Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Michael Alan Nelson Publicity Tour Stop: Comic Book Resources

New Supergirl writer Michael Alan Nelson has been making the interview rounds in preparation for his upcoming run. He recently was interviewed by Comic Book Resources. Here is the link to that interview:

This interview reads much like the prior ones which have been covered here. From the beginning there have been parts of what Nelson has said that has made me optimistic. And many of those buzz words are present here as well. And yet, as I peruse ... and admittedly probably over-read into these things ... more slightly concerning phrases are sneaking in.

As with anything, the waiting is the hardest part. At this point I want to move past the publicity (which has been woefully off the mark when it comes to Supergirl) and read what Nelson is going to do with the book.

Please read the interview in its entirety, but here are the parts that stuck out for me.

CBR News: Right now you're writing "Ravagers" for DC. What about the title made you want to add "Supergirl" to your plate?

Michael Alan Nelson: Supergirl is such a wonderfully rich character, how could I not want to tell her story? I love the complexity of her situation and how much story fodder it provides. She's an alien who lost everything she ever knew, now living on a planet she doesn't understand. All of which is almost as traumatic as her being a teenager. Put all that together and you're going to have some serious fun.

There is both good and bad in this response.

On the positive, Nelson does sound excited to be writing the book. And he continues to call her a rich and complex character. That is definitely a plus. I always hope that the person who is writing Supergirl is a fan and wants to write her rather than just cashing a check.

But I worry about the 'isolated Supergirl' theme which DC seems to be trying to shove down our throat recently. The fact that Nelson says that living through your teenage years is more traumatic that losing your family/planet/culture completely is a little worrying. I don't need a downbeat Supergirl.

CBR: How would you describe your take on the New 52 Supergirl? Will the character retain her very distinct pro-Kryptonian attitude?
MAN: I definitely see that as part of her character, but I also want to see that attitude challenged. With Superman, he represents the best of humanity, the best Earth has to offer. I want Supergirl to see herself as representing the best Krypton has to offer. She is the sole ambassador of a ghost world and her actions reflect on the memory of that world.
Of course, most people tend to look at the deceased with Rose-tinted glasses. No one, and by extension no world, is perfect. But for Kara, I'd say it's normal that she sees Krypton as the better world. Not that she's jingoistic or demeaning toward Earth, only that she has the occasional thought, "You know, we didn't have that kind of problem on Krypton." Thus, completely glossing over the problems unique to Krypton. It's much like someone from the city moving to the country and noticing the flaws of rural life; just like someone from the country moving to the city and taking note of urbanity's shortfalls. Each has their pros and cons. And I want to see Supergirl embrace Krypton's pros in order to help with Earth's cons.

I can understand this approach. It wouldn't make much sense for Supergirl to simply forget her Kryptonian past.

But I worry that this pro-Krypton viewpoint will simply make it more difficult her to interact with people here on Earth. As much as I want her to remember her past, I also want her to start loving and embracing her new world.

I can only think about people who start working where I work. Those who constantly say 'where I came from we used to do things this way' have a harder time. Sometimes the new view is interesting and can bring forth positive change. But after a while it can be grating. You aren't 'there' any more.

CBR: In light of that, how would you describe the place Supergirl holds in the Super family -- her, Superman and Superboy -- as your run begins?
MAN: I think Supergirl sees herself as an orphan being forced to live with her distant cousins -- and that's the thing to remember. She sees Superman as her cousin, as a part of her family, not the other way around. She doesn't define herself by her relationship to Superman and Superboy. She's her own person. Yet humanity tends to see her at the lowest level of the Kryptonian hierarchy. And that's a little galling since they have no idea what it was like to actually live on Krypton, to have had a life there. It's hard for her not to look at them as poseurs.

This pronoun issue is confusing. I suppose that what he is trying to say is that Supergirl isn't defined by Superman. In fact, she thinks he should be defined by her. But that sounds so petty and adversarial. Can't they just be part of the same family and not try to jockey for position of family dominance?

And before people jump on me, thinking I want a return to the earliest Silver Age stories ... IT ISN'T TRUE!

I love the fact that Supergirl is her own person. I want her to be strong and independent. I also think it is vital for her to be part of this family. I don't want her subservient or beneath Superman. I want her to be his friend and loving cousin. Someone she can count on when she needs him. Someone he can count on when he needs her.

