“This guy’s been hunting this tomato for years.”
Not the first thing you expect to hear in a comic book story session, but it was one of the best lines I heard from DC creative chief and Metro Detroit native Geoff Johns when he was at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn Saturday for two sessions. The first was meeting a couple dozen local kids to teach them how to create superheroes and villains and sidekicks.
The heroine: Copycat. The villain: Sylar. The hero’s mentor? Dr. Tomato Guy.
“There were a lot of engaged kids,” says Katie Merritt, co-owner of Green Brain Comics in Dearborn, which helped organize Johns’ visit, which also included a signing at her store Friday night. “They weren’t shy about spouting off their ideas.”
In the second program Johns did an overview of his career and took lots of audience questions. The only real news out of that was a confirmation of a “Flashpoint” animated movie coming at the end of next year.
But before that session, I did get to sit down with Johns and ask him some questions about the new Green Lantern, Simon Baz, and toss him some reader questions. Here’s the result:
We know where Simon Baz has come from now. Where is he going?
You will see him meet the Justice League very, very soon. One of the fun things I think is when he first meets the Justice League, they don’t know what to expect, and so he gets tossed onto the ground, and the Justice League’s ready to fight him, and he looks up at them and says, “You don’t really expect me to fight, do you? You’re Superman.” And things kind of go from there.
The character is going to learn about the Green Lantern Corps and what it means. He learns bout the ring. The fact that the ring chose him is going to be a very big deal for him. He’s going to seek out other Green Lanterns to learn about this, and then he’s going to head off into space like all good Green Lanterns do and get involved in this intergalactic war and save the universe.
There was a lot of buzz when the cover was released: He’s got the ring — why does he need a gun?
That’s there on purpose. It’s there for intrigue. You’ll find out about it in the book. … He’s a car thief. He’s not a perfect character, so he has a lot to learn, and every other Green Lantern has been an artist or a test pilot or a football player or a Marine so this is going against the grain. … The rings run out, too, though. And then Simon says, “What do the other Green Lanterns carry when the ring runs out?” And the Flash says, “Nothin’.” Simon says that’s not too bright.
Why did you decide to go with an Arab American Green Lantern and not another minority or Earth’s first female Green Lantern?
When we were working on the relaunch, we were talking a lot about diversity in the DCU and our readership is extremely diverse and the world is extremely diverse, so when there was the opportunity to make a new character, I decided to draw from my own heritage a little bit. I didn’t know of any Arab American heroes at DC.
And now on to the reader questions:
I admit, I’m a “Legion of Super-Heroes” reader, not a “Green Lantern” reader, so I hope this question make sense to you in context: Is Hal going to be greatest of the whole (darn) spectrum?
Not every one. Hal’s on a very specific journey, a very different journey than Simon Baz or Guy Gardner or John Stewart.
Where are Donna (Wonder Girl), Wally (Kid Flash) and Garth (Aqualad)?
I don’t write “Flash” or “Wonder Woman.” I do write “Aquaman,” and you will probably see Garth sooner or later.
Who was Mekt’s (Ranzz, the villain Lightning Lord in “Legion of Super-Heroes”) twin going to be?
He was a new character we were creating. We never followed up on that (editor’s note: the story was interrupted by the relaunch). We wanted to introduce the idea that there was a twin out there. That was his whole thing, right, for years — why he was messed up. It’s kind of like what happens when Lex Luthor grows his hair up. Is he still a bad guy? Are we good? Are we cool?
What was going to happen with the “coming this year” panel featuring the Legion in “Adventure”?
We were supposed to stay on the book and then they had different plans for the Legion. We were going to be on the book for quite some time, but they decided to go a different way.
Who haven’t you written that you’d like to?
I wouldn’t mind doing a Wonder Woman solo story. That would be cool. But she’s in the JL. I really like the Outsiders. I’m pretty happy with what I’m doing right now. Aquaman’s cool. “Justice League” lets me write a lot of characters. Katana’s in the Justice League now, and Catwoman. I’d love to do a run on “Catwoman.” I like kind of lesser known characters.
Why do you think Baz is getting all the attention when you’ve already brought Cyborg to the area in his origin, and the Flash on Earth 2 is in Lansing?
Probably because it’s Green Lantern and a brand new character. And we’ve got great PR. DC’s really helped get the word out. A new Green Lantern — I think that in and of itself is a big deal and we wanted to celebrate where it was from.
How has the lower page count affected you? (DC went from 22 to 20 pages last year to help keep the price down.)
It’s really hard. You’re so used to 22 pages, and two pages is a whole other scene or a gret big image, so you start to . It’s hard to balance all that. Space is so important to the story. It definitely affects the book. My mom actually read “Green Lantern” 0, and she’s like, “I loved it, but where’s the next one?”
If you’re reading this, Geoff, thanks for speaking with me. I hope we get to chat again some time.