Monday, September 23, 2013

Tony Bedard On Newsarama

The big recent Supergirl news has been a creative team turnover with Tony Bedard taking over as writer and Yildiray Cinar taking over on art. This'll be the third creative team on the book in the first 2 years, a sign that DC is still trying to figure out exactly what they want to do with the character as well as stabilize sales.

We had a year and a half of Mike Johnson (and initially Michael Green) with Supergirl landing on Earth and being lost, learning about her troubled past. Michael Alan Nelson took over on issue #20 with a great Power Girl cross-over only to bring the series to an even darker place than before.

It just seemed to me that every time Kara was about to turn the corner in the book, start to embrace Earth as home, and maybe become a hero something made the book backtrack. First it was H'El on Earth. Then it was Zor-El and Cyborg Superman. Most likely Krypton Returns won't help matters.

Anyways, Tony Bedard is taking over and started the publicity trail with an interview on Newsarama. Here is the link:

As always, it is well worth reading the interview in its entirety so head there please. One of the things that I like here is that Bedard immediately says he wants to make Supergirl likeable and to move her more towards the light. Unlike past interviews about Supergirl, it isn't backed up with the caveat 'but it's dark ... really dark'! I still am a bit riled when Bobbie Chase laughing as she says the title is dark when Nelson was announced.

Okay enough dwelling on the past. Let's hear what Bedard is thinking.

Newsarama: Tony, as a writer, what do you think is the most compelling thing about writing Supergirl?
Tony Bedard: As a creator, any time you take on a character with that big "S" on their chest, you've wandered onto holy ground. Superman is the superhero, the one from which all others descend. So it's both thrilling and a little intimidating to handle one of the Superman family characters, and I've never been more committed to doing a character justice. I guess the trick is not to let my reverence for Kara keep me from taking chances with her. I want to be true to her roots and yet surprise readers every month by showing what makes Kara Zor-El unique in the Superman universe.

Remember, Bedard wrote Supergirl before, in the last title and in R.E.B.E.L.S. Both of those quick stops showed that he seemed to grasp who Kara was (or should be). And so I am not surprised to read that he as a reverence (!!) for Supergirl as a character. To hear him say he is committed to doing a character justice is also reassuring for me. Incredible.

I would love to ask Bedard if he has been a Supergirl fan in the past. I bet if I asked him about her, he would talk about prior runs. Unlike other writers who seem to have no sense of her history, this sounds great! He wants her to be faithful to her root but surprise people.

Nrama: A lot of your fans will remember that you've written Supergirl before (although it was a different version of Kara). What is it about Supergirl as a character that's appealing to you as a writer (making you want to take another shot at writing her)?
Bedard: Well, despite her pedigree, Supergirl remains a bit of an untapped character. She's mostly been defined by her relation to Superman, and I want to do everything I can to make her special in her own right. If she can emerge from Superman's shadow the way Nightwing did from Batman, that would be the ultimate success. But first let's just get her back to Earth and remind everyone how much there is to love about the Girl of Steel.

I really got the sense that the last Supergirl was finally out of Superman's shadow. Between Sterling Gates' stories and her stint on the JLA with James Robinson, she really seemed to be grasping her own destiny.

This current Supergirl just seems completely lost right now. Heck, she is crying alone and disintegrated as I write this. So I hope that Bedard is able to finally bring her into the spotlight. The Nightwing analogy is the best one. After all, they were the World's Finest in the JLA run.

Nrama: Over the last two years, we've been seeing Kara figure out what her role is on Earth. Is she still figuring that out as you take over? Where's her head when you start your first story?
Bedard: I pick up Supergirl just as she's returning to Earth from the events of "Krypton Returns" that will run through the Super-books this Fall. I'm not going to spoil anything that happens there except to say that Supergirl plays a big part in that event and the experience is emotionally wrenching. And if you've been reading Supergirl from the start you know that Kara's life was already one heartbreak after another since she got here. So she shows back up on Earth on the brink of breaking down and her only friend, Siobhan (aka Silver Banshee) is still mad at the lousy way Kara ran out on her a few issues ago. Kara will end up seeking the counsel of a major new player in the Superman Universe and her clash with Lobo will push all her buttons.

Can I say that I am completely scared that 'Krypton Returns' is going to be awful? To hear Bedard say that she is emotionally wrenched makes me even more worried.

I can only hope that from the ashes, Bedard can have her rise above.

But I do like that Kara will seek counsel from a 'major new player' in the Superman universe. Who could that be?

