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Grumpy Old Fan | A week full-to-bursting with birds, bats, and Booster

The Return Of Bruce Wayne #1

The Return Of Bruce Wayne #1

This is a pretty big week for DC.

I know I said that four weeks ago, when Brightest Day #0 and The Flash vol. 3 #1 appeared in comics shops, and I don’t want to take too much away from that.

Still, today saw the debuts of The Return Of Bruce Wayne #1, the relaunched Birds Of Prey #1, and Keith Giffen returning to his old charges from Justice League International. Not unsurprisingly, each of these comics builds on many years’ worth of stories, and each nevertheless aims to be accessible to the uninitiated. Therefore, this week let’s see how effective these four introductory issues are.

SPOILERS FOLLOW for Return Of Bruce Wayne #1, Birds Of Prey #1, Booster Gold #32, and Justice League: Generation Lost #1.

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Thin wallets, fat bookshelves | A publishing news roundup

Batman and Robin by Jim Lee

Batman and Robin by Jim Lee

This is a special “WonderCon + more” edition of Thin Wallets, as we round up publishing news from last weekend’s con, plus a few other items of note …

  • DC Comics announced that they are replacing the long-delayed All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder with Dark Knight: Boy Wonder. The book will still be by the creative team of Frank Miller and Jim Lee, and is due in February 2011.
  • IDW has picked up the license to make comics based on HBO’s southern vampire show True Blood. The show’s creator, Alan Ball, is helping to develop the stories.
  • IDW will also release another version of their Dave Stevens’ The Rocketeer collection — Dave Stevens’ The Rocketeer: Artist Edition. The oversized hardcover will be printed as the same size as Stevens’ original art, approximately 11 by 16 inches. “You’ll be able to see his beautiful blue pencil work, you’ll be able to see the stats, all of it,” Special Projects Editor Scott Dunbier said. “It’ll be the closest thing you ever get to Dave Stevens original art.”
  • Judd Winick announced that he is writing a new Barry Ween book. “Thankfully, after, like, an eight-year hiatus, I’m actually – swear to God – I’m actually doing more ‘Barry Ween.’ I’m writing it now,” he said at his spotlight panel. Barry Ween is heading into space in the new story.
  • Image Comics is collecting The Crusades, by Steven T. Seagle and Kelley Jones, into a hardcover. The series was originally published by Vertigo. Seagle is also teaming up with artist Marco Cinello for a children’s book called Frankie Stein.
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Winick, Basri to take over Power Girl with issue #13

Power Girl #13

Power Girl #13

Following up on the announcement that Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Amanda Conner are leaving Power Girl after issue #12, DC’s the Source blog reveals who will be replacing them. Starting with issue #13, writer Judd Winick and artist Sami Basri will chronicle the adventures of Kara Zor-L.

“It is with GREAT fear and excitement that Sami and I leap into this gig,” Winick said. “Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, and Amanda Conner have bought an amazing, fresh, and inventive rebirth to this character. Our greatest challenge will be to remain faithful to what they’ve created and also take Power Girl to a new place. As far as the course that the story will take, I’ll be uncharacteristically forthcoming : The story is tied to JUSTICE LEAGUE: GENERATION LOST. Not CHAINED to it, but tied. Power Girl has a history with the JLI that will be explored. A lot.”

As previously reported, Winick is teaming with writer Keith Giffen on the 26-issue biweekly Justice League: Generation Lost mini-series.

Red Hood: The Lost Days will arrive just in time for Under the Red Hood DVD push

Red Hood: The Lost Days #1

Red Hood: The Lost Days #1

Judd Winick and artist Pablo Raimondi are teaming up for a new miniseries called Red Hood: The Lost Days — “a six-issue mini-series revealing the untold story of the man behind the Red Hood. It’s the tale of an angry young man’s transformation into a deadly villain,” according to DC’s The Source blog.

