Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Gates And Robinson On Newsarama

I know I am way behind the times commenting on this Sterling Gates/James Robinson interview over on Newsarama but there was just too much interesting stuff in it to let slide by.
The two writers talk about War of the Supermen and the state of the super-titles in general. Here is the link:

It's a long and excellent interview and well worth reading in it's entirety. But I figured I would highlight the pieces I found most interesting.

Nrama: We first heard about the War of the Supermen event months ago, but only recently was it announced that this is now a 100-minute war. Where did that idea come from?
Gates: The way I heard the story was Dan DiDio and DC Comics Publicity Manager Alex Segura were talking, and Dan was telling Alex about the war. Alex said, "New Krypton versus Earth? That’s going to last, what, like 100 minutes?” And Dan said, "Oh, wow!" He called us up and said, "Hey guys. We're doing this thing in a few months. I know you guys have started talking about it and plotting, but what if we frame it around the idea of a 100-Minute War? A war fought so quickly that most of the heroes of the DC Universe have no time to react, so it's a pure Kryptonian-human skirmish." James and I thought it was a great idea, so here we are.

I love hearing the behind the scenes talk involved in the creative process. The truth is I wondered how humanity, how General Lane, would be able to be a significant part of this story. We already saw way back in the early days of New Krypton when the JLA/JSA contingent skirmished above Kandor, that this could be a super-power war.

What better way to keep the super-heroes out of the fray than to speed up the war, making it impossible for the heroes to mobilize. But to find out that the idea of the 100-minute war was born from an off-the-cuff comment by Alex Segura is fascinating. I guess it's like catching creative lightning in a bottle.

Nrama: We've seen that the Legion of Super-Heroes has a pretty significant role in the war's prelude. Why was it decided to give them a part to play in this war?
Gates: Our goal with using the Legion was twofold: First of all, James and I both have a love for the Legion, so we wanted to do this big Legion story before the war. Secondly, we wanted to cap off all the different Legion elements we've seen the last few years – since The Lightning Saga onward – and clear up everything in the present. That way, when Paul Levitz starts his run on the Legion [in Adventure Comics], he'll have a clean future, so to speak.

Robinson: As you've seen in Adventure Comics #8, Last Stand #1 and Supergirl #51, the Legion’s goal is to get the bottled cities out, because it's not only the right thing to do, but in the future, they have an importance to the Legion of Super-Heroes. We'll reveal why that is within the story. So it's important for their future in the 31st Century that they do what they have to do now in the present.

It's no big reveal that I am a Legion fan as well, so I am really happy to see them so involved in this storyline. I think it has been pretty obvious that the importance of the bottled cities is that they are the home worlds of many of the Legionnaires. If Rimbor's last city gets blown up in Last Stand then Ultra Boy won't exist in the 31st century.

I guess the bigger question is ... once the cities are rescued from Brainiac's ship, who goes around the universe recreating all these planets? Is that a GL Corps job? A R.E.B.E.L.S. job? Maybe the job of some surviving 'good' Kryptonians ... like Officer Nar from the Red Shard? Does that 'galaxy building' story ever get told?

Nrama: Sterling, what can you tell us about the meeting between Brainiac 5 and Supergirl? Gates: Legion and Supergirl fans both know that Brainiac 5 and Supergirl, historically, had a relationship. Time travel and love and relationships can be very, very tricky. This is sort of the first and the last time Brainiac 5 and Supergirl meet, depending on your point of view. Does that make sense?

Nrama: In a time travel way, yes.
Gates: Yeah. To steal a phrase from Doctor Who, it's “wibbly wobbly, timey-wimey”...uh, “stuff.” [laughs] It'll make sense within context of the story. But again, fans of Supergirl and fans of the Legion know that there’s classically a relationship between them. I play with that in Supergirl #52 in a really big way.

I think most of us are really clamoring to see this reunion (of a sorts). I love time travel paradoxes. So that this is the first and last time they meet (first time this Supergirl meets Brainiac; first time Brainiac meets this Supergirl, but the last time he sees "a" Supergirl I guess).

