Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sterling Gates On CBR

There is a great interview with Sterling Gates on Comic Book Resources where he discusses World's Finest and Supergirl at length. It's a pretty in-depth interview well worth reading in its entirety. Gates does a good job talking not only about the stories in the books but also his approach to the characters.

Here is the link:

Of course, I recommend reading the whole interview. There are some great questions about Superman teaming with Dick Grayson as Batman. I pulled some of the pieces that interested me the most and posted them here with my usual commentary.

First Gates talks about World's Finest.

CBR: Are there any moments form the mini-series in particular that stand out as your favorites?

SG: Yes. I can't tell you what it is for fear of spoiling the back half of the series - sorry! Ask me again after the series is out. But it involves dinosaurs. Lots of dinosaurs. And Kryptonite.

And that's all I'm going to say.

Oh, and I loved the way Jamal Igle drew the last page of issue three. I'm a sucker for having a great last page to close an issue out, something that gets people excited to come back for the next issue. I think cliffhangers are one of the more rewarding aspects of reading monthly comic books, and I always endeavor to make sure each issue ends with a cool or different hook that - hopefully - encourages or entices readers to come back for the next one.

We have already seen the little preview of Igle's work on this issue. I can't wait to see the two of them in action. I wonder if that preview image is the cliffhanger page of the two heroes leaping into action.

CBR: Obviously, one of the most exciting things about the series for fans is that some of the newer members of the Bat-family are teaming up with some of the newer Superman characters - Red Robin and Nightwing, Damien and The Guardian - but you've mentioned in other interviews that you're a big fan of Stephanie Brown. How cool is it to have her team up with Supergirl?

SG: Oh, it's a total blast. Stephanie and Kara are really similar - both young women who are trying to live up to a mantle, both very misunderstood by the people in their respective crime-fighting families - so it was a lot of fun to introduce their relationship and see them notice one another and become friends. I'm really proud of that issue, and I hope we'll get to see their relationship continue to blossom.

If anything, a Batgirl-Supergirl crossover would rock!

I think fans of both characters agree that they would be fast friends. So I'm glad to see that Gates agrees. Just as the Supergirl/Robin friendship seemed so natural in Superman/Batman #62, I feel that the same easy friendship should occur between Supergirl and Batgirl.

I hope that we get to see their friendship grow outside of this one issue. I would not be against either a miniseries or annual crossover between the two should they both continue to have a title of their own.

But for me, the real meat of the story was a long section discussing the apparent death of Lana Lang. I for one always thought that Lana's death was just some aggressive marketing. I could not believe that her character would be built up in importance in this title only to die shortly thereafter. I especially thought she was safe given that the Kara/Lana relationship was never really able to be shown in the title given the crossover heavy New Krypton storyline which dominated Supergirl this year.

But apparently,I was wrong.

CBR: Speaking of Supergirl, there's a fair amount of new developments going on in her book right now. While Batman and Superman are teaming up in "World's Finest," DC's solicitations seem to hint that Lana Lang may be deceased - and her collapse in Issue #42 doesn't give fans much hope. Is she really dying in this issue?

SG: Yes. Next question! [Laughs]

CBR: Fair enough...but you've worked so hard to re-integrate Lana back into Super-continuity. Why build up this character to the point where she's so vital in Supergirl's life and then schedule her for an untimely end?

SG: Death pushes on a character's emotional boundaries, especially when someone close to a character dies. We've seen Kara go through the grieving process dealing with the death of her father, Zor-El, so I wanted to approach the Lana sequence a little differently.

As we get closer to that issue, Kara's going to start trying to figure out what's wrong with Lana. She's been told by Flamebird that something's "corrupt" in Lana. So now it's sort of a race against time as Kara tries to figure out just what that means.

So we've tried to figure out exactly what's wrong with Lana on this blog. We still don't know exactly what is ailing her. But it has to be something more than just a cancer.

I do think that if Lana truly dies that the upcoming year should be an incredibly difficult one for Supergirl. You can't lose your father and your mentor and not have it affect you. This is especially true for Kara given the strained relationship she has with her mother. And I don't know if she has many close friends outside of Clark that she could lean on.

I still hope that Lana's death is more of a "death" of some sort which she subsequently survives.

CBR: Judging by issue 49's solicit, though, it looks a lot like Kara won't be able to save the day. How difficult was it to write about the death of a character so rich in history in the Superman universe, especially one you've had such a hand in bringing back to the forefront?

SG: Lana Lang's fate is decided in "Supergirl" #49

You know, I don't feel like I can talk too much about it. I want people to go into the issue without preconceived notions. It was difficult to write, yes, and due to the circumstances, I knew exactly how Supergirl would handle it.

Now, how Supergirl handles the secrets that come spilling out after, that's a different story...

See how Gates says that her "fate is decided." He doesn't come right out and say that she dies. Maybe I'm grasping at straws.

But he also talks about secrets that come out afterwards. Again this makes me think that this isn't just a medical condition and that there is something more going on here.

Does anyone have any new thoughts?

CBR: What's the biggest challenge when it comes to writing the death of a character you've invested so much time in?

SG: I'd had the scene in my head for the better part of a year, so it just sort of came out. I just knew that it had to be different than Zor-El's passing. That was my goal with it. Which, again, isn't to say that it was easy to write.

