Monday, July 30, 2012

CBR Interview With Mike Johnson And Michael Green

It has been an incredible week for super-interviews with Grant Morrison, Tom DeFalco, and Mahmud Asrar all being interviewed somewhere on the net. I guess Supergirl writers Mike Johnson and Michael Green didn't want to be left out, being interviewed over on CBR.

As always, it is well worth reading the interview as a whole as the writers comment on manner of topics including some future directions of the book. Here is the link:

And, of course, me being me, I have to add my two cents. I will say that each time I read the Supergirl creators' thoughts on the character, the more I think they understand her core, that unbending determination to do what's right. They just have to fit that into the current downbeat DCnU. Here are the questions that grabbed me.

CBR: The #0 issues are also functioning like origin stories for a lot of characters. Is this #0 issue going to neatly tie up and answer every question about Kara getting to Earth and Zor-El's shooting?

Green: No, no! We're genetically modified to ask a question whenever one is answered so that we can keep a constant supply of interesting story. So we're going to wrap up some stuff and introduce some stuff.

Johnson: As Michael said, we want it to be a reward, so we do want to provide answers but we don't want to wrap everything up with it. We want to push the story in a new way that has its own questions. For the most part, the #0 issue is about focusing on her origin in a way we've never really seen before in any of her incarnations. Everybody knows the Kal-El story, everybody knows what went down and how Jor-El was dealing with things and his plan; we actually saw it happen in "Action Comics," and now we get our chance to know a little more about the wider view of life on Krypton and how things went down in Argo City and that side of the El family.

Green: So far in our book, we've had a really good time focusing on how she dealt with getting here. We finally really get to go into what were the circumstances that put her here. Issue #0 is a lot of what happened right before issue #1.

CBR: How do we get into the origin issue? Will Superman's appearance or any of the things in issue #12 factor going into the #0? 

Johnson: That's really before and after the #0 issue. In issue #11 we saw her on her first date on Earth and saw her out of the costume and interacting with life in New York in a way we haven't seen before. Her experience with that actually prompts her next meeting with Kal-El, which is the beginning of issue #12. The #0 issue follows right on the heels of that, and then we come out of #0 continuing that moment.

 So I can't wait to read Supergirl #0 because as much as I have been enjoying these last issues with Kara becoming more integrated with Earth, I have a bunch of questions about her origin. Who sent her here? Why a pod and not a rocket? When did they send her here - pre-Krypton's destruction or from Argo City? Who set up gateways from Argo to Earth and why? Who shot Zor-El? And how does his death tie into her flight (if at all).

Now I know that all the questions won't be answered but I better get a lot of information!

As for Superman, given the description he must help her in getting those details of her origin. How does he have them? At least there isn't any mention of the two of them fighting!

CBR: Turning to what's been going on in the book prior to September, what role do you see Tom and Siobhan playing in Kara's life? Are they solidly her supporting cast? 

Johnson: It's not reoccurring as in you're going to see them every episode; it's reoccurring in the sense it's constantly going to be part of life on Earth. We definitely want to keep them reappearing in the book, not in the "Friends" kind of way where they're at the door -- which is always unlocked in the "Friends" world, which is weird! They're not going to be walking into each other's apartments and hanging out, and they're not going to be showing up in every issue. She's still going to be going far and wide, Earth and beyond. What they represent in terms of a supporting cast are her guiding lights on Earth, two people she can feel safe around, because she really doesn't have anyone -- definitely no one from her past anymore.

Readers might think, "Well what about Kal?" The relationship with Kal is not going to be in a good place for a while. She's still coming to grips with the fact this guy claims to be the cousin she knew as a baby. He's very much an Earthling to her. He can't relate to what she's going through. The complexity of him trying to help her and wanting to be this combination brother / parent put stresses on her that she doesn't have dealing with her friends, with the Smythes. They're definitely going to be important characters. We're also going to have a huge, dangling Irish thread with their story where we saw that they thought they took care of the Banshee curse, but that's definitely something we're going to be revisiting in the year to come.

