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Lister Sage said on April 2nd, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Now, if they give Aquaman the beard back, we can talk about progress.

Not just that. They need to give him the personality he has in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, because that version of Aquaman is the only version of Aquaman I’ve ever given a shit about. When last Aquaman had a beard all he was was a Namor stand-in which really does nothing for the character other then let Peter David write Namor stories while at DC. And before that all Aquaman was was boring. So, I say slap a beard and eyepatch on him and give us a comic book version of “That Time I Infiltrated a Group of Pirates By Wearing An Eyepatch!”

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Brian T. said on April 2nd, 2010 at 4:26 pm

One of the things I really don’t get about Johns is that the dude has written a metric butt load of comics, and he still doesn’t seem to have much of an idea of how to use superpowers that don’t involve physical violence.

… which makes it kind of weird that he’s the Green Lantern guy now. Doesn’t anybody remember the way he used to constantly have Alan Scott get punked out early in JSA stories? He constantly found excuses to not use Dr. Fate’s magic powers either.

I don’t know if that changed after the relaunch, but Stargirl barely did anything with her Cosmic Rod’s ranged attacks. Dr. Mid-Nite didn’t even use his ray gun or the strobe built into his goggles. Except for one time in his first appearance, back when David Goyer was still co-writer.

The last significant thing Johns did with Ronnie Raymond before that issue was retconning him into not being able to control his transmutation powers. Supposedly, he needed physicist Martin Stein’s Rain Man-like encyclopedic knowlege of chemistry to turn stuff into other stuff. I guess god-like control of molecules isn’t violent enough or something.

He even finds lame excuses to have Hal Jordan punch somebody instead of using that insanely powerful weapon on his finger.

It’s like Johns only responds well to poorly rendered martial arts action and he has spent most of his career trying to train his readers into thinking the same way. So, now people feel let down if Black Adam doesn’t tear out some sucker’s large intestine and choke him with it.

In practically every comic he writes, you can expect all the people with cool powers that can be used from a distance to be taken down and/or killed almost instantly. Leaving the day to be saved by Wildcat because he jumped out of the way at exactly the right time. Or Mr. Terrific. Or whichever character Johns is currently trying to convince us is the best superhero ever created in the entire history of the medium.

They should just let him get it out of his system and let him write a comic called Justice League of Mary Sues. Wildcat, Stargirl, Mr. Terrific, Barry Allen and Hal Jordan would spend every issue beating the crap out of all the characters he doesn’t like with their bare hands.

As things stand, he needs an editor brave enough to say things like “You know Green Lanterns can become intangible and create force fields, right? Some of the people you just killed in that scene should have survived that attack. And if your villain just killed twenty Green Lanterns, why is Judomaster still okay?”

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Didn’t Johns already bring Reverse-Flash back from the dead in Rebirth? Did he come back from the dead again again?

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Jason Barnett said on April 2nd, 2010 at 5:44 pm

Bill Reed- In Flash Rebirth Johns used Reverse Flash. In Blackest Night he brought him back so he could use him in Flash Rebirth.

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Blackest Night only further solidified my vow to never pick up a single issue of the new Flash series. It wasn’t enough to bring back Barry, downgrade Wally, kill off Savitar and Inertia, depower Zolomon, but really to fuck over Owen Mercer (a character with actual potential) like that for fucking Digger Harkness (NO ONE MISSED HIM) is just bringing back Silver Age for the sake of bringing back Silver Age.

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@Thok

Yes that is true but World War Hulk was a HULK story so if it doesn’t revolve around Hulk punching things harder and harder on one level or another it has pretty much failed.

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Sofa King said on April 2nd, 2010 at 6:08 pm

Ah, but the most important question is: was The Monocle brought back?

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KD, I kinda missed him.

Only because of Suicide Squad, admittedly, but still.

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Yes that is true but World War Hulk was a HULK story so if it doesn’t revolve around Hulk punching things harder and harder on one level or another it has pretty much failed.

My comment actually applied to Secret Invasion as well, which didn’t really have an excuse for the only solution to be hitting Skrulls hard. Remember, that was a mini that lead to Norman Osborn getting ridiculous amounts of power by shooting somebody in the head.

