Harvey Award winner Matt Kindt has made a career of telling mind and genre-bending stories, traditionally featuring his own cast of colorful characters.
Whether it’s “MIND MGMT” or “Super Spy,” Kindt packs his panels with a wide variety of fantastic heroes and villains – and although each character’s existence is completely unbelievable, there’s always a sinking feeling in the back of your mind that you sat next to them in eleventh grade math.
Until last year when DC Comics tagged Kindt to replace his pal Jeff Lemire on “Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E.,” Kindt’s career had focused solely on his own characters and stories. And while Kindt told awesome adventures with Frank for his seven issues, he was unable to unleash his true self on the story as it was driven primarily by a #0 issue and a three-part crossover with the Scott Snyder/Jeff Lemire masterminded “Rotworld.”
That changes now as Kindt is writing a Martian Manhunter co-feature, drawn by Scott Clark (“Brightest Day”) in the back pages of Geoff Johns’ “Justice League of America,” beginning with the series’ second issue in March.
Kindt told CBR News that he and Johns have landed on a perfect way to expand the narrative — while expanding Martian Manhunter’s personal story — by having Johns write the main story and sharing it with Kindt, who then writes how J’onn J’onzz reacts to those recent happenings.
It’s a mindmeld of epic proportions.
Kindt also shared his thoughts on J’onn J’onzz’ status in the DCU, the reason he is the way he is and why a “Martian Manhunter” ongoing series would be his dream project. He also teased that he has more projects coming for DC Comics and revealed what his story is about in the upcoming Vertigo science fiction anthology, “Time Warp.”
CBR News: I’m not sure that Martian Manhunter is everyone’s favorite Justice Leaguer, but he’s a favorite of mine. Were you a fan of the character before landing this gig?
Matt Kindt: Oh, yeah. I’ve loved the Justice League since forever, and Martian Manhunter, at least to me, is one of those underutilized characters. DC has a lot of characters like that where people like them and they’re great characters and there is still so much that you can do with them.
I think Geoff [Johns] tapped me for the job because he knows where I’m coming from and because of my work with mind power. With Martian Manhunter’s abilities, it makes him the ultimate superspy, so it’s a good fit. I’m having great fun with it.
Geoff has said that the Martian Manhunter co-feature has an impact on the main storyline of “Justice League of America.” I know you can’t give too much away, but what can share about what you have planned?
When we were first started figuring out the Martian Manhunter backups and decided they were going to be eight to ten pages long, like the Shazam ones in the back of “Justice League,” my thought was that I like the backup idea, but I also thought it would be fun to do stories that were actually part of the ongoing, main story.
The way they’re done now, they do stand alone. They are solo Martian Manhunter stories, but they intertwine with the issue that they appear in — the thing you just read — the main story of “Justice League of America.” When you read the Martian Manhunter story, you’ll see how the smaller, self-contained story fits into the bigger, overall story.
I just really liked the idea of the stories interacting. It’s fun, because Geoff writes the script for the main issues and then he’ll give it to me and I’ll come up with some ideas of how Martian Manhunter would react to his story. It’s a fun collaboration where he does his thing and I respond to it with a backup story. I think it’s more interesting than doing just a straight up, eight-page backup story.
You mentioned earlier that Martian Manhunter is an underutilized character. His personality is a difficult one to crack and he is often portrayed as very cold. Is that part of the problem?
I think so. He’s basically Superman without the human upbringing. It’s like, what if Superman was without Krypton and had deal with his alien-ness all alone? There has always been that struggle with him to fit in or not fit in. He didn’t have a human dad to show him how to do things. And this is how you should be. “With great power comes great responsibility.” He didn’t have an Uncle Ben. He didn’t have a Pa Kent. He didn’t have any of that.
Having him react with humanity and basically be as strong as Superman is, I think, a little scary. As a human being from Earth, who knows what he’s really thinking. What’s his story?
Martian Manhunter will be playing a starring role in “Justice League of America,” serving as team leader. Is this J’onn J’onzz’s chance to become an A-lister in the DCU?
I hope so. I don’t have any say and I don’t know what their master plan is, but to me it’s always been the Big 3 — Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman — and then Flash, Green Lantern and Aquaman. I think Martian Manhunter should be in there, too.
He’s always the last one on that list of big characters. Hopefully people respond to [the backup] and like it and he’ll get his own series or something.
You’re not drawing the co-feature — it’s Scott Clark — but as an artist, what do you love about Martian Manhunter’s look and feel?
I would love to draw him, and if DC asked me to, I would find the time. But I don’t have time with “MIND MGMT” and some other things I’m doing right now. And my style doesn’t really fit their [DC] house style, so I get it.
But I love his true Martian form. If I was drawing it, that’s what I’d like to draw most — him in that form. The other thing to remember is that he’s a shape shifter. With him having mind powers and shapeshifting and everything, I would have a lot of fun with that.
Honestly, my dream project is DC giving him his own series and letting me write and draw his origin on Mars and exploring his culture and background.
Fingers crossed, because that would be awesome.
I’m also excited for your story in Vertigo’s upcoming sci-fi anthology, “Time Warp.” Can you give us a taste of what we’ll see?
It’s science fiction and it’s set in the future. It’s only eight pages, but it was a lot of fun. The most fun than I’ve had in a while. I haven’t done a lot of hard sci-fi set in the future. It’s about these two guys that fight and they have all of these crazy weapons, and there are diagrams of their weapons as they are shooting them at each other that show how they work. There are a lot of crazy cutaways.
Does it feature original characters?
Oh ,yeah. All originals.
We’re going to talk about “MIND MGMT” next time, but are you working on anything else these days?
I don’t have a whole lot of time for another creator-owned project because of “MIND MGMT.” That takes up most of each month. But I do have time for plenty of other writing assignments. Writing goes a lot more quickly, so I am writing a bunch of more stuff for DC, and I have another thing for Marvel that they haven’t announced. I can’t take about any of those just yet — hopefully soon though.
Check back with CBR later this week as Kindt shares insight into the fantastic world of “MIND MGMT.”