Lots to digest here.

First off, it doesn't sound like Kara is going to have a home base given that she is going around 'Earth and beyond'. I wonder if her 'fort of solitude' ends up being her 'home'. Of course, I would prefer she isn't so isolated. Living in a city, hanging out with other people, learning about our world, has to be healthier than staying isolated. At least the Smythes are a sort of safe haven, a place to hang out and relax.

I think I am one of the people who has been saying 'what about Kal' since the third issue. And while it sounds like she is uncomfortable with it, at least Johnson and Green think that Superman would want to help and be a brother/parent to his cousin. He isn't ignoring her because he is 'a loner' (as hinted at in the Superman panel at SDCC). So at least I have that going for me.

Lastly, I think we are all just biding time until the Banshee spirit overwhelms Siobhan and she becomes a villain.

CBR: In those issues you not only had a brand new Silver Banshee but you also had veteran artist George Perez working on the art. Did George Perez do that amazing Banshee redesign, or was he working from one of Mahmud Asrar's designs? 

Johnson: That was all Mahmud!
Green: George did his version; we had a couple of emails going back and forth there --

CBR: We saw some of his most detailed and emotional panels, I think, with Kara and the sunstone in the World Killers arc. Are there any pages coming up that hit you guys as emotionally as those images? 

Johnson: There's actually something coming up at the end of issue #12 that is hugely visual and hugely important to Kara's status quo going forward. All we can tell you is it's a thing and it's partly Kryptonian in origin. It's very large and it shows up at the end of issue #12. We can't say anymore without spoiling it, but it's very cool and it's going to be very important to her life going forward. But it's not an invisible airplane!

I'll pile on the Mahmud Asrar love. This ending panel of Supergirl #7 is just about perfect.

Now since we know that Supergirl's Fortress of Solitude makes it's first appearance in Supergirl #13, the semi-Kryptonian object must be linked to it. But what is it? Large and important moving forward ... could it be the whole fort? And how does it get here? Is it in Superman's Fortress? Maybe some crystal tech that his ship supplies her?

CBR:In the last few issues, Black Banshee has "unlocked" more of Supergirl's powers. So far, coming to grips with her abilities has been a very frightening and confusing process for Kara. Will she ever get to enjoy being super-powered? 

Green: There's definitely some joy coming, and if you look, it's been encrypted into the artwork Mahmud is drawing. She's gone from being surprised by it and not knowing how to stand, to -- in some of the newer images, you're going to see she's really fluid and almost balletic with her abilities. She looks much more like an Olympian who's in charge of her body and is in charge of her abilities. There's a confidence that comes with it that's very fun, and sometimes it's nonverbal. If you look at her first images of flying or standing and punching or heat vision, now when she does these things, they're becoming second nature. Now she sometimes floats when she talks, just because it's something she does. That's not something that would have been a natural thing. She's starting to rely on them like a second sense.

Johnson: It's a really good question, and I think we are going to see her have more fun. Partly because we don't want the book to be a downer, dealing with heavy tragedy every issue, but also because if you we're in her shoes she's been through a lot and it’s been a shock to have these powers -- but at the same time, powers are inherently fun! We've seen her in general being more proactive, and that extends to her powers. Rather than feeling like she's cursed by them, she's going to use them to her benefit and the benefit of the people she wants to help. I'd say to the benefit of planet Earth, but it's not a given that she wants to save the world. She's going to want to save the people she knows and that she cares about. That's a larger theme going forwards. She's been very reactive so far, she's had to be with the things she's experienced, and after the #0 issue, we're going to see her become increasingly proactive in her adventures and how she deals with things.

Perhaps my favorite question in the whole interview. She is fluid and balletic and in charge of her abilities. She has confidence and fun. She is going to use them to benefit people she wants to help. She is going to be proactive. All while learning what it means to be a hero. Sure sounds like Supergirl.