CBR: What did you most enjoy about writing this issue?

SG: I love the opening scene of Supergirl #49. It starts very simple, very slice-of-life, then quickly turns into something terrible. Horrific. Matt Camp's drawing that issue, and he really nailed the bleakness of Metropolis in wintertime, something that sets the tone for the rest of the story. It's a bleak one, man.

Oh, and the last page of the issue. As terrible and as heart-wrenching as it was - it reminded me of gut-punching myself over and over again - I loved writing that last page.

I am greatly looking forward to this issue.

Unlike Zor-El's death which was sudden and unexpected, Lana's death has been hinted at for some time. Car has been aware that something is wrong with her for a little bit of time. I don't know if it is enough to make Supergirl prepare herself more for a loss but it is different than the death of her father. It is a different type of grieving.

My guess is that the opening scene of Supergirl#49 is when Lana's condition rapidly deteriorates. I can imagine Lana and Kara sitting in their apartment eating breakfast when Lana suddenly collapses. Given her penchant for nosebleeds, I wonder if she begins coughing up blood as well. That sort of arrest, especially if accompanied with horrific symptoms, is absolutely frightening ... moreso in a nonmedical environment.

I still can't believe that Lana is killed off here. I know that death is often transient in comic books but I don't want Lana to actually die. I don't want her to be gone and then miraculously come back. I just hope she is saved somehow. One of the things that I was very much looking forward to when Sterling Gates took over the title was this relationship between Lana and Kara. It would be a shame if it was never able to be explored as much as it should have.

I guess we will just have to wait.


Anonymous said...

I wondering if this means that Kara's "Linda Lang" persona will be written out of the storyline. This would occur either voluntarily since Lana isn't there to buttress the fiction or thru exposure...Cat Grant puts two and two together.
If so, then it's a pity, what little I saw of Linda Lang I liked.

John Feer

TalOs said...

Hmm having Jonathan Kent, Zor-El, Lucy Lane (who apparently seems to be back as of late), Jimmy Olsen and now officially Lana Lang all having to "kick the bucket" just feels utterly wrong in every fiber of my body to me and feels like cheap gimmicks by DC only to insure their New Krypton mega event sells proper. Yet what are DC to do Post-New Krypton mega event era time line wise when they may want to use these characters once again but can't now without having to go in to some really convulted way to bring 'em all back from the dead and yet still insure the audience can believe the reasons given for their return to the land of the living? What then? :/

The interview was insightful and exciting come Gates talking about the Worlds Finest issue where Supergirl teams up with Batgirl yet at the very same time managed to really sadden me rather then have me be equally excited for both #49 as well as the milestone double sized issue #50 come Supergirl's own main title happenings too.

If DC just have to kill of Lana proper then I truly hope that her legacy in the Superman family mythos is continuously felt through her adopted "niece" Linda Lang who Kara more then willingly chooses to continue to be when operating on Earth when not being Supergirl as a way to honor her friend's memory and to pay respect for Lana just being there when Kara felt she had no one else to turn to where Lana was more then happy to be that particular person Kara could confide in to the point of even graciously allowing Kara to adopt her Lang family tree's sir name as that of her own.

Gene said...

I am counting down the days until World's Finest #3 comes out. Gates' enthusiasm in this CBR interview tells me that it will be worth the wait. I haven't read it yet and already I want to see a sequel.

As for Supergirl #49, what if Lana is not actually dying, or not in the conventional way we assume? When Thara said that Lana was corrupted, perhaps that was not a misunderstanding, and that something is slowly taking over Lana's body? I hate to see Lana transform into the newest member of Kara's rogues gallery, but it would allow Supergirl to use compassion rather than force to stop what has taken over Lana. Perhaps the villian that will be revealed in #50 holds the key in Kara's quest to restore Lana Lane to normal.

Nikki said...

I'm shocked they didn't discuss Batman's death in Supergirl. Losing your father and surrogate father in quick sucession would be rough and now lana.

Mart said...

Well, Talos, I hold to my theory that Jimmy was super speedily pushed aside by Mon and is in hiding from Colon: Assassin . . . which means there's room for another ginger to die.

I'm hoping it's a feint. Let Lana go live on Krypton where super science can help her, putting her on the wrong side of the battleines during the upcoming war. Stick her brain into a Lana robot (you just know creepy old Kal has one) and her body in the fridge (oops!). Dial up a Silver Age Switcheroo and toss her into the Survival Zone . . . just don't kill her, Gatesy!

Nikki, do you really see Batman as Lana's surrogate father? That would pretty much target her for death. I'm happy to forget all that Jeph Loeb nonsense.

Anj said...

Well, Talos, I hold to my theory that Jimmy was super speedily pushed aside by Mon and is in hiding from Colon: Assassin . . . which means there's room for another ginger to die.

Yeah. Jimmy can't be dead.

Nikki, do you really see Batman as Lana's surrogate father? That would pretty much target her for death. I'm happy to forget all that Jeph Loeb nonsense.

I think she meant that Batman was Kara's surrogate father. It has been a tough year for Kara.

Mart said...

Sorry, I meant to write 'Kara'!