Monday, June 24, 2013

New Nelson Interviews - Multiversity And Newsarama

I have been pretty impressed with the first two issues of Supergirl by Michael Alan Nelson. While the initial interviews and publicity were touting the book as going to an extremely dark and horrific place, the issues themselves have been much more even and has shown a Supergirl who is still striving to be a hero, to help, despite all the hardships that have been thrown her way.

Nelson sat down for a couple of interviews recently and I thought I would post some of them here (with my comments). As usual, I am only putting in snippets of the whole interviews and recommend you head to the sites and read these things in their entirety.

The first is out of Multiversity Comics here:

Multiversity: What about the character of Supergirl do you find appealing? Where you a fan of the character before you took the gig?

Michael Alan Nelson: I’ve always been a fan of her as a character. I’ve always been drawn to strong female characters and she is one of the strongest. And not just physically, but I think emotionally as well. I know that if I woke up on an alien planet to discover that everyone I ever knew or loved died a terrifying, painful death and everyone else would shove me into oncoming traffic as soon as look at me, I’d be weeping in the fetal position and never come out from under the bed. But not Kara. Yes, she’s despaired as anyone would, but as much pain she’s had to endure, she doesn’t give up. That she can pull herself out of bed after all of that makes her such an interesting person to me. All the powers and crazy villains are nice, but the core attraction to her as a character is her boundless sense of spirit. Plus she’s looking for a place to belong, a place where she’ll feel loved and accepted. I think we can all relate to that. 

After a bunch of interviews, Nelson finally says (admits?) that he has always been a fan of Supergirl. I wonder just when he started to be a fan of hers ... The David run? The Loeb story? Is he going back and reading classic stuff?

I like that he does focus on her strength and resilience. "A boundless sense of spirit" is a nice way to put it. I would add that hope and tireless drive to help is a part of that.

Multi: As the Superman family of books grows closer together, how much of your writing is influenced by your fellow creators?

MAN: When you’re writing within the DCU, I think everyone is influenced at least in some small way by everyone else. All of these great characters are populating the same space so there’s bound to be some influencing happening across titles. But I really do try to isolate myself as much as I can for a couple of reasons. First, I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes, but I also really want to bring Supergirl into her own. Everyone knows that it’s Superman’s planet and Supergirl is just another satellite. But I’d like to see Kara really step outside of that supporting role and become a premiere character in her own right. It also works with her as a character since she feels some resentment towards Superman for a number of reasons. Part of her feels like she’s in his shadow and it would be fun to watch her step out from under it. 

I have to say that there is good and bad for me in this response.

Like many, I want Supergirl to be recognized as her own character and valued. I want people to think she is strong enough to stand on her own, in her own book. It is a double-edged sword to keep her out of big events in the DCU. Keeping her free from crossovers allows Nelson to tell her stories. That said, it seems like fans loooovveee big cross-overs and keeping her out of them might make it seem she doesn't matter in the big picture. I am not a big fan of endless huge cross-overs so I actually like the idea of keeping Kara separate unless the cross-over makes sense to have her in there.

I also don't know how she can feel any resentment towards Superman, let alone for "a number of reasons". He has basically kept away from her and has only tried to help.

Multi: What do you hope to bring to the ‘New 52′ characterization of Kara? As she learns more about the world, how will she grow and change?

MAN: Right now, Kara is almost ready to accept Earth as home. Almost. It’s a decision she’ll come to eventually, but she’s going to falter along the way. But accepting Earth as her new home is more than renting an apartment and saying, “Here I am!” It’s going to be a lengthy learning experience for her and that education is going to be hard won. That’s where we’re going to see her grow and change. How does she fit in an alien world with hundreds of alien cultures on top of all of the things she’s going to have to deal with because she’s Supergirl? Plus, she’s only sixteen. Becoming an adult is hard enough. Add everything else into the mix and it’s going to make for some great stories. 

Learning and growing is part of the charm of Supergirl. So I am glad to hear that is intact.

But I hope this acceptance of Earth as home isn't an extremely drawn out process. I can understand feeling comfortable on Earth will take some time. But I don't want a year of stories with her in deep space before turning around and heading to Earth. How can you build a rogue's gallery, a supporting cast, or reinforce her place in the DCU if she isn't on Earth?

Multi: We are constantly hearing in the media about the lack of “strong female characters” carrying their own books. Since “Supergirl” is one of the more iconic female characters in comics, do you feel a responsibility to portray her in a certain way? Similarly, how important is establishing a diverse book, both in terms of race/sexual orientation/gender and in terms of plot?

MAN: Wow, I could go on and on about this subject, so I’ll try to keep it brief. A few years ago I wrote a series call 28 Days Later based on the movie of the same name. The main character of the series was a black woman named Selena who journeyed home to London in the middle of a zombie apocalypse (and to all the fans out there, yes, I know they’re “infected” and not zombies, but roll with me here). To date, it’s been my most successful title and Selena is arguably the strongest female character I’ve ever written.

Bringing all that back to Supergirl, it’s the same approach. I don’t know what it’s like to be on an alien planet in an alien culture, have superpowers, or be a sixteen-year-old girl with a constant stream of super-baddies looking to kill me. But I do know what it’s like to feel alone, lost,to want to be happy when it seems like the world is against you, and sadly, I know what it feels like to lose a parent. And that’s what I try to focus on. Supergirl is a strong female character, but not because she can fly or throw buses over her shoulder. She’s strong because of her resilience, her perseverance. She isn’t perfect. No one is. But if I stay true to her character, she’ll hopefully be someone readers will positively respond to.

