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Thursday, January 24, 2013 

Geoff Johns' not very impressive Justice League spinoff series

CBR spoke with Johns about the spinoff he's writing for the title that's only called Justice League, and it's the spinoff, of all things, that'll have "of America" affixed to it. All so they can include several characters whom the leading 7 in the sans-America won't take because they're now an exclusive club in contrived fashion for the sake of it (and all so Johns can feature his politically correct concoction of Simon Baz as a co-star). On the Martian Manhunter, they say:
We had a tease recently that, even though he wasn't with the Justice League in their first adventure, Manhunter does had a history with the League. And it's not a happy one. What are the odds we'll be getting more on that in the immediate future?

That'll be answered. For a time, he was on the Justice League. He battled Starro and all these other guys, and then there was a huge falling out. They've been on the outs ever since. We'll discover what that was, what happened and why. They'll meet again in the upcoming year -- that was set up a long time ago.
I already know a few of the details about the forced exclusion of J'onn J'onzz, and I'm sure we don't need to know the fuller story of what Johns wants everybody to accept happened, because it can only be perfectly galling.
Steve Trevor is a character you got to do a lot with in a short time in "Justice League" -- this idea that he met Wonder Woman, fell in love with her and then was left by the wayside. I would think taking him into this series should mean an extension of that arc. Are you playing the two off each other directly?

Steve Trevor is definitely the through line from "Justice League" to "Justice League of America." I actually think -- and I know he's a supporting cast member normally, but I think he's grown into a really great character in his own right. His viewpoint is that when he crashed on that island and met Diana, they shared something special, and when they came back to this world, he felt very protective but she can look out for herself. Now, he's got a complexity. He's not used to this kind of relationship or this tension. It causes a lot of stress, and eventually it just broke. Imagine if you had a shot with Wonder Woman and it didn't work out. It would be devastating. I think someone says, "You're only going to go down from there." He really believes that. Why bother with anyone else?
So this is the new rendition of Steve Trevor under his helming? Bleah. But it's obvious that Steve was dumped by Diana for the sake of her becoming Superman's "sidekick". What's really ridiculous is how he implies that no other beauty in the DCU could possibly compete with WW, which I think is insulting to the intellect. Although some of these women were thrown out post-Flashpoint by the editors, what about Jade, Jesse Quick, Black Canary, Donna Troy, and Starfire, for example? Why, what about the new rendition of Katana? Or even Etta Candy, whom Steve married in George Perez's takes on WW? They're not good enough to replace WW as Steve's paramour?

Clearly, Johns doesn't think so.
When you talk about him like that, it reminds me of when you worked with Scott Kolins on "Flash." People had known his work before that, but his style and your collaboration recontextualized what he could do. Do you hope for a similar reappraisal of David?

I'm hoping that David and I working in conjunction lets him bring something people aren't expecting. You look at that team lineup, and it's very unexpected. I like that. I want people not to know what to expect from the book. Now, we've got a lot of the story broken, and when it's out there, I want these cliffhangers to be the craziest cliffhangers in comic books. I really want this to feel like something special.

I've said this before, but I love the big characters like Batman and Superman. I also absolutely love taking characters that people won't give a second thought to, like Aquaman, Sinestro or the Rogues -- characters who people have written off already -- and elevating them. I want to say, "There's actually a lot here to get involved with and get excited about or intrigued by. That's why this team is so exciting to work with, especially when I'm working with David Finch, whose drawings legitimize them almost immediately. It's all about unlocking potential, and for me as a creative endeavor -- why I'm excited by this book and want to work on this book -- and also within the team and the story itself.

We'll see who this team really is, and not everyone is going to make it. That's part of the story of the book, too. Just because you're on the Justice League of America doesn't mean you'll forever be on the Justice League.
And just because he's launching this new volume doesn't mean it'll last forever either. Certainly not after he leaves and hands it over to another writer. It sounds like when he thinks the time is right, he'll throw some of the characters out when it becomes apparent that nobody likes or cares about his renditions. It wouldn't be the first time he's done it either.

And he never elevated the cast he dealt with so much as corrupted, denigrated and made them less appealing, like the Rogues in the Flash, who were turned into an extremely unpleasant bunch. Most writers before him didn't commonly use the Rogues simply because it was felt they were too tongue-in-cheek and it really was time to retire them and think of new villains who could replace them for modern times. But he just couldn't let go, nor could he respect that the Rogues were supervillains with certain senses of honor, unlike real life villains and even "plainclothes" villains in fiction, who can be very vicious by contrast.

Speaking of which, at the end, he says:
Lastly, is there anything to be said about the villains in the series?

Just like there's potential in all these characters that you've seen but never really delved into, it's the same with the villains. I love working with villains from Black Adam and Sinestro to Captain Cold and Black Manta, villains are a sweet spot for me. So they'll be a massive part of this story, and that's all I can really say right now.
Oh, does he ever enjoy working on villains, far more so than the heroes, whose own character drama potential he never showed the courage to focus on, and if he did, he only botched it royally. This is another something that irritates me about Johns: his obsession with the villains, which has only amounted to doing all he can to make them "relevant", which means he tries to make them as nasty as possible, as he did with Black Manta. That's also the gravest mistake DC's made in all their attempts to "Marvelize" their universe, and it's only resulted in vulgar, contrived stories and premises that impress nobody. Whoever the villains are that Johns intends to feature, I have no desire to read about any of them under his helming.

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