Like we talked about before with "Ravagers",you're a writer most fans equate with dark and horror-infused books. What will the tone of your "Supergirl" be? Will it be darker like much of your previous work?
Darker? Absolutely not. Dimmer? Hmmmm… maybe. Let's be honest. Kara has lost her entire world. Her family, her friends, her life, everything. That's going to leave a dark cloud overhead that's never going to fully dissipate. It will always be there in some way, but the sun will eventually shine through, and that's what I want to do with Kara. I want to show her journey to finding joy and happiness in life. I mean, it's not going to be all puppies and rainbows, but I can say that it's going to be nothing like "Fall of Cthulhu" or "28 Days Later." One thing I really want to do with Supergirl is have fun. She's finding out what Earth has to offer. Our planet isn't perfect, but there are some truly wonderful things for her to discover.

As I have said countless times before, the Supergirl publicity pieces from the higher ups in DC's offices usually don't jibe with reality. The 'don't piss her off' 'Hell on Wheels' Supergirl discussed pre-new 52 didn't match Mike Johnson's sad and internally strong Supergirl.

So despite the recent Harras and Chase laughing response that the new Supergirl will be 'dark ... ha ha ha', Nelson implies it won't be horrific. He keeps talking about how the sun will eventually shine for Supergirl, that she is going to have fun and eventually ... eventually ... embrace Earth.

I hope there will be fun. That part makes me happy. But if it is fun in the vein of 'hanging out with Boomer in a bar' or 'wanting to stay at the rave rather than save innocents from a dinosaur' like we saw in the last incarnation's earliest adventures, I won't be happy.

Do you have plans to introduce new supporting cast members or to expand on characters, perhaps Silver Banshee, who have already been introduced?
Oh yes. Right now, Siobhan the Silver Banshee (and to an extent, her brother as well) is Kara's only friend. So it will be fun to see her strengthen that relationship while developing a few new ones. Plus, how will those new relationships affect her friendship with Siobhan, especially if those new relationships are with non-supers? Will Kara even be able to have meaningful relationships with non-supers? This is where I think the core of her character is. She's trying to find a place to belong, to make connections with other people. That's hard enough as it is, but when you're also fighting insanely powerful people, it becomes almost impossible. And it's in all that chaos and tension where the fun of the story lives.

Again, I think that the 'strange visitor' angle can be interesting as long as the context of a generally optimistic, good person who will use her powers as a hero core isn't ignored.

I do think a supporting cast is essential for almost all comic books. So I think this will be a good way to go as well.

I guess I just have to wait for the issues now and see how it all unfolds.


Anonymous said...

Just how difficult is it for Supergirl to adapt to Earth? The similarities to Krypton are pretty numerous. For one thing not only is physiometry similar but her appearance confers a near automatic high social standing all over the world, unless good looking blonde women have fallen off the radar screen as of 3/6/2013.
Parentage on Krypton was mammalian, monogamous and dependent on public institutions to educate offspring. Families lived in private dwellings with a societal barrier between public and private functions...I mean the parallels pile up don't they? Mostly for the short term Supergirl has to come to terms with language issues and a lower but not primitive degree of scientitic development. Emotionally she has to come to grips with Krypton's loss, but that would still be a constant if she was on Venus, Thanagar or Apokalips...
I think this whole "Strange Visitor Amng Us" meme seems a little shopworn if'n yew asked me.

Just sayin'...

Anj said...

Overall I agree.

I imagine that if I was suddenly and irrevocably transported to another culture where I didn't know the language ... for example China, or the UAE, etc ... I might miss my old culture but would try to adapt.

So I don't mind her feeling like a stranger but I want her to want to accept Earth as her new home and embrace it. Unlike Superman, she has even more reason to defend her home having been alive and aware when she lost her original one.

But really I just want a strong smart and good Supergirl working her way through the hero's journey.

Is that too much to ask?

Dante said...

^I'll probably be a little mean here,but it seems that yes.Unless some high ranking fan or a fan among the writters,like Gail Simone speaks up for th character,DC won't even care.I hope MAN is that kind of character and will strongly oppose the treatment of H'El's SG.

Jay said...

I think that's far too pessimistic a look. Kara's on that journey right now. The current struggle she just went through wasn't exactly literary gold, but she came through in the end, at least. If they want to play with the fish out of water thing for a while longer I'm fine with it, if her heart shines through more often than not.