Go into a comic book shop each week and there's a good chance you'll see something new on the shelves by Judd Winick.
The writer has taken over the monthly Power Girl series, and his Justice League: Generation Lost story comes out every two weeks. And whether it's the new Batman: Under the Red Hood DVD or its tie-in comic, Batman: Lost Days, or even his upcoming issue of Superman/Batman, Winick never seems to leave the Caped Crusader behind.
And as Newsarama has learned, Winick is writing Justice League: Generation Lost on his own, without his announced co-writer Keith Giffen, which he discusses in the interview below. (Newsarama has confirmed with Giffen that he isn't on the title, but has several other DC projects the publisher will announce soon.)
So while the bi-weekly Brightest Day has two writers working on it, Winick is churning out two issues a month on his own.
Whatever he's doing on all these comics seems to be working. While even Winick acknowledges comic book fans have often lambasted his work, the buzz about his recent work has been positive. And DC apparently feels good enough about Winick's writing to not only showcase it in one of their animated DVDs, but to feature Generation Lost by releasing it digitally on the same day as its bi-weekly print issues.
Newsarama talked with Winick in this multi-part interview to find out more about his work, focusing this week on the recent revelations about Max Lord and Captain Atom, and what's coming next in Justice League: Generation Lost.
Newsarama: Judd, this week's issue of Brightest Day revealed what Max Lord is supposed to do for the DC Universe, by stopping Magog from beginning his war. So is the Justice League: Generation Lost story being coordinated a lot with Brightest Day and the rest of the DCU?
Judd Winick: Oh yeah! Completely. One of our lead villains is part of Brightest Day. We're coordinating this stuff every day.
In fact, I'm flying out to New York this week to have our "ending meeting," as we're calling it. Just to make sure all our ducks are in a row for our last little push. We're actually past the halfway mark at this point, as far as what's been written and put into motion. So we want to make sure we have all the last little bits lined up.
We'll also get all the DC editors in the room to make sure everyone knows what's going on. And fight. And discuss. And make sure it's all cool.
Nrama: With this task Max Lord needs to complete, as he's supposed to stop Magog, will that spill into the Magog comic?
Winick: No. All will be made clear around Issue #13. It will definitely affect the Magog comic. It won't be taking place there, but it will affect it.
Nrama: The big reveal in your own issue, separate from what happened in Brightest Day, was concerning Captain Atom. Has his motivation been formed from the beginning by his trip to the future?
Winick: Yeah. If you look back, this has been his motivation all along. This actually happened in the first issue. He wants to stop Max Lord and always has.
I wanted to do a couple things in this issue. I wanted everyone to take a good, hard look at Captain Atom, who, to be blunt, is kind of a mess. He has quite the history. The truth is, I don't think a lot of people know him or even understand him. So a lot of this was getting inside his head and his heart and seeing what he's going through.
I also wanted to establish what the stakes are. This is what the future holds if Max Lord is not stopped. For Atom, his mission has been made clear. For me, and for folks who might know the character, it didn't make sense for him to jump on board the way he did unless you learn he had found out this about the future. Now he wants to stop him.
Nrama: With Captain Atom so desperately looking for Max Lord, knowing the future he causes, while he's also having problems with his humanity -- isn't that a recipe for disaster if he ever does get his hands on Max?
Winick: That's a very good point. Yes, indeed. I say that mischievously, and if I had a mustache, I'd be twirling it. That's a very good point indeed. Someone with all that power, now suddenly having all this knowledge and this responsibility for the fate of the world.. what would one do if he actually got his hands on the guy?
Nrama: We've seen a few character subplots being developed, with Ice's fear of dying, and this whole thing with Captain Atom losing control of his humanity. Will those be followed up upon, and will we see similar subplots developing for other characters?
Winick: Yes. With Ice, we've been driving home the fact of how much she does not want to be on this goddamned team or be a goddamned superhero anymore. I haven't been subtle about it. Nor will I continue to be subtle about it. But it is absolutely going to be dealt with, in a gigantic way. It's not something that's going to be written off quickly. Even at one point coming up, it looks like it's resolved with a quick conversation. It will not be.
In Issue #11 and into Issue #12, there will be some major character developments with Ice. And in Issue #12, Fire and Ice have a throw-down. I do not mean these two friends get into a tiff in a coffee shop or something. I mean they fight one another. It's something we've never seen before, and it's for keeps, and it ugly and awful, but it's within reason in the story. And Ice gets a full, hard look, just like we did with Captain Atom.
Atom, and what he's been going through, will be an ongoing story that will be part of this story.
And everybody gets a little bit of that treatment.
Blue Beetle, in our third act, we'll take a look at him.
Booster, if anyone's been paying attention, is getting examined almost in every other issue. We're not going to have an issue devoted to Booster. That character is an ongoing process. And he's pretty much the heart of the book, which I'm happy to see a number of people have caught onto. That every turn has really been about him. I think, more than anyone else, this is personal to him.
Nrama: How does this point in the series set up what's coming next?
Winick: This is the end of the first act. I've broken it up into a three-act process, and Issue #6 was the conclusion of Act I, where the team has been brought together. The Captain Atom issue is sort of a dénouement. The team is brought together and we learn what the stakes really are. Now, moving forward, the team is going to be incredibly proactive, as Booster's laid down the gauntlet. Before, they've been chasing signals and hemming and hawing about this or that.
