Welcome to CBR’s live coverage of the Superman: The Man of Tomorrow panel, DC Comics’ first presentation of Comic-Con International 2008. Check back here every few minutes for more updates directly from the discussion in San Diego with panelists including Senior Editor Matt Idelson, “Action Comics” writer Geoff Johns, “Superman” writer James Robinson, “Supergirl” artist Jamal Igle, “Supergirl” writer Sterling Gates, “Superman” artist Renato Guedes and “Action Comics” fill-in artist Joe Prado.
Johns: “I’m really excited because we’re all starting to work on Superman together. Right now we’re all working in tandem to get the Superman books and universe lined up like we did with Green Lantern; to get every character on the same page so we can tell really big stories.”
“New Krypton” is coming up, and features the citizens of Kandor assuming Earth is their new homeworld. “Chaos ensues,” Johns said.
“The Atlas storyline you’re reading is a little on its on at the moment” Robinson said. “But there are seeds of things to come.” Robinson echoed Johns’ remarks about making the Superman titles — including “Supergirl” — into a cohesive line. “You will absolutely adore what we have coming up.”
A lifelong Superman fan, Igle said drawing “Supergirl” has been a dream come true. “When I got Sterling’s script I had to read it a couple times because I was surprised by how good it was,” said the artist. “The heart and the emotion involved in our first issue alone will get people a new sense of who Kara is and who she is as a character.”
“One of the things we’re working on is Kat Grant,” Johns said, explaining the gossip reporter’s grudge against Supergirl. “Grant’s first article for the Daily Planet is ‘Why The World Doesn’t Need Supergirl.”
The panel then turned the floor over to fans for questions.
Any ideas beyond New Krypton? Johns: Books are planned into 2010. “One of my favorite characters is coming up: Superwoman. We’ve got a lot of twists and turns coming up. NEw Krypton is just the tip of the iceberg.”
“There’s so many rich characters to mine in the Superman universe, part of our goal is to bring in all those characters and make them work,” said Robinson.
Johns said Captain Atom will play a role in future Superman storylines.
Rumor: the triangle numbers are coming back? Yes. They won’t be on every single issue, but they will be present for crossover issues.
What happened to Donner on Action Comics? Johns: “He was always meant to be on for a year, and with the delays that meant we worked together for about a year. But we’re eight months ahead now, I’m really excited.”
Any chance of Jack Knight in “Superman?” Robinson: “When you retire a character, if you bring him back, you open him up to the potential that he might appear in books you don’t want him to appear in, written by other writers.”
“So I’m going to bring him back!” Johns laughed.
“You’re the only one I’d trust, honestly,” Robinson continued. “But the short answer is no. But I am bringing back Krypto.”
What’s your take on Supergirl? Gates: “I think she’s the strongest girl in the world, she’s just inexperienced. She’s a teenager.”
Is there anything in store for Lois Lane? Johns: “Many, many things. She’s obviously one of the most important characters, if not the second most important character. We have a major storyline coming up. She has to be cool. If Superman’s going to marry her, she has to be the coolest girl in the world.”
Does the Lois Lane storyline have anything to do with Superwoman? Johns: “No.”
Johns said that books like his run on “The Flash” and Robinson’s “Starman” are kind of models for the approach to the Superman titles whereby character is the focus.
Robinson said he is eager to bring Jimmy Olsen back to “being a guy who one day will be the greatest reporter Metropolis has ever seen. He still stumbles, but one day he’ll be this great guy. It’s meant to be an interesting dichotomy of a young man finding himself. Jimmy will be around and we’ll make him almost as important as Lois and Clark.”
Any chance of the Superman team becoming involved in the Superman films? Johns: “We have no connection to that, but we’d love to do it. It’d be fun to see Brainiac on the big screen.”
How do Superman’s powers work? How long does it take him to charge? Johns: “He charges very quickly. Red sun bad.”
What are your takes on the whole son of Zod thing? Is there a possibility of a really good, permanent change in the Superman universe? “You mean Superman having a kid? No. We dont really want to change anything about Superman in so far as Superman having a kid or Jimmy Olsen quitting — it’s not about changing stuff as it is exploring characters or looking at characters differently. Supergirl still has a lot of facets to explore, Superman does too. We don’t want to do facade changes as much as explaining why you should care about Lois Lane or Jimmy Olsen and Superman. The story shouldn’t be about Superman having a kid, it should be about Superman NEVER having a kid. About the fact that the house of El will never continue. That he loves this woman and they can never have a kid. I think that’s a lot more interesting than a story where he has a kid that will be undone in two years.”
What’s in store for Lex Luthor? Johns: “Lots of good things. He thinks he’s going to save the world. This time he REALLY thinks it. We have a lot of plans for Lex Luthor, he’s in ‘New Krypton.’ He will not run for president again, no.”
Regarding a fan’s question about the aborted Starman TV show, Robinson said, “They kind of missed the point. It was a missed opportunity.”
Is Krypto a great Superman character or the GREATEST Superman character? Robinson: “If you like dogs, he is the greatest Superman character. I love dogs. He’s going to be an important part of the DC Universe. He’s a good boy.”
Any plans for Manchester Black? Johns: “No.”
Any plans for Linda Danvers? Johns: “I think she’s in ‘Reign in Hell.”
Any chance of having a Kingdom Come Superman team-up: Johns: “Alex Ross is making a Kingdom Come Superman special where that happens.”
Have you ever wanted to bring a character back and DC said no? Robinson: “We’ve been pretty lucky. We’re respectful to DC and in return they let us do everything we want, within reason.”
