Thursday, June 6, 2013

New Michael Alan Nelson Interview

With 8 Superman comics coming out in September in the Forever Evil villains month, I suddenly doubt we will be seeing either a Supergirl or a Superboy issue that month. While I may end up being pleasantly surprised if a solicit shows up, at least DC continues to ramp up the Supergirl publicity. Writer Michael Alan Nelson recently did an interview on CBR which further deepened his thoughts about the character and direction of the book. Here is the link:

As always, I strongly suggest you read the interview in its entirety. And, as usual, I have picked a couple of questions to focus on giving my thoughts about things.

CBR News: Michael, in your debut issue Supergirl seems like she's resigned to having the world's worst luck. Is this "bad luck" something that's going to define the tone of her adventures on Earth and your initial story arc?
Michael Alan Nelson: I don't see it so much as being a defining tone as I do a new lens she uses to view the world. She hasn't really had the best luck a person could have, but I think she's moving from a place of being angry about that bad luck to a more accepting place of understanding. Bad things happen. That's life. She's starting to understand that no matter how frustrating things are, she's going to have to deal with it. That's where some of the fun can come in -- she's starting to learn from all these experiences which influence how she makes choices. Even if the choices she makes aren't necessarily the best ones.

CBR: It was touched on during the "H'el" storyline, but Sanctuary's actions really reinforced the Kryptonian attitude towards clones. Is Kara learning to ditch some of her more rigid Kryptonian mores in order to survive Earth?
MAN: I wouldn't say ditch just yet, but she's definitely starting to at least question the infallibility of Kryptonian culture. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and her longing for home colors her memory of Krypton in a way that makes it better than what it really was. Sanctuary's insistence that two Karas cannot be allowed to exist is a reinforcement of the occasional harshness of life on Krypton. No place is perfect and Kara is slowly coming to that realization. It takes time and she'll stumble along the way just as we all do, but she's taking her first steps toward accepting Earth as home. That's why the Earth's sunrise reminded her of a Kryptonian sunset. Her life on Krypton is over, but her life on Earth is just beginning. Yes, it's a pretty heavy-handed metaphor but I think it speaks to where she's at in her life right now.

These are both great answers and in line with prior things that Nelson has said. It feels like we are entering the second phase of this incarnation of Supergirl. Instead of just reacting to her new situation, it sounds like she will be more pro-active. It sounds like she understands that Earth is going to be her new home so she may as well do her best to make the most of it. Her life hasn't been perfect but it is time to move on.

I also think that Mike Johnson had written Kara with a healthy bit of adolescent rebellion when it came to the mores of Krypton. In Supergirl #0, Kara is a bit defiant of Alura's traditional match-making and wants to be more independent. While I can understand that she would want to 'go home' if possible, it seems she already knew that Krypton (like Earth) wasn't perfect. It will be interesting to see how Nelson walks the line of her missing Krypton, respecting her history, but also moving on and away from it.

CBR: In this first issue Supergirl had a lot of fun rolling her eyes at Power Girl's "new" outfit. How is Supergirl-Kara different than Power Girl-Kara, besides taste in clothes?
MAN: It goes back to the idea of belonging, of having a sense of place in the universe. The biggest difference between the two is Power Girl has that and Supergirl doesn't. Power Girl knows what it's like to be accepted, to have a friend, to be respected. Supergirl knows what it's like to be hunted, used and deceived. Since Power Girl is older, she also has a wisdom that Supergirl just doesn't have yet. That's the fun of writing her character -- we get to see her obtain that wisdom through her stories.

Certainly Power Girl was accepted on Earth 2 as a hero. And she belonged there because she accepted Kal as family and a mentor. Heck, she even called Lois 'the closest thing to a mother' she had on Earth. And yet, she also feels she doesn't belong on Earth 1 and is trying desperately to 'go home' to Earth 2. So there is a similar pining in both to get back to a more comfortable place.

