of which brought us some of the great battles and most tragic, tear-jerking moments in the history of comic books.

Geoff truly outdid himself with Infinite Crisis, pulling material from every corner of DC’s history, and telling a story of such magnitude that it is almost impossible to put into words just how incredible it was. Infinite Crisis was the first time Geoff got the opportunity to write something on this kind of scale, and he knocked it right out of the park and into the next world. Infinite Crisis still ranks as one of my favourite comic book events I’ve ever read, the sheer scale of it simply mind-blowing.

Key moments in the story featured the turning of Superboy-Prime from a wide-eyed do-gooder to a obsessive sociopath, intent on turning the world into the perfect picture that he remembers from his old life. When the world’s inhabitants refuse to do what he wants, he turns to violence, killing Superboy and going on a wanton path of destruction that only stopped when the Earth-1 Superman unites with his Post-Crisis counterpart to defeat him, though it cost Kal-L his life.

Geoff also used this storyline to examine DC’s Trinity in ways that hadn’t been done in a long time. With the events surrounding them, he forced Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman to examine themselves and what they stood for, which in turn caused them rise p higher than ever before, rediscovering how truly great heroes they were capable of being.

Even with all that, the biggest impact that Infinite Crisis had was the return of DC’s Multiverse, a revelation that would not truly come to light for a few years. This would lead to even more huge stories, including Grant Morrison’s Final Crisis two years later among others.

Bottom line, Infinite Crisis may be the most important event in DC’s history, as it reshaped and reinvigorated the company in such a way that it hasn’t been the same since. It also showcased Geoff’s ability to right massive stories with huge casts, and then fill them with heart. Geoff has always been at his best writing stories with heart, and despite the death toll and the incredible events that occurred within Infinite Crisis, it was truly a story full of heart, and showed once again why Geoff is one of the best creators in the industry today.


After the Crisis

After Infinite Crisis, DC would embark on the One Year Later imprint, starting all of its books a year after the Crisis. At the same time, another book was released, entitled 52, which would detail the events of the year following Inifinite Crisis, and make the bridge between that story and the stories of One Year Later. 52 featured an all-star cast both on the page and behind it, Geoff Johns joining Mark Waid, Grant Morrison and Greg Rucka as the writing team, along with a host of fantastic artists to boot. When all was said and done, 52 was actually better received by the reading audience than One Year Later, becoming almost as popular as Infinite Crisis itself.

One of the main reason for this success in my mind was that Geoff and company removed Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman (along with much of the Justice League) from the equation, all three characters leaving the page for the most part. This allowed for some of DC’s less high profile heroes to take centre stage, and showcase their talents for the DC audience. Booster Gold, Steel, Elongated Man, the Metal Men, Batwoman, the Question, Nightwing, and dozens of others were thrust into the spotlight as new challenges arrived for the world of DC Comics, the heroes rushing to meet them and rising to the occasion spectacularly.

One of the most interesting storylines of 52 was that of Black Adam, who Geoff had been working with on JSA for several years. Black Adam’s arc of becoming a benevolent ruler and then falling back to his villainous ways is one of the best story arcs in DC at that time, even culminating in the World War III mini near the end of 52’s year long run.

While Geoff cannot take sole credit for the wonders of 52, his place on that creative team was another huge credit to his work for DC Comics. It is also another example of just how important he has been to DC as a whole, his love for the characters shining through no matter where they sit on DC’s pantheon.

52 Omnibus
$150.00  $87.63


Part of Legacy

After Infinite Crisis,Geoff was becoming quite the hot property for DC. While he continued his work with both Green Lantern and Teen Titans, Geoff was also being selected to take for the rest of DC, most notably writing big stories for DC’s biggest and brightest superhero, Big Blue himself, Superman.