(Also, the Sentry vs Hulk ending sequence in WWH was known to everybody by issue 1 or 2.)

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“1. Was there really anyone who sincerely wanted to see Max Lord ever again?”

Yes. Like Rachel, I’m not a fan of the retcon they did with Max, but accepting the fact that it’s there and not going anywhere, I would like to see those who got played the worst by him (i.e. Booster, Fire, Ice, Captain Atom, etc.) get to confront him and bring him to justice (something they did not get a chance to do in the build up to Infinite Crisis thanks to Wonder Woman.)

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I remember Reading Lord of the Flies in high school, and the teacher described it as a perfect example of how to write a novel. The introduction of the characters, the building of the plot, the crisis, climax and deounment, all hitting exactly on cue. A perfect template to follow.

That didn’t make it any less fun to read.

Geoff has writing comics down to a science. But all the science in the world doesn’t make a rainbow any less impressive to look at.

If you’re looking for people to break the rules and experiment and bring you something new and shocking, do not come to Geoff Johns. He’s comfort food. He fills your stomach and it tastes good and you’ve had it tons of times before but it tastes good every time.

Blackest Night did exactly what it set out to do; rock our socks off and sell a crapload of comics. Everybody wins.

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Jason Barnett said on April 2nd, 2010 at 8:53 pm

Vinnie Bartilucci- I agree completely about Johns.

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Except for the “rocking our socks off”, I agree completely. 🙂

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fsherman said on April 3rd, 2010 at 12:30 pm

I actually liked the GL Blackest Night books, and if they’d kept it to GL and GLC, I think it would have been good. As a major event, it looked like “Everybody’s doing zombies! We gotta cash in.”
And yeah, I remember Marvel a decade or so doing a The Rules Have Changed, Dead Is Dead story. That sure worked.
As for Thawne, Johns just likes Reverse Flashes. He made up his own for Wally and he seems to think Flash needs a Zoom like Batman needs Joker. Only he’s wrong (I don’t care for his Flash takes much).

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Lamashtar said on April 3rd, 2010 at 6:17 pm

@Lance, Sorry. I thought we were doing a ‘best fit’ for Rex. Is there a color for awesome?

@Allegretto, all work-for-hire writers are fanfiction writers. They just get paid for it.

@Brian T., I *thought* that the rings were depowered in the soft reboot of Rebirth. I mean, otherwise, we’d be wondering why they even bothered to torture people in Cry For Justice when Hal could’ve just read their minds.

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Brian T. said on April 3rd, 2010 at 11:33 pm

That sounds right. Johns definitely did other things to make the rings more lame, such as retconning in the notion that creating energy constructs is actually really hard and you’ll feel tired and weak if you do it too much or don’t do it right.

I guess it’s supposed to be more “dramatic” now that Green Lanterns are a lot easier to kill.

Wikipedia is vague on this point, but it sounds like Hal Jordan can still scan people’s minds if he wants to. I guess we have to chalk that one up to bad writing.

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Lamashtar: No, Hal can still read peoples minds… but a)he forgot he could and b)torturing people sends a message to the people being tortured. In this case, that message is The Justice League is PROACTIVE now, and no longer above fighting villains using techniques that are technically war crimes.

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Steve Rogers said on April 4th, 2010 at 8:32 am

“he still doesn’t seem to have much of an idea of how to use superpowers that don’t involve physical violence.”

Given the disturbingly high levels of murder and dismemberment in his comics, I think Johns might just really, really like writing physical violence, or have some really fucked up things to work out.

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Michael P said on April 4th, 2010 at 2:04 pm

I greatly enjoyed Lord of the Flies, but otherwise agree entirely with Vinnie’s post. Geoff Johns does not write stories anymore; he writes progressions of plot points that are connected only by virtue of happening one after the other. They never come together to the point where it feels like they mean anything, even to the people they’re happening to.

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Admiral Snackbar said on April 4th, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Steve Rogers: “Given the disturbingly high levels of murder and dismemberment in his comics, I think Johns might just really, really like writing physical violence, or have some really fucked up things to work out.”

