Thursday, June 7, 2012

Green and Johnson Interview On Newsarama

Over on Newsrama, Supergirl writers Mike Johnson and Michael Green sit down for a pretty lengthy interview about whay is coming up in the book. Here is the link:

It is a very good interview and well worth reading in its entirety. While not a lot of future spoilers are revealed, there are some hints of what's coming up. And there are a lot of questions about Kara's characterization in the DCnU. As always, I decided to pick a few things that caught my intention and add some commentary.

Nrama: This storyline with Silver Banshee finishes up in issue #10. What will we see?
Johnson: We're really happy with issue #10. You're going to see more of her life on Krypton, even though it's still a Banshee story.
Nrama: Ah, nice tease.
Johnson: Thank you. But I think it's a really interesting issues that fans should like.
Green: And also dragons.

So looks like we will get some backstory of her time on Krypton while in the fever dream/mystical realm that is the inside of the Black Banshee.

One thing that I think is interesting is that Supergirl looks like it might be the place where we learn the most about Krypton and it's culture. Sure, we had a couple of pages in Action Comics #3. But otherwise, the most we have seen of Krypton has been here, either in flashbacks or recorded messages, or even the doomed Argo City.

I wonder if Green and Johnson are talking things over with Morrison to make sure that there is a consistent vision of Krypton in the DCnU.

Nrama: Let's step back a moment, though, and talk about Supergirl's evolution so far. With issue #7, Supergirl had clearly played the role of hero and had chosen a "side" by trying to protect Earth. Was that what that fight represented when you threw the Worldkillers at her?
Green: Yeah, definitely. We started this by saying, OK, if she was just a regular girl in her world, that means she doesn't get here and make an assumption of being a hero. You don't just get here and go, OK, I guess that's my new role. You have to discover your new role.
That's part of growing up. She's Supergirl, not Super-"woman." She's formative, she's becoming herself, and we keep trying to give her situations to find out more about who she really is, especially in this new life on Earth.
Johnson: What we saw in issue #7 was that she's an inherently good person. And we saw that she also has an inherent inclination to protect people.
But what we're going to see is her realizing that that's not so easily reciprocated by human beings. She's not going to acclimate to Earth really easily.
We set up this juxtaposition between her relationships with humans, like the ones she's rescuing on the bus in issue #7, just everyday people, and then the humans who are all pointing their tank barrels at her at the end of #7.
Green: We have to give props to our editors at DC, from our day-to-day guys to the very top, because they've really encouraged us to lean into our favorite part of this, which a lot of people might have been afraid of, which is keeping Kara an alien on Earth. She's learning, but never comfortable. She might get a friend here or there, but it's never easy. And she's never going to just be OK and get an apartment and get a job and put on glasses and say, "I guess I live in L.A. as a human now." It's always going to be a struggle, and her development is going to be a life-long process.
And we really appreciate being able to explore that idea. It's the most interesting and difficult part of her character. A lot of other groups might have said, let's just get past that character stuff already and get to the smashing and banging and punching.

So there is a lot to digest here.

First off, and it is going to sound weird, but at least we get the statement that Kara is 'an inherently good person' with 'an inclination to protect people'. Yes, she wants to do what's right. She isn't lacking an affection for life in general even if she hasn't embraced being on Earth.

And, I am all for this Supergirl being on the hero's journey that all the other Supergirls in the past have been on. She is becoming a hero and she has a way to go. That's one of the best things about Supergirl historically as a character. She isn't infallible. She doesn't always do the right thing. She isn't always victorious but she keeps trying to do what's right.

But ...

I don't know if I am completely on board with her being too alien in the book. I want to read stories about Supergirl's adventures, her trials and tribulations, here on Earth. And part of that is going to be her interactions with things ... here on Earth. So the longer she can't talk to people, the longer she is talking to appliances, the longer she can't be a part in her own stories because she has been isolated, the harder it is going to be to care about her ... or for her to care about us.

I am not saying that Loeb did it better, having Kara spend months in the Fortress, enmeshing herself in Earth culture, and then going shopping. It shouldn't be that easy either.

But ...

I am ready for her to be a part of this world and move forward with her new life here. Because that is probably the first steps of this hero's journey.

