EXCLUSIVE: Matt Kindt and Geoff Johns Co-writing ‘Martian Manhunter’ Back-Up In ‘Justice League Of America’

Matt Kindt has been one of our favorite writers here at MTV Geek, with his series “Mind MGMT” even hitting our list of 10 Best Comic Books of 2012. So we’re extremely pleased to exclusively announce that starting in March’s “Justice League of America” #2, Kindt will be co-writing a “Martian Manhunter” back-up story in the title with writer Geoff Johns, and artist Scott Clark:

MTV Geek: Let’s kick it off talking about how you ended up writing “Martian Manhunter,” and working with Geoff Johns?

Matt Kindt: I’d been writing “Frankenstein”. It was ending, Geoff knew about that and was a fan of some of my stuff, like “Mind MGMT” and wanted to do something with me, or find something for me, so he asked me to do that. [Laughs] That was how it happened.

Geek: So what’s your take on “Martian Manhunter”?

Kindt: I hadn’t thought about him for a while, but I knew this was coming up, so I went back and read a bunch of things. To me, Martian Manhunter, you can almost do anything with him because there hasn’t been a definitive take on him yet. We’ll see what ultimately happens, but to me, he’s always been like Superman, except he wasn’t raised by human parents, so he doesn’t have the human element to him. He has all the crazy strength and powers, but he also has a disconnect from humanity.

There’s that element, which I think is going to be interesting to play with, his true alien-ness. You forget Superman is an alien sometimes, but with Martian Manhunter you don’t because of the way he looks. He’s like a man out of place in a way.

Geek: The “Shazam” back-up in “Justice League” was an origin story, eventually linking up with the main “Justice League” story. Is this the same sort of thing, or something else?

Kindt: It’s a little something different. We’re not quite done with it, and I can’t tell you everything, but I think we’ll do something a little different. Martian Manhunter is the most powerful of all the characters. He can change his shape, he has his strength, he has his mind powers. To me, we’re going to see him use those in a way we haven’t really seen him use them before. In a way, he’s going to be the ultimate super-spy. [Laughs] That’s probably another reason Geoff asked me to do it, because he knows I love spies. We came up with a neat way of using Martian Manhunter where he’s using his powers in a tricky way.

Geek: Potentially it sounds like you could be using some of your “Mind MGMT” techniques here, with Martian Manhunter’s mental powers.

Kindt: With “Mind MGMT,” I definitely try to keep it grounded in the real – what would happen if you push things? But with Martian Manhunter, he’s bonkers! He has the whole universe to go crazy. I can go even crazier with that, take some ideas I’ve been having fun with and push them even further. It’s one thing to control someone’s mind, or someone’s thoughts, but it’s another to be someone who can look like anything or anybody…AND have that power. It’ll be crazier than anything I’ve done.

Geek: I’ll ask the typical Superman question: when a character has limitless power, how do you make them interesting?

Kindt: To me it’s all in your head, you know? To me, Superman, as strong as he is, mentally he’s pretty strong as well; he believes in what he’s doing. Manhunter, he’s more conflicted. There’s a little bit of a mystery to his character, too: what he’s doing, where he came from, why he’s here… So I think he’s got a little darker edge to him. You may be the strongest guy on Earth, but that doesn’t mean you’re strong mentally. There are disabilities there, maybe not physical ones, but mental ones, and that’s his weakness.

Geek: You basically just touched on this, but in terms of limitations; Is he still afraid of fire? Are we going to see the bad guys hide out in a candle shop and be impervious to him, or something like that?

Kindt: [Laughs] I don’t know if we’re going to get much more than that. If anything, the first few stories we’re just going to establish how scary he is. It’s almost like Dr. Manhattan, this guy is crazy scary: he can do anything. I want to establish that first, and then we can establish how he can be beaten.

Geek: What’s the coordination like between these “Manhunter” back-ups, and the main “JLA” story?

Kindt: This is something I talked to Geoff about at New York Comic-Con. To me, it was important that the back-up story is integral to the main narrative. It needs to be its own thing, but also I think it would be cool for that story to feed into, or elaborate on the main “JLA” story. We’re really working together on that. He’s writing the scripts for the main story, and then I’m using the backup stories to react to that, or add another layer so there’s a little something extra, or something else going on.

Geek: I think I ask you this in every interview, Matt, but you’re pretty into the design aspect of things, will we see that play at all into the look of this story?

Kindt: It’s a little different writing for another artist. I’ll write scripts to play to an artist’s strengths, and every artist is different. I imagine that things happening in the main storyline, there’s going to be parallels, and overlaps. Visually, the trick for me is going to be tying from that main story to the back-up. I’m sure there will be something tricky, I can’t help it! [Laughs]

Geek: With Martian Manhunter’s origin, history, and time with the main Justice League being so mysterious in the New 52, are we going to get any more hints about all that here?

Kindt: I think so, as much as they’ll let me do! [Laughs] We’ll see.

Geek: Last thing, are we going to see the return of Martian Manhunter’s favorite treat, Chocos?

Kindt: [Laughs] No. I’ll say probably not.

“Manhunter” kicks off in ‘Justice League of America #2,’ which hits comic book stands March 6, 2013 from DC Comics.

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