I have tried to remain optimistic in the face of the changes of the DCnU. In particular, I have really tried to remain optimistic when reading about the new Supergirl comic. There certainly have been some buzzwords in the early news that have made me concerned - no affection for humans, don't piss her off - but I have tried to roll with it.
Well, that optimism is harder to come by after reading a Newsarama interview with Supergirl co-writers Michael Green and Mike Johnson. Here is the link:
As always, it is well worth reading the entire thing. These are the folks guiding the ship. So it is important to read this thing to get a sense of their understanding of the character. I don't know if it is the way I think of Supergirl. But so much of what they say sounds similar to what was happening in the current Supergirl book, issues #1-19. I am sure that will please some people out there. But that was a tough book to like with a very unlikeable hero. I don't want to go back to that ... but I think I am. Now I promise I will come back to the topic of optimism in the end of this post. But here are some blurbs that really stuck out to me.
Nrama: So with Supergirl #1, you could pick this comic up and know nothing about the character at all, right?
Green: We're approaching this as if we're inventing a new character. Obviously, she'll have similarities to the character people already know, but she'll have some new things as well.
We're really focusing on her specific journey on our crazy planet, and letting it just be about that. She'll interact with other people in the DC Universe who are experiencing interesting things in the relaunch, other characters you'll recognize. But this is going to be Supergirl's book.
So, that sounds innocuous at first. But then I was wondering if these 'interactions with other people' means guest-stars ad nauseum like we saw early in the current volume of Supergirl. I thought part of the plan of DCnU was limited early crossovers so the characters could get their own feet under them. And let me guess, since (as Newsarama describes her) "she feels like an alien, has just lost her parents, and will be isolated on this world" and "she doesn't even know if she likes humans well enough to want to help them" my guess is she will be fighting a lot of other heroes (as seen already in the solicit for Supergirl #2).
Nrama: How would you describe this Supergirl? Can you tell us about her as a person?
Johnson: She's a Kryptonian teenager who has had her entire world taken away. All her friends and family are gone, and she's suddenly on this planet called Earth, with backwards technology and people who don't behave as well as the people on her home planet.
It's like taking a teenage girl from today, who's locked into modern technology and social media and everything, and throwing her back into the Middle Ages.
And in Supergirl's case, she also suddenly has the power to rule the place. All of that would mess with anyone's head. It would mess with an adult's head, let alone a teenage girl who's finding her way in the world.
Also, she's an alien. Kryptonians are aliens. And I think that gets lost. In the past, they've been heroes and they look like us, or at least really good looking versions of us. But she notices the differences when she arrives. And that informs the way she reacts.
Well, that's fine to say. I would say that every person who has written the current book - from Loeb to Gates - explored the fact that she felt a bit alone on this world. Gates explored it a lot, from how isolated she felt at the beginning of his run to how devastated she was by loss in the BizarroGirl arc. But the best stories of Supergirl (since her first appearance in Action #252) show how she is at heart a good person, someone trying to do what's right, making mistakes and learning, on a journey. If you take away that core of goodness and hope, the character becomes aloof, bitter, angry, superior ... characteristics that don't jibe well with being a hero. I don't get that sense of hope and goodness anywhere here.
Green: There's also a bit of a mystery as to how she got here. Superman was supposed to be the last one from Krypton, and now she's here, and there has to be a story behind that.
But also, how does she feel about Earth? How does she find her place on Earth? What is her place on Earth? Especially when you are automatically associated with someone so world famous. How does she become her own person in Superman's shadow?
Johnson: There's also the idea that she's learning her powers in a way that Superman didn't because he grew up here. She is much more used to the Kryptonian world, since that's where she grew up. That extends to even speaking the language and understanding the way things work.
Green: She has quite a bit of struggle once she gets to this planet. Nothing here compares to the life she thought she wanted for herself, and now she has to find a new place for herself, one that really ends up being her destiny.
A mystery on how she got here? Again? Let me guess ... maybe Darkseid is involved. Maybe she isn't really Kara Zor-El. Maybe she is a villain's plot.
And I also wonder how deep this 'alien' feel is going to run. Is she going to misinterpret idioms? Look at a fork and wonder if it is a dinglehopper? If that happens, it'll get boring pretty quick.
Nrama: It sounds like this starts off at the very beginning of her journey toward being a hero, instead of being about an established hero named Supergirl.