Nrama: Well there has been plenty of that for Kara, but I find it interesting that she doesn't know how to control her own power. Not only is she an alien in this world, but she's an alien to her own body, isn't she?
Green: With great power comes much destruction.
Johnson: One of the great things about Supergirl is she's not Superman. And you we don't have to make her like Superman. We've been given the freedom with the New 52 to play with her powers a little bit and not feel like we're locked into, you know, "this is exactly how fast she is; this is how strong she is." It's fluctuating. It's changing. Not only is she adapting to the shock of being on Earth, but as she's growing older, her body is adjusting. I think if you visited her again in 15 years, she might be even stronger, she might be more in control, but she might have other abilities that manifest themselves.
Green: For her, it's going to be the process of discovery that way.
I think it's important to remember what Mike said about this not being Superman. Keep in mind that Clark had the advantage of a near-pubertal process, with his powers gradually unfolding as they developed slowly, much like your height develops over time. Supergirl is the equivalent to someone who went to sleep a normal person and woke up a giant. You have to get used to your new proportions and your new capacity.

I completely agree that Supergirl is not and should not be Superman. As I said, she is at the start of her heroic journey. He is established.

We have already seen these issues with Supergirl's powers, exploding like a super-nova. Accidentally tossing a guy 50 feet when she meant to save him. She is still learning about these powers. But the 'great destruction' line, while a funny riff on Spiderman's responsibility line, makes me wonder. Does this mean that Supergirl is going to always be a little out of control? That she will be causing more damage than she stops?

I don't know ... I felt like maybe we had turned a corner when she was standing triumphantly in Time Square after having driven off the World Killers. That ending splash page was so fantastic. But now I wonder if that was a mirage.

Nrama: But will you explain more about why she was suddenly so powerful?
Johnson: Yes, definitely. There's a specific reason she came out of that pod as powerful as she did. And we'll reveal that in the next few issues. But there is a reason she came out so strong that she could go toe-to-toe with her cousin.
Green: It was no accident. That was part of the story fabric of who she is and her predicament. There's something very unique about her past that's going to explain all that.

So the mystery of Supergirl's origins continue to percolate in the background. Was she flooded with yellow sun rays in her ship the way the last Supergirl was? Has she been strengthened by World Killer technology? Is it a permanent boost?

Maybe when this extra power 'wears off' she will be able to control things better. I do think that empty tube in the World Killer lab looms large in Kara's story.

Nrama: I noticed that when Siobhán told Supergirl to look for hot guys, Kara didn't know what she would do with them. And in the solicitation for July, Supergirl has her first date. Will you be exploring that part of her being a teenager?
Johnson: Yes, definitely. We're going to meet a guy in issue #10, and we're going to see them together in issue #11, which is where we see her really interacting with our world.
Green: But dates for Kara are not going to be quite the "malted at Pop Tate's" variety. They're always unique to her situation, with interruptions by things that are as bizarre as her powers.

Well the above page is from Supergirl #10 and given Kara's armor this has to be within Black Banshee. So is that Siobhan's brother? Whoever he is, at least she is interacting with him in our world in Supergirl #11. So she can communicate with this person ... so it must be Siobhan's brother and he must have her language powers.

Hopefully she won't destroy everything around her and actually gets a chance to see our world and learn about it.

Nrama: You've certainly revealed a lot about Krypton's past through the Worldkillers story. They're gone but not forgotten, and I know she's going to see Superman again in August. Will we see more about Krypton and the mysteries you presented?
Johnson: The first nine issues have covered the events of just a few days for her. And we get our first time jump in issue #11, or at least our first big time jump. And then by issue #12 and #13, that's when we really start wrapping up the first year with some of these questions.
We're going to show who shot her father, as she saw in issue #5. And we're going to get more of an explanation as to how exactly her pod ended up here.

Maybe the 'time jump' between #10 and #11 is some sort of semi-acclimation period. So hopefully she will be able to interact with people around her a bit better.

Now, if rumors are right, between #12 and #13 will be a zero issue. So I hope that some of the origin questions will be answered. They say we will learn who shot Zor-El. The questions I have - when was Kara shot into space? From Krypton or from Argo? Who shot her into space if Zor-El was killed? And how did those star gates leading to Argo get there? Who placed them?

I don't need every little part of Supergirl's origins revealed. But I need more meat on the skeleton of 'rocketed in a pod to Earth'.

