Next month, the bi-weekly Justice League: Generation Lost will come to an end, culminating 24 issues of Maxwell Lord secretly maneuvering against the members of Justice League International.
Writer Judd Winick promises the story will finish with a "massive, knock-down, drag-out fight," bringing the JLI face-to-face with the weapon Max has been planning since the story began in May 2010.
The story runs every other week at the same time as DC's other bi-weekly, Brightest Day. And while the writers of Brightest Day have indicated there will be more stories spinning out of that title — including the already announced Brightest Day Aftermath: The Search mini-series — Generation Lost readers are clambering for news about what will become of the JLI when their bi-weekly finishes.We talked with Winick before the release of this week's Justice League: Generation Lost #22, which starts gearing things up for the finale next month's oversized issue #24. In the first installment of our two-part interview with Winick, Newsarama asked about the development of these fan-favorite characters and what comes next for them.
Newsarama: Judd, Booster Gold has certainly been getting a lot of attention, not only from DC Comics, but also in an upcoming Smallville episode. I'm curious about how he's evolved into such a leader in Justice League: Generation Lost. Was that planned from the beginning? Or is it part of the attention being paid to this character right now?
Judd Winick: I definitely had him in mind as the leader from the start. It's been about him falling into that role. As you saw in the last issue, it was pointed out that he's the one who's calling the shots. A lot of them are following his lead. But he looked back on what has happened, and how things have gone so poorly, and he's not sure he should be the leader. And that was planned from the beginning.
Booster has been front and center in this story from the beginning. And he'll be front and center until the end. Booster will get to face up with Max Lord again. It all does come down to these two guys. So we'll get to see a wonderful, knockdown, drag-out fight.
Nrama: Booster has been a fan-favorite for awhile, but I think the biggest surprise to come out of this series is the positive fan response to the new Rocket Red, Gavril Ivanovich. We just saw him earn a kiss from Fire. How did his part of this story evolve?
Winick: That was a little bit of a happy accident. I knew, when I came up with him, it was about taking Rocket Red — the old idea of a Russian guy in the Rocket Red armor — but I had to give it a unique twist. And I just thought about what's going on in Russian culture right now. And you know, it was the Soviet Union in our youth, and that's when Rocket Red was around originally, but now it's what we'll be nice and call a democracy, or at least a Westernized culture. But some people pine for the old days and lean heavily toward communism. So I thought it would be interesting to have him be that character.
But as I got into it, just right from the jump, it just did not seem that interesting for him to just be some tight-ass, which is what a true, loyal soldier of the communist regime would be. And with the fact that his English wasn't very good, I started to sense that, although he believes in this stuff he says, there's a little bit of hypocrisy in that he can't help but just want to be a hero. He can't help wanting to be the good guy and being that single hero who beats the villain, and the ideology of communism just gets thrown aside. And I think that's true anyway. Your ideologies really don't matter when you're in a situation where there's a bad guy and you're on the side of good. And then of course, you add to that the fact that Gavril Ivanovich idolizes the Justice League.He's one of those people who you can agree to disagree with on a number of issues, but when it comes right down to it, on most things, he agrees.
And honestly, after writing a couple pages of him in that first issue where he showed up, I started to realize, this guy is funny! You know? That broken English and the attitude? He's funny! I just got him.
I'm so pleased people dig him, because I really do too. It's just one of those happy accidents where you get into a character, you start feeling his personality as you write him, and the readers connect with him in the same way. He's funny, sweet, brave... and he's actually quite brilliant. He's a cool character.
Nrama: You seem to have also put a spotlight on Captain Atom in a way that hasn't really been explored before. How did you find that side of him to which your readers can relate?
Winick: I think people have taken to the idea of what a tragic hero he is. Going into this, I wasn't a big fan of Captain Atom. His origin is a mess. He's been a bad guy; he's been a good guy. But then I just basically started asking stupid questions, when I started this whole thing. I was like, "Can he become human again?" And the answer was, "No, he's always silver." I said, "He's always silver? So he's not really a human being anymore?" And it was like, "No, I guess not." And then I just kind of realized, he's enormously powerful, but he's not even a man anymore. And he could probably go toe-to-toe with Superman, but he'd expel radiation and hurt people. And I realized, that's even worse.
