Matt Kindt is a name comics fans have probably been seeing for a while now, and at Comic-Con in San Diego, I was lucky enough to chat with him briefly on his work for the upcoming Villains Month in September at DC, in which the bad guys “take over” the heroes’ books for the month of September in what is being labelled “Forever Evil.” Back in June, we gave you a taste of what you’ll be in for, but now Matt Kindt is here to open up about his four books coming out that month, each distinctly different from each other, even if they are all about characters we love to hate. Or hate to love.
Nerdist: So you have a huge number of books coming out during Villains Month, a.k.a. “Forever Evil” at DC. Something like three, I think?
Matt Kindt: Four! Let me list them first to make sure I get them all: There’s Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Solomon Grundy, and Sinestro.
N. Wow…yeah that’s a lot of books. So one of those is not like the others, since Sinestro is your outer space cosmic guy, and the other villains are more earthbound and grounded villains. How do you approach Sinestro versus the other more grounded villains of the DCU you’ll be writing?
MK: He was the most interesting to me, because honestly, with all the villains, I try to get into their head and ask, “Why are you the way you are?” Solomon Grundy was the scariest for that, because he’s nuts. But Sinestro is the most interesting to me, because I feel like he’s the one who is motivated in not a villainous way, like he wants to do good, his motivation is “I want to do good and make the world a better place.” I mean, he chooses an incredibly horrible way to do it, and he’s also kind of a jerk about it, but that’s what I found writing all the villain issues; The villain doesn’t know he’s a villain, the villain thinks he’s doing good, and Sinestro especially thinks so. I was trying to figure out his rationale, what are the steps he took to get where he’s at, and to do what he’s doing, and trying to make sense of that. And hopefully by the end of that issue, the reader is saying “I see it… I see what Sinestro is trying to do. I may not agree with it or how he is doing it, but I get him. And I’m maybe kind of rooting for him?”
N: Well, I guess Geoff Johns over the past few years has set him up as kind of an almost anti-hero; He’s still a villain, but you understand why he does what he does now more than ever. He has become pretty sympathetic.
MK: Yeah, honestly he is. And I talked to him (Geoff Johns) about it, and I told him the exact same thing; that’s what I like about Sinestro, that he’s not trying to rob banks, or kill everyone, or rule the universe, he’s honestly trying to make the world a better place. Just in a really horrible way.
N: You said Solomon Grundy was the toughest to get into because he’s literally a monster; Care to elaborate further on why he’s so tough to get into for you?
MK: Well, of all the villain stories, that one is probably my favorite. But when I turned that script in I felt really bad, because I told the story of how Grundy became what he is. And he was a person before that, and the person who he was before was super, super sad. It might be the saddest story I’ve ever written. When I turned it in, I apologized to my editor and told him, “Man, I’m really sorry, this is the darkest thing I’ve ever written and I feel really bad about it.” And he was like, “No, don’t feel bad! We want more like this!” And I said, “I don’t know if I even can, this took a lot out of me.”
MK: It’s not much different, it’s slightly different notes that are different, but the tone is just more real. I wanted these characters to be more real. So I wanted things that are happening to be something that you really cared about. I wanted the reader to care about that guy before he becomes the monster that he is, and to see that he becomes a little more sympathetic, because he’s pretty much a killing machine by the end of it. But he didn’t start that way; no one starts out as a villain. Sure, things can happen to make you that. So, I kind of wanted to show all that stuff, and it just ended up being super sad.
N: So moving on to Deadshot, who also has a Forever Evil one-shot: What is it about Deadshot that attracted you to writing about this guy?
MK: Deadshot was another interesting one too, because I felt he was born from circumstance and all the things that happened to him when he was younger. And, again, I didn’t want to throw away or disregard the things that had happened before, because that is the stuff I grew up on, but I tried to stay faithful to the heart of that and what that all was, and then put a slight twist on it and give you a little more detail and flesh out his back story. Like, how does he turn into this lethal assassin, killing anyone for money? I’m just reverse-engineering these characters and figuring out what were the steps that got them to where they are. And also put some cool fights in there too.
N: Would you say you are more attracted to villains, or is it just the right circumstances because It’s villains’ month at DC?
MK: I don’t think I was ever into the villains in particular until they asked me to do some, and I’m trying to look back on my whole career here. I always liked villains, but I just wanted them to be equal to the hero, so I give them both a voice. I did a crime book recently where I had the same thing, where I had two characters, the detective, who’s the good guy obviously, and the criminal, but I had a conversation between them, and when I wrote that I wanted the reader to see the hero’s point of view and the villain’s point of view equally. I didn’t want to set up a straw man argument where you set up the villain to be dumb and the hero is just obviously right; I wanted it to be contentious, and I wanted the reader to see they both have points, and you might not agree or disagree with both of them, but I think that friction from you being able to see both points of view makes it interesting.
N: It’s kind of the same reasons so many people watch Dexter
MK: Yeah, exactly… he’s doing a good thing, but in a horrible way.
N: Now the Suicide Squad is classically a team made up of all villains; is that something you’d want to keep?
MK: Yeah, definitely that’s what’s interesting about it, seeing all these people who are castoffs and messed up in some way, and watching them sort of interact, that’s the fun of that to me. The whole aspect of going on crazy missions that they are forced to go on that no one else wants to go on. And things like Harley Quinn and Deadshot interacting… well, Harley interacting with anyone is interesting to me really.
N: All these characters may be bad, but they’re bad in totally different ways
MK: Yeah, so it’s fun because they’re all messed up in different ways, and coming from a different place and then coming together…how can these characters even work together? And that’s what’s been the fun part.
DC Comics’ Villains Month kicks off in September. For even more Matt Kindt, follow him on Twitter.