It’s true, pobody’s nerfect. We live with our foibles and imperfections, our biases and misconceptions, and hope that they don’t cause too many problems for ourselves or those around us. The human failing that most stands out for me is hypocrisy. Yes, we’re all guilty to some degree, but few of us are given the opportunity to gloriously demonstrate it for all the world. Here’s a lovely quote from DC Comics Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns from a Comic Book Resources interview with Albert Ching:
“And like everyone else, I’m skeptical of relaunches.” 1
Selah. Titles are important; misleading ones are a frequent source of frustration (and occasionally, anger). The Dadaist title of this article is cribbed from the eponymous season four episode of NewsRadio, where Jimmy James’ failed autobiography was translated to Japanese, became a hit, and translated back to English, using that title, with the hope of further success. As it has more lilt, I picked it as an alternative to “Infinite Final Blackest Flashpoint Convergence”, an approximation of the past decade of DC Comics events, heavily overlaid with Mr. Johns’ fingerprints. Which suggests another quote:
“The New Co-Chief of DC Superhero Movies Is Big On Hope and Optimism” 2
That’s also a title, in this case of a Vulture article by Abraham Riesman, the secondary theme of which he reiterates in the text. Hope, optimisim, skepticism. All excellent qualities when they’re not subverted with naïveté. Or self-deception. We’ll call it that as “lies” is such an libelous word. That the popular press appear to be receiving Mr. Johns’ statements without question or reservation indicates a broader self-deception, or simple laziness.
The Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice movie has been roundly criticised for it’s dark, cynical, violent narrative. Evidently, Mr. Johns intends to inject a renewed sense of light and fun, perhaps even genuine heroism, to the film franchises as part of his new role as (Co-) Chief of all things creative across all media. When pinned down, however, he merely reiterates his intention to re-introduce altered or discontinued characters to the comics universe, such as the return of once and future Kid Flash, Wally West, in the prologue to the latest event, DC Rebirth. More fanatical minds will be able to inform you as to whether the Wally West on The Flash television series already existed in the comics or will be introduced. One doesn’t require the other and I’m fond of them both. Johns also plans to inject, to paraphrase, more heart and warmth into the comics characters. Presumably this will have some cross-pollination effect on the films; like I said, he won’t be pinned down, having adopted the political affectation of answering the questions in his head rather than those asked, then repeating them.
On the surface, this is all very nice, with a single, salient exception to which we’ll return. The problem is that, based on Johns’ body of work this past decade, it makes no sense (barring some hitherto unrevealed epiphany or head trauma). There is no evidence of his skepticism of relaunches in Infinite Crisis, 52, Final Crisis, Blackest Night, Flashpoint, or Convergence. As for hope and optimism, the ugliness cited in Batman v Superman has antecedents in all of those events, elements of which were both ghastly and gruesome with little room for much that might be considered heartwarming. I might also inveigh against Johns’ sometimes tortured interpretations of both grammar and physics, but this kettle isn’t concerned with those fish.
What we’re left with is hypocrisy. A writer who parlayed an event driven career based on relaunches and often brutally twisted mis-characterization into a sort of corporate guru, which is at least better than a corporate shill, notwithstanding his political replies. Having stamped DC Rebirth as the hope of tomorrow, it’s disingenous not to acknowledge that whatever universal changes implemented in this year’s model won’t be tuned, tweaked, or utterly reversed a year or two or three down the road, with or without Johns’ guidance. Events are a corporate pillar and fundamental change is a staple of events. Even if we receive an approximation of the Silver Age Superman or Batman, it’s as likely that the characters will be multiversal off-shoots and not meant to last. Certainly not when Zack Snyder is contributing hundreds of millions of dollars to the bottom line with his corrupted cinematic versions.
That salient exception is Watchmen. Alan Moore has washed his hands of the whole business but to believe that he honestly doesn’t care (whenever he finds out) that his creation has been co-opted into the larger DC Universe, evidently using Dr. Manhattan as this season’s Big Bad, seems difficult to believe. Seeing your child, even one you’ve publicly disowned, further prostituted has to raise some bile.
Of course, these are the Great Men of comics and movies in the here and now, and their fame and influence surely deserve our notice. As such:
“I would read anything by Geoff Johns. Fucking genius, I love him.” 3
— Ben Affleck (Facebook Video)
How might we mere mortals argue with such wit and brevity? Particularly from a man who took a genuine story of heroism and turned (it) into an advertisment for the CIA? 4