With Supergirl being spotlighted in Secret Origin and joining JLU in April as well as 'Red Daughter' being right around the corner, Tony Bedard has hit the publicity trail in earnest. Two comic sites posted interviews about Supergirl this last week: Newsarama and Comicosity. There is some overlap of the information Bedard reveals but both interviews are worth reading in their entirety, so please head to the sites themselves.
For the most part, these interviews continue an overall trend of optimism about how Bedard will write Supergirl. But there are certain phrases and answers here which make me think there still might be some rough spots ahead.
First, here is the Newsarama link and a story focusing on the Supergirl story in Secret Origins #1:
And here are the blurbs that caught my eye.
Newsarama: Tony, we've seen a lot of Supergirl's origin over the first couple years of her series. From what angle is this story told?
Bedard: Secret Origins will definitely be a new-reader friendly series, covering the basics of each character featured, but I also wanted to get something fresh in the Supergirl story, particularly because her origin had been revisited a few times recently.
So we'll cover the stuff you'd expect to see — Kara on Krypton, Zor-El sending her to Earth, how she got her costume, what her powers are, etc. — but we're also going to learn more about her mother Alura and how her actions motivate Kara to embrace her role as Supergirl.
Since coming on the Supergirl series, I've been very keen to make Kara more proactive and more positive. Working on this origin story has helped me realize how we can get her there.
I actually like the idea of Alura being a big part in Kara's life and a sort of role model for her. What little we have seen of Alura in the New 52 have made her seem more like a nagging mother, trying to get Kara to conform to social norms. I hope Bedard shatters that idea. We saw in the last incarnation of Supergirl that Alura was a demanding mother, but also one who was extremely proud and protective of her daughter. That Alura was a powerful woman. So maybe we will see more of that.
And, as always, I don't mind hearing how part of the Bedard's mission is to make Kara more proactive and positive.
Nrama: How many pages is it? And was it a challenge to put her origin into that small a space? Are you able to include much of it?
Bedard: This is a 12-page story, and there's a lot to pack in there: who Kara was before Krypton blew up, how her father tricked her into that rocket, the nature and variety of her powers, the origin of her costume, and how she's a fish out of water on Earth.
Nevertheless, this little 12-pager is what helped me crack open my approach to Kara's motivation. It was a real Eureka moment, and I think we have something that really makes her stand on her own, not just follow in Superman's footsteps. Check it out and you'll see what I mean.
The eureka moment has to involve Alura in some way. Maybe there is some memory that resurfaces, some heart to heart where Alura talks about responsibility and optimism?
It will be a nice quick set-up for the new tenor of the book and a perfect jumping on point. Remember when Peter David and Tery Dodson did a warm-up for their title in Showcase '96?
Nrama: What's it been like getting to put your stamp on Supergirl's story – not only in this Secret Origins story, but also in the series so far?
Bedard: it's kind of like being allowed to handle some priceless, delicate artifact. It's thrilling and yet you're constantly aware that you have to honor the thing in your grasp. That's what it's like having stewardship of Supergirl, even more so than writing Green Lantern characters or any other monthly book I've done. There's something that borders on sacred about the Superman characters and I just want to do justice by Kara Zor-El and make her someone readers look forward to spending time with.
Supergirl is a priceless artifact. Cool. It shows a healthy respect for the character and the Superman family as a whole. So more optimism.
I will have to go back in time to the Gates/Igle introductory interviews but that sort of drum-beating about making her positive and wanting people to read the book sounds so familiar.
Nrama: I know we talked recently about Supergirl's upcoming time as a Red Lantern. But now that fans are aware of Supergirl getting a Red Lantern ring, is there anything you want to clarify? Anything we should notice about what's coming for the character?
Bedard: Personally, I'm excited to be working with Charles Soule on this moment in Kara's life. He has really made Red Lanterns all his own and it's fun to cross over with that cast of characters. But I think there are some Supergirl fans out there that wonder if giving Kara a red ring is a mistake. I want to tell those fans that this is more of a turning point. This is Kara working through her anger and resentment and realizing Fate handed her an opportunity to become the greatest ever daughter of the House of El.
Knowing that this is a speed bump and not a long stretch of road makes it much easier for me to swallow this arc. It is clear that this Supergirl needed some sort of cathartic moment to have her shed this 'woe is me, I'm alone, I hate everything' attitude and move to something positive. So if it is the fire of the Red Lanterns that brings us there, I will begrudgingly roll with it ... for three months.
