After over a year of being off planet, Superman returned back to Earth in “Superman” #700 and began a trek across the great American frontiers to reconnect with humanity. But the Man of Steel’s self-titled series isn’t the only one that went through a major change up in recent months. “Supergirl” sees the young Kara Zor-El dealing with the tragic loss of her entire people while battling the terrifying Bizarro Girl, while in “Action Comics,” long-time Superman villain Lex Luthor takes center stage on a journey taking him all across the cosmos on a quest for power. Not to mention the upcoming “Superboy” ongoing and the “Superman: Earth One” graphic novel.
But worry not. At DC Comics’ Superman: The Man of Tomorrow panel at Comic-Con International, the entire Super-title creative crew took to the stage to answer questions and reveal secrets about what’s to come for the Kryptonian family of titles in the coming year. And CBR News was there to cover the epic panel consisting of Group Editor Matt Idelson, writers Paul Cornell, Jeff Lemire, Sterling Gates and J. Michael Straczynski and artist Shane Davis.
Each of the writers talked about each of their titles. Straczynski discussed his current “Superman” arc “Grounded.” “After seeing so many stories where he was out doing great things, I really thought it was important to bring this guy down to Earth-literally,” said the writer. “This is a guy who started in his original iteration as the hero of the every man. Let me bring him back to personal stories, to character stories and send him walking around the country.”
In regards to the upcoming cover of the title featuring a child with a black eye, the writer said that “There’s going to be family situations along the way. This is me at 12 by the way-Superman t-shirt and a black eye.” “We want to deal with issues like child abuse. Things that have relevance today and aren’t easy to resolve.” He said that you can’t punch your way out of every problem. “I want to explore personal stories throughout the book.”
The cover to “Action Comics” came on the screen and Cornell discussed the image. “This is Gorilla Grodd attacking Lex Luthor with his No. 1 attacking spoon,” joked Cornell. He decided “Action Comics” with Lex Luthor as a “Super-villain punch up. It’s Lex Luthor versus one of the DC Universe’s biggest villains every month.” The writer listed upcoming character appearances, including Mr. Mind, Deathstroke, Gorilla Grodd, and Neil Gaiman’s Death-who the writer said isn’t a super villain but “the personification of a natural force that’s actually very lovely.” He also said a crossover with the Secret Six will be forthcoming.
Lemire talked about the upcoming launch of the new “Superboy” ongoing. “Anyone who’s read my past work knows I love telling stories about rural community and small towns and I love super heroes. So, this is the perfect fit for me,” he said. He revealed that while Smallville is the setting, he likes bringing other DCU Characters to the small town-especially the Phantom Stranger. Lemire said that the character “may be an odd fit for Superboy.” Issue #3 also features a Superboy and Kid Flash reunion.
In regards to “Supergirl,” writer Gates said that “Bizarro Girl has just come to Metropolis and Supergirl and she have a pretty massive fight and then we go to Bizzarro World. It’s not a nice place. Supergirl will grapple with some of the issues she’s having coming out o fthe War of the Supermen.” The writer added “It’s Supergirl fighting her dark, twisted, mirrored self. It’s a different story, especially coming off the New Kryton stuff.”
Straczynski then talked about his upcoming graphic novel “Superman: Earth One.”
“What I came to as a story was, if you will, there’s this notion that as soon as you get powers you put on a costume for good or evil and go out and do stuff,” he said. “He could be anything he wants. He can be a scientist or a baseball player.” The writer revealed that his shows Clark Kent going to tryouts for baseball and football and gets a bid from everyone because of his skills. But when he goes to Daily Planet, they’re not impressed by him.”[They say,] ‘Personally I’ve seen some of your articles and it feels like you’re holding something back. A reporter can’t hold anything back.'” Straczynski also reaffirmed his stance of Jimmy Olsen-Jim Olsen in Earth One-and how his experience with journalist photographers, show that they put themselves in danger for the perfect shot. Things change for Clark when “A massive, Earth shattering problem comes up and only he can solve the problem by revealing himself.”
Davis then took the mic and talked about drawing the graphic novel. “Choreographing a football battle on comic boards is not easy,” laughed Davis. “It has to be one of the best scripts I ever read in my career.” The artist talked about designing Clark Kent for the series and how that helped sell him on the idea. He also talked about playing around with the character’s powers and how they affect his look. “This is a great book for a new reader and people who just love Superman. You guys are in such a treat.”
Idelson then opened the floor to questions from the audience.
