Saturday, January 11, 2014

Optimism Found! Bedard & Soule On Newsarama

The news of Supergirl becoming a Red Lantern dropped like a bomb. And the overall reaction has been at best luke warm. In fairness, I do not think it was a good idea. I think Supergirl has gone down far enough in the New 52 to turn things around on her own.

The publicity tour about the decision has been interesting to follow. Red Lantern writer Charles Soule and Supergirl writer Tony Bedard have been visiting the usual sites and talking about the decision. At times, it has sounded like they needed to defend the decision. And most of those interviews have concentrated on the Lantern books with only a couple of Supergirl questions put into the mix.

But their last interview, over on Newsarama, was strictly about Supergirl and ... believe it or not ... made me optimistic! Here is the link:    It is an interview well worth reading in its entirety as it covers a lot of Supergirl information. But I will bring some of the questions and responses here and add my usual commentary.

Newsarama: Tony, we talked a couple of months ago about your plans for Supergirl, but now that we've read your first issue, it's clear that you're utilizing the emotional roller coaster that Kara has been on, yet pointing her in a new direction. Is that how you'd describe it?
Tony Bedard: I know where I'd like the character to be, but I'm trying to get her there in a way that respects the previous issues and isn't unrealistically abrupt.

What it boils down to is that Kara's life has been one disaster after another since arriving on Earth. As she reacts to this the way any teenager would, she can come across as angry, mopey or whiny. I want her to be a positive, likable character who embraces the responsibilities that come with her newfound power. So I'm trying to use this encounter with Lobo and her moment in the Red Lantern Corps as a pivot point to work through her anger/resentment and emerge as the Supergirl we'd all like to see.

This is a great answer for a couple of reasons.

For one, Bedard again talks about getting Supergirl moving in a new direction. He knows what he'd like her to be. But he doesn't want to simply move past the prior stories. I suppose that organically dealing with the fallout of Supergirl's life makes sense. It wouldn't work for her to have a splash page where she is suddenly sunny.

It reminded me of Sterling Gates' first Supergirl issues and the interviews leading up to it. Gates had to deal not only with the all the angst and anger heaped on her but crystal blood and a killing streak. Gates washed it away as Kryptonite poisoning. Bedard will burn it away with rage.

But what I really loved about this ... and maybe I am over reading this ... is that Bedard talks about Kara's moment in the Red Lantern Corps. A moment! That doesn't sound like a 2 year orderal.

Bedard: I won't spoil all the fun, but I do want to mention that one of our priorities in Supergirl right now is to build up Kara's supporting cast and rogues gallery. Getting Lobo, Shay Veritas and the Block in on the action is part of our effort to expand Kara's world. And there's more to be mined with The Block and its commander Dr. Veritas. Internally, we sometimes refer to Veritas as the "New 52 Professor Hamilton."

I think it's a good way to look at role in the Superman Universe, though I think Shay has even greater potential as a character.

This seems to be an answer that every new writer on Supergirl brings to the table. The book always seems to need a supporting cast and additions to a rogue's gallery. The best Supergirl books have those - whether it is Peter David's Leesburg crew or Gates/Igle bringing in Lana and Inspector Henderson and Reactron and Superwoman and BizarroGirl. Any good book is going to have those. So far, outside of Siobhan, Supergirl has been alone in this new book. So let's fix that.

And Shay Veritas is the new Professor Hamilton? For those of us who think that she is a super-villain in waiting that is music to the ears. Hamilton was Ruin after all.

Nrama: Tony, there's been a lot of reaction to the news that Supergirl is going to be a blood-spewing, hate-filled Red Lantern. She's been portrayed as a teen who just wants to do the right thing. Is there going to be a huge change to her personality when "Red Daughter of Krypton" begins in Supergirl?

