It is well worth reading the entire interview which also includes some sneak preview pages of the upcoming Supergirl #34. But, as usual some of the things said in the interview struck me and are worth a couple of lines of commentary. Newsarama: Tony, since you've been writing
this version of Supergirl, what's been the biggest challenge as you
integrate her into the DCU after the New 52 relaunch??? Tony Bedard: Biggest challenge? Trying to
get her some friends. Trying to get her a life. Trying to give her a reason to
use her powers for good that goes beyond just being Superman's cousin. When I picked up the reins on Supergirl,
poor Kara had been through one disappointment after another. She lost her
parents, her planet, and her only friend on Earth. She had been used and
tricked by multiple people, including her first love. I wanted to give her a
break! But the thing I learned on the
Green Lantern books is that if you're doing a top-tier character, you often
have to play along with events in your sister-books, and that's certainly been
true on Supergirl. So between a new Lobo, a stint in the Red Lantern
Corps and Superman: Doomed, it's been a challenge to stay on target with
what I want to do for her as a character.
Boy, that first sentence of his answer encapsulates much of what has plagued this book since the New 52. And it mirrors so much which troubled the early issues of the last incarnation. There hasn't been a purpose or a drive for this character. She has been reacting rather than acting, and often reacting in an unsympathetic way. So I am glad that Bedard sees it as a problem. I also like a sentiment he hints on here but carries throughout the interview. The crossovers she has been part of (specifically H'El on Earth and Krypton Returns) both have derailed any momentum this book was gaining.
Nrama: But I feel like she has
evolved since you've taken over the book, especially in recent issues. I assume
that was your goal… or did it come from the story as you wrote it??? Bedard: The goal was to preserve Kara's
teen angst and her struggles on an alien world (Earth) while making her a
little more likable, a little less of a whiny sad sack. Along with that goal comes the
need to give her a supporting cast, or at least a friend or two. And, as I said
above, this can be tricky while accommodating storylines like the Red Lanterns
crossover that I didn't see coming when I first got started on Supergirl. But another thing I've learned
over the years is that the unexpected is usually an opportunity, and that was
exactly the case with Kara's time as a Red Lantern. It turned out that getting
her on that team gave her an instant supporting cast that gladly accepted her
and gave her the friendship she so desperately wanted.
I find this answer interesting. First off, raise your hand if you think Supergirl needs to be more likable and less like a whiny sad sack. (My hand is up.) At times it has been hard to read this character - mostly in the above mentioned crossovers.
But then Bedard comes right out and says he didn't know about the Red Lantern turn when he first accepted the Supergirl gig. It corroborates the 'Charles Soule blurted it out in the Superman summit' murmurs we read in other places.
But the truth is, the Red Lantern arc turned out to be much better than I anticipated. And it did show Kara all of the things she was missing in her life ... purpose, noble goals, friends. All things she should want to replicate in her own title. Talk about making lemonade from lemons!
Nrama: Thus the move away from the Red
Lanterns? Bedard: The main thing the red ring
gave her was a chance to face her own anger over losing everything she knew
when Krypton exploded and being betrayed and deceived by so many people since
she arrived on Earth. All that stuff makes for great drama, but I really think
Supergirl needs to be an aspirational character, a positive example. The other thing the Red Lantern
Corps gave her was a much-needed sense of acceptance and belonging. Kara really
needed that. And I have to thank Charles Soule both for coming up with the idea
of giving Kara the red ring and for making his Red Lanterns book such a
fun and funny read. It gave me a chance to inject some humor into Kara's
adventures, and there's no better way to build empathy for a character than to
make the reader smile and laugh with them.
It amazed me when I was reading Red Daughter that since the New 52, Kara sounded the most like the true Kara while under that mask. She should be an aspirational and inspirational figure. She should be a positive example. She should do her best to embody the S-shield while still learning the ropes. And Red Lanterns gave us that - a caring friend to Bleez, a thinker, a protector, someone Guy said was better than the Reds.
Nrama: OK, so she's moving forward in
a positive direction. Yet there have been some recent revelations about her
past, particularly the motivations we've learned of the WorldKillers toward
her. How does her history tie into her growth as a character — and also into
what's coming up in Supergirl??? Bedard: Kara's history is hugely
important to defining her character, especially for giving her a reason to use
her powers for the good of others, rather than for her own personal gain. One
thing I tried to do, especially in her origin story in Secret Origins #1,
was to set up that in Kara's family on Krypton, the men may have been the
thinkers, but the women were the doers. It wasn't enough to me that Kara just
follow in her cousin Kal-El's footsteps when she got to Earth. I wanted her to
have her own Kryptonian reason for wanting to do something positive and
proactive with her life. That's what's expected of a daughter of the House of
El. Heck, it's even kind of feminist, not just making her a subset of Superman.
I had a complicated relationship with Sterling Gates' Alura, ending up loving her more than I thought I would and frankly missing her.
So this turn of being a Daughter of the House of El, a 'doer', someone who will strive to honor the family crest is perfect in my mind.
Supergirl needs to be part of the Superman family. She needs to love and work with her cousin. They need to care for each other. But she needs her own purpose. This is a good one.
Nrama: Yeah, let's talk about Supergirl:
Futures End #1. This involves Cyborg Superman? Bedard: Yeah, we jump ahead five years
to find Cyborg Superman has been joined by...Cyborg Supergirl! Father and daughter are
terrorizing the galaxy, and now they've set their sights on Earth. But we'll also learn about a big
romance that Supergirl had between now and five years from now, with the last
person you might guess.
This is the one part of the interview that gave me pause. Isn't a Supergirl terrorizing a galaxy a step backwards from all this positive, inspiring stuff? That said, all of Future's End is depressing so this crossover will be among many.
Nrama: What's her role in the Doomed
storyline??? Bedard: Supergirl and the Red Lanterns
take on "Superdoom," who proves to be more than a match for all of
them, but Superdoom manages to get control of himself enough to ask Kara to
watch over Earth while he's in self-imposed exile. This will be a challenge for
Supergirl, since the military set off a Kryptonite bomb to drive away
Superdoom. But it also shows that despite
the distance between them, Superman recognizes Supergirl's potential and would
turn to her in his darkest hour.
Nrama: Is this the start of a new
story arc? Bedard: It's more of a character issue
than a launch point for a story arc, but I think with all the big moments and
crossovers and such, a character-centric issue is just the ticket right now.
I don't recall this particular exchange in the Superman:Doomed issue. But I love this panel from the upcoming Supergirl #34. To see Superman show his trust and love for his cousin is perfect. It saddens me that I would be thrilled if they were simply friendly to each other ... an upgrade from the prickly interactions so far.
But I want them to be family.
And a new Supergirl-centric arc without crossovers sounds just about perfect.
This all sounds great. Nrama: Then to finish up, is there
anything else you want to tell fans about Supergirl??? Bedard: I just want to thank everyone
who has been so kind and supportive since I took on the book. Especially at
conventions, I get to see how much Supergirl means to some people, the real
heartfelt love they have for her. It's a wonderful reminder of how lucky I am
to be working on this book and help set part of the history of this beloved
character. I'm like a proud father working on this book, and I get to do so
with such talented people, from Yildiray Cinar to Emanuella Lupacchino, to old,
dear friends like Jeff Johnson and Karl Moline. I'm lucky to have this
opportunity and I know it.
Nothing makes me happier than when I hear creators acknowledge the Supergirl fandom.
We are out there! Loud and proud! And loyal!
And I'll thank Bedard for doing his best to right the ship here!