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Greg Pak Returns To The Origins of “Batman/Superman”

by  in Comic News Comment

Greg Pak is known amongst superhero readers for stories full of smashing gods whose stories dug up some deep character moments. But up until today, that sensibility was defined by one side of the Big Two equation.

With the announcement this afternoon that the longtime “Incredible Hulk” writer would team with Jae Lee on a new “Batman/Superman” ongoing series, Pak is making his mark on the DC Comics universe for the first time. And adding to that new series idea is the hook of the story: a first meeting between the two iconic heroes within the history of the company’s New 52 relaunch.

CBR News reached out to Pak to discuss how this story came to be, and below the writer explains his own history with Batman and Superman, explains how this book and this story will be different from past meet-ups between the World’s Finest heroes and describes why younger, more dangerous heroes will combine with Lee’s signature stylings for a whole new world of ideas.

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CBR News: Greg, when I first heard the news about “Batman/Superman, my reaction was, “This can’t be the first time Greg Pak has written anything for DC, can it?” But a quick Google search confirmed it was. How did you end up talking to the folks over there and landing this job?

Greg Pak: I’ve been friendly with folks at DC for a long time and particularly with Jim Lee. We did a panel together at the San Diego Asian Film Festival a few years back, which was the first time I got to meet him face-to-face, and we kept in touch. A while ago, I got a call from him and the timing was right. It was an insanely exciting project, so I said, “Let’s do this!” When you get a call from Jim Lee about these characters, it’s an exciting time. But this is indeed my first DC book.

What’s it been like working with Jae Lee? He’s got a very atmospheric, statuesque feel to his characters, and I have to assume that you have to change up your approach some to mesh with that.

Oh yeah. I love it when I know early on who’s drawing a book. As I’m putting together sequences and thinking about how I’m staging things, it helps to have those images in my head. Jae’s amazing, and like I was talking about the atmosphere of “Year One,” his work is built on atmosphere. His wife June is our colorist, and the two of them working together brings so much depth to these images and these worlds. I’m really thrilled about that. I think Batman and Superman are characters for whom their environment plays a huge role. Their biographies are tied to certain places and cities. Their whole reason for being and their psyches are tied to those locations in interesting ways. Having someone like Jae to create those worlds is fantastic.

And if you’re familiar with Jae’s work, you know that he’s a no-brainer for Batman. He’s really well known for these elegant, creepy, haunting images. You guys are going to go nuts when you see how Jae draws Gotham City. But another great thing about this is that we’ve been talking a lot, and Jae’s interested in stretching in some different ways and showing off other sides of himself as an artist. I think everyone’s going to be equally blown away by how he draws Superman and those other environments. We’ve talked quite a bit in person and on the phone, and this is going to be a special collaboration.

With so many new elements at play in this story, what’s the central way in which you brought all the pieces together to tell a new story?

I definitely have all those things in mind, but I can’t tell you just yet. [Laughs] I can say that this story is going to get very big. I think DC Universe fans in particular are going to be excited when we reveal our villain and the full scope of the story. But I think particularly when you’re dealing with these kinds of iconic characters and a story this big is to get under the skin of these guys in a way the audience can appreciate.

Dan DiDio said something to me a while ago that really resonated. He said we’re so used to these characters. They’ve been with us almost our whole lives. Since I was seven I’ve known these guys. And we think that we’ve seen everything in their origins and we just know it, so it’s not something we need to think about while writing their stories. It’s very easy to skip over stuff and get to it. But the fact of the matter is, in order to pull people in and to pull me in, you’ve got to start in a place that finds a way to introduce them that’s fresh and exciting but also gets to the roots of the characters. You’ve got to find that new, surprising way to introduce these guys. When we pick up a book, we may think we know the characters – and we do – but every writer is bringing their own nuance. There’s a reason this book wants to be, and it’s the job of the writer to show that. You have to show who these characters are along with what you want to reveal about them.

That’s a very long-winded way of saying that this is a crazy exciting story with big ramifications, but at the same time I’m really working hard to bring out the character moments that make it live and breathe. These guys are flesh and blood under these suits, and I really want to get under their skin and come away with a fresh sense of who they are. There’s some amazing work that’s been done by the other writers of the New 52 to set this story up, and I’m really lucky to be able to come in now and tell this story. I’m doing my best, and I hope everyone has fun with it.

“Batman/Superman” #1 ships this spring from DC Comics.