Nearly 20 years ago, a massive monster of a supervillain tore through the DC Universe on his way to a showdown with the Man of Steel that would stop Superman cold and temporarily kill the beast known as Doomsday. This year, the publisher revives not just the villain but his path of destruction with a few familiar guest stars standing in the way.
Beginning with last month’s “Steel” one-shot, DC’s “Reign of Doomsday” event sees a newly powered Doomsday working his way through the four Supermen who briefly replaced the Last Son of Krypton in the ’90s. While the hammer-swinging John Henry Irons fell first, his survival remains unknown. In the meantime, the story continues in March and April as Doomsday targets the Eradicator in “Outsiders” #37, Cyborg Superman in “Justice League of America” #55 and “Superman/Batman” Annual #5, Superboy in “Superboy” #6 and finally the real steel deal himself as Superman enters the fray in “Action Comics” #900. To prepare for the coming path of destruction, CBR News is checking in with some of the creative minds behind the event in REIGN OF THE DOOMSAYERS. After our last talk with Dan Didio, we continue today with part one of a two-part talk with DC Executive Editor Eddie Berganza.
For years, the editor has been behind some of the biggest series and events at DC including “The Sinestro Corps War” and “Justice League of America,” and now as the Executive Editor of the DC Universe, Berganza has been charged with making the multiple titles starring everyone from Batman to Green Lantern flow in and out of each other. Below, Berganza digs into part three of “Reign of Doomsday” with March 23’s “Justice League of America” #55, explaining how writer James Robinson spun the return of Doomsday into his ongoing “Rise of Eclipso” storyline on the title, what heroes would be hardest hit by Superman’s killer, what the Cyborg Superman wants out of the carnage and more. Plus, Berganza shares and exclusive first look at Dan Jurgens’ Doomsday variant for the comic!
CBR News: Eddie, we spoke with Dan Didio briefly on this, but I wanted to get your take on the origins of the “Reign of Doomsday” event. Dan said the ball got rolling internally in terms of bringing the character back in a big way, but who picked up the ball from there?
Eddie Berganza: It kind of evolved. We mentioned how we all really got excited by the prospect of bringing him back, and as we all settled into our new titles, I as Executive Editor was looking for ways to make the books more cohesive. It made sense to have this take place on a wider playing field. From there, everyone got excited to have Doomsday in their book. One of the key factors for me as “Justice League” editor was that James really embraced this, and it was coming in the middle of his Eclipso story line. We talked about how it always seems that the villains are very polite and take their turns, but the reality is that they’d all attack at once. [Laughter] So here we’re in the middle of an Eclipso attack, and the League gets sideswiped by Doomsday, who came out of nowhere. It’s similar in that when we were launching the icon covers for January and wanted to do something with Steel, which just so happened to fit within these broader plans.
Part of what James is going to be playing with in his issues is following up on the New Krypton stories he was writing in the Super books a while back. That’s also where we last saw Doomsday, but he was more of a side character there. In “Reign of Doomsday,” the villain is the primary focus, so how did you go about making the character feel different than he has in the past and feel like a bigger threat?
You’ll see more as the issues come out, but one thing you’ve already seen is that he’s adapting more to who he’s fighting. We upped the game that way, and there will be more revelations as he goes along attacking each of the Super people.
In “Justice League” aside from two villains, the multiple battle fronts splits the team up into different group. How did you focus in on which heroes would get involved on the Doomsday side of things?
What’s great is that we played with this as if it was real. We saw where the character were and asked where it would be the least convenient for them to be attacked by Doomsday. That’s how we built this. You mention how New Krypton plays into this, and while that isn’t a big part of the story, smaller touchstones from that affect how Kara plays a role. She’s still mourning that event, and it draws her in. She happens to be in the wrong place when Doomsday appears. It has to do with where we last saw one of the other characters: the Cyborg Superman. He’s currently trapped inside of an Alpha Lantern who is patrolling where Kara happens to be. There’s a lot of unfortunate events colliding.
Cyborg Superman is a character who aside from being Doomsday’s target has grown on his own into being a bigger DC Universe villain rather than just a Superman villain or a Green Lantern villain. How is James playing with that aspect of the character now that he’s the victim of this piece?
The thing about the Cyborg Superman is that he wants to die. Ultimately, he’s in the position where he’s suffering the loss of his wife and the loss of everyone he ever knew. He wants to just be at peace, and he doesn’t care who goes along with him. Now he’s facing down the guy who killed Superman, so it’s his opportunity. The question is, what can he do to make this guy mad enough to kill him? The Justice League happens to be in the middle of it all, and James is playing with an interesting idea which is that it’s not always the best thing to get what you want.
You bring up an interesting point that Didio was a bit evasive on. At the end of “Steel” it was left in doubt whether that hero survived, and Dan said it’d be tough for Eradicator to survive the issue of “Outsiders.” What are the odds that one of the original Superman replacements won’t survive this event?
Well, it’s Doomsday. Just look who he took out last time. [Laughs]
Brett Booth is coming on as the regular artist on “Justice League of America” after working with James on the “Starman/Congorilla” one-shot. What does he contribute to the book and the story in terms of making all these parts fit together?
It’s a nice click. The guys were brought together after Mark Bagley had hung out with us and did a wonderful job. But we needed someone new to step in and here came Brett who is just amazing. The stuff he did on the Larfleeze Christmas story was so full of energy that Eclipso seemed like a nice fit. And then when Doomsday came to play a larger role and we were introducing Saint Walker into the Justice League, it gave something explosive and fun for James on the book. It got us to look at who could make those characters work. Any time an artist comes onto the book, they absorb those characters, and it’s great to see Brett back doing something in the mainstream.
The other key part of this story is that James has been developing the legacy heroes in the League. In the original “Reign of the Supermen” story, the stand-ins took a major role, but the wider supporting cast from Supergirl to Lois Lane to other DC heroes like Bruce Wayne all had a part to play in the bigger event. In what ways does James’ story mirror that idea?
Well, not only do we have a reflection of what happened back then, but there’s also the new element James is bringing into it, which is that on the character’s mind is “Hey, this is Superman’s killer. What chance to we have to survive this? What can we put against him?” It’s almost like fighting a force of nature, which ups the ante a lot. And James really wants to say, “This is the Justice League.” They’re not just standing by. It’s a real team that’s fighting back, and each of them has something to prove whether it’s Supergirl or Dick as Batman. Even, let’s face it…you’ve got Congorilla and Starman. [Laughter]
They don’t exactly scream “members of the Justice League!”
Exactly. And even Jade has her role since she came back as part of “Brightest Day.” This story with Doomsday puts a lot of weight on all of them.
“Justice League of America” #55 hits comic shops on March 23. Stay tuned to CBR next week for more with Berganza on the Doomsday story in “Superman/Batman” Annual #5.