Many initial questions came in regards to Straczynski’s current arc on “Superman.” The writer talked about his decision to send Superman around the United States and revealed an upcoming confrontation between Batman and the Man of Steel. The writer says that the Dark Knight believes Superman is having “a mental breakdown.”
Later a fan proposed that since Superman is known as “the ultimate immigrant” what would happen when he reaches Arizona. “I actually deal with this,” laughed Straczynski. “I have a little fun with it.”
Another fan asked Straczynski if Superman in “Earth One” will be more akin to his Hyperion character from “Squadron Supreme,” a darker take. “I think it’s a bit darker, storywise,” he said. “The world around him will be a little more gray.”
Davis talked about his design, which people may see as a darker take on the character. “As far as Superman himself goes, it wasn’t a darker look as… a lot of Superman is a barrel shaped, muscle guy. Kids wanted to grow up to be Superman. Men’s health is a little different today. I went for a young, sleeker look, especially with the physique.” The writer also talked about designing the villain of the story. “[Superman] was always running from death. He was shot away from death. He was always running from death. I tried to incorporate the visual of death. I think that’s a great visual for an action hero. That’s what an action hero is always doing-death-defying moments and escaping that.”
Later, an audience member asked about the possibility of a Superboy and Tim Drake team up. “Absolutely,” said Lemire. “I think that’s a really cool relationship that’s been established for the last few years in the DCU.” However, he did say they won’t be doing it right away because of the recent team up in “Adventure Comics” by Geoff Johns and Francis Manapul.
Another fan asked about whether Lex Luthor will get to battle Superman at the end of his journey. “One of the things I really love about this story is that we really leave Lex changed by it,” said Cornell. “It’s not a circular story. He does not end up as he started.”
A fan asked all the panelist if they’d rather add new villains to the Super-line or to bring back old ones.
“Personally, I’d like to add,” said Cornell. “I think there’s some wonderful rogues in there, but let’s try and expand a bit. I like creating new villains.”
“Earth One visually was all about new,” said Davis. “We all came at it at a fresh angle and that led to a lot of fresh designs on a lot of things.”
“In the Bizarro Girl story and the story right after, I’m creating two new Supergirl villains and dusting off an old one in the Supergirl Annual,” said Gates. Lemire said that he will be creating new villains for Superboy, but the character will also fight Poison Ivy.
“I will have a few new ones, yes,” added Straczynski. “But not too many.”
A fan asked about Lois Lane, whether she can have her own book and her role in “Earth One.”
“A gave her a beauty mark,” said David. “That’s the big Lois Lane design thing there.”
“I want to do more with Lois,” added Straczynski. “Particularly because very few of the writers who worked on him haven’t been reporters. When you walk into the Daily Planet it doesn’t feel like an actual news office.” The writer said he really wants to write the character like a real reporter and have her chasing after stories. Davis then added that he “drew her as the dominating, cute girl that you’re afraid to talk to. You’re shaking in your boots. But in a good way.”
Later a fan said that since Superman and Supergirl both publically failed at curing cancer, whether Superboy will get his turn. “He cures cancer in the first issue,” joked Lemire.
Lemire later talked about the supporting cast of Superboy established in “Adventure Comics.” The writer said that he does plan on using those characters and show how they play a role in Superboy’s life in Smallville. “The place itself is a big part, but also the community of Smallville is big part of his life,” said Lemire. “Pete Ross is in it. He’s teaching at Smallville High now.”
The last question went to Straczynski. The fan asked whether the writer plans on continuing the “Earth One” stories. The writer revealed that the hardcover release will be followed up with single issues, which will later be collected. To close the panel, the writer shared a story of when he was watching the news not too long ago and in each segment from different parts of the world, he saw someone wearing the Superman symbol. “T here was guy in the background wearing a t-shirt. Later there was a guy wearing a Superman cap,” he said. “He’s a symbol for hope around the world and I hope with these books to address that.”
UPDATED: JMS has sent CBR the following clarification of his statement regarding the “Earth One” OGNs.
This was the actual exchange, as I remember it.
Someone asked me on the panel if Superman Earth One was only coming out as a hardcover or as issues at the same time or afterward. I said, as near as I can remember it, “This is coming out first in hardcover, unlike B&B, which is single issues collected into a hardcover” (which I slipped in to promote the book, which is coming out I think this week or next week). So it went in both directions, which prompted the fan to note, “I’m confused,” and I joked back, “So am I.”
That was the entirety of the exchange. Basically, the two different subjects got conflated in the hurry to transcribe what was being said, so they got lumped into one sentence.