With a lot of writers who have the same tics, I would agree with you, but I just don’t see Johns as being that dark. I think it’s more a failure of imagination and a lack of maturity that causes Johns to do that. This is the guy, after all, who saved ideas that he wrote about in letters to the 90s Superboy comic, and then used at DC. He’s never gotten beyond that young moment. We have seen the limits of his ability, I believe – the best he’s ever done was probably Rogues’ Revenge, because the plot movements in that were surprisingly deft for him, and there was a nice balance of external and internal conflicts.

As a general rule, the smaller Johns’s focus is, the better he is, which is why the Flash Rogues suit him so well. They’re just screwed up conmen trying to get by. It’s also why the Flamebird subplot in his old Beast Boy mini was so strong, and ended up stealing the book wholly – Johns can be really good at characters for whom everything is personal, who are deeply affected by every small change in the landscape. His imagination veers towards the world-changing, but he just doesn’t have the ability. His incredible earnestness functions best with characters who work on a smaller stage.

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Wait, Max Lord is back? I haven’t been following Blackest Night (I picked up issue 1 in all its heart-ripping glory at a local show because they were giving away Black Lantern Rings), but unless he’s de-powered, doesn’t that mean Wonder Woman has to hunt him down and kill him again? It was THE TRUTH that the only thing that could stop him from mind-controlling Superman was neck twistage.

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Brian T. said on April 5th, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Admiral Snackbar said: “With a lot of writers who have the same tics, I would agree with you, but I just don’t see Johns as being that dark. I think it’s more a failure of imagination and a lack of maturity that causes Johns to do that. This is the guy, after all, who saved ideas that he wrote about in letters to the 90s Superboy comic, and then used at DC. He’s never gotten beyond that young moment.”

That makes a lot of sense.

It also explains the weird things that crop up in his stories when he tries to write about women.

Stargirl is about the only female character he hasn’t done anything that could be construed as misogynistic to, and that’s probably just because she is based on his dead sister so he tries really hard to make everything she says and does seem adorable. It doesn’t work, but at least he’s trying.

He keeps doing weird things like revealing that Power Girl just acts tough to hide her deep-rooted insecurities. Or having Hawkman and Dr. Fate fight over the Kendra Saunders Hawkgirl for a fairly long time even though she did nothing to indicate she was interested in either of them. Or deciding that She-Hulk’s powers should be based on fear. Or trying to get rid of the female Judomaster’s weird power that protected her from some types of attacks. Or writing a story where Hal Jordan is able to defeat four Star Sapphires by flirting with them and getting them to fight each other over him. Because Hal Jordan is such a stud and they’re just stupid girls.

There are probably tons of other examples. He definitely didn’t do the Wasp or the Scarlet Witch any favors when he was writing the Avengers.

He seems to spend an awful lot of time either depowering female characters or making them seem kind of incompetent just because they’re girls and they have feelings and junk.

I used to think he had some really messed up hang ups about women–especially the idea that women with cool powers can kick ass in a comic book. But it makes more sense to think of him as a case of arrested development.

He can’t write women (or convincing alien characters for that matter, which really drives me nuts when I try to read a Green Lantern comic), because he’s stuck mentally and emotionally at about fourteen years old. He likes all that really violent Miracleman-wannabe nonsense because he grew up on crappy Eighties action movies and never stopped thinking they’re awesome.

Where is Sarah Jessica Parker when you need her? Maybe if Johns finally launched, his writing would get better.

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Dan Coyle said on April 5th, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Johns is married, if that means anything.

Though the fact that Carter and Kendra’s relationship boiled down to Carter fervishly hoping, “oh, if ONLY she’d come around” for what feels like ten years…

Fuck it, let’s go all in: Geoff Johns doesn’t need to run DC. He needs help. Whatever his family did to him, whatever his sister’s tragic and needless death did to him, spending the rest of his life taking it out on DC characters and their readers will never, ever make him happy. In the end, he’s not hurting comics so much as he’s hurting himself.

