Formerly the assistant of film director Richard Donner, Geoff Johns (born January 25, 1973) broke into comic books in 1999. He worked freelance for about four years before signing an exclusive contract with DC Comics, where he's been a major figure ever since. He writes an average of four comics a month, so he's responsible for a large percentage of DC's total monthly output.
Johns is also good friends with fellow DC exclusive writer Grant Morrison, and the two of them co-wrote the DC Universe #0 one-shot as well as the best-selling weekly DC series 52.
Johns is largely considered to be the Mr. Fixit of comics, largely on the back of his restoration of Hal Jordan as Green Lantern. His specialty is revamping characters, especially villains, who have lost their way (or were always lame) into something more compelling. He's also the go-to guy for untangling a Continuity Snarl, though he sometimes has to take a sword to the Gordian Knot.
In February 2010 he was named DC's Chief Creative Officer which basically makes him the No. 3 guy at the company after co-publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee. In August 2016, following the success of DC Rebirth, he was promoted to President of DC Comics in addition to his role as Chief Creative Officer. In June 2018, he stepped back down to just a writing role with Lee assuming both positions. In 2021, he and longtime collaborator Gary Frank launched Geiger, the first in a new line of books for Image Comics produced by his studio, Mad Ghost.
He has also served as a producer, consultant and occasional writer for DC television and film adaptations. In May 2016, he was named co-chairman of the newly created DC Films division of Warner Bros. together with studio executive Jon Berg. He was replaced by Walter Hamada in late 2017 after Berg became a producer for WB, at which point he mostly went back to working on television and comics instead of movies.
It was announced at the New York Comic Con in October 2023 that Johns had parted ways with DC Comics and joined Image Comics.
Fun fact: he used to be a roommate with Marvel's Kevin Feige. While the irony is not lost on him, the two are still good friends. Also, both have worked one way or another for (and admire) Richard Donner.
DC properties Johns has worked on include:
- 52: co-written with Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, and Mark Waid.
- Booster Gold
- DC Rebirth
- The Flash
- Green Lantern:
- Infinite Crisis
- Justice League (2011)
- JSA and Justice Society of America: partly co-written with James Robinson and David S. Goyer.
- JSA Classified
- Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E.
- Stargirl: The Lost Children
- Legion of Super-Heroes:
- Teen Titans
Marvel Comics properties Johns has worked on include:
Properties that Johns co-created and co-own include:
Television shows that Johns has written episodes for include:
- Justice League
- Robot Chicken
- Titan Maximum
- Blade: The Series
Television shows that Johns has co-produced include:
- DC Universe / HBO Max
Movies that Johns has been involved in include:
- Green Lantern (2011): story consultant.
- DC Extended Universe:
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: executive producer.
- Suicide Squad: executive producer; did uncredited rewrites.
- Wonder Woman : executive producer; did uncredited rewrites.
- Justice League: also a co-writer.note
- Zack Snyder's Justice League: uncredited executive producer.note
- Aquaman: co-writer.
- SHAZAM!: executive producer.
- Birds of Prey: executive producer.
- Wonder Woman 1984: co-writer.
- Black Adam (2022): executive producer.
- SHAZAM! Fury of the Gods: executive producer.
Tropes associated with Geoff Johns:
- Author Appeal:
- Johns is a self-confessed Silver Age Fanboy. Naturally this played a role in his writing of Superman, Supergirl and the revivals of Hal Jordan, Barry Allen, and Arthur Curry. It's also why the Wally West version of the Flash, during the height of Darker and Edgier, remained lighthearted and easygoing.
- Another thing that's become the target of both criticism and jokes over the years is his love of graphic dismemberment and/or arm trauma.
- Arc Welding
- Armed with Canon: The fact remains he has the largest listing on this page for a single creator.
- Bat Family Crossover: He's done Black Reign for the JSA family, Sinestro Corps for the Green Lantern Family, and New Krypton for the Super family.
- Bloodier and Gorier: Another common lament about Johns' work. Hey, kids, who's getting which body part ripped clean off in this issue?
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Rumors abound of him being a very...unusual...person in real life. A hint of this is the Cereal Adventure◊.