And now onto the Comicosity interview here:
Tony Bedard: We’re going to see more of what Kara was like before Krypton’s destruction, including some new stuff about her mother, Alura. Turns out that while Jor-El and Zor-El were Krypton’s greatest scientists, their wives were powerhouses all their own. They really wore the pants, and any daughter of the House of El was expected to live up to high standards — sort of the Kryptonian version of being Hillary Clinton’s daughter, or being born a Kennedy. Kara will end up with a motivation to be Supergirl that isn’t just based on Superman’s example and the values he learned growing up in Kansas. Supergirl deserves to me more than just a Superman knock-off and this Secret Origins story helps define her on her own terms.
I suppose this cements the Eureka moment being about Alura. I don't mind Supergirl having different motivations. But I hope her values are similar to Superman's .. even if the origin is more Krypton than Kansas.
The idea that Supergirl doesn't need to be in Superman's shadow is one I embrace. But that doesn't mean I think they need to be separate or antagonistic. Nightwing and Red Robin never had this issue brought up. They were/are independent but still linked to Batman and involved with his big stories.
MSG: Supergirl’s origin, of course, is intrinsically tied to that of that of her marquee cousin, Superman. Their relationship (or lack thereof) has been focused on quite a bit to date, but what’s your take on where they’ve been and where they could be headed in the future?TB: In the past, it was usually Superman showing Supergirl the ropes. She was like a kid sister to him. In the New 52, there is more of an adversarial relationship, mostly stemming from the fact that Kara didn’t grow up here and she doesn’t fit in like her cousin does. She wears the “S” on her chest, but its meaning to her is different than its meaning to Superman. She was coming of age when she was torn away from Krypton. Kryptonian culture isn’t an abstraction to her. Yeah, she and Kal-El are still family, but there’s plenty of friction, too.
So this friction line at the end is something that bothers me. I don't want them to be adversarial either. Superman and Supergirl can be individuals but familial, loving and respectful of each other.
There is a difference between independent and separated. Kal and Kara could be family, close, and solo. Again, I don't think people are wringing their hands worried that the Bat-books need to be completely isolated from each other for fear of losing one character's presence to Batman's engulfing presence.
MSG: Have you had occasion to collaborate with either Red Lanterns writer Charles Soule or Justice League United writer Jeff Lemire on Kara’s ongoing adventures? How do you divide the responsibilities/territory in dealing with Supergirl’s ongoing adventures, especially now that she’s a bit more removed from the Superman ?
TB: As for Jeff, I just reached out to him yesterday to start coordinating how we approach Kara. Her joining the Justice League marks another major milestone for her. So far, she’s been a lost Kryptonian who happens to be wearing a “super” costume. Now she’s really going to have to step up to the Supergirl role, especially since she’s part of a team. I think she’s going to be more Supergirl than ever, even if she’s still learning to get by in an alien society.
I imagine that the JLU's cosmic themes and Supergirl's Kryptonian emphasis makes her a natural for this book. I have tremendous trust in Jeff Lemire, another writer who hasn't disappointed. So I can't wait to see Supergirl written by him.
And maybe that Alura's influence is that Supergirl needs to help on a universal stage rather than just planetary.
MSG: By taking Supergirl back to having much more recently arrived than she had pre-New 52, what kinds of opportunities do you feel DC has opened up for you as a creator and Kara’s writer?
TB: I think more than anything it’s a chance to let Supergirl stand on her own, rather than being a subset of Superman. She has her own agenda and reasons to be Supergirl that have more to do with Krypton than Kansas. I think the New 52 has given us a chance to empower Supergirl and make her better, edgier, and more admirable than ever before.
Better and more admirable? Perfect.
Edgier? Depends on how that is defined.
Edgy meaning she is learning the ropes and sometimes does things a little differently than more experienced heroes is fine. Gates' Supergirl could be considered edgy given she punched out lots of good guys and did whatever she thought she needed to do to help people. That sort of edgy I am okay with.
Edgy as bloodthirsty, angry, angsty, isolated ... all the current attributes of edginess we see in the current title ... I'm not on board.
I am hopeful Bedard means the former. We'll find out real soon.