While Tamaki and Pugh get along, the same can't be said for the two characters - in the story - Wonder Woman and Maxwell Lord. Wonder Woman killed Lord in a previous timeline, and this current version of himself just had a gruesome vision informing him how it happened. With that in the back of his head, this team-up is a powder keg, with Maxwell, Wonder Woman, and readers who remember that iconic scene, waiting for it to explode.
With Wonder Woman #764 on sale now, Newsarama spoke with Pugh about joining Tamaki on her recently-launched Wonder Woman run, drawing the unique pair of Diana and Maxwell, and his bit of "masochist" fun in deciding to draw (and redesign) the Invisible Jet.
Newsarama: Steve, what made you want to jump onto the Wonder Woman title?
Steve Pugh: Seriously though, who wouldn't want to draw Wonder Woman?! And It's always the team, I know and love Mariko's work from our time on the Harley book , and I know and trust the editorial team from a previous Supergirl book I worked on.
When the opportunity came up to work with all of them it really wasn't any kind of decision at all, just a big yes!
Nrama: Now, tell us a bit about this arc.
Pugh: There's a big theme of not being trapped by the paths that seem laid out for you. Are you going to be the killer, the betrayer, the vengeful destroyer, or can you slip that fate, get a do-over?
Max Lord is working with Wonder Woman, they need each other to get what they want out of this mission. Who has Max's weapons technology, who are they going to use it on, can Diana stop them? And obviously, most importantly, can Max and Diana avoid destroying each other?
Nrama: Maxwell Lord learned some vital information about his potential life-threatening future with Wonder Woman. Is this something that you had in mind when doing the artwork for this issue?
Pugh: Yeah, the character interactions are the stuff I love about drawing, the body language, the unspoken glances, and grimaces. These two have, like, 2000 volts of history buzzing between them, it's crazy. And we start off with it really underplayed, with them thrown into almost a buddy cop situation. The two of them dancing around this huge unspoken thing, circling each other looking to see how much each other knows, how far they can trust the other one.
Nrama: Wonder Woman #764 is set in Miami - what are some elements you wanted to bring to the setting to embrace the aesthetic of the city?
Pugh: Yeah, my first issue starts with this really great mission in Miami set up. Diana taking Max along a for his specialist knowledge of weird weaponry.
I spent a lot of time working on the background characters for #764, making sure the people really had the right look to sell the setting, and each having their own individual reactions to passing by Diana and Max in the street. It's a bright sunny local so there's not a lot of shadows to hide stuff or go moody, so I just leaned into the oddness especially when our bad guys show up.
Nrama: Do we get to see any other Justice League members interact with Maxwell Lord in this arc?
Pugh: I do get to draw another big gun from the JLA in my run, but they never actually meet Max.
Mariko has kept the focus very tight on this strange history and relationship Max and Diana have. Can they work together with the terrible things they've done to each other? Can they ever trust each other even if they intend to?
Nrama: You had the chance to draw the Invisible Jet in Wonder Woman #765 - how did you want to make the design your own? What were some of the challenges of drawing something invisible?
Pugh: Ha! yeah, I did it the hard way - Romulo Fajardo jr is an amazing colorist, I could have just dropped in an outline and he'd have painted something beautiful, but like some kind of masochist I decided to brush it all in in white ink and texture. I guess because it was going to be rolling through some storm backgrounds and treescapes I wanted it to be as solid as an invisible jet can be.
It's a different design of jet than we usually (don't) see so that Max can move around the cockpit in a scene where it takes a bad hit.
Nrama: What did you have the most fun drawing in this arc?
Pugh: Zandia and its casinos were pretty wild, I probably drew a hundred or so super villains and of course there's a bar fight and Diana gets to let loose a bit.
Nrama: You worked together on Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass, what was your collaborative process like with Mariko on this project?
Pugh: Mariko just creates these terrific scripts and I just follow her lead really. It's super important to know what the writer wants from you, if you've got that ground beneath your feet then you're free to improvise knowing you're moving in the direction you need to be. And It's a bit of a dance really, all these artists and creators moving around each other telling the story without spoiling each others' moves.
Nrama: Following this arc would you like to return to the series?
Pugh: Definitely, who wouldn't want to draw Wonder Woman?!
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