Geoff Johns doesn’t just bring a character or a story to life in the pages he writes. He brings a world to a reader’s fingertips. And there’s never been a better accomplice to that world-building than artist Gary Frank.
I’m not sure what they have planned for the work they’re doing at Image Comics, but it feeds on itself and builds out the world nicely. Junkyard Joe is a character in Geiger, a six-issue series (so far) that is currently being developed as a television series. More on that later.
Joe was a strange character in that six-issue run, and one that didn’t have a lot of depth. Yet, there’s something about the character that caught my attention. Maybe it was the superficial resemblance to an old DC Comics strip, G. I. Robot, that ran for a while in Weird War. J.A.K.E. 1 is a lot different from Joe, though, and the way Johns tells the story is a lot different too.
Johns always comes to a series fully prepared. He’s the one who demonstrated what “police scientist” Barry Allen did at the Central City Police Department. Forensics wasn’t in the public eye back in 1956 when Robert Kanigher and Carmine Infantino breathed new life into the Flash, but the CW television show certainly clung to the scientific nature of Barry’s job.
So when Johns wrote a comic set in Vietnam of 1972, I wasn’t surprised that it felt like Vietnam of 1972. Moreover, Gary Frank made those pages look like they’d come out of Vietnam of 1972. Both writer and artist pay a lot of attention to detail.
Joe was a mystery in Geiger, and he’s (rather than it, which makes me feel uncomfortable) a mystery in this first comic as well. His human “disguise” is ripped away in short order, and his approximate humanity is established in a deft showcase of events.
I like Joe. He’s a guy I’d want walking my six in the jungle.
The comic is filled with violence and drama and pathos, as any good Geoff Johns story is. Johns knows people, and obviously he knows robots too. At least, he knows this one.
This book is set entirely in Vietnam of 1972, and the next issue takes place in “present day.” Geiger is set in an apocalyptic future that’s not much past tomorrow, so Johns and Frank have a few years to play with before all of Joe’s story is told.
Having seen Joe’s story bookended (maybe) in Geiger and in his own book, I’m really curious about everything that’s happened in between those points in time. I’d also like to know more about Joe. He was obviously a military weapon brought to life under the Nixon administration, but was he truly the only robot brought online? Are there more Joes out there? If so, were they able to step away and become independent like this Joe did?
These are some of my questions. I trust Geoff Johns to answer them, and I’m hoping he and Gary Frank have a long run on this book. I’ll even hope for a television series for this one too!