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 of.

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 the Comics Ate My Brain blog, someone replying to the item said it right:
Really disliked the concept of Blood Will Run.

Killing off everyone the Flash has ever saved?

That's kinda, well, SUPER DEPRESSING, no?
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.

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 there.

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 rights reserved.

Main Menu Inside to the Outside Profiles Extras Outside Links