It reminds me of a line in Grant Morrison's run on JLA when Kyle Raynor met Hourman III. The android says something like 'This is the first time you are meeting me but not the first time I have met you.' That sort of stuff is comic book gold.

Nrama: James, how is Brainiac's attack affecting the relationship between Superman and Zod?
Robinson: The actions of Zod at the very beginning of Last Stand #1 is what brought Superman back to being Superman. He's back to wearing the costume and being Superman. He sees that Zod is an irredeemable person and realizes he's made a mistake trying to change things and change Zod. So there’s some very tense stuff between them in the course of this series, obviously playing into the fact that they'll be on opposite sides of the 100-minute war.

Gates: The relationship between Superman and Zod is really, I think, a tragedy. They’re two men who, under other circumstances in some other place, could understand each other and be friends. But here, now, on New Krypton, knowing what Superman knows about Zod and vice versa, these men are at odds. Superman has a code that he lives by, and it’s in conflict with Zod’s way of thinking, so they can’t be friends. They could’ve been. But they never will be.

The Zod/Superman relationship was one of the interesting parts of World of New Krypton. It was clear that they were both willing to try to give the other space, try to see the world from the other's perspective, try to accept living on the same planet ... but always knowing they simply had diametrically opposed viewpoints on life in general.

I agree they could have been friends. You can imagine them working together well as a team as a Captain and First Officer, keeping the other in check and offering different perspectives. But that simply can't happen here and now.

Nrama: How important is the "war" for these Superman supporting characters that you guys have been exploring for several months? Is it an ending for some?

Robinson: Literally, everything is going to be turned on its head by the end of the war.

Gates: Yeah, there's a phrase, "life-changing events."
Both Last Stand and War of the Supermen are life-changing events, one right after another for Superman, Supergirl, Superboy, the people of New Krypton, even Lois. You'll see a lot of characters change before your eyes as events shake out. It's going to be a hard war. War is not easy and war is not pretty. To quote a phrase that Ian Sattler came up with on the panel last weekend at Emerald City Comicon, “Super-War is Super-Hell.” I don't want anyone to think we're pulling punches because this is a Superman book. It's going to be tough on Superman and Supergirl and Superboy. It will also be hard for Nightwing and Flamebird, particularly Flamebird.

I guess things will be 'life changing' after this but I hope that whatever those changes are that they last. I don't want this near 2 year story to be simply swept under the rug and forgotten 6 months from now. I want their to be some impact to this resolution.

And hard on Flamebird huh? I guess my prediction that Chris is going to die (as Nightwing) to 'recreate' the Phantom Zone might actually might be right. Of course, my predictions never come to pass. I thought Superwoman was a Kara clone of some sort.

Nrama: I'm sure Supergirl fans will be happy to hear that. But Sterling, even when New Krypton first appeared, did you guys always know that it was going to culminate with this big showdown, and have you been planting seeds for the War of the Supermen all along?

Gates: Absolutely. If you go back and look at the original document James and Geoff [Johns] put together, this war was always the end game. And as for seeds, I've been planting seeds in Supergirl all along. Things that you don't even think are seeds are going to play out in a huge way in the war. Same with James’ Superman run, same with Greg Rucka’s Action Comics run. There’s even stuff in Geoff’s Superman: Secret Origin book that’ll play a part in this war. The Superman books have been building towards this sequence of events for the last two years.

As someone who has been critical about dead end plot threads that have been seen in the Superman books, I am very happy that there is a big picture with 'seeds' out in the books that will be revealed in this big story. So the fact that all the Superman titles are named here as having these plots play out in War of the Supermen is reassuring.

But what seeds could have been planted in Supergirl that we haven't picked up on here? Call me curious.

Nrama: I think the fear fans have about what comes next is that everything from your run is going to disappear once JMS comes on board. Do you know if there are still going to be pieces of this story left after War of the Supermen? Obviously some of these villains you've ramped up will still be around, not the least of which is Brainiac.
Robinson: I honestly have no idea what's going to happen after I leave. That's the next writer's thing. But I do know from talking with Sterling, that his book is going to kick ass.

