Friday, September 14, 2012
Scott Lobdel On 'H'El On Earth'
Over on Newsarama, Scott Lobdell did a pretty in depth interview about Superman, his thoughts on the comic and upcoming storylines. I highly recommend reading the interview as a whole. Here is the link:
As usual, some questions and blurbs from the interview stuck out to me and I thought I would give my usual commentary on the specific Q&A's. Now I will admit when Lobdell was initially named as the new Superman writer I was a little concerned. But his enthusiasm and answers in all the subsequent interviews have made me feel a lot better about his guiding the ship. And there is a lot of Supergirl stuff in this interview as well.
Still some things gave me pause. Here we go:
Newsarama: Scott, let's start by talking about your hopes for this Superman run overall. How would you describe the overall tone you've achieved in Superman as you delve into writing the first few issues of the series?
Scott Lobdell: If I had to sum it up in one word? I'd have to say, "Lots." Since I started Superman, I've discovered that he's returned me to those days where so much is happening each issue that after I send it off to the editors, I'll re-read it and be surprised by how much has happened in that story. So far, each issue is bursting at the seams — and I couldn't be happier.
We are at a time in the industry where I think we really have to look at the notion of the "decompressed story" and re-evaluate.
I feel strongly that in the monthly books, we have to get back to the place where every issue is bursting with story, with characters, with subplots — and Superman, the first superhero, the flagship, is going to be drawing that line in the sand.
Who can complain about this response.
In many ways, I have grown a bit tired of the decompressed style. When used in the right spots, when moments deserve a pause so people can wrap their head around what is happening, it is perfect. But all too often it feels like it is being used to draw out a plot, to make a 2 issue story fit nicely into a 6 issue trade. And that just doesn't work for me. So to hear that the Lobdell issues will be running fast is great.
Nrama: Let's talk about the story that did show up in Superman Annual #1. You gave a lot of attention to Helspont. How would you describe what we saw from that character in the Annual, and can you give us any hints about his future?
Lobdell: We saw Helspont stop talking the talk and start walking the walk. Here is a guy who has enslaved entire worlds — so if he hasn't kicked Earth's ass yet, it is for a very specific reason. That said, he learned upside his head why Helspont is really good at what he does.
Like I said in my review of the annual, Helspont has suddenly become a legitimate threat to this Superman. We really haven't seen too many of Superman's classic villains in the DCnU. We don't know what the 'current' Luthor is doing. We haven't seen the Parasite or General Zod or Mongul. So to put some sort of measuring stick out there, something that can actually be viewed as a threat, a source of true conflict is a great building block for this new Superman.
Nrama: Before we get to that new threat, you've got Superman #0 coming later this month. It tells the story of Jor-El learning about Krypton's destruction. Why did you choose to start with that story? And what does that choice say about your run and Krypton's importance to it?
Lobdell: It tells the story of his realization that Krypton doesn't have long to live, but it also explores the fact that on that same night, Jor learns his wife if pregnant. It is the night that the clock starts ticking for the House of El — even if he can't save his planet, can he at least save his son?
Now, everyone who has ever heard of a comic book knows that, yes, Jor saved his son. But the story of how one man fought impossible odds — how he battled back an entire movement dedicated to stopping him? We're going to realize that while Jonathan Kent helped him be a man, he got all his super from his biological parents.
So this response is mostly a winner.
I do think that making Jor-El discover the impending destruction of Krypton on the night Lara finds out she is pregnant is actually a decent new little wrinkle to the story. It adds just that much more drama to Jor-El's story.
I guess we see the 'entire movement against him' a bit in Superboy #0, a sort of isolationist rank and file on Krypton who are against any space travel. I guess that means all of Jor-El's experiments have to be done in secret making his construction of the space cradle that much more impressive.
And I hope that Lobdell isn't going to downplay the role Jonathan Kent played in forming Clark's persona.
Also, as can be seen in Supergirl #0, as brilliant as Zor-El is (and he is), the man’'s genius came at a serious price. He'’s a bit mad, carrying a grudge against Jor-El right up until the dying breath of their planet.
So what fell short? The revelation that Jor-El and Zor-El have a grudge. That Zor-El is a 'bit mad'.
We haven't necessarily seen any insanity in the bits of Zor-El we have been shown in the DCnU Supergirl book. But a mad Zor-El with a grudge against Jor-El. It just harkens back to much to the 'mad Zor-El, kill Kal-El' nonsense which plagued the last incarnation of Supergirl at the beginning. I don't think I want to see that Zor-El again.
Nrama: As you've mentioned, we've been seeing quite a bit about Krypton in Supergirl, and some hints in Superman and elsewhere. What are you hoping to bring to this New 52 "revamped" story of Krypton?
