At Thursday’s New York Comic Con DC Comics — The New 52 Superman panel, the writers and artists behind the Superman group of books came out to talk about what’s coming down the pipe for their comics, answer fan questions and announce a new Superman book in the works.
The panel started as moderator and DC Entertainment SVP Bob Wayne reminded the audience of the DC Entertainment We Can Be Heroes African hunger initiative and brought the Superman panelists onstage: editors Eddie Berganza and Mat Idelson, artist Cully Hamner, writers Sholly Fisch, Grant Morrison, Mike Johnson, artists Mahmud Asrar, Tony Daniel and writer Andy Diggle.
Morrison began by talking about “Action Comics” issue #15 showing an image of Super Doomsday fighting Superman on the side of the daily planet. Moving onto the “Action Annual,” writer Fisch and artist Cully Hamner told the audience the annual will have the first exposure of Superman to Kryptonite and the “new direction” for Steel, as well as Lex Luthor, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen.
“It’s as classic as you can get,” Hamner said. Idelson added there would be a backup by “Chronicle” screenwriter Max Landis.
Moving onto “Superman,” Berganza spoke about the “H’el On Earth” storyline, saying, “Our cast doesn’t exactly get along like a big ‘ol Superman family, and you’ll see some big changes coming up.”
Moving onto the picture of the “Superboy Annual” Idelson said it will fill in more “blanks” in Superboy’s backstory. The audience gasped as DC showed images of Superboy in Superman’s suit alongside Batman, Idelson joking, “He’ll like Batman a lot more than Superman.”
Displaying an image for “Supergirl’s” covers where Kara shares the page with the Flash and a mysterious figure in the background, the audience laughed as a fan asked if it was Wally West, to which the panel said no. The audience then applauded as Diggle and Daniel were announced as the new “Action Comics” creative team. Diggle said that Superman’s strange new costume in his image for “Action” would be explained after the events of “H’el On Earth.”
“I’m just really excited to get started on it,” Daniel told the audience, joking that from “Batman” to “Action,” it was like going, “literally from night to day.”
“Weren’t you the one who hung joker’s face on the wall?” Wayne joked as the audience laughed.
Wayne then introduced the creative team behind a new Superman project, helmed by writer Scott Snyder and artist Jim Lee. Lee told the audience as 2013 is the anniversary of Superman they decided to add the new book to the Superman family.
“I didn’t hire myself, honestly!” Lee said as the audience laughed. He then said Snyder came to him with a Superman story in mind, and out of their discussion at San Diego Comic-Con came the new book.
“I was a big fan of Scott’s work when he did ‘American Vampire’…so it is an honor to work with this guy and he has a great story, which he can’t tell you about,” Lee added as the audience laughed again.
Snyder then promised the audience the “Biggest, most kick-ass story I can tell,” saying that he was writing the feature and the backups for the new, as yet untitled, book.
The panel then moved onto “Superman: Earth One,” volume two. Wayne held up a copy of the book as Berganza told the audience that it was the same creative team as the first volume and that things, “Wouldn’t be easy” for Superman, nor would his love interest in the book be Lois Lane.
“You’re also going to see Pa explain the birds and the bees to the Man Of Steel,” Berganza joked as he showed an image of Superman fighting Parasite.
“When is it going to be on sale, Bob?” Berganza asked.
“Soon!” Wayne said as the audience laughed once more.
Wayne then threw the floor open to questions, the first question coming from Berganza who wanted to know if Lee is approaching drawing Superman differently from his pre-New 52 runs.
“Scott and I discussed that…I think we’ll distinguish it from my early run with Brian Azzerello,” Lee said, citing his earlier work drawing “Superman: For Tomorrow.”
The first audience member thanked the panelists for the high quality of the books before asking Morrison if the writer had achieved what he set out to do on “Action Comics” and if there were any misses or regrets.
“There were no misses!” Morrison said as the audience laughed.
“If I did it again I would do every issue as a one-off,” Morrison added, saying that he had a lot of fun but was ultimately glad he was coming to the end of his run.
Lee told a fan who was disappointed with Superman’s new costume that, “When we go forward, to keep these characters relevant and modern you have to be fearless and keep looking forward…I understand your connection, but trust me, in 75 years they’ll be pining away for this costume right now,” Lee said.
The next audience member asked Morrison what Superman was his favorite to write, which Morrison said “All-Star Superman” was his favorite.
“It was putting yourself in the place of someone who is that good…but I have had fun with the younger Superman,” Morrison added.
A Superman fan who had never missed an issue from his first comic in 1960 asked about the New 52 relaunch conversations DC had about what they would keep and what they would scrap from Superman’s continuity.
“We left it to the creative teams,” Lee said, adding that DC wanted to return Lois and Clark to their “pre-marital state,” but other than that they let the writers and artists take the initiative.
Speaking about “Supergirl’s” role in “H’el On Earth,” Johnson said that Kara, “Desperately wants to cling to the life she had…but we’re also going to evolve her relationship with Superman, which has been up to this point mainly punching.”
To a fan who wanted to know about the evolution of Superman/Clark Kent over the years, Fisch said that to him the most important part of Superman is, “He gives everyone someone to look up to,” Fisch said, adding, “He’s a good guy, and that, to me, is the core of it…when you come down to it, he’s a hero.”
A fan then wanted to know if in the New 52 Universe Superman had died.
“Yes!” Morrison said as the audience laughed, adding that he felt that entire period still happened and he wrote with that in mind.
A Christopher Reeve fan wanted to know what would inform Diggle’s take on Superman.
“For me, Christopher Reeve was my Superman, just the way he embodied his sense of decency,” Diggle said, continuing, “[Superman] will do absolutely everything he can, and that’s absolutely inspirational. You don’t have to move planets to be inspirational, you just need to do what you can.”
Snyder chimed in that he was inspired by Morrison’s take on how Superman was perceived by the regular humans of planet Earth.
“For me what makes him so heroic is his restraint,” Snyder said, adding that Superman could usurp human authority, but he does not.
The next audience member asked Morrison and Snyder what works influenced them. “I read Grant,” Snyder said as Morrison laughed. Snyder also praised Morrison for listening to his ideas on “Batman” every time the two had met.
“You just try to find your way into the character,” Morrison added. “Scott does that, he goes in there and…I love his takes on characters.”
The audience laughed as the panelists told a fan who wanted to know if H’el would be a reoccurring bad guy or a one-off force like Doomsday, “Yes.”
The next fan wanted to know if there would be a Mr. Majestic versus Superman fight. “The future looks hazy,” Lee said as the audience cracked up.
“Clark plays a really big role,” Snyder said of his new project to the next audience member, continuing, “The story we’re doing is going to cause conflict emotionally…what [the story’s villain] stands for and what he means and what he represents is going to threaten Clark to his core.”
A fan then wanted to know if with the decline of newspapers and the rise of news blogs, Twitter and other sources, it affected how the writers wrote the journalist Clark Kent side.
“I think things like the advent of the internet…has created a huge upheaval in news journalism…I’m looking forward to tackling that aspect,” Diggle said.
“Our story is about Superman in the modern world,” Snyder added, saying he and Lee will be tackling that idea as well.
The last question came from an English teacher who said that he had a female student who loved Superman because of the part in “All-Star Superman” where Superman saves a girl from committing suicide. The audience applauded and the teacher then asked what Superman run will influence Snyder’s project.
“Some of the stuff you’ll see in the DNA of our story is…’What’s so Funny About Truth, Justice, And The American Way,’ and Grant’s fingerprints are all over it,” Snyder said.
“It really is, if I ever got one chance to write Superman, this would be it,” Snyder added as Wayne closed the panel to thunderous applause.