If you just look at the basics of the character, you have a tragic hero just waiting to be brought out. So that's what I went with. He's someone who still has that human heart without an actual heart beating in his body. Everything else just fell into place. And I think that's what readers have seen. We like a tragic hero. We like someone who, despite all the bad things that are going on, wants to do good, and has to struggle to do it.
Nrama: Power Girl just became part of Generation Lost recently, and she's sticking around to the end. As the writer of both the Power Girl monthly and Justice League: Generation Lost, it seems like you're flexing the same creative muscle, writing these emotional stories with a bit of humor. Would you agree that it's a similar exercise?
Winick: Yeah. When I was given this assignment, I liked the idea of writing Power Girl solo. But when I started kicking around the story for Justice League: Generation Lost, I thought we could pull her over into the title. I think she's a great character. And a lot of what both of those series are about — Generation Lost and Power Girl — are giving the stage to those generally underused characters. These are not usually DC's big-ticket items. They are fan-favorites and have their following, but at the moment, they're not the ones that are going to sell 200,000 copies. Nobody's clambering to make a movie for any of these guys.But they've been around so long and they have their fans, because there's a lot to these characters. So I went into it deciding to build upon that, to take what's best about these characters and put a spotlight on it.
I'm lucky that I've been able to do two books simultaneously that allow me to do the type of writing I really enjoy, which is combining a good amount of drama with a certain amount of humor. I mean, I've gotten my ears boxed for years by readers who think my stuff is a little too cute and funny, saying that I shouldn't be making jokes when I'm making jokes. With both of these books, apparently, I have license to do that, which is good!
Nrama: Another character who recently came into Generation Lost is Bruce Wayne. You've written both Bruce and Dick, and I know you've said before that Dick has a little more humor to him. How is it writing Bruce as part of the JLI, surrounded by characters who make readers laugh?
Winick: Something I've always said about Dick Grayson is that when he's fighting the bad guys out in the field, there's no joking going on. He's not quipping. As Batman, Dick Grayson knows the role he has to play. But when he's around his friends, people that he knows, he makes jokes. He's still Dick Grayson, and I treat him like that. I got to do that a lot in Power Girl.
But when Bruce shows up, it's a different thing. He's not much older than these characters, but for them, it's almost like, "Dad's home." They have reverence for him. They know what he's capable of and they know his dedication.
What's hard about Batman is that he lacks emotion to the point that it's kind of hard to write sometimes, and I think that's why he needs good supporting characters, because in many cases, it's about characters reacting to Batman. And that's what defined his run with the JLI.
Batman's here now, and he's got answers, and he can take charge and he can help out. Big moves can be made to follow through on what they've done, because of what Batman brings to the table.
Nrama: Is Booster's leadership role threatened by Batman coming into the picture?
Winick: Not really, because Batman's a dude who looked to Booster Gold a couple years ago and said that he knows that Booster's a hero, that he's not some moron.Way back when we were coming up with the ideas behind Infinite Crisis, me, Geoff Johns, [Greg] Rucka, Dan DiDio and Eddie Berganza were all coming up with ideas for that event, brainstorming. And we were putting cards up on the wall for things we felt were important, and there was a card up on the wall that said, "Batman knows Booster Gold is a superhero." We put that up there. And moments came later where everyone thought he was an idiot, but Batman knows he's not. Batman knows he's got the stuff. And that's something I've always hung onto.
And Booster knows he's not an idiot. I had him talk about it last issue. He's aware that he's good at this, that he can help.
But Batman takes them all seriously. He knows this team, and he knows how good they are. And he knows that Booster is a hero.
Check back tomorrow for Part 2 of the interview, as we ask Winick about what's next for him and the JLI after the conclusion of Justice League: Generation Lost.