Whether you like seeing the Man of Steel facing off against psychics or time-displaced Kryptonians, “Superman” writer Scott Lobdell has readers covered. The start of Lobdell’s run on the series introduced H’El, a Kryptonian with ties to Kal-El’s family at the center of the “H’El On Earth” crossover story. Now, Lobdell returns H’El to the spotlight for DC Comics’ Villains Month as “Superman: H’El” #23.3 explores the character following his time displacement, before Krypton was destroyed.
CBR News spoke with Lobdell about bringing H’El back into focus as Villains month begins, plus his upcoming arcs of “Superman,” including “Krypton Returns” and how the other “Superman” Villains Month issues will tie back in to what he has planned for the Clark Kent’s alter-ego.
CBR News: Scott, “Superman” #23.3 is the first time you’ve had the opportunity to really delve into what makes H’El tick since the conclusion of “H’El On Earth.” How will H’El re-integrate into Krypton following his arrival before the planet’s destruction?
Scott Lobdell: We’ll discover — as we long suspected by the holes in H’El’s tortured autobiography — that he is much more and much less than he ever realized. This revelation is going to be particularly devastating to the already “fragile” mind of this man and send him spiraling deeper into his megalomania. Unfortunately for the known universe, he’s also going to do something in the final pages of H’El that will allow him far reaching access to Krypton’s past that is going to threaten nothing less than every sentient being. As Oracle will explain, Krypton died not because of someone’s evil machinations, but because of Entropy: it was time to die. When H’El (or anyone) starts pulling at the threads of the tapestry that is reality as we know it — it is bad.
Considering how close H’El was to Jor-El before Krypton’s destruction, how will his current knowledge of Superman and Earth affect how he interacts with his former friends and colleagues?
It doesn’t end well for anyone. Not even Zod. (Zod?! He’s in this issue too?! Scott, that’s crazy!)
Will H’El’s brief romantic encounter with Supergirl play any kind of role in his motivation on past Krypton?
Only in that he was already feeling betrayed by her (and by extension, all of Krypton) before he was discovered by young Jor El while H’El still had that shard of Kryptonite in his chest. So when he receives the bad news that he does this issue it is going to prove the final nail.
Why did you wait until Villains Month to check back in with H’El and continue the story you began with “H’El On Earth?”
I come from a time in comics where stories tended to ebb and flow over there years: there was no rush to tell a particular story in a trade length of six issues long, followed up by the next trade arc. Maybe I’m just being profoundly stubborn, as my friends Scott Snyder and Geoff Johns are masters are writing these self-contained epics — but I’d rather tell a few stories about H’El and move onto the “Psi Wars” and “Helspont” and “The Twenty” and then circle back around to H’El and back again. I enjoy the freedom that comes with chasing a story sometimes instead of forging the story.
Don’t get me wrong, I marvel at both Scott and Geoff’s masterful technique presenting almost every story, fully-formed. I loved reading the breakdowns for “Superman Unchained” and “Trinity War.” They are both amazing at what they do. I’m just too much of an anarchist, for better or for worse. (Cue a legion of message boarders ranting “Lobdell doesn’t know what he’s doing! And he’s proud of it!”)
H’El actions in the past obviously have a huge role to play in “Superman’s” future. What kind of fallout will readers see from his actions in the past?
They unleash a series of time tsunamis making their way through the Omniverse, wiping out everything in their path. As Jor El is going to explain to his son, Kal — Superman needs to eschew his Good Right Arm strategy and try to repair the damage H’El has created using all the skill of a surgeon.
Does that sound a little too gonzo? I like a Superman who travels to other times and other worlds sometimes — I like the fact that no matter how big the threat, no matter how over the top the enemy, at the end of that day, Superman is the story about a kid from Kansas who grew up to realize the weight of the world (of several worlds, sometimes) is on his shoulders.
After Villains Month, “Krypton Returns” kicks off in November — and according to the solicits and you previous answer, it looks like Jor-El is set for a comeback. How will Superman deal with seeing his father in the flesh for the first time since he was a baby?
I am just writing that scene this afternoon! It is very emotional, but all “My, how you’ve growns” have to wait until after H’El is stopped — and, by then, it might be way too late!
Will the Bizarro, Brainiac and Parasite Villains Month issues tie-in to what you have planned coming down the line in “Superman?”
Well, Parasite may be the scariest villain ever now that Aaron Kuder is done re-imagining him for the New 52! I practically had to beg Eddie Berganza to let me use him (Parasite, not Eddie) for the first story back from Krypton! And as of this moment, Brainiac is waiting in the wings to cause an unspeakable amount of grief for Superman. (And yes, those wings go pretty far backstage. I can already see Helspont singing scales in preparation to come back to Earth.)
Dan Jurgens and Norm Rapmund join you for “Superman” #23.3. What about their art really appealed to you in telling this extension of “H’El On Earth?”
Um, because Dan is without peer? That’s not reason enough? If Dan and Norm illustrated the Los Angeles phone book, I would buy it! Well, I would at least look at in the store. Or borrow a friend’s copy. That’s no reflection on either of them, it’s just — c’mon, it’s a phone book.
With all the events happening in Superman’s life in the New 52 — mind control, villain takeover in “Forever Evil,” the H.I.V.E. war — he’s gone through a lot of emotional trauma this year. How will these events affect his ability to function moving forward?
I don’t think it will affect his ability to function, at all. He’s Superman! You can throw a black sun at this guy and he’ll figure his way around it. That’s the thing about Clark Kent, it is his rock solid core — his belief in Truth, Justice and the American Way — that gets him from the darkest depths into the light.
It’s not like we ever have to worry about him snapping and being sent to Arkham.
Wow, I just had an idea for an amazing story…!