For the almost two years, writer Greg Pak and artist Aaron Kuder have delivered a steady supply of super stories for the Man of Steel in the pages of “Action Comics”, but following the line-wide “Convergence” event, the creative team are finally going to tell the truth. That’s “Truth” with a capital “T” as it’s the name of a new arc that will permeate all of the Superman Group titles — “Action Comics,” “Superman,” “Superman/Wonder Woman” and “Batman/Superman.”.
The story, which Pak and Kuder outline in this interview with CBR News, examines a major change to Superman’s status quo as he no longer possesses an out-of-this-world power level nor does he no longer maintain his secret identity of Clark Kent. “Truth” also finds Superman without his trademark super-suit, a decision that Kuder reveas came about organically as part of the storytelling and not as part of an editorial edict. Pak also shared his thoughts on the impact of having both “Action Comics” and “Superman” written by Asian Americans — as Gene Luen Yang is now writing the latter — and what the Last Man of Krypton represents to readers that belong both literally and figuratively to two worlds.
CBR News: Greg and Aaron, you have now been on “Action Comics” together for nearly two years. How has the recent hiatus brought on by “Convergence” affected your run when it status back up in June?
Greg Pak: We obviously started planning for this many months before “Convergence” hit and comics is non-stop and you always need to be hitting deadlines, so even though there seems that there has been this enormous two-month gap, we were still working towards our deadlines. You’ve got to love it. That’s what is most exciting about working in comics. It’s this break-neck thing. You come up with crazy ideas. You talk about them. The next day, you are writing them. And by the next week, someone is drawing them — and in a month, they’re on the shelf. It’s crazy how fast things can move.
At the same time, like you said, Aaron and I have been working on the same character for almost two years now and all throughout this, we’ve really come to understand each other’s take on the character and really sync up and find ways to collaborate well and reach that next level with the character.
Aaron Kuder: When you start getting in the head of your co-creator and feeling the direction that they want to go in and you want to go in, [that] takes time but we really hit the ground running. One of the first characters that we redeveloped was Lana Lang and I think in our discussion of how to handle her and flesh her out as a character in the New 52, we realized that we were on the same page both creatively and with the direction that we wanted these characters to go.
Pak: We hadn’t worked with each other before but our editor Eddie Berganza made the suggestion and it just worked. We clicked. We were fortunate. And Aaron is right, it really first came together when we started talking about updating Lana. Aaron jumped right in and made some great suggestions and it all made sense.
Obviously the events of the past few months have greatly changed how Superman operates in Metropolis and within the DCU. Are we going to get a different Clark and a different Superman in “Action Comics” #41?
Pak: Absolutely. There is a whole new look, a whole new power-set or power levels, and a whole new status quo. The world was changed and Clark is going to have to deal in a big way. Everything has changed so it’s a huge challenge for Clark and all of the supporting cast and it’s going to be a huge amount of fun to explore.
Aaron, what about his look? Superman lost his costume in the Sneak Peak DC recently released. And I sound like a fashionista, but what will Superman be wearing this summer?
Kuder: [Laughs] On the Internet, if you get a 50 percent positive and a 50 percent negative reaction to something, you count that as a success, and I think that’s what we’ve got with the new look — but I think the problem is that people are calling it a new costume. And really, it’s just a t-shirt and jeans. It’s not a new costume. The new look came from the story. I realized that there was a whole bunch of new looks that came out at exactly the same time, but no one came to us and said that Superman needed a new look. No one said that we needed to jazz him up or change him in any way. What happened is that we fleshed out the story and more and more it became obvious that the path that Clark is going down needed it’s own design, and now he’s in his comfy clothes.
Pak: [Laughs] In “Action Comics” #41, you’re going to find out where that t-shirt comes from.
Kuder: And you also find out in the Sneak Peek preview where the old look goes.
Pak: But like Aaron said, there is an emotional point and a story point to all of this. It was a blast developing the storyline at the last Superman summit and while we were all talking, Aaron was drawing, so all of these story beats and all of these emotional beats of this journey that this character is going on came to life right there while Aaron was sketching it out at the summit. It was all very organic and when you read the story, we hope that resonates with you.
The “Truth” story arc is crossing over between all of the Superman titles like “Doomed” did last year. As storytellers, do you enjoy world-building with multiple creative teams or would you rather stay more tightly focused on your own storylines?
