EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS: Geoff Johns & Darren Swimmer on "Legion" Episode of Smallville

Tonight's episode of SMALLVILLE on the CW is "Legion," which brings members of the Legion of Superheroes back to the present where they interact with Clark Kent and do their part in nudging him towards his future destiny as Superman. The following exlusive interviews with writer Geoff Johns and SMALLVILLE executive producer Darren Swimmer was conducted by VFK editor Edward Gross.

VOICES FROM KRYPTON: Obviously you’re a giant fan boy of the Legion. What is it about them that appeals to you so much?

GEOFF JOHNS: I like what it represents and I like the characters. I like the concept of different alien races in the future coming together because they’re inspired by the legend of Superman. I’m a fan of Superman, they’re all fans of Superman and in a way it’s like a team of fanboys. But I really like the diverse cast and the powers. And then there’s the scope. Green Lantern has a really epic scope to the backdrop and so does the Legion, if not a little more so with all of these defined alien races. I just really like the concept of these representatives from different worlds gathering together to form the Legion of Superheroes. It comes from the stories I read in the ‘80s.

VOICES FROM KRYPTON: I grew up with the Jim Shooter stuff in the ‘60s.

GEOFF JOHNS: I actually grew up on Silver Age comics because I read my uncle’s in my grandma’s attic, so I got introduced to the Legion through Adventure Comics originally. That’s why my taste skews old school, because I first read comics that were checkerboard DCs, and that’s how I got into comics. In mid ‘80s to late ‘80s, I skipped from checkerboard DCs to late ‘80s and if you look at what I gravitate towards, it’s a combination of those two eras. They’re good eras, I think.

VOICES FROM KRYPTON: With DC re-launching ADVENTURE COMICS, do you expect to take over the Legion?

GEOFF JOHNS: I’ll be doing some more Legion work in 2009, but so far I’m really happy that the projects have been Superman and Legion and ACTION and LEGION OF THREE WORLDS and SMALLVILLE. If I’m going to do it, I like to do it with a clear vision in mind. I know where I’d like to take the team and we’ll see. This year I’ve been wanting to expose the Legion to more people, whether it be through Superman or a crossover like Final Crisis or through SMALLVILLE. I think Legion of Superheroes is a concept that can break the comic book barrier. In order for it to achieve the success it once had under the Levitz reign it needs to be seen by more people.

VOICES FROM KRYPTON: Creatively, bringing the Legion to SMALLVILLE must have been very fulfilling.

GEOFF JOHNS: it was really exciting, because I thought we could do it in the context of Smallville that would really embody the importance of the Legion. I thought, too, the way they were moving the show this season, that we would be able to really stay true to the characters more than they perhaps have in the past. I was very happy that we were able to do that. I think we did a great job of capturing the essence of the Legion and the characters individually, and I hope that people agree when they see the episode.

VOICES FROM KRYPTON: From what I understand, the Legion are actually confused why Clark’s not Superboy and not flying.

GEOFF JOHNS: The Legion are VERY confused, because everything they know about Superboy and Superman and Clark Kent and Kal-El is stuff we know, so when they come back there’s a lot of things that are different. Part of the fun of the episode comes through that. They’re kind of like, “Why the hell aren’t you Superman yet?” As a fanboy, you’ll probably get more winks and nods and even bigger things that are comic book lore and things you probably never thought you’d hear uttered in an episode. We mention the Time Institute, we call the Persuader by name, we mention Polar Boy’s home planet – there are all sort of things in this episode that any fan in the know will know whoever did this, did the research.

VOICES FROM KRYPTON: Do you see yourself coming back to the show?

GEOFF JOHNS: If it comes back for season nine, but I probably wouldn’t be good or interested in doing a normal episode. But if they wanted to do another Legion episode or introduce another DCU character, I’d be interested.

VOICES: I need to know what it is that appeals to you about Superman?

GEOFF JOHNS: I love him because he’s always trying to do the right thing. I just respond to someone trying to do the right thing, because it’s such a simple value that if everybody lived by, the world would be a much better place. It’s so easy to just try and do the right thing and with Superman, that’s what he does. He has all these powers and if he’s using them to help others, what can I do to help others? I just respond to that.


VOICES FROM KRYPTON: I would imagine that three people from the future dropping in and saying, “Hi, we worship you and your accomplishments” has to be moving to Clark and further pushing him towards his destiny.

DARREN SWIMMER: Clark always knew that he was destined to become a hero, but here we’ve got a situation where people have come back from the future and say, “You’re not only a hero, not only did you go on to do great things, but you basically changed the whole galaxy. There are all of these other worlds out there and it was because of Clark Kent that the world embraced people coming from other planets and alien refugees and things like that.” Not to get too science fiction on it, but it kind of puts Clark in a place where he wonders if he can live up to that future he’s been told about. He kind of has to ponder the issue of, “Is this set in stone or is life what I’m going to make of it?” At the same time, they come back and think, “Why aren’t you Superboy and flying around? This is wrong. You’re not the guy we know from our holo vids.” Overall, I think this episode is really a gift for the comic book fans out there. We have a lot of different types of fans, but specifically our die hard comic fans are getting a nod to them.

VOICES FROM KRYPTON: What was the decision behind bringing Geoff Johns aboard for this episode?

DARREN SWIMMER: We’ve known Geoff for several years, because he’s close friends with Jeph Loeb, who used to be on staff. We didn’t know if he would ever be interested in writing a freelance script, but the concept has kind of come up now and again over the years and he was always busy. We never officially asked him, but we were feeling it out. This year he expressed an interest through Jeph Loeb and I think it was specifically fueled by his wanting to see the Legion on SMALLVILLE, and we jumped at that immediately because we’d always wanted him to do an episode. So it was sort of a mutual thing that finally came together this year.

VOICES FROM KRYPTON: Is he somebody you would consider to bring back?

DARREN SWIMMER: He has a lot of projects he’s working on, but it’s definitely something we’d consider. It was a really great experience working with him.

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