Geoff wrote Superman a little in his early years at DC for a handful of issues, but his first story of note with Supes was co-written by the mega-talented Kurt Busiek, entitled Up, Up, and Away. The storyline was well received, and soon Geoff found himself working alongside his former mentor Richard Donner to pen the Last Son of Kryton storyline. From there he followed up with the Brainiac arc, which would see the death of Jonathon Kent as well as the return of Krypton. Geoff would return to the character in 2009 to pen Secret Origins, a new take on the Post-Infinite Crisis origins of the character.

Recently, Geoff would team up with legendary artist John Romita Jr to take over the main Superman title, which had been floundering badly since the debut of the New 52. Though it was a short run, the team only wrote 7 issues, but their work helped get the book back on track and ready for the upcoming Convergence event.

Geoff has not worked directly with Superman since outside of the Justice League books, but his work with the character has helped reshape Clark’s world in more ways than one, leading to some of the biggest stories for the character at the time. Will Geoff ever write Superman again? More than likely, writer and character seemingly drawn to each other time and time again, and we should all feel very fortunate when they come back together for another classic story.


One Important Moment in Time

Heading into the 2010s, DC was going through major changes both behind the scenes and on the page. The most major of these changes was the planned reboot of their entire universe called The New 52, one of the most controversial events in the history of comic books. Now, there has been a lot written on the success and failures of the New 52, the pros and cons of how it was done and why, but that is for people far more qualified than I to handle, and not the point of this article. However, it is worth mentioning since the New 52 was born out of a mega-event written by Geoff Johns entitled Flashpoint.

Taking place in an alternate timeline, Flashpoint explores what consequences could come from changing one’s one timeline, ever if done so with the best of intentions. The story begins with Barry Allen finding himself in a world where the Flash never existed, and the heroes of the Justice League were warped versions of themselves. Throughout the story, Johns explores every possible avenue, showing a world very different from the DC we know, ending in one of the most climatic conflicts in DC history. I won’t go into huge details, but the simplified version of what happened was that Barry went back in time to save someone he loved, but by doing so, he send shockwaves through the time stream, changing the world and making every origin story for DC’s heroes go just a little bit wrong, creating pale reflections of the heroes we all know and love.

Flashpoint is far and away among Geoff’s best and most imaginative work. The world of this book is dark, horrifying, and heart-wrenching as the reader watches as many of the heroes we have all come to love become dark, irredeemable versions of themselves. The book ends with Barry fixing his mistake, but the result ends up merging certain timelines and creating a new universe (the New 52), an event that is still hotly debated in the comic book industry and likely will be for decades to come. No matter what we as readers may think of that relaunch, no one can argue that Flashpoint will forever be considered as one of the absolute best stories in DC history, and among the finest of Geoff’s stellar career.


Rising from the Depths

By the early 2010s, Geoff was mostly known for his work on DC’s major events, and his seminal run on Green Lantern. However, one his best and most important projects of this era (to me anyway) was his work as the lead writer for the New 52’s relaunch of Aquaman.

Arthur Curry had long been the butt of many comic book readers’ jokes. From his power set, his look, and the overall (inaccurate) perception the character was constantly being poked fun at in pop culture. Those that have actually READ Aquaman books however know that Arthur was and still is one of the most powerful, honourable, and likeable heroes is DC with a legion of loyal if somewhat annoyed fans. As seemed to be his calling card, Geoff took over the book with the intention of revitalizing Arthur the same way he had with Barry Allen and Hal Jordan, a task that might have been just as daunting.

To say that Geoff succeeded in this goal would be an understatement. Within the first story arc, the book instantly became a commercial and critical success. Even the worst cynics of comic book fandom were praising the book, which not only confronted the criticism towards the character, but turned it on its head and made such criticisms invalid. Arthur became respectable again, the book’s success leading a major crossover with Geoff’s Justice League book, entitled The Throne of Atlantis.

