Welcome to CBR’s live coverage of the Superman: Building a Better Tomorrow panel at New York Comic Con. DC Comics’ first presentation of the weekend, the Superman panel includes Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka, James Robinson, Jamal Igle, Sterling Gates, Eddy Barrows and Matt Idelson. The panel is moderated by Ian Sattler.
The panel began with a discussion of “World of New Krypton,” beginning with a slide of Gary Frank’s cover for issue #1. “The cover to issue four is better,” Rucka said. “It has a Green Lantern on it. And as Geoff has taught us, if there’s a Green Lantern on it, it’s better.”
Rucka said the Superman team had spent the better part of the week breaking down the story for the twelve-issue book. “This is going to be a fantastic year. I am so excited about this book. I would love to tell you guys what we have planned. We are taking Superman on an extraordinary character journey. To a place and in a way that has been a long time coming. There’s a lot of legacy in going to a place called New Krytpon, ironic as that may seem. James and I are really, really happy.”
Idelson reminded the crowd that “World of New Krypton” is the only book Superman will be appearing in this year, “more or less.”
“This book is the driving engine of all the Superman books,” Robinson agreed. “You will see life in Metropolis, Supergirl, Nightwing and Flamebird, all of this is driven by events in ‘World of New Krypton.'”
In the main Superman books, you’re going to see Guardian, Supergirl, Mon-El and Zatara — “Who is a little SHIT,” Robinson remarked. “There’ll be a lot of interesting plot threads and character beats. Mon-El has his own personal arc that you’ll see is almost tragic. I think you’ll be thrilled with that. And the Guardian will be searching for his humanity as they deal with things spilling over from ‘New Krypton.'”
As for Ursa, Greg Rucka said, “She’s not right in the head. She has issues. She works through these issues by VIOLENCE.”
Robinson asked the crowd if anyone was dubious about the prospect of Superman books without Superman in them. A few people raised their hands. “I trust you guys,” the fan said. “I’m in for the long haul, I’m just curious where it’s gonna go.”
“It’s been done before,” another fan said. “‘World Without a Superman.'”
“This is going to be so much better!” Robinson answered.
“This is an opportunity to tell a new Superman story,” Rucka explained. “Superman’s not in it but Superman’s presence is felt by everyone else in it. There’s a reason there is a whole group of Superman books; he just doesn’t fit in one. There is something to be said about characters who are motivated by impressions of this man. Superman isn’t simply Superman, Superman is also Jimmy and Lois. Lois is pretty crucial in ‘Action.’ Jimmy is really crucial to our long-range plans.”
“It’s all part of this big epic tapestry,” Robinson promised. “You will see all these pieces come together.”
“This is the midway point of the overall Superman plan,” Rucka revealed. Seeds have been planted as far back as Johns’ and Donner’s “Last Son.”
Supergirl was next on the agenda. “We’re going to do some interesting stuff with New Kyrpton and with Supergirl’s mother and with people in Metropolis,” Gates said. “The secret identity of Linda Lang is not going away, it’s going to be big and we’re going to do some good stuff with it. And Jamal is kicking all holy ass on it.”
Geoff Johns added, “I think Sterling’s doing a phenomenal job on Supergirl. It’s one of my favorite books at DC Comics right now.”
“We really wanted ‘Supergirl’ to be a really important book,” Robinson said. “We hope it will be embraced for everybody.”
Johns next talked about ‘Adventure Comics,’ the Legion book that will launch in June with Francis Manupal on art. “It’s a book that spins out of ‘Legion of 3 Worlds,’ and obviously Starman’s there. If anyone’s reading ‘JSA,’ he’s taking a central lead in the book. Francis taking his work in a whole direction, it’s just stunning.” The book will feature painted artwork.
The panel revealed that Ursa will be a main character in “Action Comics,” with Zod a main character in “World of New Krypton.”
Johns confirmed “Superman: Secret Origin” will feature a Superboy.
The panel then turned the floor over to the audience for questions.
– Do I have to buy all the Superman books to follow what’s going on? “If you’re reading all of them, you get the full picture, but any one of them is a nice few out the window,” said Rucka.
– Can we expect a love interest on New Kyrpton? “Superman’s married!” said Rucka.
– Which book should we follow for more on the Luthor sibling? “Legion of 3 Worlds,” said Johns.
– Are we going to see more of Supergirl interacting with characters her own age? Yes.