Bedard: I view it as a chance for her to grow. She has a lot of good reason to be angry, and she desperately wants a place to belong. For a moment she'll feel like the Red Lantern Corps is actually a good fit for her. But what she'll come to realize is that Rage and Revenge only take you so far. She's better than that. Along the way, we'll introduce another new villain with unexpected ties to her roots. I know it's easy to see this Red Lantern thing as making Kara even less likable, but I see it as a great opportunity to deal directly with her anger and have her emerge as someone worthy of the "S" on her chest.

First of all, I wonder if the interviewer comes around here. "A teen who just wants to do the right thing" sounds like my description.

Anyways, this is another great answer. It is why I am placing my trust in Bedard.

Rage and Revenge can only go so far. She's better than that. She'll emerge as someone worthy of the "S" on her chest. Wonderful wonderful wonderful.

And an new villain with a connection to her roots. It better not be Alura! Maybe it is the last World Killer, absolving Kara of that tag!

Nrama: Charles, you're also utilizing Superman in the March issue— further making good on your promise to me last month that the Red Lanterns would encounter Earth heroes. What does Superman think of this situation?
Soule: In the New 52, Superman and Supergirl aren’t incredibly close. Nevertheless, Superman still feels very responsible for Kara, as she is his cousin, and one of the few surviving Kryptonians. I don’t want to spoil too much of the story, but Superman doesn’t know much about the way Red Lanterns work, and the little he does know comes from Hal Jordan. Which means, in other words, that pretty much everything he knows is bad. As far as he’s concerned, Guy and the other Reds have turned his poor, innocent cousin into some sort of slavering rage monster. Not a great place for Guy and the Reds to be, if you ask me.

Blog friend Thomas Hayes says that in this issue Superman represents us, lashing out at making Supergirl into a slavering rage monster.

Anyways, I hope that part of the new direction by Bedard is mending the relationship between the super-cousins. I don't need Kara beholden to him. I don't need her in awe of him. But they should be friends and she should be able to talk to him and they should spend time together.

Nrama: Then to finish up, Tony, how would you describe the road ahead for Supergirl in 2014, particularly after her experience being a Red Lantern?
Bedard: When I pitched my Supergirl outline to the editorial department, I described Kara's character arc as going "from angry, whiny teen to self-possessed hero." I don't mean that as a knock against anyone else's stories, but as a declaration of my intention to make Supergirl someone to look up to and someone you'll look forward to spending time with every month. And not because she's trying to live up to Cousin Kal, but because she is awesome all on her own.

New villains, stronger supporting cast, and a new outlook. That's where Kara Zor-El is headed, and she's going to pass through the crucible to get there. It's what this character deserves and I hope everyone reading this will come along for the ride.

Nice wrap-up. It really sounds like Bedard is a Supergirl fan. Going from angry and whiny to a hero. Making Supergirl someone to look up to. She is awesome on her own. This all makes me happy! Now I just have to see this all happen.

Still, after a period of being a gloom and doom guy here, I finally have a real sense of optimism. 


Anonymous said...

I'll believe it when I see it. The series has been at a creative standstill since the relaunch...This reads like a "Hail Mary Pass" by way of doubling down on all the creative mistakes they've made on SG since the git-go.


Thomas Hayes said...

I'm optimistic too.

Doug said...

That is pretty encouraging! Fingers crossed

Anonymous said...

This is great news.


Anonymous said...

Looking forward to this "Red daughter of Krypton" arc. Cant wait to see it.

albert said...

Of course you could be wildly speculating what he means by a "moment".

Anj said...

Thanks for the comments.

I know I may be looking at this interview through rose colored glasses. But I am hopeful.

Bedard says 'moment' not 'years'. That has to mean something ... right?

Anonymous said...

If everyone who cares about Supergirl's direction just stopped and didn't buy the Red Lantern issues, or even simply waited a couple of months before picking them up for completion's sake, the resulting plunge in sales would cause DC to rethink the whole thing and end the rage much, much sooner.

