Last week, Justice League: Generation Lost #13 shocked readers with unexpected death and destruction, just after the series hit the halfway point.
Written by Judd Winick, Generation Lost follows the story of the former Justice League International heroes as they fight against the villainous Max Lord, who returned during the events of Blackest Night.
The series is one of two bi-weekly series from DC this year, rotating weeks with Brightest Day by Peter Tomasi and Geoff Johns.
When we last talked with Judd Winick about Generation Lost, the bi-weekly comic had just revealed that Max Lord was being required to kill Magog in order to fully regain his life.
With Issue #13, [spoiler warning] Max Lord has already fulfilled his mission, killing Magog and framing Captain Atom for the murder. And by the end of the issue, a crater is left behind as Captain Atom is thrust back into the timestream.
Where is it all going? We talked to Winick to find out.
Newsarama: Judd, before we start talking about last week's pivotal issue, can we talk for a minute about how far ahead you are? Last time we talked, you were quite a bit ahead on deadlines.
Judd Winick: Yeah, and because of the digital publication, we have to come in about three weeks earlier than everybody else. I am quite a bit ahead of schedule, but our lead time on the deadlines kind of evaporated when we went digital.
Nrama: You know, last week's issue was a bit of a shocker. When we found out what Max Lord's mission was, I don't think anyone expected that he would accomplish it already. You've known from the beginning that Magog had to die?
Winick: Yeah, pretty much. We were a few issues into the book when we nailed down exactly what was going to happen, but we've been working in tandem with Brightest Day from the beginning. And we had discussed the fact that everybody had a mission to complete to get their lives back. Then we started talking about what would be interesting for Max. And we decided upon Magog.You know, I'm not surprised that you thought it would come later. Some folks in editorial thought it should actually come later too. They had the opinion that this was such a big thing that maybe it should be the climax of the book.
But those of us working on the book didn't agree. We have other things planned.
If you think this is cool, wait until you see where we're going. If you think this is a big deal, wait until you see where we end up. Much bigger deal.
Nrama: Yeah, because it doesn't just end with Magog's death.
Winick: Right. We just right into it next issue. As you saw, Atom disappeared and got pulled into the timestream. And now I should say, "Spoiler alert for anyone reading!!" Here it comes.
Next issue he gets thrown back into the timestream and ends up in the future again.
Nrama: Is it a changed future? Have things changed in the future?
Winick: We'll have to see.
I will say this. Last time he went 250 years into the future. And this time he doesn't go quite so far. So that will get very interesting.
Nrama: He has become such a central character in this story. Will he be the focus going forward? Obviously, next issue we'll see what's going on with him.
Winick: Everyone has their moment. That's one of the things I like about this book, and what I like about this story. Pretty much everybody has their moments that we'll want to focus upon.
For Atom, he plays a very instrumental part of the story right now. Things that happen to him, things that he knows, things that he brings back....
But the focus will always be shifting.
Nrama: Where does the focus fall after the next issue with Captain Atom?
Winick: We come back to being a team book for a while after this. The last several issues, the team has split up. They've had different battles, and different things that have happened to them. We've focused a lot on individual characters, all in service of the story.But now the team has come back together, as of Issue #15. We're just past the halfway point and something big has happened. And now we're regrouping. Everyone has their story to tell.
Some major Blue Beetle stuff is coming up too. I haven't been checking what the readers have been saying, but I'm sure they're thinking he gets the short shrift. That hasn't been an accident. That's been by design.
Nrama: I assume you enjoy writing Maxwell Lord.
Winick: Yeah! I like that he makes wise cracks. He's brutally sarcastic and mean-spirited. He's got a sense of humor. He always has. Now that we know how much of a villain he is, he shouldn't be less entertaining to listen to. I like bad guys who are funny, you know? I like bad guys who have a little more going on. With Max, we have that advantage because he's not insane. He could be called a psychopath or a sociopath, but as someone who knows where this story goes, he's not crazy, unlike the Joker or half our villains. That's not what the story's about. He has a plan.
Nrama: Now that you're halfway through this series, have any of these characters kind of surprised you? Or are there any that you didn't realize how much you'd enjoy writing them?