Gates: [laughs]

Robinson: No, I really am impressed with what he's done on this book and what he's told me is coming. He has some amazing ideas. I think, as good as Supergirl has been, it will be even better after the war.

Gates: Well, thank you. Yes, I plan on keeping some characters from the last two years in my book, definitely. And you're definitely going to see fall-out from the war reflected within the pages of Supergirl.

Robinson: She'll also be the "S," the "super" member of the Justice League.

This is the second time that Robinson has come out in an interview and declared Supergirl as 'kick ass'. Will such promotion by Robinson bring in some new readers? Can we be that lucky?

I have to admit, I wasn't planning on getting Robinson's Justice League run, but with Kara in there I guess I am on board.

Nrama: She's come a long way. As long as we're talking about other characters from the DCU, can we finish by giving fans a few battles we'll see in War of the Supermen? Who's going to be fighting whom?
Gates: Superman vs. Zod, Supergirl vs. Superwoman, Alura vs. Reactron, Steel vs. Atlas, Codename Assassin vs. The Guardian, General Lane vs. Lois, Krypto vs. 100 Kryptonians.
Luthor vs. somebody really cool. Superboy vs. Non. Flamebird vs. science. Nightwing vs. someone else really cool that isn't Lex Luthor...
Robinson: You know what you could say? In a roundabout way, you'll see Flamebird vs. Luthor.
Gates: Yeah. There you go. Who else?
Robinson: Superman vs. Supergirl.
Gates: Right! Superman vs. Supergirl! I told you, this war's crazy!

Okay ... now this sounds like it is going to be fun. How can all these fights be stuffed into 4 issues?

But they all sound great.

Supergirl vs. Superwoman!

Alura vs. Reactron!! I hope both survive.

Steel vs. Atlas shouldn't be a fight. Atlas should mop the floor with him.

Codename:Assassin vs the Guardian. I wouldn't cry if neither make it out alive.

Luthor vs Someone Really Cool? Wouldn't it be cool if it was J'onn?

Lastly, I hope the Superman/Supergirl fight isn't really a fight.

Anyways, this interview certainly got me thinking more about the War of the Supermen mini-series, and more jazzed to actually read the books.


Bubbly Bunny said...

Wow this sounds amazing. Supergirl vs. Superwoman, i hope Kara wipes the floor with Lucy. Why do i get a feeling Alura isn't going to survive fighting Reactron. Or vice versa one of them is gonna die. Krypto vs. 100 kryptonians?! haha they don't stand a chance. Sigh if we only had streaky. Wait by first time last time Brainiac meeting did they mean that they will never see each other again? I was a little confused by that. Truth be told the characterization on the current JLA has been a little off but i am willing to give it a chance because it seems that Robinson is gonna characterize Supergirl well. I think your guess on Chris dying to recreate the Phantom Zone might be right besides you were right about Lana's mystery illness. Wow who knew a war that lasts for only 100 minutes could turn out to be so huge.

Anonymous said...

"But what seeds could have been planted in Supergirl that we haven't picked up on here? Call me curious."


Gene said...

I hope Alura survives and retires to some distant planet so Kara can visit from time to time. Losing both parents without a chance to truly reconnect with them would be a serious blow to Kara.

Anj said...

"But what seeds could have been planted in Supergirl that we haven't picked up on here? Call me curious."


Thanks for the vague response! :-)

Do you remember if anyone here picked up on something you 'planted'?

TalOs said...

After having had recently read a certain Batman family title's latest issue out has me now believing in turn that Thara is definitely going to be a casualty in the war.

Anj said...

After having had recently read a certain Batman family title's latest issue out has me now believing in turn that Thara is definitely going to be a casualty in the war.

The reappearance of *that* Flamebird does make me worry about Thara.

Mart said...

Hey, if Kara's going to be fighting for Krypton, however briefly, it's the perfect excuse to get that old citizenship headband out of the interdimensional closet!