So, Geoff Johns.
Here’s the thing, depending on who you ask, Geoff Johns is either one of the greatest writers in the history of comics, or he is an iron chain holding back any progress modern comics are trying to make. He brought Barry Allen back to life and made Hal Jordan the preeminent Green Lantern once again. He took a single line from Alan Moore and created the Blackest Night story arc, which further resurrected a number of classic characters. He was also a driving force behind the New 52, a key player in the disaster that was the Green Lantern film, and ended his current tenure at DC Comics with his chronically late Doomsday Clock series, and The Three Jokers.
Personally, I have always found Johns to be an ok writer. I think Flashpoint was an interesting concept that got away from him because of editorial mandate, and I loathed Doomsday Clock and The Three Jokers. At the same time, I think his Earth One: Batman series is one of the best books to come out of that line, and while I was not really thrilled to see the return of Barry Allen, or the hand waving redemption of Hal Jordan, I’m also the first to admit a lot of very good stories came from both of those returns.
And regardless of how I may personally feel about his writing or the directions he takes with his stories, there is no denying that he is a talented author, and he does have a very solid following in the comics community. So when it was announced that he was going to be writing his first independent comic in a decade, and bringing Gary Frank, one of the most talented artists working in comics today, along with him, there was a lot of hype.
The result is today’s book, Geiger #1 from Image comics. Let’s dive in and see if it actually lives up to the hype.
Here’s the blurb:
The critically acclaimed team of writer GEOFF JOHNS and artist GARY FRANK unites with superstar colorist BRAD ANDERSON to bring their first creator-owned hero to Image Comics!
Set in the years after a nuclear war ravaged the planet, desperate outlaws battle for survival in a world of radioactive chaos. Out past the poisoned wasteland lives a man even the Nightcrawlers and Organ People fear. Some name him Joe Glow, others call him the Meltdown Man. But his name…is Geiger.
Alright, so before I get into the review proper, we have to talk about that blurb. I get that it’s probably written by some poor intern who just needs to come up with a summary to send out to shops to get them hyped, but that ellipses pause before the reveal is just so corny. And seriously, we know his name is Geiger; you titled the book that.
And yeah, that kind of already gets the ball rolling on my feeling towards Geiger. See, this is a well-written book. The story flows well and has all the right beats in all the right places. But, there just isn’t anything new here.
There have been a lot, A LOT, of post-apocalyptic books that have come out in the last year. Just off the top of my head right now I’m thinking about Post Americana, Scout’s Honor, Coffin Bound, Undiscovered Country, Origin, We Live, Nuclear Family, Sweet Tooth, Judge Dredd, and Lola XOXO just to name a few, not to mention the fact that both Marvel and DC have done serious dabbling in that genre, with DC’s DCeased line just wrapping up a short while ago.
What I’m saying is, comics have done, and redone, and done again apocalyptic stories, so if you’re going to do one you have to do something new with it. And sadly, this book just doesn’t do that.
Geiger starts out with a small group of scavengers, hunting for an ever dwindling amount of supplies in the wastelands outside of Las Vegas. While hunting, they talk about rumors of a glowing man who is able to walk the world without need of radiation protection. This man is, no surprise, our protagonist Geiger, and yeah, already we’re not putting much effort into this story.
Geiger was a man who, for some reason, had a fallout bunker and upon word of a nuclear attack, rushed them into the bunker to survive. However, before he could get to safety himself, his neighbors attacked him, and he was forced to shut his wife and children inside before the bomb went off.
Rather than kill him, though, the bomb granted him strange radioactive powers, and now he protects the family bunker from attackers, using his strange radiation powers.
So, he’s an X-Man. I mean, that’s what he is. right? A superhero who got his powers from an atomic explosion? That’s just so, well, Geoff Johns.
As I already alluded to, Johns is a sucker for nostalgia. A radioactive wasteland. Scavengers looking for food. A nuclear-powered superhero. This has all been done before.
When we learn, at the end of the book, that Las Vegas has been divided up into ruling crime families each running their operation out of different casinos, all of which have the crime families themed around the kind of hotel they took over, it’s just…
Well, it’s been done before.
I like a good post apocalyptic story, I really do, but I want to see something new in that narrative, and this book just doesn’t deliver. It’s not poorly written. The characters are well developed and there are no glaring plot holes or poorly paced scenes. Frank’s artwork is solid, the character designs are interesting and the action flows well.
It’s just, I’ve seen all of this before. I kept waiting to be surprised or to see a crazy twist that I have never seen. John’s is a great writer and can really do great things when given the chance to shine. And he loves a good plot twist. But Geiger? Well, it just feels too safe. I want the narrative to take risks. I want something to leap off the page and shock me, and this book just doesn’t do that. It’s a by the numbers superhero book set in The Stand, and that’s great if that’s what you want in your book. For me, I wanted more.
So there you have it folks. Let me know what you think below, and until next week, stay safe!