Another important note of Geoff’s run with the book was how he was able to bring Aquaman’s long time love interest Mera to the forefront, herself becoming a powerful and respected hero in her own right, something that many writers have failed to do. Geoff’s work with Mera garnered so much praise that many proclaimed that she deserved her own spin-off title (myself included). Geoff’s run also introduced The Others, an obscure super-team from Aquaman’s past that would team up with the King of Atlantis on more than one occasion. The Others became so popular that they themselves got their own book, Aquaman and the Others, which enjoyed its own success for a time.

Geoff would leave Aquaman in 2014, but his impact on the character will always be remembered fondly by readers everywhere. Geoff did what many thought was impossible: he made Aquaman cool again, and ensured that he will always have a place at the top of DC’s highest echelon of heroes.

Justice League


With the New 52 in full swing, Geoff’s biggest project of the relaunch by far was Justice League. With a new universe to play with, Geoff started from scratch, once again doing what he does best and writing stories with a ton of heart, but also changing the status quo for the characters as he went along.

The foremost change that Geoff made was the Justice League’s origins, specifically the original roster. No longer was the Martian Manhunter, widely considered to be the heart and soul of the Justice League since the beginning, a founding member, replaced by Cyborg, whose origin was VASTLY changed under the new continuity. The rest of the core members remained the same (Green Lantern, Flash, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman), the seven heroes coming together to wage a war against Darkseid.

From the jump, Geoff seemed determined to rewrite the rules for the League, keeping the roster small for the first few story arcs, only expanding it after the Throne of Atlantis storyline. In addition, he took former Wonder Woman love interest Steve Trevor and made him a feature character, exploring the complicated relationship he has with Diana, and the fan perception that he was never good enough for her or a true hero in his own right.

But Geoff didn’t stop there. Part way through his run, another Justice League team was established called the Justice League of America, featured in its own book. The team was lead by Trevor, and comprised of Martian Manhunter (who by the way seems to have been a member of the main League before having a violent falling out with them), Catwoman, Hawkman, Green Arrow, Stargirl, Vibe, Katana, and new Green Lantern Simon Baz. This team would act as a covert operations unit for ARGUS, a special organization founded to keep an eye on super people. The biggest change however came with the romantic relationship formed between Wonder Woman and Superman, a move that was both controversial and a massive shift in the status quo of DC Comics.

With both teams in full swing, Geoff would march the Leagues towards the Trinity War conflict (which also included Justice League Dark), and would then change the game again at the end of that event, introducing a new Atom, and bring Earth 3’s Cryme Syndicate into the New 52 in the mega-event Forever Evil.

This event would again see big changes to the League and DC, the end result being Lex Luthor the League in the aftermath along with Captain Cold. In addition, the identity of Nightwing as Dick Grayson being revealed to the world, changing that character’s status quo and leading directly to the Grayson series. During and immediately after Forever Evil Geoff would introduce a new Power Ring in Jessica Cruz, a new Doom Patrol, and a revamped version of the Metal Men. With all this going on, Geoff continued to forge ahead in brave new directions, reintroducing the Anti-Monitor and bringing Darkseid back for another mega-event, The Darkseid War,to finish off his run.

Geoff’s work with League to me was like a labour of love for both himself and his readers. So much DC lore was poured into his run, helping craft the universe of the New 52 one piece at a time, each issue revealing more secrets and showing us that the world of the New 52 was not entirely unlike the one we remember before Flashpoint. More than that, it was this book where I truly realized just how much Geoff loves DC Comics and its characters, the tender love and care he treated them with almost unparalleled in the medium. His is best at telling stories with heart, and Justice League was nothing BUT heart for nearly five years.

DC Rebirth

A New Dawn

Before we dive into Geoff’s last comic book project (for now anyway), I have to say something brutally honest to set the stage. Point blank, DC Comics has over the course of the last five years made some very questionable decisions. The New 52 was supposed to be a fresh start for the company, but the execution was mishandled in several different ways, and in the end did a lot of harm to the company. Many long time readers were turning away, fed up with the decisions the executives were making, the most troubling seeming erasure of DC’s entire past, leaving many famous storylines out of the canon, and benching some immensely popular characters. The Convergence event attempted to rectify at least part of this situation, and for a while, it did help, but the fact was that DC had gone too far away from what had made them successful, and readers were fed up.

