Monday, June 14, 2021

Tom King Interview On Supergirl Radio

Congratulations to Supergirl Radio for getting an interview with Tom King about his upcoming series Supergirl:Woman of Tomorrow

Here is a link to the site and the interview:

It was interesting no doubt. It is definitely worth listening to.

King talks about liking Supergirl for being a survivor. He talks about going back and reading her earliest stories in Action Comics, the stuff done by Otto Binder. And he does seem passionate about the character. But there was stuff he said that also worried me.  

Let's start with his stating that Kara is harsher and more cynical than Superman.

He stated this as though it was fact. And I wish that I was on line when he said that so I could ask him to discuss that more. Because I think that while Kara is fierce in her pursuit of justice and her hope that others don't suffer, I don't think of her as classically cynical. I think of her as optimistic.

And harsh? 

He keeps saying that she just 'kicks ass' and that he just wants to right stories where Kara goes out and 'kicks ass'. And I don't mind a Kara who is proactive. 

But 'harsh and cynical' isn't really 'hope, help, and compassion for all'. So I don't know where he gets that.

King also says that it is because Kara has witnessed so much trauma that makes her this way. But some might say that it is her witnessing all that trauma that has galvanized her and made her act as a hero to help others. Not wade into the bitterness and PTSD that so many of King's characters do.

He says in every town on every planet she goes to, she is attacked by someone who wants to harm her because she is related to Superman.

That is a very cynical look at the super-family. She also could be welcomed by all the people who Superman has saved in the past. Surely there are more of those people than the ones who want revenge.

Or ... even better ... you might think that she would be welcomed by people SHE has helped in the past. 

But this is King's style ... to always focus on the dark side of things. Of all the things he said to me, this one was the one that bothered me the most. Supergirl is not recognized for being herself but only as Superman's cousin. And even then, she is focused as his cousin only by villains.

That is a very jaded and very isolating way to look at the character. And I don't know if that is someone who understands to character or has read her history closely.

He repeatedly says that he felt he needed to 'scrape the barnacles' off of Supergirl to get to her essence.

But then he says that it is things like her secret identity and what she is doing. As if that isn't a key part of any character.

And his essence just seems to be that she 'kicks ass'.

Which I agree. Kara should kick ass. But there should be more to her than that. Yes, she is younger and maybe brasher than Superman. But I also think she is more approachable, more relatable, and probably more likeable. That is why I love her ... or rather loved her.

I honestly think King's heart is in the right place. 

But you know what you are going to get with him. 

And I can't place my distrust and worry solely on King. 

He states he was told by DC that Supergirl is 'too precious' and 'too perfect'. And I would ask the editors or higher ups who said that if they have actually read the character since she was brought back by Jeph Loeb.

Because, I have point out ad nauseum on this blog, the character is forced to go dark every 3 years or so. How can they say she is too perfect when the company has sullied her so often over the last 12 years?

Moreover, if you read Sterling Gates/Jamal Igle's run on the character, almost universally considered the high water mark for the character in the last 2 decades, she was hardly perfect. She struggled with loss. She struggled with her mother. She was trying to fit in on this new world and be the hero she wanted to be. BUT HER HEART WAS IN THE RIGHT PLACE.

This all sounds like it is going to be all wrong.

And maybe I'll be surprised. Maybe at the end, King will get her to a place where I want her.

But I am not so optimistic.

Again, congratulations to Supergirl Radio.


Steve said...

I'll be following this solely in you and Martin's reviews. I just can't take King's writing anymore. I skipped Omega Men because the early press focused on what turned out to be a fake killing off of my favorite GL and that left a bad taste. Grayson and Vision were excellent but everything else? Batman went wildly off the rails after the wedding that wasn't. He did characterizations of Booster Gold and Wally West that had never been seen before and haven't been used after. He's dirtying up Adam Strange and now this. Eventually he's going to turn off so many fans of each character he sullies that it will end but we probably still have a few characters he'll stain before then.

Martin Gray said...

I agree with everything you say, Anj – I listened to this interview, and was initially heartened by his familiarity with Supergirl, then appalled and saddened by his attitude towards her. For example, the notion that she’s likely to be beating bad guys up with relish and a curse word on her lips. Really?

Anonymous said...

I also agree with everything you are saying Anj.

One personal observation:

The problem with Kara being reduced to little more than a girl who kicks ass is sadly being validated by a sizable part of her reader base.

