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Stars and Supes Forever: Geoff Johns Interview 10/25/99

Thanks for being willing to be interviewed, Geoff. Since you currently write Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. and will be writing JSA soon, you seem uniquely qualified among modern writers to comment on the Golden-Age Superman and his contemporaries. I look forward to your responses.

In your comic book writing career thus far, you've had the opportunity to write scenes not only featuring Superman but his fellow Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster creation Dr. Occult as well as the Spectre, who was co-created by Siegel. All of these characters started out fighting street crime and later turned their attentions to more cosmic matters. How do you reconcile these characters' roots with who they've become today?

Well, it's just a matter of change over time I suppose -- not always for the better. I enjoy how John Ostrander shaped the Spectre immensely. That series was fantastic. Dr. Occult I'd like to see more of. Lots of potential there.

I've noticed that you seem to have a certain affinity for characters created in the Golden-Age of comics. What were your influences? What made you fall in love with the Golden-Age of comics? Are there certain writers or titles or comic book moments that stand out in your mind?

I liked the Golden Age characters because we never saw much of them and they were always very intriguing. James Robinson's The Golden Age hooked me on the potential of these characters. Starman only built on that. They just have a very PURE iconic feeling to them.

And I work with a lot of them because of their untapped potential. I'd rather write a character that is a clean slate, more or less, than an established JLA veteran. That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy writing Superman in Day of Judgment, I just believe there's more to play with and more character growth that can be done with the lesser knowns.

Superman has been around for over sixty years now. To what do you attribute his longevity?

He's the first and greatest superhero ever created. And he always will be the best.

Superman has existed in a variety of incarnations in print media, radio serials, television and on the silver screen. Do you perceive some interpretations to be more representative of Superman the icon than others?

They all have their strengths and weaknesses -- though, and I'm prejudiced since I work with the great Richard Donner. Superman: The Movie captures the essence of this great American character perfectly.

There's a "SUPER-EDITION" DVD in the works BTW! It's gonna rock.

The Golden-Age Superman was a founding member of the JSA and served in a largely honorary capacity for some time. While he was rarely involved in the team's Golden-Age adventures, he was a major influence on the team in the late 1960s on into the 70s and 80s. Now, no one in the DC Comics Universe remembers him. Continuity issues aside, is the JSA any the less for his absence?

I don't think so. The original JSA stories never really involved Superman or Batman -- I think we'd be a lot less off if Green Lantern or Flash were "not remembered" but as it stands those two are the big guns and they're still around -- and always will be.

The Justice Society of America has been hit fairly hard in the last two decades. Not many of its old membership is left. How do you see the following JSAers, both in general and in terms of coping with the world around them:

Sentinel?

The most experienced member of the team. And the most confident. Alan Scott's the unspoken chairman that everyone looks up to. When this guy gets worried -- the JSA are in deep trouble.

Flash?

Everyone's dad. The father of common sense. I think Jay is an inspiration to the team -- an optimist who fights crime with a smile.

Wonder Woman?

Hippolyta -- a new/old character -- is a bad a$$. She's who everyone wants to team-up with when they divide into groups. They know she'll be able to confront whatever evil might face them.

Wildcat?

Ted's a no b.s. kinda guy. Laid back, by a little old-fashioned.

Fists of stone and a heart of gold.

Sand?

Sand's a strange one. Although he's an "original" Golden Ager he's really as new to the DCU as the new Hourman is. Sand's found his place in the world -- he may be a little naive at times but he's a helluva fighter. He doesn't have a lot of experience with women -- that'll be fun to play with.

You created the all new Star-Spangled Kid, aka Courtney Whitmore, for the monthly title Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. Longtime readers may be aware that her predecessor was a member of the Justice Society for some time. Now, she's one of the less experienced members in the JSA. Was it intimidating to create a character to fill a legacy like that? How would you describe her character for new readers?

I think the new JSA needed someone that had almost no experience. That's the purpose of the JSA -- to carry on legacies and tradition and build righteous, professional super-heroes. Courtney fills this role perfectly. She'll be the one we really see GROW on the team. She'll be a prime example of how the JSA can effect a person who, although has a good heart, has a LOT to learn about being a hero.

Courtney Whitmore is a headstrong 15 year old, who's still trying to find her place in the world. And I quote from her -- "I've never really been good at Math or English -- but being a superhero, saving people -- I think I'm good at that. And I want to get better."

If the Golden-Age Superman turned back up in the DC Universe tomorrow and you were assigned to team him up with the Star-Spangled Kid and S.T.R.I.P.E., how do you see him interacting with your characters? How do you think they would view eachother?

Whew. Tough one. S.T.R.I.P.E. and him would get along just dandy. Courtney would be in total awe, probably tripping up trying to impress him. Superman would do his best to help her out.

The Golden-Age Superman has made his presence known in various ways over the last several years. From the Dominus Factor arc in the Superman comics to out-of-continuity stories like War of the Worlds and Superman and Batman: Generations to prestige reprintings like the hardbound Crisis on Infinite Earths book, it seems that various incarnations of Kal-L keep turning up. Can we expect this trend to continue? Might the Golden-Age Superman continue to be featured in new stories, either in continuity or through Elseworlds?

Not in continuity. I don't think we'll see [him]. In Elseworlds? I'm sure of it.

(But if Elseworlds are Hypertime worlds. . .ack! Head hursts. . .)

Geoff Johns, thank you for your time and for your thoughts. Both are appreciated. I urge readers to check out Geoff's work on Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E.

 
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