I loved the interaction between Kara and Karen in the last issue so I hope we get to see more of it at some point. The two are in different places in their lives but have similar foundations and now sort of similar problems. I would love to hear Karen talk to Kara about her relationship with Kal.

CBR: Lex Luthor's training his sights on Supergirl in issue #21. As "Supergirl's" writer, how much do you want to draw on existing Superman bad guys like Luthor versus creating new or reusing old Supergirl-specific villains?
MAN: I definitely want to see Supergirl deal with villains that are specific to her, whether they're new villains or ones we've seen before. On a meta level, we all know Supergirl is part of the Superman family, not the other way around. I really want her to be strong character in her own right and not defined by her relationship with Superman. In her world, she sees Superman as part of her family. She isn't Kal-El's cousin, he's hers. Put like that, it may sound like merely semantics, but it really is the way she sees herself. It's the way we all see ourselves. I want her villains to be just that: her villains. I certainly don't mind borrowing other baddies from throughout the DCU, but Supergirl is enough of a heavyweight that she can attract villains that are specific to her. By doing so, it helps solidify her as a premier character in her own right rather than just part of Superman's "supporting" cast.

Another good answer. I think most Supergirl fans want her to be part of the Superman family, want her to be within that loop and involved with any major Superman storylines. And yet, at the same time, we also want her to be respected as her own character. I could care less about familial semantics. The two are cousins and should be friends and confidantes. But it is a difficult tightrope to walk. It is funny how the Bat-titles handle this issue so effortlessly. Nightwing and Batgirl are clearly part of the Bat-family and also solid solo characters.

I hope Nelson looks back a bit and tries to utilize Supergirl's existing rogues, reinventing them for the New 52. Silver Banshee, Reactron, Superwoman, Bizarro Girl, Blackstarr, and Satan Girl are all linked to Supergirl and ready to be used. But new villains (like Luthor's female lieutenant) are also welcome.

All that said, wouldn't it be great to introduce us to a Supergirl specific villain in the Forever Evil month (much like Superwoman graced the Supergirl cover in the Faces of Evil month.)

Are we going to see more of Kara using her Kryptonian science and math know-how, or is Sanctuary right in that she's way more comfortable using her fists? Also, is that freezing equation Kara tosses off in your first issue a real mathematical formula?
Supergirl is a bright young woman. She was well educated and surrounded by intelligent adults on a scientifically advanced planet. Kara is no slouch. It's fun to see her reach the limits of what her powers can achieve and start to tap into her other resources. Don't get me wrong, there's action and fighting, but Supergirl has a sharp mind and is starting to realize her intellect may be her greatest power of all.
And yes, the formula is definitely real. Big kudos to Rob Leigh for being able to get it on the page -- and for the great lettering on the whole damn book for that matter.

Perhaps my favorite answer in the whole interview. In every Kara Zor-El incarnation of Supergirl (sorry Matrix), she has been highly intelligent and adept at science. From tinkering in the Midvale orphanage lab to find a cure for Kryptonite to being in the Science Guild in Sterling Gates, Supergirl has always been a science whiz. So I am glad this important piece of Supergirl's core is intact.

I know Nelson never admitted being a fan of Supergirl before writing her. And I know he wants her to be fresh. But elements like this are critical to the established foundation of who Supergirl is. I seems like he recognizes the crucial aspects of who Kara is.


Anonymous said...

Dunno if Supergirl is supposed to be a science whiz per se, I've always thought though that her advanced Kryptonian education was her secret assymetrical (sp) strength counterbalancing Kal El's greater experience.

Gear said...

Considering how top-of-the-field both her parents have been portrayed in each incarnation, Jor-El and Lara as well, and the history of the El house, I would expect that any only-child being raised would be under tremendous pressure to not only succeed but to be a top student. When little Kal is finally born I can imagine her thinking "Thank Rao, now they can helicopter around him for awhile!"

Instead of an typical teenager modeled after the Britney Spears and Lindsey Lohan model I would imagine her more as a bit of ar geek, think Amy Farahn Fowler. Now that would be an original interpretation!