Saturday, October 1, 2011

Interview With Michael Green And Mike Johnson On IGN.Com

A hat tip to blog friend Valerie who pointed me to a Mike Johnson and Michael Green interview over on IGN. I know it is from last week so this may be covering old news. Here is the link to the whole interview: It is well worth reading in its entirety. 

I thought Supergirl #1 was a very good opening chapter. And while this interview is a bit vague as the writers try not to tip their hat about future stories, I got some optimism from the answers here. There isn't an overt 'Hell on Wheels' flavor to their responses. Whil Green and Johnson play up how Supergirl is new to Earth and might have a hard time adapting, they don't imply a lot of negativity to the character and if there is any it sounds like it might not be ongoing.

Here are the questions that got my attention and the usual commentary afterwards.

IGN Comics: Over the last few years, Supergirl had grown a lot in terms of her supporting cast and secret identity, something she hasn't enjoyed much in the modern era. What opportunities do the blank slate of the new DC Universe allow for? Will an Earth identity be something she strives for?

Michael Green and Mike Johnson: We are definitely embracing the blank slate presented by the New 52, and that extends to Supergirl's supporting cast and secret identity. Our first story arc focuses on Kara coming to grips with what happened to Krypton, and the mystery of how and why she arrived on Earth. We are saving her supporting cast for subsequent stories as she adjusts to her new status quo, and the same is true of a secret identity for her. She doesn't speak the language, she doesn't understand the customs… could she even pull off a secret identity successfully? Hmmm….

As someone who thought the earliest issues of the prior Supergirl book suffered from the lack of a secret identity and supporting cast … as someone who thought that one of the strengths of the Sterling Gates’ run was the creation of Linda Lang and the inclusion of a supporting cast … I am glad to hear that Green and Johnson are thinking about both those things. Having a secret identity shows some affection for humanity but I can’t 100% tell if she is going to have one. Or is she going to have one and it will implode like 'Claire Kent'.

So it sounds like we need to get through the ‘mystery’ of her origin, this first arc, to get there and that’s fine.

IGN: Does her introduction to the new DCU come at a time when the Justice League is formed and superheroes are commonplace, or before the public has fully accepted them? Could her appearance sway public opinion one way or the other?

Green and Johnson: We can't say anything about the Justice League yet, but we will say that the idea of a teenage girl who can juggle airplanes and chew steel does not make the majority of humanity feel warm and cuddly.

I guess the question is does humanity feel warm and cuddly about teenage boys who can do the same thing?

I really hope the whole ‘humanity distrusts her’ thing goes away pretty quickly. We read enough of that before in the old Supergirl book. Part of the ‘rehabilitation’ of her character over the last 3 years of that volume was making her likeable and a hero … not only to the readers but to the rest of the DCU. I mean, she was in the JLA!

IGN: The solicitation for issue #1 mentions that Kara lacks affection for the people of Earth. Having not grown up on this world, how does her viewpoint differ from Superman's? Is Earth a new home or a primitive land to be conquered?

Green and Johnson: Great question: if you have the power to rule the world, and you think you know better than that world's natives do… what do you do? That will play out as Kara comes to grips with her new environment. If you had the power, would you be satisfied with just rescuing people from burning buildings? Or would your own opinions begin to affect who/where/how you use that power? These are the questions Kara faces, and the questions that will drive her experiences on Earth.

IGN: We know that Superman's alien side is being explored in Action Comics and Superman, but at least he was still raised by the Kents. Without any sort of human upbringing, how prominent is Kara's alien origins in comparison with her cousin's?

Green and Johnson: We are embracing the fact that Supergirl is an alien. Maybe not as obviously as the one that Ripley blew out the airlock, but alien nonetheless. She doesn't understand human beings: how they talk, what they eat, their priorities, how they treat each other. Superman does. It's going to take time for Kara to speak English (or Italian, or Chinese, or…), time to learn how to control heat vision, time to understand why a world that can be so advanced can also be so backward.

Again, it sounds like both Green and Johnson seem to insinuate an end point to this ‘awkward’ phase of Kara on Earth. And that’s good.

But I have to go back to the essence of the Supergirl character which is always one of hope and compassion, always one where she wants to help people. Not conquer them. I don’t want Supergirl to be written as someone trying to impose her will on the people of Earth … at least not for a prolonged period of time.

And from a sales point of view, I don’t know if writing a book where the lead is always in conflict with humanity and other heroes has any lasting power. I know I wouldn’t want to read that book long term.

IGN: Can we expect (please say yes) an appearance of Streaky at some point?

Green and Johnson: The entire point of the series is to reintroduce Streaky as the most powerful, most important, most loveable Super-Pet in the DC universe. The previous statement may or may not be true. In different ways. Maybe.

A Streaky reference! That’ll always make me happy from a nostalgia perspective. And it shows some working knowledge of Supergirl's history.

IGN: What does Supergirl offer that readers might not be able to find in the other Super-titles?

Green and Johnson: First-person experience. We are in her head. Kara is in the same position as all of the readers of the New 52. What is this place? Who are these people? She's learning about this new world at the same time we are, from the first moment she appears in the book. And she is the most Kryptonian character in the DCU. In her mind, she was just there. It's where she's from, who she is, what she loves. Krypton lives on through her.

Remember that I liked the first issue. And I think a ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’ theme can be an interesting one to explore. But if she loves Krypton, you think that at some point she’d want to embrace Superman as family, as another vestige of her home world.

But the most important thing is going to be having a Supergirl that is likeable, that ends up a hero, that is someone the readers can relate to. I have to say that my gut tells me that Green and Johnson are going to get her there.

I am optimistic.


Dave Mullen said...

It strikes me that There seem to be strong shades of Marvels 'X-23' here.

There's stories to be gotten out of this antagonistic & alienated approach to a character but is Supergirl really the place to do it?
It would be fine with Miss Martian for example but I do wonder if the idea of the public being suspicious and fearful of superheroes is a tenable thing for the DCU, the bedrock of their characters is that they have the ability to inspire and instill confidence to those around them, Superman being the figurehead for this philosophy. If their heroes are now not able to inspire or bring awe to the public does that not say something about these heroes lack of character..? What's changed?

Anonymous said...

The fact that Supergirl was raised in Krypton and Superman by the Kents, is, and has always been one of the most important differences between the two..

Anonymous said...

I dunno, color me unimpressed, but I'm sticking with the book for now.


Martin Gray said...

I think there are reasons to be cheerful. I could take a year or so of stranger in a strange land, after that, I'll need me some Streaky.