Winick: The newer guys are a lot more fun than I expected. I'm a huge fan of these characters that have been around awhile and I knew how terrific they were. But I think the real surprises to me are Blue Beetle and Rocket Red. I didn't realize how fun Rocket Red would end up being. I'm so glad that people seem to really like him. It gets beyond how he butchers the English language. There's something fun about him. There's something fun about his level of hypocrisy, claiming to be a hardcore Communist but running around with these guys. Why? Because it's so cool. It's so much fun. He just seems to be enjoying himself.
And when we have more dramatic moments with him, I think it has an even greater resonance. I've really enjoyed how much empathy people have had for the character, even early on when they were busting into Checkmate and he got electrocuted. It was nice to hear that people felt bad for him, that they saw that he took one for the team and was a good guy.
On the flip side, we've got Beetle. He's established himself in the DCU in his own right. But having him here on the team, he still seems like the youngster. I've been intentionally putting him in the background, because I don't think Jaime would assert himself around this group. But as we've moved on, I think you can see it incrementally... he's made his will known. He's the one who questions what they're doing on a regular basis.
But that said, you'll see him come more to the forefront as the story goes on.
Nrama: We'll be seeing more Power Girl too, right?
Winick: Yes. We officially crossover starting with Power Girl #20, then to Generation Lost #19 and then back to Power Girl #21. Both books will be working in tandem.
Nrama: Will the Power Girl issues be available on digital?
Winick: No. But if you're not reading Power Girl, or if you're not reading Generation Lost, you don't need either book to follow the book you're reading.It will just enhance the story. I think you'll read a fuller, better story if you read all of them. But if you don't, you won't be missing out on anything necessary to understand the story. And that's true on either side. If you're reading Power Girl, reading it and enjoying it, you don't have to get Generation Lost.
That said, you know, it's like having dessert!! Why not enjoy the whole meal?
Nrama: Maxwell Lord getting his life returned happens within the pages of Generation Lost. And those of us who are reading Brightest Day understand that it has to do with the White Lantern's instructions. Will your story deal with why the White Lantern would restore his life? Or is that just a Brightest Day story?
Winick: The White Lantern storyline remains in Brightest Day. In Generation Lost, we will continue with what Max Lord's plan is.
Everything fits into everything. What happened with Max killing Magog and getting his life back, and then framing Captain Atom, is part of the whole thing. He's a master manipulator, so he was able to make this work for him. Everyone else might be having a tough time with what they have to do, but with him, it was like, "Kill Magog? Sure!" but then it was also, "Not only will I kill Magog, but how can I make this work for me?" And that's what you see. Him taking this road he has to hoe and making it work for him for his master plan.
Nrama: I love the line, "I'm saving the world."
Winick: Yeah, 'cause he thinks he is. By the time we're done, some people might not disagree with him.
Nrama: Now that we've hit this major mid-point event, what's the pace like going forward? Does Generation Lost slow down a little now? Or ramp up?
Winick: Well, even though we're at the halfway point, we're still kind of in the second act. I think I spoke to this last time we spoke. Many of the issues leading up to this, probably starting with Issue #10, through Issue #15 -- these are very action-packed issues. Stuff that will move the plot forward, but also some slam-blam action stuff going on.
Will we be slowing down? Yeah. Right around Issue #20 and #21, there's a little bit of a breather. But not a good one. Bad things happen and slow things down, which takes us into the last three issues.
So it's going to keep moving like a freight train. A lot's going to happen, and we're going to find out a lot of stuff. Then we'll have a little bit of a breather.
And then Issues #22, #23 and #24 is the big finale, when it all comes together.
Nrama: Then to finish up, Judd, what else do you have coming up that you want to tell your fans about? More series at DC in your future?
Winick: I will be finally doing that arc of Superman/Batman that I told you about last time we talked. We're still working out when that's going to be. It's probably going to be a six-issue arc coming up. And it will be Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent, which will be fun.
And I can't talk too much about it, but I've been getting a tremendous amount of email about Red Hood, after the mini-series finished up. People want to know if we're going to do more.
Yes, we're going to do more Jason Todd/Red Hood. And yes, I'll be writing it. I can't tell you in what manner. Or what we're doing exactly, but we'll be announcing it soon. There will be some Jason Todd stuff coming out.