Friday, November 23, 2012

Johnson And Lobdell On CBR

There has been any number of publicity spots about H'El on Earth and how it is going to help define the stability of the Super-family members moving into the future. I take the pubilicity about the Super-titles with a grain of salt. But more and more it sounds like DC wants to continue to fracture the super-family, make them be at odds with each other, and not even be friendly or courteous with each other. It is shocking. I have said it before, there is something inherently wrong with a DC universe where Batman is a more nurturing mentor than Superman.

Anyways, the latest H'El publicity was posted on CBR last week, a brief interview with Superman writer Scott Lobdell and Supergirl writer Mike Johnson. Here is the link:  As always, it is worth reading in its entirety. It is a brief interview and a bit sparse on new information. But some of it stood out dramatically. Here are my thoughts.

CBR News: How did this crossover collaboration start? Did the three of you flesh out the "H'el" idea and character together?

Scott Lobdell: Originally, we had planned to just use each other's characters and supporting players a little more freely, but as H'el started to become more and more developed, and the threat he posed became more horrific ,it became pretty clear that his origins, motivation and actions were things that could play out in all three books over the course of one massive story. 

Mike Johnson: We've been charting the evolution of [Kara's] relationship with Superman since the last page of our first issue, and the time was right to really bring things to a head. We didn't want to keep re-treading the same territory of Kara doubting whether Kal was really her baby cousin all grown up. In the crossover, we see that Kara has come to accept the truth, but that doesn't mean she agrees with everything Kal has to say, especially when it comes to H'el. We haven't seen as much of Kara's relationship with Superboy, but that changes starting with "Supergirl" #14 and onwards. As different as they are, they have a lot in common given that they are both young people struggling with questions about their place in the world and how best to use their incredible powers.

I suppose that it is good to know that this wasn't a DC mandate to have the titles crossover and a story was cobbled together. I am glad that the writers were together, came up with the idea of a crossover and pitched it to DC.

As for Supergirl, I still don't understand why ... if she misses her world so much ... she would run away from family. It also is depressing that Supergirl will immediately side with the villain of the piece. It seems to me that DC continues to want to isolate Supergirl, make her a bitter loner. It just doesn't fit the character. I have said if before and I will say it again ... I don't mean I want to return to the saccharin days of the Silver Age. I crave a complex Supergirl. We read one with Peter David. We read one with Sterling Gates. I have seen glimpses of one under Mike Johnson. I just hope DC doesn't force the character to be something she isn't.

After reading Supergirl #14, I think she will be safe in her own title.

CBR: This crossover villain seem to be hitting the Super-family in a more personal way than we normally see, pitting Kryptonian against displaced/cloned Kryptonians. What does facing this foe mean for your heroes on an emotional and personal level?

Johnson: What I loved about Scott's concept for H'el, and the fact that H'el would be the centerpiece of this crossover, is that he is so intrinsically tied to Krypton and the story of the House of El itself. It not only makes for a more interesting adversary, it raises the emotional stakes for everybody involved. Especially for Kara, who has yet to embrace Earth completely. Her heart is still on Krypton, so to speak, and H'el can relate to that in a way that no one else can.

I suspected that H'El would have a tie to the House of El given the 'El piece of his name. So that adds another wrinkle to this story, it makes it more personal. And I can understand that Supergirl might want to hear what H'El has to say. But ... don't you think if she is willing to listen to this stranger she would have the same interest in listening to her cousin?

As I have contemplated H'El, I have hoped that Supergirl will sort of realize that Krypton is dead after this arc. That the climax has here embracing Earth as her new home. So there is room for hope here. And if she does that, the logical fallout will be to seek out Kal as a friend. Will it happen?

Mike, as you said, it seems Kara is not as hostile to H'el and his ideas as Superman and Superboy are. Why would Kara be on his side?

Johnson: Because H'el speaks her language, both literally and figuratively. Kal is the "Last Son of Krypton," but he never really knew it like Kara and H'el did. The things H'el does that bother Kal don't bother Kara in the same way, because she can understand and sympathize with H'el motivations. One of the many cool things about the crossover is that each title has its own unique role to play. In "Supergirl," you will get to see a side of H'el you don't see as much of in the other titles, because in "Supergirl" you're seeing him through Kara's eyes.

Earlier in the interview, Lobdell calls H'El a tragic figure. So I suppose giving that character a forum to be viewed differently, to flesh him out away from a megalomaniac twirling his mustache, is a good idea. But I worry that Kara will agree with H'El's ideas. We have already seen Kara protect the innocent, stop fighting if she thought others will be hurt. If H'El's hopes are to re-write Earth as a new Krypton won't she be against it if it means destroying or killing?

I know, we need to see how it is played out. By why make Supergirl a quasi-villain?

CBR: This is the first time the three Super titles have crossed over in the New 52, and while fans refer to them as the Super-family, Superboy, Superman and Supergirl are just getting started. Was one of the goals of the crossover to start to unite the characters as an actual family, at least in the face of this new villain? Will they be more involved in each other's lives after this?