Nrama: Are there any areas that are going to get a focus once you take over Supergirl? Which concepts/characters/corners in Kara's world are you hoping to give the spotlight?
Bedard: I think it's natural for a sixteen year-old, even an alien sixteen year-old, to have her share of angst and uncertainty, but I don't want her to be Super-mope. I'd rather remind folks why she is likable and not have her come across as whiny or bitter. We need to see an upside for Supergirl, and her friendship with Siobhan is one good way to get there. Yeah, they still have to patch things up after Supergirl basically ran off to go die in space, but Siobhan is a real human connection for Kara — a way to feel like she does have a place on Earth and someone to care for. I'm not saying that Kara's life is suddenly going to be a cakewalk, but making Kara likable and building up her rogues gallery are the two big missions I'm focusing on at the moment.

I think this answer stands on its own. It does echo exactly what I have been feeling.

She shouldn't be a mope; she needs to be likable. She shouldn't be whiny or bitter.

It won't be a cakewalk. (I call it saccharine.)

Great stuff.

Nrama: As long as we're on the subject of rogues, it looks like the first rogue to go up against Supergirl is Lobo. What can you tell us about Lobo as you're writing him, and what's it like when he mixes with Supergirl?
Bedard:  [...] At the end of the day, though, this is not a story about Lobo. It's Supergirl's book and it's her story. Lobo is there as a sort of dark reflection of her. They're both super-powerful loners left over from dead planets. Lobo has channeled his power and rage into becoming the most dangerous bounty-hunter/assassin in the galaxy. Supergirl's still trying to figure out what to do with her power and her lot in life. Tangling with Lobo will show her one path she might go down. It's really a cautionary tale for her, and she'll come away knowing that she could easily end up like him if she doesn't get her act together.

There is more to this answer. But I included this paragraph because I thought it was great. The idea of Lobo being a dark reflection of ..., a cautionary tale for ... Supergirl is great. It shows a depth of thinking here. His actions will make her get her act together! Again, Reign could have been that character. In fact, I thought that after she saved Manhatten from the World Killers I thought the triumphant Supergirl would move forward. Instead she became more mired.

And I am not a Lobo guy, so silly bruiser biker of svelte killer ... it doesn't matter.

Nrama: Any other goals you have for the Supergirl title that you want to tell fans as they look forward to your run?
Bedard: It's still early days and I'm talking through the possibilities with my editor Rickey Purdin, but we have some very cool ideas for who to pit Supergirl against down the line — stuff you wouldn't expect and villains that say a lot about who Supergirl is and who she isn't. Who knows, maybe she'll even find someone to date who isn't trying to destroy the planet behind her back? Plus, there's the all mani-pedi issue. Just kidding about that last one.
The truth is that over my career I've had my brightest spots doing either cosmic stuff (Negation, Exiles, R.E.B.E.L.S., Green Lantern, Green Lantern: New Guardians) or books with young female protagonists (Route 666, Rogue, Birds Of Prey). Supergirl gives me a chance to combine the two and I couldn't be happier about that.

So Rickey Purdin has been editing for a while ... albeit with Eddie Berganza. Will Berganza force his 'bad grrl' vision on Bedard?? I hope not.

And I wouldn't mind seeing Supergirl in a cosmic style story at some point. But I really think that she needs to become much more established on Earth before we move there.

Bedard certainly has a pedigree that I like. And he sounds so optimistic about Supergirl. Not cautiously optimistic ... not optimistic but in a dark dark book. But optimistic!

So onwards and upwards!


Martin Gray said...

Now I'm optimistic. Yes, Return to Krypton will likely by awful - it sounds like Tony Bedard wants to get her back to Earth ASAP. I'm hoping the new player will by Streaky ... what, you can't get counsel from a cat?

And I loved his comments about Kara's boyfriends. So true.

I'm no Lobo fan either, but it seems DC wants Lobo to get exposure across the line; at least Bedard has found a point to his appearance.

Tony Bedard is a good writer, a relay nice guy and obviously a Supergirl fan. December can't come soon enough.

iopy said...

I am being cautiously optimistic. Bedard did a good job in that three issue fill in, and with a Kara who was in desperate need of fixing after many issues of poor stories and bad characterization. Maybe he can do that again.

On a side note, September 22nd was Kara Zor-El's birthday. Happy Birthday Kara!

AndNowInStereo said...

Do you guys get the impression we're in the minority about being concerned with where Nelson took the story in the last issue? I keep seeing really positive reviews of all of Nelson's issues including #23 all over the internet. A lot of them saying it's better than under Johnson and some saying "Nelson finally made me care about Supergirl" I mean, I was enjoying it too, and indeed so was Anj, it just went a bit far for me. I don't expect protagonists to get disintegrated in a book with their name on the top of the cover, and if they do they'd damn well better go down fighting.

I'm also baffled as to why Nelson was only on for six issues, I don't get it. We know Yildiray Cinar's not in for the long haul either at this point. Is this kind of creator roulette the new normal at DC?

And indeed it was Supergirl's birthday yesterday, although supposedly she has several depending on what source you look at. *Shrug*