Green: The first set of stories will be her getting to that place. She doesn't just land on our planet and immediately turn into a superhero. It's a learning process. It's right there in the name: Supergirl. She's not an adult yet. She has a ways to go.
Mike had a great line when we were first talking about this: "All teenagers are aliens in some way or another." We're just really heightening that metaphor.
So that's fine. I think part of the appeal of Supergirl is that she is becoming a hero. That she is still a girl, learning how to be a hero but striving to be a hero.
I worry about the 'all teenagers are aliens' theme. Not every teenager is crushed by angst all the time. Some are mature and responsible. Some are happy. Again, I keep going back to the BizarroGirl arc by Gates and Igle/Chang as such a wonderful story showcasing how you can be dealing with personal issues, feel alone and unloved, out of place, and still try to be a hero. I hope Green and Johnson remember that.
Nrama: Is she under pressure to be like Superman?
Green: Everyone just assumes she is like Superman, because she's from the same planet and has the same type of powers. They think she should ostensibly be like he is. But she's a different person, with a different personality. Like any teenager, she would struggle with anyone's assumptions about her, whether they assume she's good or evil or helpful or indifferent.
Johnson: That extends to her powers. Obviously her basic power set is the same as Superman's, but we also want to play with the idea that the yellow sun affects Kryptonian females differently from males. And in some ways, she may be more powerful than Superman. She has different abilities that she's trying to cope with.
Nice way to let us know that others will think that she is evil and indifferent. Will she do something to change people's opinion of her? Or will she stew in her own juices becoming resentful? And which book would you rather read. Wasn't the whole point of Gates/Igle run that people had come to dislike the Supergirl character for all that resentment, that she needed to be rehabilitated?
And different physiology for Kryptonian males and females? I guess we'll have to wait and see. If it is crystal powers, I will be upset.
Nrama: Just to clear something up, though, Michael mentioned the word "evil." Kara is still one of the good guys, right?
Green: She's obviously on a journey toward becoming Supergirl and everything that name implies. But when we meet her, she doesn't know what she is. She was just a Kryptonian girl, and she's thrust onto our planet and has to figure out what she's going to be. She didn't know anyone was going to ever ask her that question, so she has to ask that question of herself: What kind of person am I going to be now that I have these new strange abilities that make me special and different?
And this is the question that stuck out the most. And stuck out in a bad way. Even Newsarama picked up on the 'evil' word from the last question and ask Green outright about it. And his response is what I call a 'non-answer'. He could have said 'of course she's a good guy'. Instead we get this obfuscation. Guess what that means? It means she is going to be portrayed for some time as being 'maybe' evil. Sounds just like the Loeb and Kelly runs all over again.
Nrama: When you mention big action, will this book have villains and such for this new Supergirl character to fight?
Green: They will also be threats that challenge the type of person she wants to be. What makes a great rogues gallery is that they're not just physically as powerful as you, but they present some type of psychological question about what kind of person you want to be. So we want people who are up to his level.
Johnson: We'll also be bringing back a character who used to be on both sides of the hero/villain equation and hasn't been seen for awhile. This person was associated with the Justice League. But when we started talking about the character, it seemed like this character would be a great foil for Supergirl.
I have heard Maxima mentioned in places as the foil character and that would make sense with the implied direction here. Their description of Supergirl sounds like the 90s Maxima. Maybe Supergirl will realize she doesn't want to be Maxima.
Nrama: Then to finish up, is there anything else you want to tell fans to kind of summarize what they should expect from this new Kara in Supergirl?
Green: It's the Kara you know, except we're telling the story of her arrival and how she got started on her journey toward becoming a hero. We think that's the most important part. This whole relaunch is about new beginnings.
At least we have this as the wrap-up answer. All along I have talked about how the undercurrent of Supergirl is her journey towards becoming a hero. And here Green says the words. So maybe the bottom line is Green and Johnson know that she is a hero. The question is when does she turn the corner? What if 18 issues in she is still bitter, resentful, and 'maybe evil'. I don't want that.
And so I end with optimism. It has always been tough to be a fan of Supergirl. I have lived through Supergirl being dead, being Matrix, being a pawn of everyone and Luthor's sex kitten. And out of that came PAD's Supergirl, a run I love. I have lived through her coming back and being angsty, provocative, angry, crystal powered, irrational, and trying to kill Superman. And out of that came Gates' run, a run I love.
So I have to give this a shot. And I have to go in with an open mind. I hope I am not let down.