Lobdell: I want it to feel more real. It seems to me that we've spent a lot of time on Krypton at that moment when Jor and Lara were saying good-bye to Kal before sending him off into this great black void. That and the scene where he addresses what has always seemed to me to be a very close minded Science Counsel.
It is true that in Supergirl we have seen the planet, but we really haven’t seen the people. I would love to know what it was like to be a teenager on Krypton. What were her friends like? Did she have a boyfriend? A best friend? How did they spend their free time? Is “school” there the same way we experience it on Earth? Are marriages arranged? Are they limited to just one man and one woman? I am fascinated by the concept that even on Krypton something as “human” as babysitting exists. I am so intrigued about seeing this in Supergirl because it speaks to me about what Kal would have been like had he never left for Krypton as an infant.
Sounds like Lobdell is going to let some of these Kryptonian ideals and ideas be unveiled in Supergirl which makes sense since she is the one who would remember such things. One thing I do like is that it sounds like the creative teams are talking to one another so at least we will get some consistency in how Krypton is being portrayed.
Nrama: After the #0 issue, you dive right into your first present-day story with Superman #13. The solicitation for the issue was pretty cryptic. Now that we know about H'el and the coming crossover, can you describe what's coming in #13?
Lobdell:We get to see a heretofore unrevealed ally of Superman, we learn more about his powers than we have in the past, Clark gets two major body blows (one sort of self-inflicted) that are going to leave him reeling for the next few months, he finds himself entwined in the life of a Daily Planet co-worker in a way he could not have imagined, he takes a pretty severe beating from a completely unexpected enemy, he learns something staggering from his cousin Kara and he almost meets H'el.
Okay, so that is a lot of stuff happening in one issue.
Two body blows, one self-inflicted - dating Wonder Woman and rethinking his relationship with Lois. In fact, I wonder if the entwining in the life of a co-worker is Lois. Certainly, in the early stages of the Kal/Diana relationship, having Clark working even closer with Lois might be interesting. In the Annual, Lobdell at least hinted that Clark has some feelings for Lois. How will that play out given the new power couple? (Have I mentioned I think the Superman/Wonder Woman romance is ridiculous?)
As for the staggering news from Kara? I am going to assume it is her talking about Superboy more in depth with him. How will he respond to knowing there is clone of him out there, possibly unstable?
Anyways, sounds like it is a busy book.
Nrama: The "H'el on Earth" storyline that we're seeing in the Super-books in November features what appears to be a new villain, but he's got a Bizarro look about him. Is H'el a new take on Bizarro, or something new that you guys created for this story?
Lobdell: In my effort to re-imagine Superman's villains, I went so far afield in re-imagining Bizarro with Kenneth, that editorial started saying "Um, Scott — this character is so not-Bizarro any more; he's a whole new character, with new motivation, new history, new look, new origin. You're at the point where it doesn't make any sense to call him Bizarro any more."
And for everyone who wonders about the "S" on his chest? It is so far removed from Bizarro or Prime or anyone else that you can relax: By the time this story is over, you'll see that H'el and Bizarro can exist in the same world.
Well, one thing I was upset about was the rethinking of Bizarro into a character called H'El. So I suppose I should be happy that they aren't going to be the same.
Nrama: Was H'el a story idea first and you realized it was big enough for more than just Superman? Or was it a crossover first, and then the threat was developed? How did the idea for a crossover evolve?
Lobdell: I'll be honest — I didn't know it was a crossover until the solicits came out last week! That isn't me taking a dig at marketing or editorial; I can completely see why someone would look at the coming events between Superman, Superboy and Supergirl and say "A crossover!"
But to speak to the heart of your question... the story came first, and the enthusiasm between me and [Superboy writer] Tom and the Mikes[, Supergirl writers Michael Green and Mike Johnson,] as we started to explore the impact of H’'el on Earth followed. So in that way, I think it is the best type of “crossover” because it resulted organically from the story.
I have trashed DC's editorial crew so much I am starting to feel like a jerk. Still, the writer of the main title of the crossover doesn't know it is being marketed as a crossover until he reads the solicits? That just seems insane.
I will say it again though. It is good to hear that the creative teams of the super-books are talking and making sure there is a consistent vision to this whole thing.
And lastly ...
Nrama: Will Superman continue to grow closer to Supergirl and Superboy over the coming months?
Lobdell: No and yes. That is, he'll be growing closer to one and more adversarial to the other. Just like most families, things are complicated.
Now I don't want to see a Superman being adversarial to either. That said, if he gets closer to Superboy and more adversarial to Supergirl ... well ... I don't know what I will do because that makes absolutely no sense.
I will once again recommend reading the whole interview as I lopped out a lot of good stuff. It might sound crazy but I am actually pretty excited to see what Lobdell is going to do on the book. There doesn't seem to be any 'it is going to be a dark and grim book' feel to anything he has said.