Distancing myself from the works of Geoff Johns
April 15, 2010
By Avi Green
How long has it been since I updated this site? Certainly a while.
I’ve become as busy as any other sitebuilder could be in their
regular life, and there are those too, I am well aware, who’ve sadly
lost interest in the subject of comic books, for reasons that have
been covered here already, and may turn up in this article too.
Ever since Identity Crisis, I’ve backed away from much of the DC
output, including Hawkman, JSA, and even the Outsiders fails to
impress upon me. As far as characterization goes, they’ve been
getting increasingly worse, due in no small part to how the
atmosphere they’ve had since that 2004 abomination has made it
virtually impossible to enjoy any of their output since that time.
This is also because many of the “ideas” that were used in and
spawned by that offensive book are still around, leaving their
horrid stench in their wake.
When Ray Palmer, the Silver Age Atom, turned up in Hawkman in 2002,
I thought his guest appearance was going to lead somewhere, whether
it be a new ongoing series or even just a miniseries. Now, years
later, I feel totally slapped in the face.
I suppose what really made me open my eyes to the problems he’s got
was the increasing amount violence, and the decreasing point to any
of it. For example, there’s the early Blood Will Run arc, where
numerous people are murdered by a Flash-worshiping cult. The Flash
#213, where a scene turned up implying that the Turtle would resort
to child rape. Even if it was only implied, that was most
extraordinarily disgusting, and symbolic of the increasing amount of
violence and perversion in a lot of modern day comics.
Even before that, I
recall an odd continuity glitch in The Flash #180, where Johns wrote
that Cyborg had reached his state because of an explosion. Excuse
me? If he’d read the Tales of the
New Teen Titans miniseries from 1982, he would’ve seen that
Vic Stone was burned badly by a giant, corrosive alien worm his
scientist father had accidentally teleported into the laboratory
after it killed his mother and then slammed into him as well, before
his father could teleport it out again.
Later on, in the Crossfire arc, in issue #186, when Flash is getting
an explanation from Goldface about where Blacksmith came from,
there’s even a very strange remark made by Keith Kenyon that
Central/Keystone’s economy flourished when the Network was operating
and buying stolen goods from the Rogues. Reading that part so many
years later, I was surprised by this – could it have been some kind
of subtle attack on capitalism? I don’t know, but what it does do is
absurdly imply that the Rogues and other criminals actually helped
Central/Keystone prosper! Excuse me? Not only is stealing wrong, it
also harms other people’s economy, personal or otherwise, and only
makes innocent victims miserable. In fact, was Gregory Wolfe, the
warden of Iron Heights, a subtle attack on Rudy Giuliani?
In Green Lantern: Rebirth, there are problems too, and not that Hal
Jordan came back. Rather, that jarring shock tatic violence has
invaded that series too. Why, we could even cite Johns’s serious
problem with “continuity porn” and how he’s resorted to cheap
gimmicks like making Carol Ferris into Star Sapphire again.
But what really broke the camel’s back was when he killed off Josh Jackam,
son of a character named Julie Jackam, whom Johns introduced in
Blood Will Run just to be killed off, in a 3-part miniseries called
Rogues’ Revenge that was tied in with atrocious crossovers like
Final Crisis. Many readers of recent have been outraged with James
Robinson, his JSA and Hawkman co-writer, who’d penned Starman back
in the day, for slaughtering at least a few characters in his
wretched Cry for Justice miniseries, including Lian Harper, the
daughter of Roy Harper, alias Arsenal, whose own arm was gored off
in the story. But then, if they’re angry about that, they should
take a good look at what Geoff Johns did in Rogues’ Revenge. True,
even that isn’t the first story in comicdom where a young infant was
killed for violence’s sake. But it does precede Lian’s horrific
death by just a short time, and is just as tasteless. And I ask:
where is the outrage surrounding that?
Johns has now been promoted to “chief creative officer” at DC, which
I assume means editor in chief. A position not very well earned, I’m
afraid. He’s already strongly hinted he’ll go along with what’s been
set during DiDio’s undeserved reign as EIC, and may have let the
other shoe drop.
I’ve looked at the continually declining sales for the big two on
ICV2, and it’s clear that the future of the market is very bleak,
for as long as people as bad as DiDio and Johns are still around.
It’s a real shame it’d had to come to this. An outgrowth of the
problems cropping up in the 1990s, which still hasn’t been fully rid
Looking back at the past work of Johns, I’ll say in fairness that
what he contributed as a co-writer was well-written enough. It’s as
a solo writer where he really blew it, with the Flash being the
place where he really sunk low.
Yes, as of today, I consider his work on the Flash, one of my
favorite superheroes from DC, to be some of the ugliest, most
contemptuous dreck I have ever seen, ranking right down there
alongside some of Mark Millar’s and Grant Morrison’s worst work for
Marvel. “Blood Will Run” is the story I’d say sums up how bad his
work was. Destroying what good Wally West did for the sake of
senseless violence and even bad fanfic allusions? On
My Brain blog, someone replying to the item said it right:
Really disliked the
concept of Blood Will Run.
Yep. And that’s not what I read comics like the Flash for. Worst
thing about the story is that it looks suspiciously like a subtle
insult to the audience, signaling one of the worst things about
Johns: he can/could be very clever at masking his intentions.
Killing off everyone the Flash
has ever saved?
That's kinda, well, SUPER
When it comes to some of the reviews I once tried writing of his
work, I’ve decided to let them remain as is, since they perfectly
reflected how I felt a decade ago. Well, the JSA/Hawkman stuff
anyway. As of today, however, my opinions on his run on the Flash
and Teen Titans have definitely changed. I think of it now as some
of the most slovenly, pretentious crud I have ever seen, with the
bloody parts being the worst. And it doesn’t matter if he reversed
the fate of Wally and Linda’s children, who weren’t even a wise idea
to begin with; that does not excuse the barrage of irritating
violence (or even the gauntlet run with the Turtle) it took to get
And it’s very sad that even the aforementioned Robinson has been
going downhill since along with Johns. Once, Robinson may have
excelled as a writer. Today, he’s appallingly turned into as much of
a slapdash writer as Johns really is.
What will be the future of the once great DC Comics? Only time will
tell, assuming DC survives at all.
Copyright 2010 Avi Green. All