Now that Blackest Night #8 has been released, DC fans around the world know that mind-controlling Max Lord has been resurrected, and he's up to no good.
Lord's diabolical plans lie at the center of Justice League: Generation Lost, the bi-weekly series by Keith Giffen and Judd Winick that kicks off next month. The 26-issue comic stars Booster Gold, Captain Atom, Fire and Ice, with a few guest stars stopping by to round out the team. Along the way, the story will spill over into tie-ins in Winick's Power Girl series, and the Booster Gold comic written by Giffen and his former JLI writing partner, J.M. DeMatteis.
After the revelation of Max Lord's return, Newsarama called up Winick to find out more about the series and why the JLI can't get any help from the rest of the DCU to take him down.
Newsarama: Judd, you were kind of limited when we talked last time about this bi-weekly. But now that Max Lord has returned, can you reveal more about the story?
Judd Winick: Yeah, we've been really tight-lipped about everything. But when you go to a movie, you want to at least know what the movie is about, so we thought we should give people a little peek at the story now.
As everyone saw in Blackest Night, Max Lord has returned. I'm not going to say why or how. That will be revealed in Brightest Day, which will be coming out at the same time. But Max's return is what brings these heroes together in Generation Lost, and that becomes the jumping-off point for the whole series, with a lot more surprises along the way.
Nrama: Last time we spoke, you had talked about an "inciting incident" in the first issue. Can you now reveal what that incident is?
Winick: In the first issue, we learn that Max has used his mind control ability to its upmost, to wipe out the memory of his existence from everybody on Earth.
Nrama: So all the heroes in the DCU – Superman and even Wonder Woman – they don't even know Max existed?
Winick: There was never any Max Lord. Nobody remembers that Max Lord exists or that he ever did – except four members of Justice League International. Booster Gold, Captain Atom, Fire and Ice are the only ones who remember him. And it's up to them to find out what he's planning, why he did this, and to try to make it so that the world can remember.
Max is obviously a bad guy, so he has to be stopped.
Nrama: Do you explain why those four people in particular can remember him?
Winick: It's part of the story. You'll see how it plays out. They're not randomly picked – you'll see how it happens in the story.
Nrama: So everyone who gets involved in the hunt for Max Lord – assuming they can get other JLI members to join them – they have to kind of trust these four?
Winick: Other members of the JLI do get involved, and the team is fleshed out a little better. But no, they don't remember. They just have to take it on faith.
That's a lot of what this is about. These are people who were brought together the first time around by Max Lord, and now seemingly have been brought back together again for an entirely different reason.
Part of theme of this story is that the Justice League International is just a team that needs to be together. They are best when they're together, side by side. Individually, they're kind of a motley bunch, both within the DCU, as living people within this Universe, but also on the outside as we readers look in at them. They're kind of B- and C-list characters. But together, they have more weight. Together, they always accomplish more than they do individually.
So here they are being brought back together to do this. And as far as the other individuals from the JLI team, they will be drawn in as well. But they have to trust these four that something's going on and they need their help.
Nrama: You said before that Max is "obviously a bad guy." Is there more to it than him just erasing everyone's memories?
Winick: That's just the starting point. If you were a very bad guy and you wanted to get away with a whole lot, what would be better than to have nobody remember who you were so you could move freely in the world? That's where Max is.
Nrama: Will he actually meet people who know him and they won't remember who he is?
Winick: You'll have to read the comic and see. But I'll just go so far to say, if he did, they wouldn't. He could bump into Superman, and Superman would not know who he is. And remember that he was an insider and a powerful person in the superhero community, so he knows who these superheroes are. He's very dangerous.
But what he's up to is an ongoing mystery. It's a very serialized story. It goes from one chapter to the next chapter to the next chapter at a quick pace. We're taking advantage of the fact this is a bi-weekly. We're not going to have arcs. It will have one chapter leading into the next chapter, which leads into the next chapter and the next chapter and so on. There's very little breather. So these folks are on the hunt, to find Max, find out what he's doing, and to stop him.
That's what the story's about.
Nrama: You mentioned that Max is dangerous. What makes him so dangerous?
Winick: It's a combination of that ability to literally control people combined with the fact that he's not insane. He has clear plans. He's not one of those villains who just does evil for evil's sake. He has a method and he has means and he has experience.
And in this case, he's figured out a master plan that allows him to hide in plain sight. That's what Max does more than anyone else. He hides in plain sight. He's not the masked man stirring around in the shadows. He's rather bold. He's very smart. And he knows people. He understands people. That comes from being first a high-powered businessman, then working within the superhero community.
He's a master manipulator, and now he's literally manipulated the entire world.
Nrama: In our last interview about Generation Lost, you mentioned that you felt honored to be working with Keith on the JLI. But have you been looking back at this series and trying to figure out how it was always able to mix the funny with the drama and the action and the heart? Is the goal to have that same kind of mix when this team gets together?
Winick: Well, before we started, I went back and re-read everything, obviously. The entire run. But yeah, I think it's very interesting you bring that up, that it's a mix of all those things. Most people tend to only remember the funny parts. It had humor in it, particularly in the characters' interaction, but it was still very much an action-packed and very dramatic superhero team.
And that's what our story is. This is a big old, candy-colored comic with robots and lasers and bad guys and good guys and superheroes. It has all the drama and action and tension that all those stories will have. And our humor will not overpower that. You're not going to see some goofy villain dropping his pants or something like that. Nor did they ever really do that, which is something I think people tend to forget.
The comedy always came from their interaction: How they spoke to one another, how they acted toward one another. And they were "meta" before people were aware they were meta. They were aware they were superheroes. Booster is the perfect example of that because he actually made himself into a superhero. So we embrace that aspect of them.
They're very much aware of their standing in the world, and they're aware that they're superheroes and all the trappings that go with it. So a lot of what they say is a little bit tongue-in-cheek.
So yeah, there's plenty of drama and action. Oodles of it. The drama is actually the most fun for us. Comedy's great, and we like to laugh and we enjoy the levity of it. But we also like the weight the characters bring with the stakes being high. We want these guys to take it seriously. They're very funny characters, but they are taking this seriously, because Max Lord is approaching this seriously. He's dead serious. So it's a high-stakes serial story that's filled with action and drama and comedy and everything you would expect from the Justice League International.