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.
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.