I was feeling optimistic about the book from everything that I had heard before this interview but I am doubly optimistic now. So enjoy ...
Anj: Congratulations on being named writer on the Supergirl Rebirth book. I was wondering if you could talk about your history with the character? Have you always been a fan? Is there a favorite Supergirl run in the background?
Orlando: I have long been a fan! Probably my first live interaction with Kara was when she debuted on Superman: The Animated Series, with her distinct urge to explore and to “VROOM” everywhere she went. I had encountered her before, in trading cards, in Crisis on Infinite Earths, but those were all backlogs, collecting I did when I was voraciously reading up on the DCU as a young, erstwhile fan. But when she debuted in the Dini/Timm series, it was fresh, I was seeing it at the same time as the rest of the world, not playing catch up, and I loved it. I loved the energy, the positivity and the joy associated with the character – her unfaltering ability to stay positive despite the tragic circumstances that brought her to Earth.
And that’s really what first made me connect to Kara – her history is in many ways even more tragic than her cousin’s, with her being a teenager when she left Krypton, and having real, tangible things that she’s left behind. But I connected with that, she tries her hardest not to let it weigh her down, or weigh other people down. I think her tenacity is something we can all aspire to – and really, superheroes, icons, we want them to to aspirational figures. Kara to me is all about positivity in the face of adversity, and through her experienced with that, a wealth of understanding. For me, that all started with her animated series appearances, to the Earth-Born Angel run, to the return of Kara Zor-El, and the growing accumulating DNA that brought us to where we are today.
2. What do you find compelling or intriguing about her character? What about her interested you enough to write the new book?
I hinted at it a bit above, but to me, it is Kara’s approach to the world that draws me to her. For one, she has a more real, detailed, and rich immigrant or refugee story than her cousin, who woke up to loving human parents and only later learned about the world he lost. Kara, leaving real people, real memories, coming to Earth with real opinions, having to learn a new language, a new culture, being adopted by new parents. All those things ring so true to me for what people go through, and as to her feeling at times like an outsider, what I have gone through both in my personal life being bisexual and in my adult life traveling to different cultures and nations. Kara’s positivity in the face of all this, her perspective, is what I find truly inspiring.
And as I said above, THROUGH that comes her vital, unique understanding of people, or more so, a need to understand. That underlying unity that someone with super senses must feel, when a planet of 6 billion people can seem like a small village to her.
Early on I realized, and I still think it’s true – plenty of heroes show up, stop the bad guy, and send them to prison. But Supergirl shows up two weeks later to see how they’re doing, and how she can help. She’s been there. She’s been in tough situations. She’s made mistakes. And she wants to understand you, and help you through yours.
3. Can you talk about the pitch process? Did you approach DC editorial? Or did they approach you? How far ahead do you have stories planned?
Much like my pitch process on MIDNIGHTER, the pitch for SUPERGIRL began with one idea, which grew into the statement I gave above:
“Supergirl’s compassion is as mighty as her strength.”
With pitching for characters, it’s always a little from column a and a little from column b – there’s outreach from the office, and then a conversation about where you’d take a character, why they’re important to you, what your take is. I found the offer of SUPERGIRL extremely intimidating, following in the footsteps of some amazing runs, and working with a character that means so much to so many people. But in truth, if you’re NOT intimidated taking on a character, then I don’t think you’re truly understanding what these comics, and these icons, mean to people. These are characters and ideas that change lives, that save lives, and so they demand an inherent reverence, respect, and passion. Since I did MIDNIGHTER, there isn’t a comic convention that goes by where someone doesn’t come up to me and say the character has given them the strength to come out, to be themselves. And I know people connect with Supergirl in the same, incredibly passionate way. So the offer was an honor for me, and a challenge.
As for how long I have planned out – as you may know from my work I am a huge DC Universe nerd and always looking to explore new corners and add new facets to a world that so strongly influenced me as a child. So I have stories planned for a long time, as long as readers will come along with me. And every time I crawl down a wiki hole or crack open my DC WHO’S WHOs, the plans grow exponentially.
4. Can you, if possible, talk about the transition from the last book to this new one? Is this the same Kara? Has time passed? Will we be seeing some of the supporting cast or villains from the last series?
I can talk a bit about it, sure – but not much. This is definitely the same Kara you saw in the New 52 SUPERGIRL series, sixteen years old, new to Earth. In story time, she has been on Earth for less than a year, and in that time has gotten into some trouble, be it her skirmish in Siberia when she landed, or her actions as a Red Lantern. But she’s putting that anger in the past, and looking forward, thanks to some new friends and a fresh start as seen in SUPERGIRL: REBIRTH.
The book will pick up from Super League, going on right now in the Superman family of books, BUT Super League is not required to pick up SUPERGIRL: REBIRTH, which will set the stage all on its own if you like. As for supporting cast, we’ll see some new faces, some faces from previous adventures Kara has had, and one major villain rearing his Cybernetic Head as the Cyborg Superman comes in search of Kara. In the previous series, the readers knew he was Zor-El, but he did not, and Kara did not. Now that information is out, and it changes everything.
5. How would you describe the tone of the book?
Optimistic! Kara is definitely working her way through adjusting to Earth, which is something she hasn’t had time to do in the New 52 after basically running in the red since she landed a few months ago. And there’s an adjustment period – she’s been welcomed to Earth, yes, and wants to become a part of our world. But it’s a new language, it’s new culture, and especially compared to Krypton, our “advanced” Earth technology seems like stone age tools to Kara.
But to be Earth’s protector, to help us, she HAS to understand us, and so she remains committed to her goal, and to herself. Even if things aren’t always easy, even if she has moments of doubt, she remains caring, she remains steadfast, and dedicated to the world that welcomed her when her own blasted her into space.
6. Any last things you’d like to say to the Supergirl fandom who visits here?
The Super family of books is incredibly important to me – and I hope that comes through in the first page, the first issue, and the first year of SUPERGIRL. But to me that doesn’t mean a line of books about Superman himself, or characters trying to be like Superman. It’s about awe. It’s about wonder. It’s about huge comic book ideas. And it’s about compassion. I think Supergirl would be Supergirl even if her cousin never made it to Earth, because her outlook would never let her go down a different path. She’s intelligent, she’s caring, she’s brave.
We talk a lot about what it means to be “a super” in the DCU. And it transcends the surface level things like being related to Superman. The diversification of the Super family of books shows just that – being a Super, being super, is something we can all achieve to. It’s in how these characters, and Supergirl especially, always sees and roots for the best in us, EVEN if we don’t ourselves.
And in SUPERGIRL I’m excited to put that to the test, and usher in a new day for the Girl of Tomorrow.