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Saturday, June 08, 2013 

Geoff Johns still cares more about the supervillains than the superheroes

Johns, along with artist David Finch, is making DC's next crossover a whole month dedicated to supervillains. Yeah, like that's all we need. And it begins with a miniseries called Forever Evil. They say:
The seven-issue series Forever Evil debuts in September as part of a "villains month" for the publisher. Headed up by the Justice League of America creative team of writer Geoff Johns and artist David Finch, the title marks the first universe-wide event comic since DC's superhero-line relaunch in September 2011.

"Forever Evil is a chance for David and I to work on all the greatest villains in comic books. It's literally everybody. I don't even know if there's anybody not in it," Johns says. "We're really exploring what darkness means and the different kinds of darkness that are within these villains."
No, they're resorting to darkness because they think that - and only that - makes for great entertainment. It's nothing more than a nickel-and-dime excuse for spotlighting the villains because they're "cool" based on image/powers rather than how they're written and utilized.
Featuring a first-issue 3-D motion variant cover, the book will spin out of the aftermath of the upcoming "Trinity War" crossover in Johns' Justice League and Justice League of America titles as well as Jeff Lemire's Justice League Dark. The Justice League winds up out of commission, and the bad guys come to the fore to rule the world.

September will also see each of DC's superhero books change titles and focuses for one month as they feature all-star antagonists along the lines of Justice League arch-enemy Darkseid, Superman nemesis Bizarro, Flash villain Gorilla Grodd and classic Batman baddies Two-Face and Poison Ivy.

The goings-on in Forever Evil will spill into other comics such as Teen Titans and Suicide Squad, and in October, three five-issue tie-in books will launch
That's 3x5 too many. It's sounds very much like Marvel's Age of Apocalypse in 1995, which saw several X-Men books alter their titles briefly to reflect the time warp caused by the death of Xavier's past self, before Bishop could set things right again for everyone. I get the feeling this imitation will be even more ridiculous.

And despite what they're telling, I don't think Bizarro has ever ranked as an all-star villain, nor Gorilla Grodd, who sure wasn't put to the best of use when Johns wrecked the Flash with his dismal visions.
Having tackled the Rogues, Black Manta, Sinestro, Lex Luthor and Black Adam in his career, Johns feels that ne'er-do-wells like those guys are his "sweet spot," and Finch says he has "more of an affinity for villains than heroes. I have a really dark art style and the tone of this is so exactly where I'm coming from." (Finch also has a piece of art in Forever Evil No. 1 that Johns teases "is the coolest thing I could ever imagine for something that celebrates villainy.")
Anyone who loves the villains more than heroes is not fit for working in superhero comics, and there's something wrong with anyone who thinks villainy is something to party about. Especially if the villains are characterized as nastily as Johns has made them over the years he's been with the publisher.
In Justice League and JLA, Johns has been seeding plot points that have been seemingly disconnected from each other but all point to Forever Evil — in the most recent JLA issue, the heroes find a Secret Society of Super Villains communication coin that features the Latin word for "forever evil."

The Society plays a huge role in Forever Evil, but Lex Luthor, Superman's longtime foil, is the main character of the story.

"What happens with him and to him and what he does is going to have pretty major repercussions through the DC Universe," Johns says. "There's a lot of things in issue 1 with him that I think are going to surprise people."
I think there's bound to be plenty that'll repel people. They even say that Johns:
...loves doing big events like Blackest Night and Flashpoint, but the emotional story at their core is always key for him.

Likewise in Forever Evil, Johns says, "you'll see more layers to villains, from the guys we all know and love to people like Killer Frost and Plastique."

In addition to featuring team-ups and battles between baddies fans have never seen before, Forever Evil showcases villains who are more diverse and varied in motivation than their counterpart heroes.

"Evil's relative, right?"
Johns says. "There are some that want to rule the world, there are some that simply want to put food on the table, there are some who want to simply kill for the thrill, and there are some who don't consider themselves a villain."
Heroism isn't relative? Another sign something is wrong with Johns' way of thinking. That's like suggesting that we as readers all relate to evil more than good, which is horrific and a blanket insult to everyone. I don't know if the part about diversity refers to race and sexual orientation - it could just be costumes he's talking about - but nevertheless, this does allude to one of DC's most abortive steps, promoting their books based on political correctness instead of storytelling value.

And what emotion is there in his stories? Much of it is fake, so that's not the key to his success. Rather, it's his overrated reputation that is, plus the obsessive focus on the villains.
"The Justice League is dead, the villains inherit the Earth — well, what does that even mean?" Johns says. "Some of them might not like how it's being run. Some of them might like the old way better.

"Once the heroes are off the table, what's that mean for the villains? What can they accomplish together?"
Probably more than Johns can as a writer, what with his largely bankrupt output. We do not need this farce of a crossover that's bound to be a big waste of money and trees.

I wish I could say the audience might wise up to their tricks and not waste money on this, but tragically, it's bound to happen.

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There are two reasons writers can fall in love with villains:

1. They secretly agree with (or are at least highly sympathetic to) the villain's genocidal/horrific ideals.

2. They're writing the hero as passive and the villain as the active character. This is one of the hallmarks of bad writing.

Which is the case here, you be the judge.

3. they're beta males and fantasize about powerful men but have to cast them as "evil" to cope with their odd feelings.

Seriously, once you think about it then read some of this crap... It does make sense.

It is a writer's obligation to show how much he loves his protagonists by the sheer hell he puts them through.

Captivating villains and antagonists have goals you can understand even when you disagree with them. The most compelling character in Star Wars isn't Luke Skywalker, it's Darth Vader.

Flash's Rogue's Gallery is superb BECAUSE we understand them as people, not IN SPITE of it. Doctor Doom is harsh and dictatorial but his sheer will is impressive. Neither of these diminish Flash or the FF; in fact, they amplify the drama in their clashes.

The protagonist should be worthy of his adversary and vice versa.

Also it's got to be repeated until it sinks in: fictional worlds are imaginary things created to imitate the real world, they are not literally subject to the morals of the real world no matter how many tantrums bloggers and university professors have about it.

My ethos as a writer is to entertain, move, and excite you, not pass a litmus test.

Really? My favorite character from Star Wars is Han Solo, not Darth Vader. Vader's a great villain, but I wouldn't say he's the most captivating character in the whole series.

And characters have been put through too much hell recently, so what's wrong with having a little light at the end of the tunnel?

And good to know you've resorted to the tired "just stories/it's fictional" argument in order to dismiss legitimate criticism.

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