I didn't read 28 Days Later and would love to hear from anyone who did.

This is another nice response about Supergirl. I like hearing about her resilience and perseverance and strength. What I need to hear more is that she is hopeful and good and heroic.

The next interview was on Newsarama and concentrated more about the new Cyborg Superman but also included some Kara news. Here is that link:

Nrama: Were you a fan of Cyborg Superman? What was it about the character that appealed to you?
Nelson: I had a passing familiarity with who Cyborg Superman was pre-New 52, but the new direction we have for the character is something I find very exciting. I really dig the way we've made him intricately associated with Supergirl as opposed to just borrowing a Superman villain. But the most exciting thing for me as a writer is the emotionally volatile story I get to tell because of that association. I've been having a great time with it.

So he isn't Hank Henshaw anymore apparently. And "intricately associated" with Supergirl. Hmmm ... I initially thought he would be some Simon Tycho amalgam but seeing him in space makes that unlikely. Maybe he is the fifth World Killer? Maybe he worked with Zor-El?

But I like him being a Supergirl and Superman link. I really want the cousins to start acting like family. Having something in common, even a villain, can't hurt.

Nrama: This new version Cyborg Superman is obviously... well... a cyborg. But does he still have the mind of a human? Is that still the core of the character?
Nelson: Yes and no. Any human memories are lost to him and the basic empathy that most humans possess is completely gone. I see the core of his character as a desperate need to fill in the missing gaps, to feel complete no matter the cost.

Now this is an interesting answer, specifically since he is fighting Supergirl. She is on the run from her sad feelings, trying to forget the pain, become invulnerable to it. And he seems to be trying to run to any sort of feeling. That dichotomy has to add some zing to their story.

Nrama: So you said he's connected to Supergirl?
Nelson: Depending on how you look at it, yes. But it's playing with that connection and making it something profound that has been so much fun. We really wanted to make him a big part of Supergirl's world and playing with that connection has been one way of doing that.

Nrama: Why do you think this villain works with Supergirl?
Nelson: Because they both want to have their pasts back. Kara in the literal sense. She wants to be back on Krypton with her family and friends while Cyborg Superman simply wants to have his memories returned, to feel whole again. But Kara will never be able to have that. Cyborg Superman just might. But keep in mind, this arc's title "Be Careful What You Wish For..." doesn't just apply to Supergirl. And hopefully, when the Villain One-Shot hits and it comes back around to Supergirl, that will all make sense.

After reading Supergirl #21 we know how Kara can get a version of Krypton back. Given the Cyborg Superman sports the sigil of the House of El, he clearly must have some connection to Krypton itself. The fact that it isn't a direct connection to Supergirl (his connection 'depends on how you look at it), that would eliminate any friend or possible romantic character. Could this be some former scientist?

I wonder if he leeches memories or feelings somehow. Will Kara recreating and remembering Krypton strengthen him?

Nrama: How important is the September issue to what you've got coming up in Supergirl?
Nelson: Well, you won't have to read the September issue to understand what's happening in Supergirl. However, it will give a great deal of context and make the events of the following issue even more heartbreaking than if you hadn't read it. The issue isn't necessary, but it will add so much to the story that Supergirl fans shouldn't miss it.

Hmmm ...
Why not call it Supergirl 23.1 then?

It is a shame that Supergirl didn't get some of the lift of this monthly publicity stunt.

Nrama: But the Forever Evil events affect the whole DCU. So how do the events affect Kara?
Nelson: The events are going to be rather confusing for Kara. Right now, she's struggling to find her place in the universe, wondering if she even has a place at all. That becomes more difficult when the landscape keeps changing underneath her. The challenge and the fun for me is navigating these sea changes while still developing Kara as the center of her own little corner of the world and focusing on her own goals and desires for her own future.

 So it seems like Kara is sitting out this crossover. I guess since she has barely met the heroes of this world, distinguishing them from the villains might be tough.

I do think Supergirl's character isn't settled enough to be a pawn in one of the hero/villain wars. So I am glad she is getting a pass and being allowed to build her own title up.  


Martin Gray said...

Ah, enough with these general news sites, Nelson - you should be talking to the world's premiere Supergirl news and opinion site. Anj has some questions ...

Anonymous said...

Everytime Supergirl gets a new writer, said scribe announces in a subsequent interview that they have "always been a big Supergirl fan". For the most part what I think this means is, they originally saw the character in the original Superman The Animated Series and thought she might be interesting to write someday...:D


PRgirl1294 said...

Well, in the solicits for "Supergirl #22", it mentions that she has to deal with a major Superman foe. Cyborg Superman is most likely that major Superman foe, implicitly meaning that he has battled Superman before. And just because he doesn't have his human memories doesn't mean that he's not Hank Henshaw.

valerie21601 said...

I had noticed Nelson went out of his way not to answer "are you a Supergirl fan" question in his earlier interviews too, Anj. He would immediately change the subject when asked it.

I loved the Kara of the Superman, Animated Series and later when she was in Justice League Unlimited, where she had a father/ daughter relationship with Green Arrow. Plus how Supergirl and Brainiac 5 got to meet and stay together in the 31st century.