So, in 2016, a decision was made to return DC to its roots, and make up its readers for the mistakes of their past. This event was entitled Rebirth, announced earlier this year by Dan Didio and Jim Lee, and upon that announcement, even the most cynical comic book readers were intrigued. That intrigued quickly turned to excitement when it was revealed that Geoff Johns would be writing the project, a massive 80 page comic book one-shot that would lay the ground work for the Rebirth event, an event that would bring DC into the future while still honoured it’s treasured past.

Geoff Johns’s love for DC Comics came out in full force for the event, that first issue itself topping sales charts and being an early contender for Comic of the Year. Comic book legend Gerry Conway noted that, “Rebirth does what Geoff Johns does best, and that’s write stories with heart.”

With that one statement, Mr Conway has described why Geoff was the perfect guy to write Rebirth. His love for DC is why he’s been so successful, why his work has always gone above and beyond all expectations, and why he has been the company’s got to guy for more than a decade. Geoff writes stories with heart because his own is so full of love for his medium and the company he works for. The result of this labour of love was the reinvigoration of DC Comics, Rebirth bringing back legions of fans to the company. Everyone who worked on Rebirth deserves a piece of that credit, but in my opinion it would not have been as successful as it was without Geoff Johns and the love he holds for DC Comics. Rebirth may be the most important thing Geoff ever did, and for my money, what he did was incredible.

DC Entertainment

Building New Worlds

Aside from his outstanding work as a writer, Geoff has become heavily involved in recent years with DC Entertainment. In addition to helping produce DC’s award winning line of animated films, Johns also joined the team writing team for Arrow in 2012, as well as The Flash shortly after that show’s debut. He has also served as a consultant for DC’s Extended Universe films, specifically for Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the latter film seeing him credited as an executive producer.

In 2016 however, Geoff’s responsibilities with DC Entertainment would become much greater. With the poor box office performance of Dawn of Justice couple with the negative critical response for the film both from fans and critics, DC Entertainment named him and Jon Berg as co-runners of the DC Extended Universe films, as well as co-producers for the upcoming Justice League films. Shortly thereafter, Geoff was named co-president of DC Entertainment, a move that was met by near universal praise by comic book creators across the industry.

Geoff’s appointment to this position is a massive step in the right direction for DC. I have said this before publically and privately: no one loves DC Comics more than Geoff Johns. His love for what he does is evident with every project he has ever been one, and after Dawn of Justice, there needed to be a course correction if DC’s film franchise was going to survive. Geoff is the perfect man to right this ship, and with him at the helm, the future of DC’s films is brighter than ever before. Sadly, Geoff did have to give up his comic book writing in order to take one these new responsibilities, but I have nothing but hope for what he has in store for DC Films, and with his track record I think that hope is MORE than justified.

Other Work

Pieces of Greatness

As with all comic book creators, Geoff Johns has had many, lesser known projects over the years that though have not garnered him much fame are important pieces to his outstanding legacy within the industry. Within DC, Geoff was responsible for the relaunch of Booster Gold and Hawkman at separate times, as well co-writing a Beast Boy limited series with Ben Raab. He also penned the Batman: Earth One books, which have received heavy critical acclaim and are a large part of the success of the Earth One line. He has also written for Power Girl, and wrote the New 52 origin for Shazam in a series of back issues in Justice League which has since been collected into its own graphic novel.

His only work outside of DC was for Marvel, writing Avengers for a few years and penning the limited series Avengers Icons: The Vision in 2002. What is notable about this is that almost directly following his run on Avengers was Brian Michael Bendis, whose redefine run on those books at Marvel were very much in parallel with Geoff’s redefining run with Green Lantern and many of DC’s major crossover arcs. These projects might not as famous as those that I have discussed in detail above, but they are still important parts of his career, each one building upon a career that is among the greatest in the industry today.

