Friday, November 18, 2011

Newsarama Interview With Mike Johnson And Michael Green

People who visit this blog have heard my back and forth optimism/pessimism about the DCnU Supergirl.

The book's initial description described an isolated alien with no affection for humanity. Someone people of Earth better not piss off. A DC Source column described Supergirl as 'hell on wheels', someone who will fight with her friends more than her enemy. She was going to regard Earth as a place from the Dark Ages, a place she might want to rule over.

And that simply doesn't describe  the concept of 'Supergirl'.

But the pessimism of that stuff was lessened by the books themselves where there have been a couple of moments which showed a restraint in Supergirl, something more than anger and bitterness. Due to the decompressed nature of the first two issues, there hasn't been much of it ... but enough of a glimmer to make me more optimistic. The third issue, reviewed here tomorrow, let more of who this Supergirl is shine through.

All of that is a long-winded way of saying that my optimism has been buoyed again by a very good interview of writers Michael Green and Mike Johnson over on Newsarama. Here is the link:

I highly recommend reading the whole thing as it touches on a lot of what is coming up in the book. But it also softens that harsh image of the isolated Supergirl from those publicity pieces. It even makes me think the book is being misrepresented in that material. Trust me ... I'm happy it apparently isn't on the money.

Here are the parts of the interview that caught my attention the most with my thoughts as well.

Newsarama: Let's talk about Supergirl as a character. We've not met her. I think a lot of people had the perception that she was going to be this unfeeling alien, but there's obviously a lot of compassion in this girl, as we saw her love for her family and her concern for the people she thought were hurt in the Great Wall of China. Now that we've seen a bit of that and you're getting further into the series, who is Supergirl? How would you describe her?

Michael Green: We really just wanted her to be a real girl — somebody with relatable feelings, plausible feelings, and plausible reactions to an incredibly set of circumstances.What would you do if you were a 16-year-old girl who expected to have the SAT's tomorrow, but instead woke up on an alien planet and had the powers of a god.

Mike Johnson: And when we've said in the past that we want her to be alien, that's really going to come across more as the series progresses and we see how she interacts with Earth. We've jumped in very quickly with her hectic arrival, but fundamentally, between Kryptonians and Earthlings, there is a common morality and common ethic. So yes, she is an alien, yet she's a very relatable girl.

Green: The next part of the alien experience is, once she's made the commitment that this is her new home and she's stuck here (which you'll see in upcoming issues), she has to figure out what her relationship to these people is going to be. Will she be a loner? Will she have friends? Will she trust people? Will she let that guy in the blue suit be her family? Those aren't just assumptions. She's got to figure that out, because right now, she doesn't know how to feel about anyone.

As I said during the reviews of the first two issues, there were moments … like the great wall … where I felt optimistic about the characterization of Supergirl. In that scene we saw that she believes in the sanctity of life. We have seen that anger isn’t her only emotion. So to hear Green and Johnson talk about making Kara relatable, about her common ethic, makes sense.

But it seems so contrary to the ‘don’t piss her off’ ‘no affection for humanity’ publicity blurbs that have accompanied the book. Of course readers are going to worry she is going to be an unfeeling alien when the book is marketed that way. I am happy to hear that the creators aren’t thinking that way even if the book is being sold that way.

Nrama: Was the red crystal actually Kryptonite? Or was that some kind of knowledge crystal?

Johnson: It's not Kryptonite. You'll find out exactly what it is in issue #3, and then even more in issue #5, where you'll find out what the point of that crystal is.

Well there goes my reviewing some of my favorite Supergirl/Red Kryptonite stories.

Nrama: It sounds like issue #5 is going to have a lot of answers. Will we find out what got her into the pod?

Johnson: The answers to that question and more start coming in issue #5. But we don't want to explain everything all at once, most importantly because she's not going to get all the answers at once. And we never want to get ahead of her. We want to stay in her point of view. With issue #5, she'll begin finding out some of the answers. But the events that led to her coming to Earth are immense and complicated, and they'll play out over the course of the series. But you'll start getting substantive answers very soon.

Is it going to be Argo City blown away from Krypton as a whole? It wouldn’t explain the time lapse between Kara’s last memories and time passing … unless she was put in suspended animation prior to the planet’s destruction.