CBR: I know by this point, if I was Kara, I'd start getting angry about how I'm being treated by the police and the various Earthlings she's run into. Are we going to see her taking a stand after issue #0? 

Johnson: I think she's not necessarily angry, but we've established her as someone who is not a shrinking violet, someone who has her own opinion and her own feel of how she thinks things should go, and you're going to see that in the #0 issue. That's what we're going with -- it's not that she's angry, but she's not going to let anybody dictate what happens to her except herself. And now she's got the power to make sure that happens.
Green: That includes going forward on Earth. She really does start navigating our culture on her terms.

Best line in there ... 'it's not that she's angry'. And she is strong.

Remember when she was described as 'Hell on wheels', someone fighting friends and enemies alike, someone without any affiliation or affection for humanity. None of that ever comes out when the writers and artist talk about the book. Thank goodness!

CBR: Simply because she is attracting so much attention, it seems like Superman would have to get involved as people are now comparing this city-wrecking force to him. What is his motivation when it comes to Kara and seeing Kara? 

Johnson: We can say the decision to see him is actually hers and not his. We don't want to have a reoccurring situation where he's always showing up and yelling at her for getting in trouble. That's something we want to avoid, going forward. His appearance in #12 is motivated by her and not him.

I still think it is weird that Superman wouldn't seek her out. So I am glad that she decided to find him.

And I have never wanted him to be a disciplinarian. But I do think he should be someone she would feel comfortable turning to when she needs advice or a friend. Hopefully she will reach that point.

Anyways, this was all good news for me. I said it before ... I think Supergirl is in good hands here.


Anonymous said...

Supergirl continues to be my favorite book on the shelves and, after reading this interview, I'm sure it will stay that way for a bit.

My favorite part of the interview had to be when they said they didn't want Superman flying in and yelling at her all of the time. That was a BIG problem last series (especially during the Puckett run). Supergirl shouldn't be made his inferior. Being female or a few years younger doesn't mean that she should be younger, weaker, less capable, or obedient. If they can work out a relationship where they are equals with mutual respect for one another and Supergirl can step out of his shadow (as she has done thus far in this version), the character will continue to flourish. I definitely want Supergirl to be smart, independent, and able to take care of herself just fine. When Superman steps in as an authoritative father figure and Supergirl sinks into an old-fashioned Robin role, it always makes me dislike both characters.

Gene said...

Anj wrote:
"Anyways, this was all good news for me. I said it before ... I think Supergirl is in good hands here."

I'm going to agree with you there Anj. After nearly a year of the DCnU, Supergirl's title is the best of the whole bunch. The story provided by Johnson and Green and the art by Asrar overcomes completely any short comings this title may have along with my initial doubts and skepticism.

Costume could still use a little work though.... ;)

Anonymous said...

"or the most part, the #0 issue is about focusing on her origin in a way we've never really seen before in any of her incarnations."
I wonder what that means? Maybe Zor El built her....thats the suspicion I'm taking away from this.

The partly Kryptonian "hugely visual"thing bound over for issue #12, could well be the Eradicator, assuming Kara herself isn't the Eradicator.

On the other hand, Supergirl getting her own Fortress sounds tres kewl likely it is a necessity if she isn't gonna develop a traditional secret identity....Who is to say her supporting cast can't be based therein?


Anj said...

Thanks for the comments.

Gene, you are so right that there were 'initial doubts' which seems like a lifetime ago.

John, you have been touting the 'created' Supergirl from the start so kudos to you if you are right. I suppose that some World Killer gene manipulation is also on the table.

The Eradicator is an interesting idea too.

Anonymous said...

Well to tell the truth, I'm 90% certain Supergirl is the natural issue of Alura and Zor El, the remaining 10% is simply the expression of my suspicion of DC as an institution. They've betrayed us before (COIE #7,Cir El etc) and will do so again given half a chance.
Posted with a smile, of course.