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Peter Tomasi On Developing Superman into the Dad of Steel

by  in Comic News Comment
Peter Tomasi On Developing Superman into the Dad of Steel

Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason’s run on “Superman” so far has brought us a new perspective on Clark Kent, as he takes on the role of father to his young son, Jonathan, who has recently discovered that he has powers of his own. As the nascent Superboy deals with this revelation, and learns the responsibility that comes with it, Clark himself must learn how to be the best father he can, and help his son come to terms with his growing potential.

Ahead of the characters journey to the fabled dinosaur island in October’s two-issue story arc, and a face-to-face with Bruce and Damian Wayne in the near future, CBR caught up with Tomasi at New York Comic Con 2016 to talk about his long-term collaborations with Gleason, as well as his personal take on what it means for the iconic DC hero to become the Dad of Steel.

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CBR News: In your run, we’ve had a chance to see a very different Superman, who is married to Lois with a son, Jon. What do you think, specifically, fatherhood brings to the character?

Peter Tomasi: It’s a very specific dynamic. He’s now the father of a growing young son, and it’s a fascinating comparison to the relationship he had with his adoptive father, Jonathan Kent, whilst back in Kansas. Jonathan tried to guide Clark down a proper road, and show him how to handle his abilities whilst still retaining a sense of empathy – and now Clark is trying to do the same for his own son.

Superman, Lois and Jonathan - the new Superman family

Superman, Lois and Jonathan – the new Superman family

I think it makes it more relatable. All of us can relate in some way to being in that familial situation – as a daughter, son, father, mother. So it all changes the dynamic of Superman, and it’s been a nice dramatic hook to hang the story on.

And, as you say, he now get to follows in Jonathan’s steps. How would you describe Clark’s relationship with Jon?

Just as any person does when they have a kid, I think you start to see the world a bit differently. Until you have a kid, you really don’t know what it’s like to have a kid!

You’re more aware, and more empathetic – you find yourself tearing up at commercials, and you think about the world at large a lot differently. The protective element is really brought to the fore for Superman, now, and the question he faces which is, “How do I bring up a child with these powers, so he can protect himself and the world… but then also so he goes down a proper path, and grow up responsibly?”

It’s a juggling act, and it really gives you something to dig into as a writer.

And what kind of character is Jon, do you feel? What motivates the character, and drives him?

Writing Jon right now with Patrick Gleason, who is also a dad, we get to look at him as a kid who is a relatively blank slate. He’s learning and developing, quite often through osmosis and reacting to other people, and picking up everything that their parents are trying to teach them. So after the incident with the cat in the first issue, we wanted to show that powers can be a threat; they can be a danger. I think kids, as we all have ourselves at that age, tend to think of themselves as immortal; and it’s only when you start to see mortality that the way you perceive things starts to change.

Now he’s seeing his parents in jeopardy, and it makes him have to grow up a lot quicker. Kids now see all this danger around them which wasn’t as prevalent as it was when, say, I was growing up, because now you have social media and a greater, wider awareness. Jonathan is learning from all this, and it’s Superman’s role to push him along the right path.

You mentioned Patrick Gleason earlier, who was credited as artist during your run together on “Green Lantern Corps” and “Batman & Robin.” Here, though, he’s credited as a writer – can you tell us more about how your collaborative relationship has developed over time?

We’ve been working together for a long time, now – in fact, I was working as an editor back in the day, and I was the one to first hire him!

Since I’ve been freelancer, we’ve moved from “Green Lantern Corps” to “Batman & Robin,” and now once more together on “Superman.” I’ve been lucky to get to watch him grow as an artist, and from that old editor’s perspective, he’s just grown so much as a storyteller. I really enjoy getting to be able to bounce ideas from him and build up each storystory; he’s developed all these great storytelling talents and I feel that it’d be crazy to not be including him properly for what he brings to the book. It’s a full collaboration, and a lot of fun.

And you’ll also be working with Doug Mahnke on the new arc.

Yes – because of the scheduling, we have Pat, Doug and Jorge Jimenez all on the series at the moment, which lets the book continue on time. In fact, I used to be studiomates with Doug for a while, which was a great experience.

All three are just awesome to work with, and it’s a privilege for Pat and I as writers to have these great, visual storytellers we’re working with – all of whom bring so much to the stories. I’ve seen up to issue #10 so far, and it just looks so great.

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The arc sees Superman and son come face to face with Batman and son – what was it like to get to bring those two pairings together?

It’s great to be able to introduce them to one another, because Pat and I obviously handled the characters previously back in our run on Batman and Robin. It was very easy to step back into those shoes in part because Pat was right there with me.

And when it comes to the new arc, you’re going to see that when it comes to bringing up children, Clark and Bruce are really polar opposites to one another! Both Jonathan and Damian bring a little insanity into their lives, and they deal with it in very different ways, which is fascinating for me to explore. I think people will really enjoy seeing Bruce and Clark dealing with those two knuckleheads…

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