under-red-hood-featured

A 15 Minute Work Break? I Call That the Winick.

I’ve found myself re-reading a lot of Judd Winick comics recently. Specifically, I’ve found myself re-reading them during my work breaks, when I’d otherwise be scrolling Twitter or Reddit.

So far, re-reading a Winick comic or two each day has been a much better use of my usual fifteen minute breaks. Winick’s stories are more entertaining and less frustrating than the Internet, while asking for about the same amount of time and brain space.

That last observation is not a knock at Winick. If anything, it is a compliment. I am a professional writer myself. When I need a break from tap-tap-tapping my keyboard, I tend to turn to something that is easy to engage and disengage with. My brain is often still churning in the background, working on whatever paragraph or phrase I just left hanging. Sometimes, I stumble upon the correct wording or organization in the middle of my break. In those cases, I often return to the page (at least briefly) to ensure I don’t forget the solution my subconscious devised.

So, it is nice to be able to pop in and out of a comic story that, while emotionally compelling, clever, and fun, could ultimately be described as “popcorn fare.” That is how I would describe the typical Winick comic. I read Winick’s books during work for the same reason I watch Fast and Furious movies on airplanes. If I have to pause the movie for a bit, or I’m distracted by something else, or I don’t quite catch a line of dialogue, it doesn’t really matter. Because something bonkers, gripping, and/or fun is going to happen soon, and that’s good enough.

The Winick Comics I’m Re-reading

I’m not sure how I settled on reading Winick comics during my work breaks. Part of me wants to say I picked up the Exiles trade sitting on my shelves (specifically the far end of my X-Men shelf, thus easily available), realized that was written by Winick, and then dove into his Batman and Justice League: Generation Lost runs from there.

However, I think I may have actually picked out an issue of his Batman run first, to take a look at some of the Jock covers? And then I began flipping through the actual issue, because it seemed a better use of my time than scrolling through whatever was happening on Twitter that day.

Whatever the impetus, I’ve found myself entertained enough to continue re-reading the pieces of Winick’s oeuvre that I own. As mentioned above, those pieces are:

  • Exiles (specifically A World Apart, this is a trade I got before “readily-available trades for every run” was a thing)
  • Winick’s initial Batman run (specifically the end of the Under the Red Hood arc, though I’ll likely double back to the beginning of this soon)
  • Justice League: Generation Lost (which apparently is not popular enough to remain in print, though I enjoyed it)

I own some other, smaller pieces of Winick’s work; I’ll probably end up re-reading those, too. Part of the reason these books currently fascinate me, I think, other than that they are perfect for re-reading during work, is that I have not had access to them for years. So unlike a lot of my other comics, I don’t remember exactly what’s going to happen (except in Under the Red Hood, where some of the action beats are so entertaining they’ll always be stuck in my head).

It is also fun to re-read the books from a more “seasoned” perspective. For example, in hindsight, some of Justice League: Generation Lost‘s issues are clearly a result of behind-the-scenes editorial necessity, which Winick actually handled relatively deftly. (Part of Generation Lost‘s endgame is that Max Lord wants to kill Wonder Woman, as revenge for having killed him. Which is all well and good, except Wonder Woman had been retconned to no longer have ever been Wonder Woman at the time. Winick somehow wrote around this in a way that mostly works.)

None of these books are perfect (Did Jason Todd and Talia really need to have sex? Did Ice really need to be retconned to have a tragic, stereotypical origin?). None of them would likely make a list of my Top 100 Favorite Comics. But they don’t have to. For my purposes, Judd Winick’s superhero comics are doing exactly what they need to do. Which is giving my brain an escape from work, into a world of snappy one-liners, explosions, and over-the-top emotional drama – for fifteen minutes at a time, roughly three times a day.

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