DC Comics’ Superman has faced dozens of villains, both new and re-imagined, over the course of the four years since the launch of the New 52. Now, “Action Comics'” Greg Pak & Aaron Kuder, “Superman/Wonder Woman’s” Charles Soule & Tony S. Daniel, and outgoing “Superman” team Scott Lobdell & Ed Benes are teaming up to pit the Man of Steel against one of his toughest adversaries ever in the April crossover event “Superman: Doomed.”
The villain at the heart of the 1992 “The Death Of Superman” storyline, Doomsday appeared in the New 52 most recently in his own Villains Month one-shot, written by Pak, and in Soule’s “Superman/Wonder Woman.” With the new Doomsday connected to General Zod and Krypton, there have also been hints in other books, such as Grant Morrison’s “Action Comics,” that Doomsday and Superman have met before.
Joining forces across the Superman books (and the country) Pak, Soule and Lobdell spoke with CBR about the upcoming event, Lois Lane’s role and the status of “The Death Of Superman” in the New 52.
CBR News: To start off let’s talk about the basics of this event. Obviously, we’ve seen Doomsday pop up in the New 52 in the Villains Month one-shot Greg wrote, and then he popped up again in “Superman/Wonder Woman.” With that in mind, when did you know you wanted to do a Superman event with Doomsday, and were either of those stories setting up for this event?
Charles Soule: Doomsday appearing in “Superman/Wonder Woman” was something that just seemed like a great place to start — we wanted “Superman/Wonder Woman” to launch big, so we thought we’d give them a big villain to deal with. Not very long after that we had our first big in-person summit on what this event was going to be, which was all the way back in last October, right guys?
Greg Pak: Yes.
Scott Lobdell: Yep!
Soule: It was in that meeting that Doomsday was what we wanted to do, so as far back as then, we were talking about it. Obviously, the specifics have evolved, but Doomsday was the plan all the way back then.
Pak: When I was pulled on to do the Doomsday book, the Villains Month book — you know Doomsday is a huge piece of the Superman universe and we knew we were going to do something with him — exactly what and how he’d come back, we weren’t sure, but we were laying the groundwork for it back then. So when we all came together for those Superman summits, the groundwork had be laid out so that we could start to play.
Lobdell: It’s like the breadcrumbs thing — the more Greg introduced his Doomsday elements, and the more Charles introduced his, it naturally led us to start examining what we could do with Doomsday in the New 52. The idea was that we wanted to construct a story that plays to the strengths of Doomsday as one of Superman’s most major characters, ever. We took those initial appearances and used them as a launching point towards a story that we’re going to get progressively bigger with until we end up with one of the first big new Superman events of the New 52, I think.
Pak: Yeah, definitely.
Your three books look at different aspects of Superman/Clark Kent and his personal relationships with people, so how are you guys tackling this crossover? Are we going to see different emphasis or different sides to the same central story in your individual books?
Pak: We’re all telling the story, so you want to jump on and get ’em all, because it’s going to be awesome! [Laughs]
It’s a big story, and different parts of the story will be covered in different books; each book will lead to the next. We’re also writing so people who are reading only our books can pick that up and have a great story, but I would highly recommend getting them all because the sum impact of all of these together is going to be something special. The other thing I’ll say is that each one of us is writing his own book, so we’re going to continue to imbue them with the special, loveable quirks that make them our books! [Laughter] But at the same time we’re working together to tell a big story, so it’s the best of both worlds.
Soule: I think a good example of that — just to add to what Greg has said — one book that you can definitely pick up that will help you, even if you’re only going to follow one thread in the Superman line during the event, you should pick up the big “Superman: Doomed” one-shot that I think comes out beginning of May. It’s a big, annual-sized issue that gets everything going with a bang, so to speak. Get that for sure, and then follow your heart! But as Greg pointed out, it’s going to be a lot more fun if you read them all.
Lobdell: Reading Greg’s “Action” book, there’s a lot of emphasis on the Tower and the Ghost Soldier and Lana’s connection with Clark and Smallville, and Charles is keeping focus on where Superman and Wonder Woman are dealing with the impact of “Doomed” #1. And in “Superman” #31, I’ve been telling and building this Lois/Brainiac fallout story for the last several months, so each of our books are still reflective of the storylines we’ve been working towards. But in the bigger scheme, they all tie into this week-to-week story. Greg has put his stamp on “Action,” and Charles’ “Superman/Wonder Woman” has its own flavor as well, so people who have been buying these books all along are, I think, going to be happy with the fact that its not a crossover where there’s no room for the existing stories. What we’ve done is make sure these books still read as the books the fans have been enjoying.
Pak: There’s a fun thing when the crossover starts, too, where you’ll see characters that have mostly been in one book pop up in other books. I got to write fun Wonder Woman stuff, and you’ll see that sort of crossover happening, which is a lot of fun.
Soule: There is a big character from the Superman world that has yet to make an appearance in “Superman/Wonder Woman.” She shows up in issue #8, which is the one where we’re sort of dealing with what happens in the “Doomed” one-shot — and that is Lois Lane. We will finally get to see Lois Lane in “Superman/Wonder Woman,” which hasn’t happened before. I think it’s a pretty fun scene people will like. She has a pretty big role in the crossover in general, so she’ll start to show up more.
Lobdell: Is there a catfight?
Soule: I don’t know, Scott! Maybe? You’ll find out! [Lobdell meows as Pak and Soule groan]
While the event is called “Superman: Doomed,” and we know Doomsday is involved, are there other villains and characters readers should expect to see popping up in the crossover besides Doomsday and Lois?
Pak: Oh, yeah. I’m writing some really fun stuff with Steel right now in “Action,” actually, so keep your eyes open for Steel.
