Saturday, 9 February 2008

Brief thoughts on Geoff Johns

His run on the Flash is one of my favourites in recent years and I'm currently so into rereading his Green Lantern that I haven't even touched this week's new books. But the more I read of Geoff Johns' comics, the more I understand why he pisses people off.

Even though he references Alan Moore several times, Johns' work is more influenced by the comic books that Moore and Frank Miller tried to sweep away in the mid 1980s. His love of that stuff and the fact that he's writing no frills superhero comics is always going to get him accused of taking comics backwards.

He certainly isn't writing the kind of books that are going to persuade mature, non-comic reading adults to walk into a comic shop. Nope, Geoff Johns comics are there for fan boys; sad men like me who like low brow books full of people in brightly coloured spandex punching each other's heads off. Exactly the type of people who give comics a bad name, the type of people who crowd into grubby little shops and talk about who would win in a fight between Thor and the Hulk.

For that reason Johns' comics probably irritate the casual comic fan too. I mean there might not be anything intellectually taxing about his books, but the man is a hardcore student of the DC universe. If you don't know that universe and the characters and events that have shaped it, then you're going to need to have Wikipedia fired up to understand what the hell is going on in his stories.

For me that's part of the fun. I get a nerdy kick out of discovering the history behind Hector Hammond, Black Hand, the Lost Lanterns, Hank Henshaw, Superman Prime, Coast City and The Manhunters. It presses some of the buttons that got me interested in comics as a kid and reminds me how cool it can be to immerse yourself in the minutiae of a comic book universe.

Few comics that I've picked up since I went back to reading them after a long hiatus have given me that kind of buzz. I've read a lot of stuff that was better in that time, stuff that is more accesible and acceptable to people who grew out of superheroes, but nothing that is as enjoyable on such a basic level.

Fact is, Johns is a master of straight up spandex comics, and I still have a big place in my nerd sack for that kind of thing. It's not the kind of stuff that is necessarily going to take comics forward as an art form, but it's a lot of fun to read.

No comments: