As announced during CBR’s monthly B&B column with Bob Harras and Bobbie Chase, “Supergirl” is getting a new writer in May as current scribe Mike Johnson steps aside and Michael Alan Nelson picks up the pen alongside Mahmud Asrar who will remain as the regular artist.
A new face to many DC Comics fans, Nelson got his start in comics at BOOM! Studios writing dark horror comics like “Fall Of Cthulhu.” Besides taking over Kara’s tale, Nelson began writing “The Ravagers” with artist Ig Guara in January.
With two ongoing DC books to juggle, CBR News caught up with the busy Nelson to talk everything Supergirl, including his plans for Kara’s supporting cast, her attitude towards Earth and his enthusiastic approach to the Maid of Might.
CBR News: Right now you’re writing “Ravagers” for DC. What about the title made you want to add “Supergirl” to your plate?
Michael Alan Nelson: Supergirl is such a wonderfully rich character, how could I not want to tell her story? I love the complexity of her situation and how much story fodder it provides. She’s an alien who lost everything she ever knew, now living on a planet she doesn’t understand. All of which is almost as traumatic as her being a teenager. Put all that together and you’re going to have some serious fun.
How would you describe your take on the New 52 Supergirl? Will the character retain her very distinct pro-Kryptonian attitude?
I definitely see that as part of her character, but I also want to see that attitude challenged. With Superman, he represents the best of humanity, the best Earth has to offer. I want Supergirl to see herself as representing the best Krypton has to offer. She is the sole ambassador of a ghost world and her actions reflect on the memory of that world.
Of course, most people tend to look at the deceased with Rose-tinted glasses. No one, and by extension no world, is perfect. But for Kara, I’d say it’s normal that she sees Krypton as the better world. Not that she’s jingoistic or demeaning toward Earth, only that she has the occasional thought, “You know, we didn’t have that kind of problem on Krypton.” Thus, completely glossing over the problems unique to Krypton. It’s much like someone from the city moving to the country and noticing the flaws of rural life; just like someone from the country moving to the city and taking note of urbanity’s shortfalls. Each has their pros and cons. And I want to see Supergirl embrace Krypton’s pros in order to help with Earth’s cons.
In light of that, how would you describe the place Supergirl holds in the Super family — her, Superman and Superboy — as your run begins?
I think Supergirl sees herself as an orphan being forced to live with her distant cousins — and that’s the thing to remember.Â She sees Superman as her cousin, as a part of her family, not the other way around. She doesn’t define herself by her relationship to Superman and Superboy. She’s her own person. Yet humanity tends to see her at the lowest level of the Kryptonian hierarchy.Â And that’s a little galling since they have no idea what it was like to actually live on Krypton, to have had a life there. It’s hard for her not to look at them as poseurs.
Like we talked about before with “Ravagers,” you’re a writer most fans equate with dark and horror-infused books. What will the tone of your “Supergirl” be? Will it be darker like much of your previous work?
Darker? Absolutely not. Dimmer? Hmmmm… maybe. Let’s be honest. Kara has lost her entire world. Her family, her friends, her life, everything. That’s going to leave a dark cloud overhead that’s never going to fully dissipate. It will always be there in some way, but the sun will eventually shine through, and that’s what I want to do with Kara. I want to show her journey to finding joy and happiness in life. I mean, it’s not going to be all puppies and rainbows, but I can say that it’s going to be nothing like “Fall of Cthulhu” or “28 Days Later.” One thing I really want to do with Supergirl is have fun. She’s finding out what Earth has to offer. Our planet isn’t perfect, but there are some truly wonderful things for her to discover.
Similarly, since the New 52 relaunch “Supergirl” has been a fairly slow-moving and very decompressed book, with Kara gradually learning about Earth. Will you keep that pacing or will your “Supergirl” be a lot more action-oriented?
This is a delicate balancing act. I like to get as much story as I can in an issue, but I have to be careful not to cram it too full that it just becomes noise. And by story I don’t necessarily mean things punching other things. Oh, there will be that, but the action needs to be tempered with moments that get to the meat of the characters. So I’m going to try and construct the pacing to follow the ebb and flow of those elements. I mean, it’s called Freytag’s Pyramid, not Freytag’s plateau.
The solicits for your first issue, “Supergirl” #20, tease that Power Girl and Supergirl will finally meet. Have you had a lot of conversations with Paul Levitz, who is writing Karen in “Worlds’ Finest,” about the New 52 version of Power Girl and how she relates to Supergirl?
Not yet, but I do know how that relationship informs the story for issue #20. Once I start getting into the finer details of the story, I hope to chat with Paul to make sure I’m not creating any unnecessary complications with his character. I see Powergirl as having an element of joy to her that Supergirl doesn’t quite have yet. And I want to make sure that jives with Paul’s approach.
Along those lines, with the two coming face to face should readers get ready to see a new person to claim the mantle of Supergirl?
Ha ha! That question is rather ironic considering what’s about to happen. To give any details would ruin the surprise, but I will say that there is some… confusion within the issue that causes some serious problems that result in an ongoing complication for Supergirl. Vague, I know, but you’ll understand once you read it.
Do you have plans to introduce new supporting cast members or to expand on characters, perhaps Silver Banshee, who have already been introduced?
Oh yes. Right now, Siobhan the Silver Banshee (and to an extent, her brother as well) is Kara’s only friend.Â So it will be fun to see her strengthen that relationship while developing a few new ones.Â Plus, how will those new relationships affect her friendship with Siobhan, especially if those new relationships are with non-supers?Â Will Kara even be able to have meaningful relationships with non-supers? This is where I think the core of her character is.Â She’s trying to find a place to belong, to make connections with other people.Â That’s hard enough as it is, but when you’re also fighting insanely powerful people, it becomes almost impossible.Â And it’s in all that chaos and tension where the fun of the story lives.
Artist Mahmud Asrar has been doing the art for “Supergirl” since the New 52 relaunch. Will he remain the permanent artist on the title with you?
As far as I know, yes. He’s been doing a spectacular job and I’m really looking forward to working with him.
Finally, outside of “Supergirl” and “Ravagers” are there any other projects at DC, BOOM! or elsewhere fans should be keeping an eye out for?
In addition to “Supergirl,” I have a couple projects with BOOM! Studios coming up. One is an espionage/thriller titled “Orphans” and hits shelves next month. The second is a horror/thriller that will be officially announced soon and pairs me with one of the best artists in the business. Unfortunately, I can’t divulge who that is yet (the lawyers went in to great detail over how they will vivisect me should I open my mouth).
Oh, and speaking of ambiguous details, I hope to have an announcement in the next month or so regarding a prose project that I am very excited about. So keep a look out for details — as soon as the well-dressed men slide their knives back into their sleeves.
Nelson’s story begins in “Supergirl” #20, on sale May 15.