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Thursday, July 23, 2020 

Newsarama/Games Radar fawns over Judd Winick's past writings in Green Arrow

Judd Winick may have been largely gone from mainstream comics in the past decade. But a few weeks ago, he gave an interview to Newsarama/Games Radar about his run on Green Arrow, where he'd injected some of his extreme leftist pandering, and also brought up a few more subjects for pondering. For example:
Winick's run delved into Dinah Lance and Oliver Queen's on-again, off-again relationship, brought his son Connor Hawke back into the fold, and wrote the monumental story of Mia Dearden coming to grips with her HIV diagnosis - a moment that factored into her decision to assume Roy Harper’s Speedy mantle.
I vaguely recall GA/BC were supposedly going to marry, but in the end...it didn't happen. Long before Tom King dangled carrots for Batman/Catwoman doing the same, and turned out to be one of the worst writers employed by DC, and not just because he wouldn't follow through on the premise of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle wedding. As for Mia becoming ill with HIV? That's where too much of Winick's leftism seeped in, though probably nothing compared to the hammering in Green Lantern with the teenage boy named Terry Berg who turned out to be homosexual in the early 2000s (not too surprisingly, Winick had a double-standard on Islam when he wrote the 24th issue of Power Girl's solo book, contradicting his positions on LGBT ideology). This was also done so a girl could assume the role first taken by a male protagonist who was later subject to some of the worst abuse by editorial following the Cry For Justice miniseries several years later, and if it hadn't been for the subsequent maltreatment of Roy Harper, the move itself would've at least been more acceptable than it actually was (in any case, the Flashpoint event was used to retcon it all away). Anyway, here's some info about how Winick got his gigs at DC back in the day, and the company he keeps:
Newsarama: Judd, to start off, how did you get the gig for Green Arrow?

Judd Winick: My editor and good friend Bob Schreck. Bob brought me into DC Comics and gave me a shot at writing Green Lantern. Things went well, and they let me stay on the monthly book.

After Kevin Smith was finishing up his run — where he brought Green Arrow literally back from the dead, and re-launched the series — Bob told me that he wanted me to eventually take over Green Arrow if I wanted it. He knew we still had some fish to fry on Green Lantern.

But Bob picked my brain and inquired if my best friend Brad Meltzer, who at the time was “simply” a writer of best-selling law thrillers — would be interested in writing Green Arrow. I told Bob, “I think Brad has been waiting his entire life for someone to ask that question.”

So, Brad took on Green Arrow, and I got to follow him
. Made for rather sizable shoes to fill, I’ll tell you that. First Kevin Smith and then Brad. But I was thrilled.
I don't find Smith's resume appealing, and Meltzer's is even less, based mainly on the sick Identity Crisis miniseries he wrote afterwards. And Winick's isn't much better, but what's really disgraceful here is that he apparently had quite a bit to do with Meltzer getting hired, and becoming one of the most overrated people who could be involved with Hollywood (he worked on a TV program or two) who wound up getting jobs in comicdom simultaneously. This is the bad company Winick keeps.
Nrama: What attracted you to the character of Oliver Queen?

Winick: Many many things.

I’ve had years to dwell on what I liked about the character when I was a kid. Despite the fact that he ran around dressed like Robin Hood and shot arrows to fight crime, I guess there’s something slightly more realistic about him than Batman, but maybe it was that he was less tortured. I think I always loved how damned angry he was. And I always appreciated his politics. Even as a kid. I wasn’t aware that I was attracted to his "tough liberal" persona.

That said, I also enjoyed his skill sets. There’s something really cool about fighting crime with a bow and arrow.
And there's something not very cool about how Winick applied his politics in such a one-sided, heavy handed way to his writings that made even the most forceful moments in the late Denny O'Neil's run on Green Lantern/Arrow look tame by comparison. Or how Winick upheld a debunked viewpoint of the Matthew Shepard case used as a metaphor for a story premise in the 3rd Green Lantern volume. The problem with Winick's leftism is that he's a lot more cynical.
Nrama: Why do you think to this day people still connect to your run?