Current Work

Moving to a New Frontier

What is Geoff up to right now? Well, as I mentioned before, since his promotion to President of DC Entertainment, he has had to leave his comic book projects behind him to focus on DC’s film and television projects, the majority of which he is either directly or indirectly involved in. With multiple films and TV shows currently in production, Geoff has his hands in a little bit of everything, which can only mean good things for DC Entertainment and comic book readers everywhere.


DC's Greatest Creator

I asked some of Geoff’s fellow creators about him, and here’s what they had to say:

“I love Geoff's work. I once told him I hoped he'd be the Stan Lee of DC-- meaning that his approach to character and storytelling would inform the approach of DC's other writers, giving the books a coherent feel. He's a great writer with a deep love for comics, and also, not incidentally, a great guy.” – Comic Book Legend Gerry Conway

“I think Geoff Johns does not get enough credit. He is a true fan. In fact, I have a letter by him published in the first ever Powers letter column. He loves comics. And it oozes out of him and his work. It will be very interesting to see what the DCU films will be like now that he has a stronger hand in them. I root for him. He am the Bizarro me :)” – Co-Creator of Jessica Jones and Miles Morales Brian Michael Bendis

“I’ve been a fan of Geoff’s forever and his work remains an inspiration. Looking forward to more work from him on paper and screens.” – Deadpool writer Gerry Duggan

“Geoff is one of a kind! No one understands and celebrates the intrinsic value of the DC Universe like he does.” – Midnighter writer Steve Orlando

“Geoff is the strongest superhero writer of his generation, combining a current style with an understanding of continuity that is unmatched by any other writer of the last 15 years.” – Cable and Deadpool writer Fabian Nicieza

“Of all of my favorite comic book writers of all time, the only one I haven't met or worked with is Geoff Johns. And of all of my favorite writers, he's the one I've most tried to emulate. I've admired his work from his early days on the Avengers, which is probably my favorite Avengers run, through his New 52 Justice League and Aquaman reboots, and up to his current stuff. His stories are fun, ambitious, thoughtful, and earnest, and I hope I get the chance to tell him that myself someday.” – Marvel artist Joe Caramanga

“He’s one of the hardest-working, most diligent and passionate creators I know.” – Wonder Woman writer and 52 collaborator Greg Rucka

“No one gets superheroes like Geoff. NO ONE!” – Batman: Earth One artist Gary Frank

“As a writer Geoff may very well be the best overall DCU writer ever. He’s handled a large number of very different projects and they’ve all been in the good to excellent category. No duds.

As an exec, it’s obvious he knows what he’s doing and knows how to get it done. Usually creatives aren’t great at the business end. Geoff is.

As a person, he’s one of the most positive people I’ve known. And he’s helped me many, many times when he didn’t need to.”  - New Teen Titans creator Marv Wolfman

“I remember when I first got offered Final Crisis: Rogues Revenge. I have to be honest, I wasn’t very familiar with the Rogues at the time, and didn’t think much of the Rogues in general… but... I took the gig to pay the rent. I figured it was a short series and I could just soldier my way through it.

Then I started getting pages and the script. Holy crap, it was GREAT. I couldn’t believe how Geoff (and Scott Kolins on art) turned these goofball characters into total badasses. I was sold. I never wanted it to end.

