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.
Over the past few months, DC Comics’ “Reign of Doomsday” event has seen a newly powered Doomsday working his way through the four Supermen who briefly replaced the Last Son of Krypton in the ’90s. From his first attack in the “Steel” one-shot through targets like Eradicator in “Outsiders” #37, Cyborg Superman in “Justice League of America” #55 and “Superman/Batman” Annual #5, Superboy in “Superboy” #6, the monster has been on a path of destruction which finally collides with the Man of Steel in “Action Comics” #900 on April 27. 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.
Up for the last round of Q&A on the brutal foe who once murdered the Man of Steel, writer Paul Cornell spoke with CBR at C2E2 about his plans for the story, which will continue over a full arc in “Action.” Below, the writer describes how bringing the monster into the fray helped him conclude his year-long Lex Luthor epic “The Black Ring” in style while also setting the stage for an “Action” returned with a very human and very commanding Superman.
CBR News: Paul, we’ve spoken with almost everyone involved with the “Reign of Doomsday” story at this point, and all of them have spoken on how Doomsday was a very important character for DC to reinvigorate. How did you react to that idea in merging this with the end of your own Lex Luthor storyline in “Action”?
Paul Cornell: It’s always nice to not have a complete white sheet of paper to work with, and after we worked out how the Doomsday story could also help wrap the end of the Lex Luthor story — that we could use the character as rocket fuel — it all kicked in for me, and I thought this would be a great idea. Essentially, “Action Comics’ #900 is the end of the Lex Luthor story and the start of my Doomsday story, and it’s the same story. It all works together.
I can’t recall with 100% certainty, but in your research, do you recall a time when Luthor and Doomsday have ever been on the page together?
I think they always have been apart. Lex has been involved in helping against Doomsday in a few instances, but they’ve never been in the same panel. And that great tradition continues in our story! [Laughs]
Let’s talk about Superman in general. You’ve spoken about wanting to get him back into “Action” when you could, and now that you’ve seen where Chris Roberson is taking him in “Grounded,” what’s your view on where he’s at as a character?
He is himself. He is determined. He is the best a human being can be — and I use the term “human being” deliberately so. It’s not that we’re throwing in some twist to say “Oh, he’s not really an alien,” but he was very much raised as a human being and is one as far as I’m concerned. I just said on a panel, it’s not the superpowers that make him. There are a lot of things in the universe that are stronger than Superman and on the earth that are stronger than Superman — Doomsday included. It’s not a challenge about finding something that can beat him. It’s a challenge of offering him mental battles and things that make him pause or doubt. Ma and Pa Kent raised a very, very good person who is mentally stronger than anything in the universe. I think he’s DC’s Peter Parker and vice versa. That’s where I want to be with him.
People often compare Clark and Peter in terms of how their duel identities play in the stories. Do you have an opinion in terms of whether or not there’s an element of a mask at all in who Clark is?
I’m very specific about this: Clark Kent’s a real person. He acts a bit more bumbling at the Daily Planet. He puts on a uniform and acts a bit more seriously like a cop would when he’s Superman. But this is one integrated person, and his name is Clark Kent. He thinks about his interesting ethnic heritage and doesn’t mind when people refer to him as Kal-El, but Clark Kent is the real person.
One of the covers for the series moving forward features the entire Superman family of heroes all having had their asses handed to them by Doomsday. After so long without any Super in the book, what’s it like to have all of them at once? Do you relish the differences in that cast?
Very much so. One of the nice things about it is that it’s almost a team book. We get to define Superman by all his friends as well. They’re all put in some considerable trouble — and for them considerable trouble has to be pretty enormous. And they do indeed have their asses handed to them. It’s nice to see them all on the same page and working together.
Doomsday as a character is a question I’ve asked everyone about, but have had trouble getting a straight response. Doomsday is much different in terms of powers and motivations this time out. What can we expect in terms of what’s motivated this change or who might be pulling his strings?
I don’t know where you’re getting this from. This is mere flim flam. This is all a cover-up story that masks the fact that Doomsday is what he is. [Laughs] No. You’re onto something, but I can’t tell you what.
One thing we can talk about with Doomsday is how you physically represent him on the page. The Death of Superman comic was famously all splash pages, and in your run with Pete Woods you guys have done different kinds of stories from big action to very talky comics. What was your approach this time?
It’s action, action, action, action. I think we’ve done so much in terms of character development and talking in the past ten issues that we can do our character development on the run now. It’s a big battle — a big fight with many dimensions. Some of this is emotional and intellectual as well. A lot of what I’m doing is Superman as leader and being able to say to people really immediately “We need you to do this and you to do that or otherwise something terrible will happen in the next 30 seconds. Go do it.” Pete’s doing some wonderful action sequences, and he’s got this wonderfully iconic Superman landing shot in the first part of the story where you just go “Aw, he’s good!”
The final part of “Reign of Doomsday” the event and the first part of Cornell’s Doomsday epic hits in the extra-sized “Action Comics” #900 — on sale April 27.