Monday, August 18, 2014

Tony Bedard Interview On Newsarama

I have talked a lot about the new direction for Supergirl and the good things that writer Tony Bedard has said about the character. Looks like it is time to say more.

Bedard continues a fine run of publicity interviews about the title over on Newsarama. Here is the link:

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!


Martin Gray said...

Yup, top man, top interview. And at least doing Cyborg Supergirl in the crossover means he won't do it as canon.

Anonymous said...

> 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!

Pardon the bluntness, but that's a Grade AAA "NO S**T, SHERLOCK" comment right there... and yes, both my hands are up
as well, Anj.

I do appreciate the preview pages posted up at the link... and I'll just say it right now, the panels between Kara and
Michael -- "That might just be the nicest thing any human as ever said to me." -- and between Red Lantern Kara and
Superdoom -- "Back on Earth... they need your help now that I'm gone, Kara."

Just... so... right! [/wipes tear away] THANK YOU, TONY B AND THANK YOU DC!

And another thank you that Tony actually SHARES some specifics about the future in this interview -- though I agree with
you the exact details of Red Hood and Future's End still gives bad vibes... a step forward, but half a step back.

> We are out there! Loud and proud! And loyal!
> And I'll thank Bedard for doing his best to right the ship here!

Heartily Seconded!

Jay said...

Uhh, so now according to the November solicits, Mike Johnson is taking the title back over. Good news for me as I liked his run best, but once again another puzzling about-face internally.

Anonymous said...

I guess it's good that Mike Johnson is back on board but it sucks that the title is getting another change in creators. Let's hope Johnson and Kate Perkins stick around for a while but I'm not getting my hopes up. I am excited that Superboy will be guest-starring.