The Superman panel at the San Diego Comic Con was held on Friday. The guests included Shane Davis (artist of Superman:Earth One Vol2), writers Scott Lobdell, Tom DeFalco, Mike Johnson, and editor of the Super-books Matt Idelson. Here is a link to Newsarama's coverage as well as their transcript:
I have to say there was a lot of information in the panel. I have grabbed the quotes that grabbed my attention to post here and comment on. I recommend reading it in its entirety. Also, I won't be covering Shane Davis' comments here so if interested in his and JMS' graphic novel, you should head there.
Now there is a lot of stuff here that actually stood out as positives. A lot.
There were a couple of things that glaringly stood out as negatives to me.
At least the positives outweighed the negatives.
So the text in blue is taken directly from the transcript. I rearranged some of the quotes for comprehensive coverage of some themes. And as this is a set-up for the coming year, this is a long post. So settle in.
First up, Scott Lobdell talked about his upcoming run on Superman. Lobdell's answers made me optimistic about the book which I think has suffered a bit from the creative turnover. And his enthusiasm over being given the book is clear, even when reading text off a screen. Here were some of the comments and my analysis.
Next is the cover to Superman #0, Scott Lobdell's first issue. " But we don't see what life was like on Krypton, much about Jor-El, the horror of the night when he first discovered that Krypton was going to die. He's up on the roof trying to figure out how to tell his wife, and she comes up and gives him a hug and says "we're having a baby!" and he's like "greeeeat"
We haven't seen much of Krypton or Jor-El since the New 52 came about. So for someone like me looking to have a foundation on build this new incarnation on. Also, most of the versions of Jor-El's discovery start with him telling the Science Council. So this look, where he tells Lara first (which makes complete sense that he would share it with his wife first) feels new. So
"I want Superman to mix the new characters with completely new versions of existing characters. Treat them like when we first started the New 52, like we're seeing them for the very first time."
I also think this is a very positive statement. I have wondered if the writers of Superman have been handcuffed a bit by Action Comics and it's current 'in the past' story-telling. Can the Superman writer introduce an re-imagined villain knowing that a 5yr gap exists between the stories of Action and the Superman book? So hearing that Lobdell is planning to show us some new versions of existing characters means that maybe he has been given a little more creative freedom.
"I'm also doing a lot of concentrating on Clark. Traditionally in the books, Clark has been seen as kind of bumbling. To me, I think of Clark as... When you're Superman everything you say is examined to the most minute detail - you have to be more guarded with your words and actions. Clark is going to be his id, he'll be his voice when he wants to express how he really feels. It'll be fun. I want to merge them a little closer in terms of personality."
This explanation on Lobdell's take on Clark is also very interesting. It makes me think Clark is going to be a bit more of a pro-active and vocal investigative journalist. The present-day Superman probably can't vocalize his opinions about corrupt politicians or businessmen (like he is doing in Action). But Clark ... well he can uncover and report and rail against corruption loudly. So this take on Clark actually dovetails nicely with what Morrison is doing. I feel Clark is as important as Superman so I am glad he is being paid attention to.
Lois Lane will play a larger role in Lobdell's Superman. "I kind of see them as besties, where she might share a tub of Haagen Daas with Clark after having a fight with her boyfriend. A lot of relationships take a long time to happen, when you're thinking of Clark and Lois you think of them as competitors, but I'm trying to reflect them in a more realistic way. Lois will be very much a part of Clark's life, just not the only aspect of Clark's love life."
And I think Lois is as important a component to the book as Clark. I like this take on Lois as friend, confidante, and potential romantic partner. At least it is possible ... an aspect of Clark's love life. I think Lois has been on the periphery of the current book so I hope she gets more screen time.
So nothing but good news from Lobdell on Superman.
But here is where the panel took a sour note for me, all in one lump.
Next is Superboy #0, the book is being handed off to Tom Defalco.
There were clones in the Kryptonian society, then they started to deteriorate and became homicidal maniacs and warmongers. Kara sees him as something she needs to kill as soon as possible before he snaps. Superman will be much more "let's wait and see how he goes, if we can help prevent that deterioration" and Kara won't like that.