Can you use the Superboy name? Johns: “Superboy-Prime’s a different character, we’re okay with him. We can’t really talk about it, though, that’s more of a DC question.”
Any plans for Titano? Robinson: “We’ve no plans, but you’ve just thrown the gauntlet down so you never know what may come up.”
Do you see Power Girl as having a role in your Superman universe? Johns: “She’s kind of separate from our plans right now.”
Will the Superman titles bear the copyright of DC Comics and the Siegel estate? “No.”
Will Supergirl have her own homebase and supporting cast? Gates: “Yes. I thought it was important to give her a rogues’ gallery. We’re going to use Cat Grant a lot in that book, sort of like J. Jonah Jameson. There’s going to be a lot of play between the two of them. And Lana Lang, we’re going to use her as a friend for Kara.”
How connected will the Superman titles be to the Black Lantern storyline in “Green Lantern”: “We’ll talk about that more next year.”
Are you going to play up the relationship between Superman and Superboy-Prime? Johns: ‘That’s the central focus point of ‘Legion of Three-Worlds.'”
Are we going to see Doomsday any time soon? Johns: “Yes.”
What’s happening with Christopher Kent? Johns: “He was always meant to be around for a finite time. We have plans for him.”
After Legion of Three Worlds, are we going to see the Pre-Crisis Legion? Johns: “I can’t answer that question. I wish I could.”
Robinson said Zack Zatara is going to live in Metropolis and be written as a spoiled brat with no moral fiber, but that being around Superman will change him.
What is your opinion of the dark parodies that Garth Ennis continues to make in his works? He seems to be saying the heroes are amoral and outdated? Johns: “I think DC’s heroes are the most moral in the entire universe. I don’t know what the exact comments were, but I can’t look at Superman and think he’s amoral.”
Igle: “I like ‘The Boys,’ but I take it as parody. It has no connection to anything we’re doing with Superman or any other DC characters. He’s taking the most basic idea and perverting it and it works for that story, but you couldn’t do that story with Superman.”
Johns: “But Garth Ennis’ ‘Preacher’ rocks.”
How do you keep Superman unique with all these new kryptonians around? Johns: “That’s the STORY. Keep reading it.”
Robinson promised Gates’ plans for Reactron and Silver Banshee in “Supergirl” will not disappoint, despite the second-rate history of those villains.
Why did Robinson choose The Shade for “Starman?” Robinson: “He had no origin, no secret identity. I thought his powers are so brilliant and there was so much room; such great potential. I don’t know why certain characters resonate with you, there are these characters that as a fan as well as a writer you just sort of like. By the way, I do intend to do a Shade special or some project this year or the next.”
Who;s your favorite superman villain? Gates: “Lex Luthor, but only because i’m balding. I identify with his answer.”
Igle: “Bizarro. I grew up with the Super Friends and I always liked that version. Also, Mr. Mxypltisjfgtizax. He’s such a fun, wacky, off the wall character. The thing about dealing with that character, Superman had to find a creative solution that didn’t involve punching the crap out of him.”
Robinson: “My favorite character is the one that’s based on that semi-homoerotic Sean Connery movie. Vartox.”
Johns: “Brainiac. He’s scary. He’s everything Superman isn’t, as far as aliens go.”
What’s everyone’s favorite Superman comic of all time?
Gates: “Superman #247. Why Must There Be A Superman? The Guardians approach Superman and they hug it out.”
Igle: “For the Man Who has Everything.”
Robinson: “The original Superman Red/Blue story. The art, the story, the irony of the ending. I love that book.”
Johns: “Anything with a checkerboard on it. I grew up with that era and everytime there was a checkerboard on the comic it was good, and everytime it didn’t it was bad.”
Will John Henry Irons play a role in the Superman line? “Yes.”
Robinson said the trickiest thing about writing Superman is Lois Lane, and Johns said they’ve a story coming up next year that “sort of redefines” her role.
Is Brainiac going to be meeting up with any other villains? Johns: “Probably.”
In “Countdown,” Jimmy Olsen figured out Superman’s identity. Will that be dealt with. Robinson: “That’s a terrible idea.”
Johns: “The answer is no, it won’t be dealt with.”
What’s your take on Superman’s relationship with Batman? Johns: “Superman/Batman isn’t connected to our stuff. That book’s off on its own. Our idea is that they’re friends and that they approach things differently, but they’re there for each other. We’ll be exploring that.”
What do you think about aging characters? All the sidekicks have grown up, but the heroes stay the same age. Johns: “Certain heroes can’t. I don’t want to see Superman with gray hair — or Hal Jordan with gray hair. I don’t think we’re going to see Jimmy Olsen grow a goatee and get married.”
Igle: “That’s one of those things that only exist in the comic book world. We just accept that certain characters get older while others don’t.”
Would Superman still stay true to Truth, Justice and the American Way even as time goes on? Johns: “Yes, he’s infallible. He’ll represent the same things 100 years from now.”
How do you see the differences between your two books? Robinson: “Geoff doesn’t use thought captions. By the way, can I say what a great artist Renato is? His art looks like the sort of thing that would be late, delayed, a lot of nonsense. But he’s great.”
Johns gave similar props to Gary Frank.
When can we expect Robinson’s “Justice League” book? Robinson: “Probably the end of the year. We’re making sure the first arc is everything it should be.”
What’s Krypto’s origin? Johns: “We just say he’s a dog from Krypton. He got here in a test rocket.”
Robinson: “And he’s a good boy.”
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