– A fan said, “I just wanted to say, you’ve dropped a lot of hints that Connor Kent might be back. I hope I’m here next year to talk about an epic return!”
“If you like Black Lanterns, you’ll be happy!” said Johns.
– Will we be seeing Chris Kent back anytime soon? “I hope so,” said Johns.
– Will any books be dealing with the fallout of what happened with Turpin in “Final Crisis?” No.
– Are people wondering where Clark Kent is when Superman is on New Krypton? “They will have a logical explanation,” Robinson said.
“He and Bruce Wayne are in Hawaii,” Johns said.
– Will Zod be looking for his son? Yes, read “World of New Krypton.”
– Johns said he had plans for Ron Troupe.
– Any chance of bringing back the titles, “Superman’s GIrlfriend Lois Lane” and “Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen?” There are plans for other specials like Robinson’s Jimmy Olsen book.
– Is” Adventure” taking place in the present or the future? A little of both.
– Are there going to be repercussions for the death of Supergirl’s father? “Do you like Black Lanterns?” Gates said.
– An audience member said he dropped “Superman” when Robinson started writing it, referencing a scene in which Lois seemed jealous of Zatanna because the heroine wears fishnets. and another scene in which Superman said to Green Lantern, “Your dead girlfriend was so hot.”
“If you can show me that page and how I wrote it, I will apologize,” Robinsaid said, unconvinced he wrote the book in that way.
“I thought [the fishnets] was a brilliant girl reaction!” said a female member of the crowd.
“This is not the first time Lois has been shown being jealous of another super character,” Igle said. “This is a part of her character.” The artist referenced numerous scenes of past books where Lois behaved similarly, even looking at herself in a mirror and thinking of Wonder Woman, sighing “Hmph.”
“What was going on there was to show the silly squabbles that married couples in love have and how they resolve themselves because of the love the characters have for each other.” Robinson explained. “I’m not going to apologize for that, I thought it was a really good sequence.” The crowd cheered.
In response to a fan’s question, the panel said that Superman will be going on a Kal vs. Clark journey, and will experience profound culture shock while on New Krypton. Rucka compared it to a British child being born in London but raised in India his whole life, then moving back. “Is he British or is he Indian?”
– Were there other animals on Kandor and how does Krypto feel about them? There are other animals. “As for Krypto, that’s an interesting point and we’ll be thinking about that,” Robinson remarked.
– Is Superman’s continuity affected by the end of Final Crisis? “We’re not going to do a checklist of what stories are and aren’t in continuity,” Johns said. To follow the Superman books, “You don’t have to worry about it. We’re telling a story we started a couple years ago and it’s going to take us into 2010.”
– Is Superman building to a major event story, a la Blackest Night in Green Lantern? Yes.
– What happens to the triangle numbering? “The triangles are going to be reset at some point, but they will remain,” said Matt Idelson.
– Is Superman going to have to pick one world over the other? “That would be great drama,” Rucka said. “But it’s a false choice. He’s Superman. But I think it’s a very good question for Supergirl.”
– Is there religion on Krypton? Yes. There is a religious guild that’s been designed by Pete Woods, and they are “creepy.”
– When do these comics take place relative to Final Crisis? “We’re Post-Final Crisis after March,” Johns said.
– A fan asked about Richard Donner’s Superman film’s influence on the comics. “It’s cool!” Johns said. “General Zod, Ursa and Non are more well-known than Brainiac. It doesn’t make any sense that we haven’t brought them in before now. People wear General Zod tee-shirts. Nobody wears Brainiac tee-shirts.”
Igle said the films’ designs are timeless, referring specifically to the Kryptonian crystal technology.
– Who are your Superman influences?
Barrows: Jose Louis Garcia-LÃ³pez.
Johns: Curt Swan. Richard Donner’s films.
Rucka: “The most profound influence is Donner.”
Robinson: Curt Swan. “More specifically, Curt Swan inked by George Klein.”
Gates: The Richard Donner films.
– Why did you get rid of Pa Kent again? Rucka explained, “The whole idea is to put Superman on a journey, to take the him where we want the character to go. It’s not often you give a character great tragedy and great triumph at the same time. He’s overjoyed to see his people, but he’s lost his human father.”
– What’s the format of “Adventure Comics?” “There’s going to be a lead character in Adventure Comics” was all Johns could reveal.
– How much of a role does Superman play in “Adventure Comics?” “He’s in it, but he’s not the lead character in it,” Johns said. “His presence is felt. It’s definitely a Superman Family book.”