Since it was announced that artist Ivan Reis would join DC Comics’ “Justice League” series as regular artist in 2013, readers have wondered where superstar artist/DC Co-Publisher Jim Lee would land creatively. With the plans DC has in place for 2013, it should come as no surprise that the answer is Metropolis.
Today at New York Comic Con, word was released that Lee would be joined by best-selling “Batman” and “American Vampire” writer Scott Snyder for a new Superman monthly comic to debut next year. The series will be both an extension of the hero’s place in their New 52 line of books and also a celebration of Superman’s 75th anniversary as well as his incoming Warner Bros. feature “Man of Steel.”
CBR News spoke with both Snyder and Lee about the whys and wherefores of the project, and below, the pair explain why this story will be a stand-alone tale that tests the core of who Superman is, what challenges they’re setting themselves to make a stylistic break from Man of Steel stories of the past and who they view as the real Clark Kent.
CBR News: Jim, let’s start with you. You’re not only a DC artist but also the Co-Publisher. You’ve been working on “Justice League” since the launch of the New 52. What made this the project you wanted to move to as an artist, and what made this book the right business move to take DC into 2013?
Jim Lee: I would say with my Co-Publisher hat on looking into 2013, it’s Superman’s 75th anniversary. So we wanted to do a lot of great things with Superman in the coming year and expand the number of books we put out under his name. From an artist’s point of view, I always want to work with the writers I admire. I’ve been following Scott’s work on “American Vampire” where I actually did the variant for the first issue, and I followed him straight through to “Batman” where I loved the way he introduced new mythology and made it seem so seamless and like it’d been there forever. That’s one of the hardest things to do with these characters who have been around for seven-plus decades: inject things that feel like they’ve always been there into the story. So selfishly speaking on a creative level, I wanted a chance to work with Scott and do it on a character like Superman where we could see what he could come up with to show us what this character is about even as we’ve known him for 75 years. Scott and I had a breakfast at San Diego Comic-Con, and he walked me through this story, and I was sold from that moment on.
Scott, people knew when you started at DC that you were a huge Batman fan and had a real passion for telling stories with that character. Do you have a similar relationship to Superman, or is your approach as a writer a bit different?
Scott Snyder: It’s similar in the way that those two are the twin favorite characters for me ever since I was a little kid. There are moments when you want to be Superman, and then you get angry and have moments where you want to be Batman. [Laughs] That’s both as a kid and as an adult! The way this came about for me was that I was working on “Batman” stuff, and a story started to develop in my head for Superman that I thought if I ever got a chance to write the character would be the thing I wanted to do with him. So I started mapping it out and figuring ways I could do it whenever I could. Then when I found out there might be a new Superman book, I got really excited to talk to Dan [DiDio] and Jim about this. It was something that I feel grew really organically for me from an excitement for and love of the character as well as an excitement for working with Jim. He’s perfect for the story I have in mind. So that’s the origin story of this.
Over the first year of the New 52, we had these twin Superman books that took place in the past where “Action” dealt with Clark Kent finding his place in the world and “Superman” developing this clash between his Kryptonian past and the modern day. We know Andy Diggle will be taking on “Action” and Scott Lobdell will be continuing the themes of “Superman.” How will this new series fit into the line, and where will its story focus once it gets going?
Snyder: This will play along with the other Superman books in the sense that it’s in continuity, but we really wanted to carve out our own territory. This really is sort of the biggest, most epic Superman story we could do together while having our feet planted firmly in continuity and making sure that everyone had enough room. For us, this is an independent book and something that will challenge Superman in a big way that’s unique to our book. At the same time, I’m friends with Scott and with Andy too, so we’re really excited to play alongside each other and share ideas.
Jim, how are you approaching this book visually? When you did your “Superman” run with Brian Azzarello, it had a very 1940s design sense to things while the New 52 “Justice League” was the debut of this almost futuristic armor for the Man of Steel. Is it different to develop him and his world free of having all those other heroes around on the page?
Lee: Absolutely. It’s a lot harder to draw all those other characters. [Laughs] It’s like, I finish drawing a really nice Superman and go, “Ugh… now I have to fit six other characters into the background!” This will be a nice change of pace from that, actually. I really look forward to concentrating on this particular character. As far as visual differences from the “For Tomorrow” storyline I did with Brian Azzarello and this one, Scott and I talked a lot when he laid out this story about visual beats we could do to make this different from other Superman titles and other runs that I’ve had. We started talking about narrative and story structure and the cadence of the sequential panels. Scott is a student of the craft, and we really hit it off creatively on that front. We batted the ball back and forth, and I think we came up with a short list of visual parameters for this project. We’re really looking forward to making those come to life. We’re working hard to make sure that when you read this story, it’s going to look and feel very different from previous books. We’ve firmly established what this universe is going to look and feel like.
Overall, at this stage in the game how do each of your view Superman as a character? We hear a lot of talk about whether Clark Kent is the real lead character within his dual identity or whether Superman is. Do you have a feel for what your take will be like?
Snyder: I think one of the interesting things about him is that Clark is always Clark. I think sometimes people like Batman you see that Bruce Wayne is the mask he wears. But for Superman, the thing that makes him such a strong character is that the values he grew up with and the person he was raised to be are still at the core of what makes him the most powerful superhero on earth. This isn’t going to be a story where it’s Clark versus Superman or seeing the two of them split. It’s more about challenges for Superman that rock him to the core emotionally, psychologically and also physically. It really is going to wind up putting him up against someone who can go blow-to-blow with him and really take him down.
Lee: Yeah, I’m more of the mind that you can have your cake and eat it to. It’s not so much that he is Superman or Clark Kent. They’re one and the same. One of the appealing things about Superman is that he is in touch with that aspect of his humanity. To me, I’m a parent, and I interact with my kids differently than when I go out with my friends. I don’t feel as though one is different from the other. It’s just who I am. When I think of Superman, I think of a guy who can relate to the everyman and be the Clark Kent that we know and love, but he’s also this incredible hero that’s inspirational and aspirational — someone who can move mountains. To me, that’s what makes this character interesting — that both of these people reside in the same body.
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