Winick: Oh, I don’t know. That’s a hard one to answer. I might be the last person to ask.

But, simply, I like my run. I made the stories because I liked them.

I know it sounds like a corny answer but it happens to be true. If anything, I spent five years really trying to put Oliver Queen through his paces. It was important to me that he was flawed. It was important to me that he made mistakes. At the time I took a tremendous amount of crap for that.

But, honestly that’s just the nature of mainstream superhero comics. You get a lot of crap. I like to think that the turns he made, the battles he fought, that they still hold up. It’s never the goal. Superhero comics are meant to be "in the moment." You’re not trying to tell a story that it’s going to hold up 20 years from now. If you manage to stumble into something that has an evergreen quality, you’re just getting lucky. That’s just my opinion.

You just get in there and try and tell a good story.
All this from somebody who doesn't seem to think he could make a mistake. I have no serious issues with a fictional character written as capable of screwing up. I do have a problem with an ultra-leftist who takes such an uppity view, however. To the point where he sure doesn't sound sorry he took part in co-writing Countdown to Infinite Crisis, and getting rid of Ted Kord.
Nrama: What did you enjoy the most about writing the series?

Winick: Well, first and last with the artists I worked with. Over the five years of work the bulk of it was with Phil Hester and Ande Parks. Writing the scripts is only half the battle, if that. There are all these other brilliant storytellers that are going to carry you across the line. Who are going to deliver the goods?
On this, I gotta say, Hester's blocky art style is so unappealing. Maybe a precursor to some of the poorer artists seen of recent. Such a mediocre artist isn't one I'd think ideal for delivering the goods, and he decidedly didn't.
Nrama: Kevin Smith created Mia Dearden, but you really helped define her character. Especially when you revealed she had HIV, still to this day one of my favorite comic book issues. When did you figure out this was part of her story?

Winick: Well, to be honest, I thought this was a story that Kevin Smith was going to do himself. In his run, he introduced Mia, and also introduced the fact that she had been a sex worker, ran away from home, lived on the streets.

I actually thought that he was going to make her the new Speedy. And, I really did think that she was going to test positive for HIV at some point.

I learned later that he had planned on making her Speedy, but he agreed with readers who had a sense that he might be going in that direction and he pushed back on the idea of a teenager in this day and age becoming a vigilante. I agree with his decision. That’s what I meant by saying that superhero comics have to be present. And at the time he was writing Green Arrow, it didn’t make sense for Mia to become Speedy.

It seemed kind unconscionable for Oliver Queen to agree to let her put herself at risk like that. But, when I took over the book, I decided that we would acknowledge that she’d gotten older - put her around 17 years old. And her testing positive, and wanting to become Speedy, went hand-in-hand. She was unsure how much time she would have. Unsure where life will take her. But this is what she wanted to do with the time that she had. She wanted to do good.

Nrama: How did your friendship with Pedro Zamora from The Real World help form that story?

Winick: In every way you could imagine. Pedro tested positive when he was very young as well. His diagnosis was also a huge guiding influence. He too wanted to give back. He wanted to fight. He literally wanted to make the world better. That was very much Mia’s story.
Well at least this is illuminating to what else could be wrong with Smith. A huge inability to suspend disbelief for a world filled with surrealism and sci-fi, even as Smith had no qualms about soiling Black Cat's background over at Marvel. As for the topic of Zamora, it reminds me that nearly 20 years ago, I once found a guy who said he was a former USAF officer stating on the web that in his opinion, Winick exploited his best pal for the sake of agendas. If so, some leftists can be that cynical.
Nrama: Was it your decision or DC’s to relaunch Green Arrow into Green Arrow/Black Canary?

Winick: No, as I recall it was Dan DiDio's [DC's then-publisher]. He simply came to me and said he wanted them to get hitched and we’ll relaunch the series. I was totally down with that.

The Green Arrow/Black Canary wedding issue is probably one of my favorite works. Amanda Connor drew it, and simply — she’s a genius. I’m a cartoonist, and I’d give anything to draw as well as her.

