Saturday, February 23, 2013

Michael Alan Nelson Interview On ComicVine

Supergirl has been horribly mistreated in the 'first' Super-family crossover in the New 52. It hasn't been easy to read. And then, just when I felt that Mike Johnson had a feel for the character and just might be the guy who could bring Kara back after H'El on Earth, we learned that Johnson was off the book and Michael Alan Nelson was on board. In fact, the DC higher-ups Bob Harras and Bobbie Chase cooed about how dark the book was going to get.

I really felt like all was lost.

And then I read this interview with Nelson over on Comic Vine. Here is the link:

I highly highly recommend reading this brief interview in its entirety. As with all these sort of publicity pieces, I am taking this one with a grain of salt. But Nelson said some things that made me optimistic ... something I didn't think I would be feeling for a while. Here are some blurbs that stuck out for me.

Comic Vine: Supergirl has spent the last few issues during this 'H'el On Earth' story arc falling in love with H'el for, what some might say, all the wrong reasons. Do you plan on building on that relationship following the end of this series?

Michael Alan Nelson: Kara is searching for a place to belong and the vast majority of people on Earth don't have powers. If she's going to fit in, she's going to need to relate to the mundane among us. It's not going to be easy for her and it might not even work out, but I think she should try. Plus, having a non-super around might help ground her and gain some perspective on the world around her. Not to mention that I think it could be fun watching Supergirl not only deal with her own insecurities, but deal with someone else's when they realize her last boyfriend was [a] super-powered bad boy who never needed to wear a shirt because his smoldering hotness kept him warm.

So immediately gone is the 'she has no affection for Earth' early tag-line for the book. She is searching for a place to belong and wants to fit in.

One of the problems with the earliest issues of this run was that Supergirl

CV: If we had to choose one word to describe Supergirl it would have to be that she is really stubborn. Lately, she's been doing nothing but butt heads with both Superman and Superboy.  What are your plans for Supergirl's role in the "Superman Family"? Will she continue to rebel again Kal-El, or will readers get to see their relationship change?

MAN: There's always going to some tension between Supergirl and Superman/Superboy. Much like realizing that you have to be nice to your annoying cousins when you see them during the holidays just so you can make it through dinner without throwing mashed potatoes at each other. It's only once a year so suck it up and it will soon all be over.

 But who she does get to choose are her friends. And it's those friends who eventually become your real family. It's just like real life. We develop relationships with friends that can become just as strong as any blood relationship. Even stronger. And once Kara starts to build that family, she'll start tolerating  Superman and Superboy a bit more.

Okay, this isn't 100% optimistic. I would want Supergirl to try to mend fences with her cousin. I would expect the same from him. I don't think they should be treated like the relatives you tolerate  at the holidays.

On the other hand, it says Kara is going to look for friends and then maybe warm up to Superman a bit more. I took 34 issues (Sterling Gates' first issue) for Superman and Supergirl to act like friends the last go around. Hopefully it won't take that long this time. In the meantime, a Supergirl seeking out friends on Earth is a good thing. Maybe we'll get a supporting cast!

CV: In the last 16 issues Supergirl hasn't really managed to adjust to Earth. Is that something that fans can expect to see in your take over of this series? Will we witness the character evolve? If so, in what way?

MAN: That's one of the things that I really want to focus on with Kara as a character. I'm not saying that she will be able to adjust to being on Earth right away, but I want to at least see her try. That would be a lot of fun to see. I look at it this way.

She had an unbelievably difficult tragedy to deal with. She lost EVERYONE and there's no one to help her work through that pain and confusion. She's been having to figure it out all on her own. Now she's coming to realize that Earth is her new home whether she likes it or not. Yes, it's unfair. Yes, it's a big bucket of suck. But that's the way it is. So the cloud of losing everything she ever knew will always hover overhead, but it's starting to dissipate enough to let some sun shine through. I think it's time she started asking the question, "Okay, what does this planet have to offer?" Supergirl is a good person and someone who I think wants to be happy. So I'd like to see her start trying to find some happiness.

So I think the foundation of tragedy has been built by Green and Johnson. And I think they were starting to have her warm up to the planet .. before the edicts of H'El that is.

But I love how Nelson ends this, saying that Supergirl is a good person who wants to be happy and that she will try to find it. That sounds like a Supergirl I want to read. The fact that he labels her a good person who wants happiness (as opposed to a 'Hell on wheels girl who will fight with her friends so don't piss her off) is a good start.

CV: What do you plan on bringing to Supergirl that we haven't seen yet?

MAN: I want to try to bring a sense of fun to the title. Like I said before, I think she wants to be happy. I'm not going to make it easy on Kara. But I want there to be no doubt that there is hope in her world. She CAN be happy and it's her struggle to find that happiness that I want to explore.

Hurray! Fun in this comic! Hope for Kara. An acknowledgment that she can, in fact, be happy.

The fact that we are this far along in the title and fun, hope, and happiness are considered 'new ideas' for the book seems like insanity. But I'll take it.

CV: What have been some of the challenges you have faced writing Supergirl?