Lobdell:   I'm glad that we got to spend the first twelve issues of the New 52 developing the characters and their continuity in their own books. Now that that's done, I'm excited about the chance to really see how these three disparate characters will interact going forward. I would caution anyone, though, who thinks that the "Super-family" are those fresh scrubbed faces of yore -- all of them sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner with Krypto and Streaky out on the porch playing cards with Comet the super horse. Tolstoy once said, "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Did I get it right?


There is a middle ground between playing cards with Streaky and fighting each other and remaining distant. So this family wouldn't be together for the holidays, is described as the Superman writer as unhappy. 


I keep going back to the Sterling Gates (and even the James Peaty and Kelly Sue DeConnick) Supergirl book. That Supergirl was an independent young woman, finding her way, struggling sometimes. She had a good relationship with Superman but she was never defined by him. But they loved each other and hung out with each other when they could. Why is that frowned upon these days?

Why does this character family need to be splintered and angry? Doesn't DC see that the Bat-Family, as complex and unique as it is, works because they act like a family? Maybe a little disgruntled ... but together?

Where will the Supers be when this is over? I was lising hope until this week's comics. My review on Supergirl #14 should be up soon.


Dave Mullen said...

Why does this character family need to be splintered and angry? Doesn't DC see that the Bat-Family, as complex and unique as it is, works because they act like a family? Maybe a little disgruntled ... but together?

The Bat-Family works (sort of) largely by their mutual dedication to following Bruce's example and because ultimately they care about helping others, fighting crime.
Bruce obviously is a polar opposite to Clark in most ways, what seems to have been the idea from DC is that if they make Superman as isolated as they can as a person then that lonliness and bitterness will produce the proper friction to produce a winning formula - just like Batman and certain Marvel Comics.

I begin to see myself though that what's instead happening is a battle between this new and controversial formula and what the character is actually all about.
Superman is Superman, the ultimate superhero and inspirational icon. DC are trying their best to warp that by making him insecure and alone, and yet looking at Scott Lobdell and Grant Morrison's takes (Jurgens too) you can see the real Superman poking through.
Over the last year there have been two or three different Supermen by my reckoning - they divide between confident and strong Lobdell/Jurgen/Morrison version, and the morbidly isolated alien of Geoff Johns, Johnston and George Perez.

I can appreciate the desire to give each of the Super-Family a distinct voice and independence, what I can't appreciate is constant friction and seperation. Unlike most such families in comics these three use the same name, wear the same s-shield, and share the same genetic family connection. If they really don't have anything in common and can't agree on anything then obviously there is absolutely no sense in using those names and wearing those costumes. It's as simple as that for me.
But I think since DC is on the inside of this looking out they just don't see the nonsense of their mandate and why it can't possibly work...

PRgirl1294 said...

Guys, you need to calm down about this whole "friction between the Super-family". Remember that they're all new heroes, and that this is the first time that they've all come together, and that they each have different beliefs, and that the kids have been constantly hounded ever since coming into the world. Of course there's gonna be friction between these people at first. You can't expect them to be all lovey-dovey at their 1st family reunion. Even the Bat-family had friction at the first reunion. Eventually, these people will become a team and a loving family, but we need to give them time. That's what the writers are getting at. They're trying to be realistic.

Martin Gray said...

Maybe they are trying to be realistic, but why constantly push the storylines with a 'they won't get on' line, as if they believe that's a Superman Family we want to see? And I can see them not being lovey dovey immediately, but that doesn't mean they have to be at be another's throats. As Anj says, there's a middle ground to be had.

Anj said...

Thanks for the comments.

My point has always been that the characters should be looking to work together. I get they might not get along swimmingly. But they should still realize they are linked ... that they are family.

It seems that the company line is they hate each other. That makes no sense.

I have to say I was thrilled with SG #14. I'll get the review up as soon as I can.

PRgirl1294 said...

I think that you guys have the friction thing exaggerated. I doubt that they're actually gonna hate each other as much as it seems. In fact, it looks to me that it's just the kids who are gonna hate each other, while Superman's gonna want everybody to get along and he's gonna try to reach out to both of them. But it looks like he's gonna succeed a lot more with Superboy than with Supergirl, due to Kara's lack of attachment to Earth and her fear towards Superboy. But I'm sure that eventually, she'll get over both problems and veer towards her cousins.

valerie21601 said...

It seems to me Johnson, Green and company have been from the get go hyping how Kara would sooner destroy a friend and embrace a enemy path.

When J & G are interviewed (and over the past 18 months) about Supergirl. They really, really hype her being alone and lonely, her "ALIENATED" alien feelings and keeping it realistic and in real time.

It took them 13-14 issues just for her first week in the 52 universe. So realistically Kara is only two weeks into her life in the DCnU. So far I don't get the feeling Kara been on Earth for long, not even a month.

I really, really want to enjoy Supergirl but this version isn't gelling with me.

But then I couldn't enjoy the Peter David Supergirl until 10 years after the series ended. While today I can read those issues and totally enjoy and understand what David was doing at the time.