“I’m thrilled to return to this character, and it’s both a joy and challenge to tackle this new story,” Winick said. “LOST DAYS tracks the time from the Red Hood’s rebirth to his return to Gotham. In it, we get to understand this anti-hero in a new way. I think it explains both how he’s sympathetic, and an unrepentant monster. He’s a wonderfully complex character, and I hope this adds some even greater depth to his mythology.”

And here’s today’s “Why didn’t they start doing this sooner?” moment — the release of the comic will coincide with the release of the Under the Red Hood DVD, DC’s next entry in their animated movie series. Typically when a big blockbuster film hits theaters, comic companies release a barrage of comic tie-ins to maybe pull in new readers. I can’t remember DC doing anything like that, at least this overtly, with any of their previous animated DVD releases, but maybe I’m forgetting something. Many of the DVDs, of course, have been based on existing stories, like New Frontiers and the Death of Superman, so there’s always the opportunity to sell from the backlist, but actually creating a tie-in comic seems like something worth trying as well.

Update: Someone in our comments section points out that there was, indeed, a New Frontiers special that came out back in 2008 when the animated DVD hit that I, obviously, didn’t remember.

Giffen, Winick team on Justice League: Generation Lost

Justice League: Generation Lost

Justice League: Generation Lost by Tony Harris

DC Comics announced on The Source this morning that Keith Giffen and Judd Winick will team to write Justice League: Generation Lost, a 26-issue bi-weekly series featuring many of the characters from Giffen’s classic run on Justice League back in the late 1980s.

The two writers spoke with Vaneta Rogers over at Newsarama about the project, where Giffen addressed why his JLI co-conspirator, J.M. DeMatteis, isn’t working on it.

“Because Marc and I – along with artist Chris Batista – are taking over Booster Gold, that’s why. And yes, it’s exactly what you think it is,” he said.

According to Giffen, the new bi-weekly series will feature Captain Atom, Booster Gold, Blue Beetle, Fire, Ice and Rocket Red, among others. Check out the interview over at Newsarama for more details.

Shades of Gray(son): Rounding up June’s Bat-books

Grumpy Old Fan

Grumpy Old Fan

So there I was in the spring of 1988, a college freshman buying snacks at the local convenience store, when I saw Amazing Spider-Man #300 sitting on the magazine shelf. I knew artist Todd McFarlane had helped make the book pretty popular, and I had fond memories of writer David Michelinie from his earlier work on Iron Man and Avengers. Accordingly, I stuck with ASM through the end of McFarlane’s run (in #325), and never gave much thought to Spidey’s two other regular titles. Spectacular Spider-Man and Web Of Spider-Man might have been great reads, but for whatever reason, I just wanted the “headliners,” Michelinie and McFarlane.

I suspect the same is true these days with the Batman line. Yesterday’s releases of Detective Comics #854 and Gotham City Sirens #1 close out the first month of the Big Batman Relaunch. The Grant Morrison-written Batman And Robin (drawn initially by Frank Quitely) has drawn the most attention, with much of the rest going to Detective‘s Batwoman lead (written by Greg Rucka, drawn by JH Williams III). Each of these high-profile creative teams has been charged with producing new-reader-friendly stories, and thereby building an enduring foundation of loyal consumers.

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Robot Reviews: Pedro & Me

Pedro & Me

Pedro & Me

Pedro & Me: Friendship, Loss & What I Learned
by Judd Winick
Henry Holt, $16.99

I would love to come down decisively one way or the other about Pedro & Me, either joining in the cacophony of praise that graces the back cover (“powerful and captivating” says Publisher’s Weekly; “impossibly brave” says Kirkus Reviews) or deriding it as ham-fisted, mawkish tripe overburdened with sentimental feel-goodisms that offer little in the way of insight.

Alas, I can do neither. Pedro is a book that sits firmly on the middle of the fence. It’s neither so awful that it deserves naught but scorn, nor is it really worthy of those effusive comments on the back cover. It has moments of tenderness and honesty, but it also obvious and clumsy at times and Winick’s verbal and visual tics seem to keep true greatness at bay.

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