She’s a master storyteller.
But again, if memory serves, GA/BC didn't tie the knot, and Flashpoint did away with even that much anyway. One sure thing, any assignment DiDio was involved with was bad news.

As crummy as Winick's writing was, and could get pretty crude at times (his Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day miniseries was particularly repellent), one interesting thing about his past portfolio is that it involved elements that would not be considered acceptable by the politically correct crowd today. For example, how he scripted Catwoman as sexy, the sloppy approach he took notwithstanding. To the point where another rabid leftist like the now defunct Comics Alliance's Laura Hudson took issue:
Let’s start with Catwoman. The writer and artist have decided that out of all possible introductions to the character of Selina Kyle, the moment we’re going to meet her is going to be the one where she happens to be half-dressed and sporting bright red lingerie. That is in fact all we see of her for two pages: shots of her breasts. Most problematically, we are shown her breasts and her body over and over for two pages, but NOT her face. No joke, we get a very clear and detailed shot of her butt in black latex before we ever see her face looks like. Can’t you show us the playful or confident look in her eye as she puts on her sexy costume? Because without that it’s impossible to connect with the character on any other level than a boner, and I’m afraid I don’t have one of those.

Like I said, I’m on board with the hot ladies; part of what got me into comics back in the day was being a 12-year-old girl who looked at strong, beautiful characters like Rogue and Jean Grey and Storm and wanted to be like them in large part because they were so sexy and confident and had exciting romances. Those books managed to offer characters that I’m certain appealed to men as well, but always felt like people instead of window dressing. I have long maintained that to bring in more female readers, superhero comics don’t even need to specifically target women as much as they need to not actively offend them. This is not an insanely hard to thing to do, and yet here we are.
This was written nearly a decade ago, and while there can be valid points in much the same way as there were for the advertising of James Robinson's Cry For Justice - namely, how it depicted Supergirl with her head entirely out of view in the promos, at this point I'm honestly wondering if Hudson still believes what she says here, and, if she's done a 360 on her position here since; what she said at the time would be considered politically incorrect too, assuming she actually believed what she said at the time (her comments on Frank Miller for scripting Holy Terror were awful, so why must we assume she really upheld sex-positive viewpoints either?). It's almost a decade later, and "not actively offending" has been taken to the most horrific extremes, where a woman's sexuality cannot be displayed, if at all, even if her head, face and expressions are in view. "Here we are", indeed.

And if Winick were plying his trade today, who knows? He'd likely be a lot more politically correct than he was at the time, meaning little or no sex appeal would be put to use in his stories, and he wouldn't even do it as Hudson argued was the right way to do it. Indeed, it would come as no surprise if today's SJWs would consider Winick (and Hudson) somebody "not progressive enough" to suit their ambiguous visions.

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"As for Mia becoming ill with HIV? That's where too much of Winick's leftism seeped in"

Why do you think HIV is a leftish issue? Rock Hudson was a good friend of Ronald and Nancy Reagan. Ofra Haza wasn't political. The high risk groups for the disease have included a lot of right-wingers. AIDS is a public health issue, not a political issue.

Winick was like a proto-SJW writer- didn't care much about continuity with his retcons, hamfisted politics, and gave almost everyone the same "snarkier than you" personality. YET managed to do some really dumb or crude things that ticked people off on both sides of the political spectrum like help making Dr Light's post IC personality be all about rape and rape analogies along with depowering heroic, Japanese female Dr. Light. I still don't forgive him for his godawful run on Titans v2 either. He managed to shove everything wrong with the Titans in that era successfully in his brief run.

The issue with Mia's HIV and whether she should be in a job that will most likely lead to her bleeding all over her allies aside, a female character becoming Speedy long after Roy gave up the name isn't an issue there. There have been cases where a straight, white male's legacy has been passed to someone who isn't a straight white male and it was done respectfully and it happened way before the horrible Cry for Justice story ever happened. IIRC I think Mia almost died with Lian in that story too instead of living with the guilt of abandoning her during the battle. Now it seems modern DC has chosen to ignore HIV+, female Speedy in favor of a female, Asian Red Arrow anyway.

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