Nrama: During the first year, Supergirl met both Superboy and Superman. Will they continue to appear in the book every once in awhile, or are you going to avoid that going forward?
Green: You know, it's a delicate balance when you're writing a character like Kara, because too much contact with Superman can become overwhelming, and you want her to be reflective of it, but not be overwhelmed by it, which is why we made it part of her character. He's not someone she initially wants to know. The relationship isn't easy-breezy from moment one, and they don't just hang out and go to each other for advice.
Johnson: In his next appearance in the book, coming up, we're going to set up the status quo for them post-their punch-out in issue #2. They're not going to be hanging out anytime soon.
Green: Yeah, they're not sharing any malteds at Pop Tate's either.
Johnson: No, the biggest reasons being that their lives are so different. I mean, he's Clark Kent, and she is Kara Zor-El.
Green: Yep. He had a human upbringing and has been steeped in human values, and again, had that pubertal upbringing of his powers. And she is a Kryptonian teenager. And that is a significant difference.

Of all the answers in this interview, this one worried me the most. Yes, Superman had a different upbringing. And yes, he understands this world and is part of this world. And no, I am not expecting them to be best friends.

But she should want to know him. He is a link to a past that has been robbed from her. He is family. He is someone who can teach her about this place. And about Krypton. Of all the people on this planet, he is the one person I think she would be running toward. And while I wouldn't expect them to hang out all the time, you would think he would be someone she would call up and chat, meet once every couple of weeks for coffee, etc.

And that's from her point of view. From his point of view, he finally finally has family. He probably wants to learn about Krypton from her! He is a loving guy and a good guy. You think he would want to help her as much as possible. You think he would try to get close to her even if she pulled away.

A healthy relationship - not superior/inferior, not strong/weak, not bullying/submissive ... a healthy relationship between the cousins is crucial to both their characters. I think we had it in the Gates run. We saw it in the Reign of Doomsday story. And I would even say that Supergirl was closer to Batman (Dick Grayson) than she was to Kal. But the cousins loved each other and respected each other. I hope we get there.

Nrama: Then to finish up, is there anything else you want to add?
Johnson: Just that the book's holding its own among the New 52, and we're doing well, and it's thanks to the very vocal fan support online. We love people saying, "you've got to check out this book." It's amazing.
Green: Yeah, that really matters.

I have been enjoying this book. And I have been telling people to check out the book. So I hope I am over-thinking some of my worries here.


Martin Gray said...

I agree with your reservations about the cousins' relationship, Anj - they're the last survivors of their world, family … if something's going to keep them apart it'd have to be pretty massive, maybe the fact that one or the other is fundamentally 'off'. I hope Messrs Johnson and Green change their mind on this one, and allow Kara to have some semblance of family life.

And a big fat 'ditto' as regards her apparantly continuing isolation from Earth folk.

Anonymous said...

This team is doing a great job with Supergirl and seem to have great plans for her future. I'm glad it seems so much more real. I loved their answer about the relationship between Superman and Supergirl. I loved their answer about keeping Supergirl "alien." She still basically arrived on earth. She has been through a ton. These guys are portraying her as an intelligent, essentially good teenage female from an advanced planet-- they are doing it right. The only thing I would change is making bottom part of the costume blue and bringing back the red skirt--basically bringing back a Matrix-like costume.

Anonymous said...

Skirts are nice and feminine, but they are also symbolic of a Supergirl that is "puerile... weaker, dumber & obsequious".
So beware the hemline sez I...


Anj said...

I agree John.

And if any Supergirl is going to call a home run a touchdown it will be this alienated Supergirl.

Will similar behavior lead to a similar rant?

Gene said...

I hope the "status quo" that Green and Johnson have planned between Kal and Kara makes sense. I just hope it is not similar to Smallville after season 7 where Kal doesn't seem concerned that Kara has disappeared until he accidentally bumps into her in the Phantom Zone.

I also would not mind a costume change similar to Kara's costume in Superman Family Adventures or just make the whole bottom of her costume red.

Dave Mullen said...

It's a shame that the message coming from the authors is that Supergirl as a book isn't going to change, or evolve past the 'hounded isolated alien' phase.
I think if we reach #20 and it's the same old thing of an isolated aimless Supergirl at perpetual conflict with everyone around her then I'm likely not to be sticking around, it isn't what I read comics for.
You can do the Noh-Varr/Marvel Boy formula for maybe the first year I think but anything beyond that and it becomes stagnant, unpleasant repetitive. I really don't think it will sell longterm so I do hope Johnson & Greene don't mean it literally. If sales are anything to go by you could argue it's already failing... any further downward trening and I'm sure we'll be seeing a dramatic U-turn in treatment and direction.