Pak: Both of those are a blast. There is something really special when it’s a really small piece and you just do this crazy thing in your little corner and we’ve had lots of opportunity to do that kind of stuff. That’s incredibly fun. But there’s also something glorious when you are working on something that branches out from something larger that other folks are contributing to too.
The other writers and artists on the Superman books are amazing. I love being in a room with folks like Peter Tomasi and Gene Yang and John Romita Jr. because I learn a lot just by hearing other people talk. It’s a lot of fun.
Kuder: And slightly intimidating.
After “Doomed,” which was a blockbuster-y superhero/sci fi epic, you went smaller — or at least Smallville-ier — with your very spooky “Horrorville” arc. Genre-wise, is “Truth” a Grisham-esque courtroom legal thriller? From the solicited cover for “Action Comics” #42, it looks like Superman is on trial and the solicit copy asks, “Who will stand by Clark Kent?”
Pak: [Laughs] I don’t think there is a courtroom in sight but it is a grittier storyline because we have a Superman that can be injured and that is in physical risk all of the time in a really great way [for storytelling]. The stakes are really high. At the same time, the series is called “Action” and you are going to see tons of action. That part doesn’t change. And there is a great mystery in this storyline that runs through all of the Superman books, and there will be a huge payoff in that regard. The huge attraction of this story is also the idea that you can have really great emotional arc for all of these different supporting characters and also for the new characters that we are creating. There is a new character named Lee Lambert, who you will meet in “Action Comics” #41, and she is going to be awesome. The storyline introduces folks like that, as well, and sets up really great characters arc for them.
And I should note that “Truth” is not a traditional crossover. It’s not one of these insanely tightly weaved things where you have to read one book to be able to understand another book. “Truth” establishes a new status quo for Superman but each of the separate books is telling a separate story. They all fit together in a certain way but it’s not a like a traditional crossover. Of course, you do want to read them [laughs] because they’re all going to be awesome, but don’t be scared away crossover fatigue if that’s a concern.
Lois Lane obviously plays a major role in this arc but as discussed, you have heavily featured Lana Lang in “Action Comics” since you started your run. Will Lana continue to play a role and why do you think that she resonated so well with readers — both new and old?
Pak: You will find out all about Lana in “Superman/Wonder Woman.” Pete Tomasi is doing great stuff with Lana over there. This is another fun thing about the arc is that we got to shuffle around some of the characters. We have Jimmy in “Action” for the first time in a while, which is cool.
Kuder: It’s refreshing for us to take this iconic character and keep the core idea of what a hero is and what Superman is and turn it all on its ear and because we’re doing that, there is all of these other side benefits for the supporting cast and tried and true villains.
And the tried and true villain featured in the “Truth” story arc is going to be…
Pak: That is too big a spoiler. [Laughs] Read the book.
Greg, I have not done too much research but I think it’s safe to say for the first time in 75 years, two Asian Americans are writing “Action Comics” and “Superman.” What does that say not only for the diversity at DC Comics but the overall growth of diversity in comics?
Pak: I’ve known Gene for years and I love what he does and I am thrilled that DC tapped him for “Superman.” I literally jumped up and down when I heard that he was on the book. It totally made sense for me when I came onboard “Batman/Superman” and then “Action” because without even thinking about it, there are ways that Superman resonated with me, and that’s because he’s an immigrant and he belongs to multiple worlds. Those kinds of things resonate with all kinds of people and certainly with me as an Asian American. On a personal level, I grew up in Texas and moved to New York City and Clark grew up in Smallville and moved to Metropolis. There are a million different things that allow you to click with a character but the immigrant experience is certainly a big part of Superman. He was created by children of Jewish immigrants and many folks smarter than me have traced what that means in those early stories. And I think that is the thing that reflects or resonates with tons of other folks, as well.
Kuder: I think that you can see that in our fanbase too. A whole lot of the more vocal members of our fanbase are from other countries and it’s a beautiful thing to see.
Pak: He’s a great character that has resonated with a whole bunch of people from different backgrounds, and it’s exciting to have a diverse group of people telling those stories, as well.
“Action Comics” #41 by Greg Pak & Aaron Kuder goes on sale June 3, but you can get an early look at the Man of Steel’s future with complete 8-page story in “DC Sneak Peek: Action Comics.”
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