- Continuity: He's a master of this, which makes him a Fanboy favorite. Generally, if you think you've caught a continuity error in one of his stories it will turn out to be a plot point.
- Example, long time fans were scratching their heads when Barry started talking about his father being framed for the murder of his mother as his motivation for becoming a police scientist (as he had a good relationship with both of his parents up to the point of his death in Crisis on Infinite Earths). This could have been Hand Waved as being the byproduct of any of three major Cosmic Retcons that had taken place since his death but it turned out it was Professor Zoom using Time Travel to screw up his past.
- Crisis Crossover: Day of Judgement, Infinite Crisis, and Blackest Night.
- Darker and Edgier: A lot of his writing, especially post-Infinite Crisis.
- Elephant in the Living Room: Subverted, as the usual superhero-comic "Why does everyone stay in a supervillain-plagued city?" question has been dealt with a few times:
- The twin cities of the Flash (Keystone and Central) are home to important industries—heavy industry and electronics, respectively—that probably wouldn't be available in many other places. In addition, the Flash rogues are not as deadly as, say, Batman's.
- Coast City was almost completely abandoned until recently, simply because the Green Lantern Rogues Gallery often showed up there and the fact that Mongul and Cyborg-Superman had blown it up awhile back was hanging over their heads. In fact, the situation in Coast is a recurring motif of Johns' run.
- And it even got a reversal in the Sinestro Corps War. The Sinestros intended to wreck Coast City yet again to trigger a Despair Event Horizon, but the inhabitants' refusal to evacuate gave the city a reputation so badass that people started moving in in droves. They even decided to follow Green Lantern's example by nicknaming their home "The City Without Fear".
- Legacy Character: Likes working with these (Supergirl, Superboy...) and has created a number of them (Stargirl, Miss Martian, Jaime Reyes...)
- Passing the Torch: A theme in many of his books like JSA and Teen Titans.
- Retcon: When the Post-Crisis Superboy was revealed to be a modified clone of the director of the Cadmus Project, a young Geoff wrote in to the comic complaining that it would have been better if he'd been a combined clone of Superman and Lex Luthor. Years later, Geoff established this as Superboy's origin.
- Rogues Gallery Showcase: His major arcs on any series tend to build towards stories featuring multiple factions of established villains duking it out or forced into an Enemy Mine situation with the heroes.
- Shown Their Work: He brings back characters that haven't been used in over 30 years and gives them a good reason for being there.
- Take That!:
- Possibly gave one to infamous Arrow showrunner Marc Guggenheim. While interviewed about DC Rebirth in 2016, Johns made comments about the show which could be very easily interpreted as displeasure with the direction the show had taken in its fourth season.Geoff Johns: Let's say you've been given the position of writing Green Arrow from scratch. Clean slate. You might say, 'Okay, I'm going to write this new character,' and when someone says, ‘Well, what about Black Canary,’ you might say...'nope.' That means you completely misunderstand these characters.
- Geoff Johns has had a habit since his days on Flash of setting Batman up as a punching bag for other heroes, what with the "you only touch me because I let you touch me" speech from Flash #217, the Forever Evil "I'm in charge" scene, Green Lantern: Rebirth, the "why don't you do more as Bruce Wayne" speech Clark gave him in Superman #189... Johns has given some comic fans the impression that he is not a Batman fan. However, in Doomsday Clock, Batman has an important role, being treated seriously and with respect, and Batman: Three Jokers portrays the Caped Crusader in his traditional role of world's greatest detective without a hint of derision. It seems less that he dislikes Batman as much as he dislikes the idea of Batman being infallible, and likes to have characters put him in his place once in awhile.
- Possibly gave one to infamous Arrow showrunner Marc Guggenheim. While interviewed about DC Rebirth in 2016, Johns made comments about the show which could be very easily interpreted as displeasure with the direction the show had taken in its fourth season.
- Writer on Board: His DC work is an example that this can be a good thing.
- Writing for the Trade: Refused to do it early in his career at Marvel, but now tends to follow the six-part storyline himself, albeit whilst developing and carrying on larger plots.