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Admiral Snackbar said on April 6th, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Brian T.: I think for me, the biggest tipoff about Johns in that regard is what he’s said about Superboy and Wonder Girl, that Connor is the high school quarterback and Cassie’s the head cheerleader. I know he was writing them in Teen Titans and all, but really, Johns? I can’t imagine Wolfman was sitting around saying the same things about Dick Grayson and Donna Troy, you know?

So now Connor and Cassie get to have their generically sweet, chaste relationship where they sit at flying picnic tables and kiss with no tongue in the moonlight. I’m not saying he should get all lascivious with his minors, but I graduated high school only five years ago and there was a lot more going on with us than that. I mean, at least give me the sense of urgency that you can find in any 60s pop song. Listen to the Shangri-Las sometime, you know? They’re ahead of Johns’ time, and Leader of the Pack’s like 45 years old. Writing your teens as if it’s the 1950s with glossier paper just strikes me as one of the reasons comics don’t appeal to kids anymore. They did get their discreetly hinted-at night of passion before Infinite Crisis, but let’s face it: that’s really because Johns didn’t want Connor to die a virgin (and thanks for playing, Cassie!). That’s so insulting! Why not let Connor die a hero and a virgin? You’re not defined as a human being by whether or not you’ve gotten laid. Having your cool stud/jock/stand-in for your high school hopes and dreams die having never gotten past second base would be ballsier than anything Johns did in IC, that’s for sure.

So I don’t know, I think if Johns has any hangups over women, they’re more of the Judd Apatow/Seth Rogen “I can’t figure them out but I’m going to write awful relationship subplots UNTIL I DO” variety than the “rrrrragh death metal guro puts-the-lotion-on-its-skin” variety. Meaning it’s easier to write teen girls, because he doesn’t have to worry about the complicated sex stuff, and plenty of people are so dismissive of teens that there’s a good chance he won’t be called out on writing them as stereotypes. It’s also why he writes things that I think are accidentally really insulting, like Power Girl’s cleavage window being because she found out she wasn’t Clark’s cousin and thus couldn’t put a Superman symbol there. Seriously, she can’t just be a confident woman comfortable with her sexuality? (Besides, like Clark wouldn’t have welcomed her with open arms into his family? He’s SUPERMAN.)

I think the biggest worry, though, is why he keeps writing Stargirl, his little sister stand-in, as constantly in relationships with guys who are above 18 (Atom Smasher) or at least assumed to be by others (Captain Marvel).

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Steve Rogers said on April 6th, 2010 at 3:51 pm

@Admiral Snackbar and Brian T.: That’s a good way of looking at it. I’d add to the arrested development idea Johns’ really weird and gruesome juxtapositions of, say, Nazis violently dismembering entire families on panel, with viscera and blood everywhere, on one page, and on the next cutting to the JSA sitting around HQ talking about how awesome they all are, because they’re heroes, and family, and family who are heroes, and how wonderful Courtney is, and so on, with no apparent awareness of the jarring shift in tone between scenes.

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Dan Coyle said on April 6th, 2010 at 6:04 pm

I remember once someone asked him about the Nazi dismemberment thing, and this was post Infinite Crisis when we were told (by Mark Waid) that things were going to get lighter, and WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS, and Johns just snickered and said, “Well, they’re VILLAINS.”

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Admiral Snackbar said on April 6th, 2010 at 6:08 pm

Steve Rogers: Nice point! Thinking about it, that actually accounts for one of the reasons I love his Flash work – the shifts in tone are more measured and better handled. You get that division between Wally scenes and Rogues scenes, but the Rogues are human and even redeemable on some level, so it’s not like the huge world-enders the JSA or whoever fights. The contrast is less jarring and the characters have more shading. Also, you’ve got the whole idea of the Rogues as a dysfunctional family, so contrasted with Wally and Linda or Wally and Jay and Bart, there’s some nice parallels.

It’s almost perverse, how much time thinking about the Johns Problem takes up for me. Granted, given the size of my pull list these days, it’s not like that would’ve been time spent reading new comics.

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Steve Rogers said on April 6th, 2010 at 8:59 pm

I don’t think it would be such an issue if Johns were writing genuine horror comics or something like that, where the violence fits with the tone of the stories he’s telling. But, I mean, who in their right mind picks up a Green Lantern comic and expects to see some thing with the eyeballs of people’s dead family members being spat on them or whatever the heck it was?