MAN: For me, the biggest challenge has been honing in on the right tone of her character. Too far one way and she becomes silly and annoying, too far the other way she becomes overly-brooding. So the trick is finding that middle ground where the weight and seriousness of what she's experienced and what she must continue to deal with is tempered with a sense of fun, wonder, and adventure. Kara is a rich character with the full-spectrum of emotions swirling around inside of her. It's been challenging finding a way to see that internal chaos manifest itself in a way that makes us love her as a character and want to follow her story.

And I loved this answer too. It seems that there are people who picture Supergirl in her 50s adventure, a sugary pushover. And there are people who see her as an angst-riddled angry young woman.

And then there are her fans who see her as a young hero on a journey who falls between those extremes. And her best writers - Kupperberg, David, Gates, Peaty - have managed that spectrum well. Even Mike Johnson seemed like he was there, finding that inner core of what Supergirl is - a good person trying to help people, learning to be a hero. So to hear Nelson recognize that Kara is more than a one-note character, that she is a 'rich character', makes me happy.

Now to be sure this article wasn't all rainbows. Nelson notes he has a dark side and things won't be easy for Supergirl. The continued holding of Superman at arm's length bothers me. And in other areas of the interview, he states she has to deal with obsession and even a dark part of her own past.

But still, this was a far cry from other interviews and publicity pieces about the character. There was more to be hopeful for here.

I hope I won't be let down.


Kim said...

The things he said about Kara that I liked was, essentially, parroting what Mike used to say he wanted to do with her.

So uhm...?

Phillyradiogeek said...

I stopped reading Supergirl after issue 9, not because I stopped enjoying the title, but money and other obligations impacted my comic reading. Is it worth it to pick up the back issues, at least up until the H'el on Earth arc?

Yota said...

I really would love a supporting cast. My favourite comics of all time have always shared having a rich wealth of friends and family for the hero to interact with, whether it brings drama or silliness, or if they act to support the character or just keep them grounded... A person by themselves is only so interest, superpowers or no.

Anj said...

Kim, I agree that Mike Johnson was heading towards those goals. It is a shame thet H'El derailed them.

But I can be glad to see that Nelson is talking about the book like Berganza and others have in the past. At least he foresees happiness and heroism.

Still, I would love to talk to Johnson about what his plans were.

Anj said...

Philly, definitely worth getting the pre-H'El issues. Those last couple were solid.

Anj said...

Yota, definitely think a supporting cast will help. Part of the problem with the earliest issues was it was only Kara ... she couldn't even communicate.

Think of Sterling Gates influence on the book when Lana, Inspector Henderson, Superwoman, and others were added. It made it a richer atmosphere.

valerie21601 said...

IMO Johnson and Green took too long on their first arc 1-14 thus sales fell back to pre-52 sales level. Kara is only up to the first two week in the 52 universe.

Stories that took 7 issues when it could have been 4 issues, 3 issues for a story that could have easily been 1 1/2 issues. I wanted her to further along in moving on with her life well before H'el showed up.

It felt like they were writing far more for the trade paper books than for the series.
I can't help but feel if things had moved at a quicker pace instead of the decompressed stories they gave us. (There is place for it but it was way too soon for it to be one right off the bat on it.) Supergirl would have kept a great deal more of their new higher sales level instead of falling back to it's pre-52 levels.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Supergirl #67 just before Flashpoint sold 19,764, while the lowest the current run of Supergirl has reached is 29,450 for issue #13.

Martin Gray said...

Just this once, may I post a used comment? I wrote this over at Comic Vine yesterday:

I'd like a new costume too* - the Superman Family Adventures look would do nicely, anything to see the back of the oddball boots and streetwalker shorts.

I like that Michael wants Kara to start having some fun but I'm not good with his emphatic-sounding attitude as regards Kara's relationships with Kal and Kon. Why won't she ever get on great terms with them? Yes, they didn't know Krypton the way she did, but Superman at least is a fellow Kryptonian and her first cousin; she should at least try using him as a sounding board for her grief.

Anyway, if youre reading this Michael, best of luck, matey.

* For Supergirl, not me!

Dave Mullen said...

Actually, Supergirl #67 just before Flashpoint sold 19,764, while the lowest the current run of Supergirl has reached is 29,450 for issue #13.
That's omitting the fact that the book had been declared cancelled due to the imminent reboot announced somewhere around #64.
So orders from shops naturally dropped off for the final issues, plus there were the rotating creative teams and huge instability at the time in the aftermath of Gates & Ingle's leaving the title. Considering the book was quite old at that time (67 issues!) the average of 22'000 it had for the final year was very good.
To say current Supergirl is only up to issue #17 and has levelled at 30'000 in sales is that not indicative of something? Given the figures for the initial issues?

To put it into context here's the figures for the last 18 issues of the previous series, again bear in mind the books relatively advanced age at this point:

#49 - 27,729
#50 - 33,338
#51 - 29,845
#52 - 29,490
#53 - 28,317
#54 - 26,940?
#55 - 25,257
#57 - 23,420?
#58 - 25,412
#59 - 22,606 (final Gates/Ingle issue)
#61 - 22,048
#62 - 21,780
#63 - 21,594?
#64 - 21,410?
#66 - 20,000
#67 - 19,764? (final issue)

Anonymous said...

anyone else hope the world killes come back