Now there's an entirely different attitude. It's like, screw it — we're going after him. We're going to scour the Earth and take him down. He can't manipulate us. He's brought us together, so fine — we're going to turn it on him. He's made it clear that he wants us together, but not going after him. We're going to take him down and destroy him.So in these upcoming issues are some very action-packed issues. There is a whole lot of superhero fighting going on. Just as Booster and Atom are gung ho about going after Max, and upon finding out that he's at Checkmate — and I don't think I'm giving too much away by saying they're going to break into Checkmate. That, of course, doesn't go so well, to begin with. But it will lead to someplace else.
Right here in the middle of our movie is where the action gets ratcheted up.
Issue #13 is the conclusion of Act II, which takes us into Act III as it revs up for the end.
Nrama: We saw an older version of Power Girl show up in this last issue. How much will she tie into the series as we go forward?
Winick: Act III baby! Yeah, we have to wait a little bit. In her own series, her trials and tribulations with Generation Lost will continue. What she's going through right now in her own book is all about Generation Lost. That becomes clearer as we go along and will eventually pull her into the other title.
So by Act III, if everything goes exactly as I'm planning, Power Girl will be very much a part of it, and vice versa. We'll have the JLI in her book, and her in Generation Lost.
Nrama: You mentioned earlier that you're glad people have picked up on the fact Booster is the heart of the series. Have you heard a lot of reaction from fans?
Winick: I have. And I'm thrilled people are enjoying this team, this group of characters. Their popularity seems to be gaining. Even people who hate Blue Beetle because he replaced Ted Kord seem to be coming around to him.
I'm really thrilled how many people like Rocket Red. That's a treat for me. I think they see the fun that we're having with him. He's funny; he's a little bit ridiculous. I like that I'm getting to make fun of a communist in such a way. I guess it's like, 'Only Nixon can go to China.' I suppose only a big pinko like me can pick on a commie as much as I'm picking on him.
I'm thrilled about the flat out love we're getting from readers, and also the grudging respect that's coming from the haters, which is fun. I know a lot of people can't stand what I do, but that's a comment that I'm seeing. "I really don't like Judd Winick and anything he writes, but this is alright. I'm enjoying this. I'm constantly surprised how much I'm enjoying this." And hey -- I'll take that! I don't mind.
Nrama: Well, the elephant in the room here, Judd, is that Keith Giffen obviously isn't co-writing this book with you anymore, since he's been listed as "breakdowns" for several issues. Is he working on it now?
Winick: Keith is doing breakdowns through Issue #7. It just became a scheduling thing. Keith has a number of projects coming up that required much more time than he had for juggling a bi-weekly. It came down to stuff he's got coming up. Stuff we can't talk about yet.
Nrama: Since you're writing this solo, is doing a bi-weekly book as much work as it seems? Particularly when you're trying to coordinate Power Girl with it, and working with Brightest Day?
Winick: I'm pretty much writing Generation Lost all the time. I just finished Issue #14. I was actually going to start hopping on Issue #15 right after that, but this "ending" meeting's coming up, and everyone's saying to hold off. That's getting into the third act. So I don't want to get too far ahead of everybody else.
But I pretty much, at this point, have to turn in about one Gen Lost script a week, with a couple skip weeks here and there. Just because I'm one guy doing the whole thing, and I want to stay as far ahead of it as I can.
And there are three artists, who we cannot keep waiting. So it is pretty much like doing three monthlies.
And there's also Power Girl, and I'm done with the Red Hood comic. So I pretty much am working on Gen Lost all the time. And that's not a bad thing. With how time consuming this comic is, there is something to be said for just concentrating on the one thing.
With Power Girl, her story interweaves with this in such a comfortable way that it feels like a bit of an adjunct to this story. That said, Power Girl is entirely its own thing, and that's also kind of fun. It's nice to be able to switch gears a little, and Power Girl is a little less complicated, since it's one character and it's not multiple storylines coordinating "just so" with the rest of Brightest Day. It's a whole different animal... but an animal feeding at the same trough.
Nrama: With so much time on Batman-related titles, does it feel good to stretch some different muscles as a writer, being able to insert a little of that humor that your fans know so well from your time doing Barry Ween?Winick: Well, it doesn't feel like I'm doing anything different from what I was doing before. But the difference is probably that, among the readers, nobody questions it. If I do something lighthearted with the JLI or with Power Girl, no one complains about it. Apparently it's OK to do my type of dialogue with the JLI and Power Girl, which I guess is a lesson to me. Most of my readers have liked how I inject a certain amount of levity, but some don't, and with these characters, there don't seem to be quite as many complaints. Editorial's more open-minded about it as well, if I insert something lighthearted into a dramatic scene. That's cool. And it's nice to know the wind's at my back on this one.
But yeah, I'm enjoying these characters a lot. I like being able to use the type of humor I enjoy writing, but putting it into something a little more epic, something with some weight. And I like how the story is unfolding. It's been a great ride so far, and I'm looking forward to what's coming up now that we're entering the second act.
Check in later this week as we talk with Winick about Power Girl, Superman/Batman and what else he has up his sleeves.