Geoff Johns Teams with Jim Lee on DCU Online

Mon, September 15th, 2008 at 12:26am PDT | Updated: September 15th, 2008 at 9:13am

Video Games
Jeffrey Renaud, Staff Writer

Exclusive! Green Lantern Hal Jordan as depicted in Sony Online Entertainment's "DC Universe Online."

Geoff Johns and Jim Lee.

DC Nation has been waiting for this superstar team up for years - although the medium may be a bit of a surprise.

Sony Online Entertainment LLC (SOE) announced today the first-ever collaboration of the fan favorite writer with the legendary comic artist as Johns has been brought on to write the saga of the DC Universe Online (DCUO) massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) for PlayStation 3 (PS3) and the PC.

The project is currently in development by SOE in partner with DC Comics and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.

Johns, known for bestselling titles like "Action Comics," "Justice Society of America" and "Green Lantern" told CBR News, "I am really excited that I got to work with Jim on creating a virtual replica of the DC Universe that you can go inside. Literally, if you name a character, he or she is probably in the game.

"You know how I work. I go to the well when it comes to the DC Universe. I stick with the big guys too like Superman and Green Lantern but I also go pretty deep with characters from 'Teen Titans' and 'Justice Society of America.' There's Black Adam stuff. There are all kinds of nooks and crannies of the DC Universe but there is also some big, huge epic places like Metropolis and Gotham City.

"It was a lot of fun to be able to work with Jim and say where can we go and what should we do? And that's anywhere you think the story needs it to go."

Asking him for a detailed list of featured heroes and villains in the game, Johns quipped, "It would take me an hour-and-a-half to list everybody who is in this game."

CBR News did receive a teaser image of Hal Jordan to run with this story so it's safe to assume he is the Green Lantern of this story.

"Well, Hal Jordan is a Green Lantern in this," answered Johns coyly.

"DC Universe Online" is expected in 2009

As for The Flash, Johns wouldn't confirm if it was Wally West of his acclaimed run with character or Barry Allen, who he will reintroduce into the DCU in January with "Flash: Rebirth."

"I can't reveal that. Good question though," he laughed.

Johns explained that while the game is designed as an entry level 'jumping on' point for those perhaps not so well versed in DCU, there would be plenty in DCUO for the readers with flight rings.

"Outside the computer, you are a normal guy but when you go onto the computer for DC Universe Online, that's when you put on your costume and you take your name and with somebody who has never been there before, it's like a new character," said Johns. "Just like you when you walked into the DC Universe the first time, you get to see the big guys and through them you get to explore and be introduced to the other places in the DC Universe. Just about every corner you can visit. But for people who aren't familiar with characters like the Metal Men, you will be introduced to them."

Johns added unlike some games where you would play as an established character, like Batman or Aquaman, in DCUO you are creating your own identity - with your own secret origin.

"You don't play as anybody. You enter the universe as your own character. You are going to be working alongside everybody. You will be working with Hal Jordan. Or he will be coming after you," explained Johns. "It's not one point of view. It's a lot of points of view depending on what you want to be. It's not just hero or villain. It is facets of heroes and facets of villains. It's what path you want to take. It's a story written from a couple of different perspectives. And the story can unfold differently or you can experience things differently depending on what path you choose. In a secret origin, something happens to you and you make a choice, what are you going to do?"

With further concepts and storylines for DCUO already in the works, Johns said the very first adventure is developing a secret origin as a character enters the DC Universe.

"But that's just one story from a lot of different stories that are going to be told - a lot of different things you can do," said Johns. "There are lots of different stories or offshoots you can do. The story that I've created, is really just the first story but within that story, there are dozens and dozens of others.

"Eventually, they will do more and whether I would do those or readapt something that has already been in the comics, which they have talked about, that's for later down the line."

Johns teased that DCUO will feature elements of his wildly successful Green Lantern saga "Sinestro Corps War."

"There are some things in it [the game] from there that for people who know my stuff will be familiar. And there might be certain pieces of stories or certain big stories that might be adapted later on. But for now, the first big story is the secret origin story."

As an avid gamer, coming on as a writer for DCUO was a no-brainer. But getting to work with Jim Lee was an incredibly exciting proposition too, said Johns.

"It's just good talking to him [Lee] about the DC Universe in general - all of these different characters and seeing Jim tackle every character in the DC Universe because often his projects are Superman or Batman so it's nice to see him do everybody. That's really part of the fun.

"And I think Jim approached me because I am a gamer. But Jim and I have been talking about doing something together for a long time in comics. And this is kind of a weird comic. But he came to me because he knew I was a fan of the game. And the world - the DC Universe, I know it pretty well."

With no scheduled release date yet, the "nuts and bolts" of DCUO, the framework, the server, etc. have been build. Sony Online is now adding Johns' content and storylines.

"I just played the little demo version and it already that looks amazing," said Johns, who added his gaming time currently is not what it used to be because of an ever-increasing workload.

"When 'Halo' 3 came out, I played quite a bit. Games like 'Call of Duty' pretty much sucked me in," said Johns. "I play with Greg Rucka a lot. And lately, on 'Halo' and 'Call of Duty,' I play with mostly the Marvel guys, [Matt] Fraction and [Ed] Brubaker and Rick Reed. I play with [Rick] Remender. And Adam Schlagman, who is my associate editor on 'Green Lantern' and 'Legion of Three Worlds,' is on there a lot too. We actually played 'Grand Theft Auto' 4 for a weekend once.

"I can't wait to get everybody on this. It will be fun."

Johns said while he thoroughly enjoyed his first foray into writing video games, his fans need not worry -- he's not leaving comics anytime soon.

"It was fun, but my first love and interest is always going to be comic books. Comic books are my main focus and specifically, the DC Universe. It's where I have the most fun. It's where I find a lot of challenges in my writing. It's never boring. It's always exciting, no matter what character I am working on."

TAGS:  dcu online, dc universe online, geoff johns, jim lee, dc comics

 
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