Geoff Johns, Engineer of Destruction: On Crisis, Continuity, and Consistency of Character

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If you're not familiar with the impending Crisis occurring within the continuity of DC Comics... well, you probably aren't reading this article. For those of you who are, you're very likely aware of the role one of the main architects, Geoff Johns, plays in the current restructuring.

Plans for the future of DC have been kept Top Secret. And while we tried to worm as much out of Geoff as we could without resorting to violating the Geneva Convention, we were only able to glean a few nuggets of information -- not enough to inspire a Sutter's Mill rush, but enough to keep us panning away until Infinite Crisis debuts in just a few short weeks.

You've recently been appointed the official "Keeper of the Continuity" for DC. Can you elaborate on what this entails?

I'm a Consultant Editor along with Grant Morrison and Mark Waid. It's not just about continuity -- it's about "One Year Later" and all the stuff going on during Crisis.

How crazy are things these days, with all the planning for Infinite Crisis?

It's pretty crazy, and that's what makes it fun. Crisis ... it's focused on a handful of the core characters, even though there's a lot of other characters within it.

We've got to talk about it sometime, so it may as well get into it right away. Max Lord is -- and I don't think we're spoiling anything at this point -- dead and it's definitely at Wonder Woman's hands. What kind of a turning point is this for the DC heroes?

I guess that's going to unfold in the next few months, but a fairly big one.

Can we expect more drastic measures from the heroes? We're told that Superman's failure is going to be the most grievous of the Trinity, and I'm trying to think what could be moreso than killing the bad guy in the eyes of the fans.

It's hard to explain -- You can't take it literally, how's that?

Grant Morrison stated in a recent interview that some of the groundwork for Seven Soldiers had an impact on the post-Infinite Crisis DCU. Does that mean that the Seven Soldiers stories exist in the post-Crisis continuity, or that some of the ideas he went over (that didn't make it into Seven Soldiers) are going to be used for post-Crisis?

The Seven Soldiers are going to be prominent characters in the new DCU.

So the Seven Soldiers stories do exist in the new DCU?

Well... You'll have to ask Grant for the answer on that one technically, but what's going on is happening right now. I don't want to spoil any of what Grant's trying to do. He's doing a tremendous job.

This upcoming Crisis seems to have targeted the 1980s Justice League. Is this intentional, or is it just coincidence that these characters are falling to the wayside?

They're not all falling off. You've got Blue Beetle, Maxwell Lord...

...Sue Dibney, Rocket Red...

Sue Dibney, Rocket Red... Talk to Keith Giffen. But no, there's no conspiracy. That's one of my favorite books. Justice League was an incredible book, easily one of the highlights of the eras. Let me say this too: Keith Giffen is involved in the new DCU in a very significant and major way, and that's all I can say.

"One Year Later" -- with all the DC titles synchronizing one year after the conclusion of Infinite Crisis, what kind of a visual impact will we see in Teen Titans? After all, one year to those of us in our 30s doesn't show that much, but kids and teenagers are hard to keep in the same size clothes for more than a few months.

Well, you're going to see them different. Everyone's going to be different. One year does make a big difference for the Titans.

Will it even be the same team?

Somewhat, somewhat. I mean, all the teams are somewhat the same. What's the point in doing some new directions and some new changes if everything was the same? There are a lot of changes across the board.

Probably the most ominous thing leaked about Infinite Crisis is that when the "One Year Later" story rolls around, some of the masks may have entirely different people behind them. With Barry making another return appearance through the "Marv Wolfman loophole" and rumors that Batman will find himself as an inmate in Arkham Asylum, can you tell us that Flash and Batman are going to be okay?

All I can say is, "Rumors are rumors." I'm not going to say anything about them except whoever came up with that Arkham bit is laughing his ass of right now.

You've managed to bring back both Hawkman and Green Lantern, tying together all these seemingly disparate threads of continuity off with a neat little "See, we meant to do that all along" bow. Now you're turning your attention to the most muddled-up continuity character of them all: Power Girl. Untangle this one, and you'll officially be the Mister Miracle of comic book writers. Who is she? Where's she from?

It's in the book. I don't want to say anything about it, except I'm very happy with the story. Amanda Connor is just a freaking genius. She's amazing, and I'm really thrilled that I get to work with her on this, because it's a really important story. It's a really important story to me, just because I've grown to love the character, and I'm excited I get to work with such a talented artist.

Is there any character out there so messed up that he'd be too daunting to take on?

No, I love challenges. If the character's got some potential in him, then great, it doesn't matter. Continuity never scares me away -- quite the opposite actually. Give me any knot you've got.

When fixing continuity -- sometimes you can explain it (Rebirth was a brilliant example of this) and sometimes you just have to write it off as having never happened. When it comes to continuity, there are still some titles out there that have fans wondering: Are they or aren't they? For instance: Superman: Birthright.

As far as I know, Superman: Birthright is in continuity. Damn good story too.

Doom Patrol.

That book is in current continuity.

We're just going to forget that they ever existed before?

That's what they've done. I have nothing to do with that right now.

But it does affect one of your characters; Beast Boy has his origins heavily tied to the Doom Patrol of old.

Keep reading.

Legion of Super-Heroes has gone through another reboot. Is the Legion stable now?

I think Mark's doing a terrific job on the book, readers have responded and I think the sales and reaction indicate it is very stable.

I love what he's doing with it right now myself, but sometimes we just like some stability in our titles.

I completely agree. The thing is, it's not continuity, it's consistency. And it's always about consistency, consistency, consistency. And that's what we're trying to do. After Crisis we have a new consistency with what the timeline is, how the characters behave and act, what their M.O. is... trying to get to a consistent level so that we don't have contradictions, because obviously if someone says, "Oh, I love Robotman," and then they go read a book where it's a totally different Robotman, it turns a new reader off.

The same thing goes for Hawkman or any other character. What we're trying to do is find a consistency, and we're all working together to do that. History is easy. It's nuts and bolts. We can all figure out how to take apart a puzzle and put it together a different way and make it work. But keeping consistent throughout the entire DC Universe, if you have a new reader come into the DC Universe and saying, "I really like Blue Devil," well Blue Devil's gotta behave the same way in Day of Vengeance and this and this and this, so the character can grow organically.

Consistent across titles?

Exactly. Bill Willingham has a great take on Blue Devil and all these guys. So, in Crisis when I use those guys I just take it directly from Bill, because it's such a great template. The same thing goes for everybody that's involved there, as we're trying to find a consistency for character. It's really difficult. But in the DCU that's what we're looking for. A shared universe rather than a splintered one.

And some of these characters may have a new consistency that we've never seen before?

Sure. Lots of writers are working on the Post-Crisis stuff as we type. The goal is to make it a real nice launching point for a brand new age of the DC Universe.

After the original Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC released a two-part History of the DC Universe which gave Marv Wolfman and George Perez the opportunity to provide a definitive chronology. This was apparently too soon, as certain events were still unraveling from the change to continuity. Will there ever be a DC BIBLE released to bring new readers up to speed on things after Infinite Crisis?

I think you'll probably be seeing something, but nothing's definite yet.

You're currently working on the JLA "Crisis of Conscience" story with Young Avengers writer Allan Heinberg. Is there any possibility in the current environment of the two companies that his teen team and your teen team might work together in the future?

I'd love to do it, but very doubtful, unfortunately.