Geoff clearly loves the DC universe. He sees how it all works together, cheese and all, and somehow makes it work. He made a total Mirror Master fan out of me, and I sure never saw that coming.” – Master Colourist Dave McCaig

“Geoff Johns is a sterling example of how the power of superhero storytelling can shape a person's life in a tangible, meaningful way from Flash to Avengers to Green Lantern he has shown time and time again that he has the heart of a hero.” – The Only Living Boy writer David Gallaher

“Geoff is perhaps the ideal DC creator. A creative with a distinct love for superhero comics heritage that translates that passion into his output.” – Dynamo 5 co-creator Mahmud Asrar

Legacy is an interesting thing. Some creators are great for a short while, writing a classic story here and there. Others have had long, consistently great careers, never truly getting the recognition they deserve. Some however, change things for the medium, leaving an incredible impact that can never been understated. Geoff Johns is one of those creators, his career forever changing the landscape of the comic book industry. Like Mr Conway said, he has changed the way the DC Universe will be written forever just like Stan Lee did for Marvel in the 1960s. Not only that, Geoff have revived and reignited some of the company’s most popular heroes, and is responsible for some of the greatest stories in DC’s long and at times tumultuous history. But Geoff’s legacy is more than just great stories.

Many creators are known for specific runs on certain characters or teams. Claremont on X-Men, Bendis on Avengers and Ultimate Spider-Man, Simone on Birds of Prey and Secret Six, DeConnick on Captain Marvel, Waid on Flash and Daredevil, the list goes on and on. There are a select few creators however whose name becomes linked to one company’s universe so tightly, it’s hard to imagine that universe without them in it somehow. Brian Michael Bendis and Stan Lee are synonymous with Marvel Comics, Stan in the old days when he was the ONLY writer at Marvel, and Brian in the modern age, both gentlemen helping mold that universe into what it is today. DC has never truly had someone like that in their employ, that one person that has changed the course of that company’s history, and making it a much better place than what it was before until Geoff Johns came into the company.

Think about it for a moment. His first project was to revitalize the JSA, and did so with amazing results. He did the same thing with the Teen Titans, making them one of the premier teams in the industry again. He wrote one of the best Flash runs in history, helping redefine the character. He brought back Hal Jordan, and completely reshaped Green Lantern, turning a single book into one of the largest franchises in DC Comics. He brought back Barry Allen, wrote a sequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths, changed history with Flashpoint, wrote some of the most critically acclaimed Superman books in recent memory, made Aquaman one of the top heroes in DC again, helped redefine the Justice League, and launched a literal Rebirth for the company. That last project as a comic writer (for the foreseeable future­) brought legions of fans back to DC by telling the kinds of stories that he had fallen in love with growing up. Geoff Johns is DC’s guy, their biggest fan, and maybe the greatest creator the company has ever had under its employ. As a creator and as an executive, Geoff’s life’s work has been to make DC a better place, and there is no doubt in my mind that he has done that and will continue to do so for as long as they will allow him.

Simply put, Geoff Johns is one of the best creators in comic books today. He has re-written the rulebook for DC Comics, time and time again bringing the company to the forefront of the industry. More than that, he is a comic book fan for life, and never allowed his success to change that. There is no better person to help chart the course for DC’s future than Geoff Johns, because no one loves DC Comics more than Geoff Johns. And that more than anything is his legacy, a love for a medium and for a universe that he grew up with, and his unbending desire to make that medium and that universe a more vibrant, wonderful place than when he first discovered it all those many years ago.

In brightest day and darkest night, Geoff Johns has made comic books a better place, and we should all hope that he will continue to do so for many, many years to come.


The Life and Career of the Wonder Woman of Comic Book Writers
Taking a look at one of the best comic creators in the world today.
Shining a light on DC's greatest asset, and one of the best creators in comic books today.
Examining the career of comic books brightest and fastest rising star.
Updated: 10/11/2016, GregFahlgren
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?



You might also like

Creator Spotlight: Gail Simone

The Life and Career of the Wonder Woman of Comic Book Writers

Creator Spotlight: Kelly Sue Deconnick

Examining the career of comic books brightest and fastest rising star.

Disclosure: This page generates income for authors based on affiliate relationships with our partners, including Amazon, Google and others.
Loading ...