"We'll see lots of conflict between the 3 supers because of that" Johnson "They won't be superpals anytime soon." Superman will try to mentor both Superboy and Supergirl... and both of them will reject his advice in unique ways.
Q: If he's not mentoring Superboy or girl, will he mentor anyone else?
Idelson: Not right now, he's such a loner and still figuring things out himself, so he doesn't feel like he can mentor anyone yet.
So Supergirl is going to be actively trying to kill Superboy.
Reread that sentence.
Supergirl wants to kill someone.
Okay, maybe she considers him a 'something' not a someone if she considers him more like Replicant. And she doesn't even want to wait to see if Superboy snaps (although he isn't necessarily a Kryptonian clone and Superman advises watchful waiting). Nope, Kara wants to kill him right now and Superman saying don't kill him doesn't sit well with her. And as a result the Super-family is splintered.
Moreover, both Supergirl and Superboy reject Superman as a mentor. I would think that a lonely Kara, mourning Krypton, would want her cousin and the only other surviving Kryptonian as part of her life.
And then the coup de grace of things that irked me. Idelson, the Super-editor, the person in charge of the future of Superman and all his books, thinks Superman is a loner who doesn't want to mentor anyone because he still doesn't know himself.
Reread that sentence!!
Superman is a loner! And uninterested in mentoring his family!
So in the DCnU, Batman is less of a loner and more of a mentor than Superman. It is as if the people in charge of Superman don't know him. At least I have Superman Family Adventures.
Finally, I ask you to imagine if this upcoming storyline would work for any other family. Let's imagine it in the Batman books. Imagine if at the Batman panel, they creators said this:
Batgirl thinks, given the history of the Al Ghul family, that Damien is a time bomb of villainy ready to explode (which is possible). So Batgirl decides she needs to kill Damien before he can do anything evil. Batman advises her to wait but she wants no part of it and will strive to kill Damien despite Batman's protests. Batman offers to mentor both Batgirl and Robin but they reject him. In fact, Batman is a loner who doesn't know himself at all so he really isn't ready to mentor anyone as it is.
Doesn't that sound ridiculous? Would that story arc make it past the bat editors? Would DC let that happen? So why is that part of the Superman family?
Okay, the negative parts of the panel are done. The rant is over I promise. Back to the positives.
Action Comics #0 is up next, we'll "learn things about Jimmy Olsen that you didn't know" says Idelson.
In Action #13 "we'll find out what happened to Krypto. It's our halloween issue. We'll find out in a GOOD way"
After Action #13, Superman, Action, Superboy and Supergirl will have "tighter coordination"
Okay. More Jimmy is good. Krypto is good. And a tighter continuity around the super books is, in theory good.
And now the Supergirl stuff which all sounds very good.
On Supergirl #0:
Johnson: "The whole issue is set on Krypton. It delves into the family dynamic. We have fun and make it a little messier than the traditional superman family. Her relationship with her father and her mother is very different. We see that all come to a head when krypton is dying."
Supergirl #13 will show Kara's "Fort of Solitude" not as grand as Kal's but her own sanctum. This is her opportunity to remember and preserve the world that she left behind.
Well, in the last incarnation, Supergirl had very different relationships with Zor-El and Alura. So it will be interesting to see Johnson's take on this. It does re-open up the suggestion that Alura killed Zor-El. I can't wait to read Supergirl #0 to see that night on Argo and to have some of Kara's origins revealed.
And a 'Fort of Solitude' at least gives a ripple of similarity between Supergirl and Superman. It makes sense that she would want a place to be reverential to Krypton.
So at least the main title sounds like it moving Supergirl in the right direction.
One last comment.
Lobdell said he wanted to bring Supergirl into Teen Titans and Johnson said "yes as long as I can write it with you" but there are no definite plans yet
I'll say it again. We need a couple of years of Supergirl in her own book and getting defined before she gets put into a team book. I don't want her on the Titans.