When it comes to other characters there is often a somewhat shared vision. Kara had that too pre-crisis. From the first to her last issue, everything felt like the natural progression of the same character.

Modern DC however has let everything go. Many readers are validating that behavior. Everything is OK. It's range or modernization or just something they like. At the end of it though, if you accept everything, you care about nothing.

When readers let it happen its also hard to blame DC for Kara becoming a blank canvas with Kryptonian powers.

Would Binder recognize anything in the drunk ass miserable being picking bar fights and waving a sword?

Yeah, the suit and the blonde hair.

Super used to mean more than being able to punch really hard.

Anonymous said...

Well, presumably, the suit later.

At the start - The blonde hair.

That's what's left of Kara Zor-El, last daughter of Krypton.

Gear said...

There are parts of King’s observations that make sense to me, others that don’t.

As you mention Anj, I’m not sure what Kara Zor-El DC was talking to King about, it certainly doesn’t align with the portrayals we’ve seen since she was brought back in the 21st century. She’s been dark, troubled, moody, and often a mind-controlled minion for some big-bad that the “real” heroes of the adventure need to defeat. For the last couple of years her book has been used as a place to tell side-stories for other character’s events or to promote new characters some creator wants to push. If King wants to deal with the “precious” part of the portrayals he should make a point of avoiding the seeming constant need on the part of DC to turn this powerful woman into a damsel-in-distress and easily manipulated pawn instead of a hero, or have the book just become little more than a promotional vehicle for events and crossovers.

Sadly, King’s observations seem to point to a significant problem, but not the one he seems to see. The barnacles on Kara are DC’s unwillingness to look at her as a character in her own right, but instead see her as either an extension of Superman, as an outlet for various creator’s pet projects, or sometimes as what feels like a place for creators to work out their issues about their own damage. There are many successful young female characters at Marvel, and in anime and manga as well, and by successful I mean ones that young women will buy. If the Supergirl book doesn’t sell and DC actually wants to fix that problem they should look at other successful characters in their stable, make a list of what all those books have in common, and then ask which of those items are not in their portrayals of Supergirl. That list won’t be the things that King has mentioned.

This is just an 8 issue run, and feels more like a creator’s pet project featuring a character he wants to promote, and doesn’t feel like the start of anything special for Kara Zor-El. I’ll certainly look through the book in my LCS, but I’m going to need much more than I’ve seen so far to spend money on it.

Anonymous said...

"Let's start with his stating that Kara is harsher and more cynical than Superman." So I was right, she is gonna be "Blonde Sonja"...yikes. I can't say I see much hope in the substance of that interview, our host is taking one for the team by listening and crafting his response so very meticulously, kudos Anj. From a creative perspective, you can be well informed about a character, passionate about that character and still the very last person on Earth who should be writing that character. I cannot image why King went back to 1959 in his research re Supergirl unless it was to catalogue all the aspects of her character he wishes to eliminate. I am led to the conclusion (as noted above) that literally DC Comics does not even read or recall certainly the very supergirl comics they have been publishing since 2005, that this is going to be her fifth torrid tango with cynicism & darkness in sixteen years. She has become a character that DC either actively dislikes or else regards a copyright cypher fit only for creatives to experiment on...its depressing quite honestly.
But I'll reserve judgement until I read it Wednesday night, right now, I'm not getting my hopes up.


Professor Feetlebaum said...

That DC would hire Tom King, with his track record, to write Supergirl shows what they think of the character. They know how King writes. He yam what he yam. It's no coincidence that a version of Dark Supergirl is trotted out every so often. This is the Supergirl they wish to promote. Don't ask me why.

A Supergirl story that begins with Kara in a space bar, alone and drunk on her birthday is not getting off to a good start.

Anonymous said...

There must be that one guy in their editorial coming with the same idea over and over but once in a while adding:
"...but in a black miniskirt"
"...but in a red leotard"
"...but in fetish gear"
We've now reached
"...but as a cowgirl"

I think bad-tempered nurse is next

Anonymous said...

"Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?" Johnny Lydon, 1978



Professor Feetlebaum said...

"....She's likely to be beating bad guys up with relish and a curse word on her lips."

I can't help but wonder...does she hit 'em on the head with the jar of relish, or does she take the relish out and throw it in their faces? And what brand of relish does she use? Is Heinz better or Del Monte? And if there's no relish around, would another condiment work just as well?