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I don’t want to get too far off the track of this thread, but I see these same sort of comments get made time and again in comics blogs that deal with specific writers so I have one question and one comment.

The question is: What is meant by “professional fan-fiction?” I don’t understand what this means. Aren’t non-fans who write comics just hacks? I understand the concept of the Mary-Sue/pet character, but what seperates the “I’ve always loved Superboy and wanted to write Superboy comics” from “getting paid by DC to write fan-fiction.” About half the time I think it’s fans thinking “I want to write Superboy AND I could do better.”

The second is that I always get uneasy political, personal, or social conclusions are drawn about a writer based on the writer’s fictional works. I don’t don’t really follow Johns, but a lot of what’s described upthread just seems like lazy writing and poor characterization.

Being a lousy or lazy writer doesn’t make you a bad person, it just makes you a bad writer. Usually when writers hold fringe political or personal beliefs they will go great lenghts to make sure people know about it by publishing those beliefs in other media, as Dave Sim, Orson Scott Card and Frank Miller have all done. Until Johns says or does something misogynistic I don’t think it’s fair to assume he’s a misogynist becuase he can’t write female characters.

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Admiral Snackbar said on April 9th, 2010 at 5:08 am

John: I think your latter point is pretty much the conclusion we’ve come to with Johns. Honestly, this is mean, but I don’t think there’s enough below the surface in his work for misogyny to be lurking in most places. He does stupid things with female characters, but I think that’s just general discomfort with writing them. With a Sim or Miller, there’s actually, like, subtext there, and that’s why you can really inquire into their lines of thinking. I think it was Tucker Stone who said that Blackest Night is about exactly what it claims to be about, a bunch of superheroes with rings fighting a bunch of zombies with rings, and nothing more. There is NOTHING you can read into it, and save maybe Rogues’ Revenge and a couple other books, Johns’ entire catalog is like that.

And I think the line of “professional fan fiction” is tricky to locate, and pretty dubious, but Johns’ particular mix of often poor quality, speechifying, Mary Sue-ism, obsessive and meticulous revision of past stories, and INSANE REVERENCE probably qualifies a lot of his stuff for the category. Granted, it’s a dangerous label to be throwing around, but this is a case where I don’t have any issue with it. Just compare Johns’ Green Lantern to Tomasi’s Green Lantern Corps – that is the difference between a professional fan fiction writer and a genuine professional, right there. Tomasi knows enough to bury the stupid ideas he’s forced to work with under a field of interesting, dynamic characters. Johns, for his part, is the one coming up with the stupid ideas.

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AS: Good points. My comment was wasn’t really targeted at this thread, I just brought it up because I think MGK is the most reasonable comment thread in the comics blogosphere. It’s a reaction to too many similar Women in Refrigerators posts in other blogs. I realize it was off topic.

That’s a pretty good working definition for “professional fan fiction” but I’m just always suspect of an insulting designation that got so much of that “I know it when I see it” quality.

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[…] that just seem to keep coming and coming (I know it just started, but is SIEGE over yet? What about BLACKEST NIGHT?) Having spent some time roaming the message boards, it’s been a little disappointing to see […]

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[…] takes on Johns’s Green Lantern run offered by Zom (of the must-read Mindless Ones blog) and Chris Bird. This book was just unreadable. I’m not the biggest fan of Johns’s writing style, but […]

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Badficwriter said on April 11th, 2010 at 8:27 pm

@John

In general, the insulting description can be apt. 90% of everything is crap. As someone who’s compiled one too many fanfiction directories by having to READ them all to make sure what I was listing, it can drive you away quickly.

However, that 10% includes pros who just want to play in someone else’s backyard and those who can and have graduated to professional writing–who might only end up overworked Geoff Johns level. If you’re looking for decent fanfic, never hunt randomly, only go with the recommendations of those with stronger fortitude than you. 🙂

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[…] review of BLACKEST NIGHT can be found right here. Worth a read, whether you agree or […]

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