But the origin being told over the ‘course of the series’? Does that mean 20 issues? 50? 80? I hope substantive means ‘most’ of the origin.

Nrama: The villain who got the red crystal is someone that resembles Lex Luthor. But future solicitations indicate there's a "new villain" she meets. Is the "new" villain actually someone we would recognize? Maybe a revamp?

Johnson: The villain in issue #3, he's brand new. Oops, I just revealed he's a "he." Well, you'll find out on Wednesday. But he's brand new, and he's a little bit like our Luthor, except we like to think of this villain as more of a 21st Century Luthor.

And then issue #5 is another new villain. I think there may be some confusion because an early solicitation had her named "Maxima." But this is a new character that we had thought about naming Maxima because we loved the name, even though that character had perished in the previous universe. But we're not using the name Maxima anymore. I don't want to say what she's called now. We'll leave that a secret for now. But this character is new and plays a very integral role in the secrets of how Kara got to Earth.

That must mean Maxima is being used elsewhere.

And I still think this plays into Argo City. Did she discover an empty Argo City, its citizens in cryosleep, and fire off/kill off the citizens. Did Zor-El rocket Kara away before ‘Maxima’ could kill her?

More on the Luthor-like villain, Simon Tycho, in my review tomorrow.

Nrama: It sounds like you're infusing this with a lot of new villains, yet you had talked in earlier conversations with me about a supporting cast. Is that something we're going to see soon? Or is that something that will come later, after she deals with discovering the secrets of her launch from Krypton?

Johnson: We'll definitely build out a supporting cast. We want her to have a love interest. We want her to have friends on Earth. That's going to come over the first year of the book. But right now, up through issue #7, we're really focused on the craziness of her arrival and trying to figure out why and how she got here.

The supporting cast starts to fill out in an interesting way when we reintroduce Silver Banshee in a really cool way that I don't think anybody's going to be expecting. And Banshee, while we're not forgetting the fact that she is an archenemy of Kara, we're going to see her also play a new role in Kara's life.

Again, this is all reassuring to me. This makes me want to read this book much more than the initial pitch of the book did. It is simply contrary to how the book is being marketed. Supergirl will have a love interest and friends … but she has no affection for humanity?

But again, this sounds much more like ‘Supergirl’ and that makes me optimistic. So why is the publicity pushing the 'unfeeling alien' angle so much?
And I am glad that Silver Banshee is going to remain a Supergirl rogue. Sterling Gates did such a good job linking the two. I am glad that idea is being carried over.

Nrama: You mentioned Mahmud, and he's really done some remarkable work on this book.

Johnson: I know! We're so spoiled. Mahmud has been a real champ at maintaining the level of quality book. It's been a wild start to the New 52, and we really hit the ground running, and he's been amazing. We've had great collaborators too, like Dan Green inking him at the start, and then Bill Reinhold is inking issue #3. And it just looks fantastic. So we've been so lucky with our collaborators.

We've also had great communication with Mahmud, even though he lives in Turkey. Our Turkish is horrible, so we have to rely on how good his English is. Of course, it's not vital that writers and artists speak the same language. But it definitely helps, because the more communication you have with your artist the better. We can explain scenes, and he can throw in ideas about the way the story is told. It's part of the fun of making comics, is the collaboration. And he's just so good at telling a story like this, that is so emotional. He's able to sell those little moments for Kara at the same time her world is exploding.

He's very good at drawing her age, too. That can't be understated. It's not easy to really distinguish between characters beyond just hairstyles and costumes. To draw different ages really well is really important, especially in this book. And Mahmud just nailed it.

Asrar’s work is just fantastic. While I still have some problems with the costume, there is no denying that art on the book is just solid.

So this was a very good interview, dropping hints about the future of the character and the tone of the book. And it definitely sounds like Supergirl won’t be the bitter loner I worried she might be. I do worry about the pace of the book when I hear the origin will be revealed over the course of the book after having two very decompressed issues. But overall, I feel better about the direction Green and Johnson are taking this Supergirl.

1 comment:

Martin Gray said...

I hope the traditional Maxima is being used by Dan Jurgens in JLI - they could do with a female powerhouse, and I love Max.