But of course that won't happen. DC will get the wrong message as the Red Lantern angle boosts sales, so they'll draw the event out for as long as possible until sales appear to be dropping again.

If you want to turn the ship around, stop leaning on the gas pedal.

Anj said...

If everyone who cares about Supergirl's direction just stopped and didn't buy the Red Lantern issues, or even simply waited a couple of months before picking them up for completion's sake, the resulting plunge in sales would cause DC to rethink the whole thing and end the rage much, much sooner.

This might work for some characters that are always safe from being canceled and never returning.

Drop Lobdell's Superman? A new creative team will take over. Because Superman won't be canceled.

Didn't like an Avengers lineup with Mr Fantastic and Gilgamesh at the helm? Leave the book and someone else will come in. Avengers will always be around.

But Supergirl?

If everyone leaves, DC might decide that it isn't the direction that has failed. They might decide it is the character.

They might cancel the book and think she can't headline.

It is why I talked about the tipping point earlier this week.

Is it better to have a bad book and complain about it than have no book at all? With an ongoing title, there is always the chance of rebirth. With a canceled book, we might never see the character as a headliner again.

For example, will we see an OMAC book or a Resurrection Man book any time soon? When will we see a Firestorm solo title again? Who knows.

Trust me. If this is handled wrong, I will leave.

Anj said...

If you want to turn the ship around, stop leaning on the gas pedal.

And if I didn't imply it enough with my response above ...

I completely understand your point. It is entirely valid and I contemplated going your way.

I guess I am trying to be optimistic.

Thomas Hayes said...

I agree with both Anj and Mr. Anonymous here. I personally am optimistic given what both writers are saying so I'm definitely not dropping Supergirl, and I like and genuinely enjoy Red Lanterns so I'm subbing to that too and feel like I trust Soule to make this good in his book. But of course, it's entirely one's right and indeed responsibility to withdraw monetary support from products (because that's what these comics are after all) that do not appeal to you. Comics are not a charity and they don't deserve our money if they're not entertaining, and giving them your cash when you don't agree with the content sends the wrong message.

So for these reasons, I'm in and looking forward to this, but if it starts sucking, I'm out. I'm optimistic, yes, but my money isn't to be taken for granted by any entertainment industry. So I will judge the final product on its merits after the first few issues and decide for myself.

Gear said...

Anj has a very valid point. DC isn't going to think they're writing Supergirl wrong if people stop reading the book. They'll think nobody wants to read a book about Supergirl and we won't have a book. She'll join Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown on the bench. Or she'll be killed off like Kon. Or worse, killed and disappear for a decade or two like Silver Age Kara.

DC isn't noted for admitting mistakes. They're much more likely to say that fans don't want to read Supergirl rather than that they don't want to read a badly conceived and written one. Eddie Berganza, I'm looking your way.

I'm optimistic because Soule and Bedard are saying things that make me feel that way. I'd prefer a direction that didn't make things worse before they got better, but at least they're saying things are going to get better. They're both quality writers so I'm sticking with it to the bitter end rather than being bitter myself.


Martin Gray said...

Yeah, they can't fool us. We know that Shay is evil. I never liked Emil either, bring back Prof Potter.

Anonymous said...

I'm cautiously optimistic. I think Bedard will follow through with his plans if he is allowed to and actually given a long run on the title. If he's gone is six months to a year it's possible what he does won't stick.

I think Kara has the beginnings of a good group of supporting characters and villains. Siobahn of course, along with her brother. Veritas could go either way as an ally or villain. Tycho could always return. Sanctuary is still hunting Kara. The World Killers are still out there, as well as Cyborg Superman.

So if Bedard can build on that and bring more in, I think Kara will be headed in the right direction. I'm just hoping Bedard stays with the series for at least two years. This book won't be served by constantly switching writers. Look at Superboy for proof of that.

ealperin said...

Cautiosly optimistic, over here, but intruiged, nonetheless.