Pak: There are a number of other Superman supporting characters who are going to step forward during the course of the story.
Lobdell: We’ve really been building the Tower story between us, and as near as I can tell, Tower’s going to be in a lot of the big reveals we’ve been working up to throughout the story.
Pak: Well, there’s a big Tower reveal coming up in “Action” #30, which is a bit of a prelude to the whole “Doomed” story. Yes, but there’s more Tower action coming up. I don’t want to spoil too much, but there’s another Superman villain who will play a huge role in a very unexpected way as we move into the second and third act of the storyline.
Soule: I think it’s worth taking a minute to explain that what we’ve done with this storyline is, we start with what people are familiar with. We’ve all, or at least many of us have read “Death Of Superman.” It’s one of those classic stories. That premise where Superman is fighting Doomsday is almost where we start, and we take it to some really cool places. The story definitely has a first, second and third act, and what happens in the second and third act takes it to a bigger and more impressive and significant place that ends up involving the entire DC Universe, which is pretty cool for a Superman crossover to get that big!
I also think it’s worth mentioning what Tower is — I don’t think we’ve mentioned what that is or how that works. Basically, the Tower is a behind-the-scenes organization that has clearly been paying attention to Superman and his villains for a while, and in some ways, they get the ball rolling. What they are and what they’re about is very cool and will be revealed as the event goes on. I don’t know if we can say too much more — I never know in these interviews!
Pak: We probably shouldn’t say too much more! [Laughter]
Another thing that I love about this story, which I think most of us have been doing throughout, is that we’re having fun reimagining classic bits of Superman lore while at the same time introducing brand new stuff and brand new characters. It’s a fun way to build a story and give our hero the biggest challenges we can come up with.
That’s actually a great segue into what I wanted to talk about next! You’ve mentioned that this whole event starts with the Doomsday fight, but you’re taking it farther than that. So, has “The Death Of Superman” happened in the New 52? Or is this really the first time Superman has come up against Doomsday, and is that where this story takes off?
Lobdell: Its been established that they’ve had encounters in the past, that much we know for certain, and Superman is not thrilled at all — going up against Superman, I think a lot of what Charles did in “Superman/Wonder Woman” established that they did have a history. I think that if Superman died or not died — its something that Superman probably doesn’t want to talk about anymore. [Pak and Soule laugh] Because it would have been quite the traumatic experience for him.
Lobdell: Moving forward, it’s something where — you meet somebody at a bar, and they tell you part of their life story but they don’t say everything. You kind of have to fill in the gaps.
Pak: I mean, this story is not a retelling of the “Death Of Superman;” that was not our interest. We’re telling a brand new Doomsday story that goes in a new direction. We love that classic story and we tip our hats in a big way, but we’re using it really as a launching point for something hopefully very different that will challenge our character in entirely new ways.
Lobdell: And while past battles are referenced, I don’t think there’s any specific reference to “The Death Of Superman.”
With “Death Of Superman,” we had a pretty clear idea in our heads of who Doomsday was. How do you re-imagine such a huge part of Superman lore, and how do you go about adding to that in a way that feels new?
Soule: We agonized over that, actually. That’s part of the reason why we started working on this so long ago, because we knew it needed to be fresh and feel like we were taking all the characters, including Doomsday, in new directions. As far as how you do it, you come up with a million ideas and you throw out 999,999 of them and hopefully what you’re left with is a good idea. I think we’ve done that
Pak: We have something really cool in store.
Lobdell: I’ve worked with a lot of different writers and a lot of different crossovers over the years, and the thing I really enjoy about Greg and Charles is that each of us are not shy at all about throwing out an idea and the other two will say, “Yeah, let’s try it.” It’s been a very good give and take. It’s been a really good experience with, as you said — how do you re-imagine something in the New 52? I think all three of us were always acutely aware of the fact we were treading into an area that is — I wouldn’t say it’s the third rail of the Superman Universe, but its certainly one of Superman’s biggest stories. We took that head on and were totally aware of the fact that we’re not going to do the cover band version of “The Death Of Superman.”
You’ve talked a lot about the various things that will be happening in your individual books, but what can you say about the event as a whole? What should we be excited for?
Soule: Man, we had another summit — we’ve had a lot of discussions about it a week or two ago, and there’s a white board at the DC offices that has the whole event laid out. All the issues are there, all the plot points are there. Seeing it all laid out — and Scott, I know you were on the phone, so you didn’t actually get to see it! — but this is really something! I’m looking forward to all of it, especially when the scope is revealed and I don’t want to spoil specific stuff, but I’m excited about it. It’s cool!
Pak: I’ll just throw out that every step of the way, we’ve been working hard to come up with a story that is spectacular fun and big and is worthy of having Superman and Doomsday in it, you know what I mean? At the same time, we’ve been working hard to find those dramatic moments and build in a way that challenges our hero in the biggest way we can imagine, not just physically but emotionally. I think the strength of this will be in the character development you’re going to see. There’s a lot of shocking emotionally weighty decisions that will be made during this storyline that will go to the essence of who Clark is, and what he’s here to do. Those are the things I’m excited about, when Clark has to make the biggest decisions of his life and those decisions have a price.
Going forward, at least for “Action Comics” and Superman/Wonder Woman,” is this an event that’s going to radically change the direction of those books, or introduce more characters? For instance, is Lois Lane now somebody who’s going to be part of “Superman/Wonder Woman” or “Action?”
Pak: Yes, and all will be revealed to its fullest extent — there will be some lasting repercussions from this event. What those are — we should not say what they are just yet! [Laughs] But big events are the most powerful when something adjusts as a result, so keep your eyes open!
The Man of Steel’s world begins to change forever in “Superman: Doomed” #1, by Lobdell, Soule and Pak with art by Ken Lashely, out May 7.