As J. Michael Straczynski takes a pause from his “Grounded” arc in the pages of DC Comics’ “Superman,” Eisner-nominated G. Willow Wilson (Vertigo’s “Air”) steps in this month with a Lois Lane story that she likens to a domestic comedy. But as fans of Wilson know, never judge a book by its cover (even if it is drawn by superstar artist John Cassaday).
Through Lois, Wilson explores what qualifies as success for modern women who are not only expected to excel at everything from their chosen career to motherhood but also be a better human being than a farm boy from Smallville.
Set within the “Grounded” storyline, Wilson brings Lois to the town where she went to college in anticipation of Superman’s next stop on his cross-country tour. When she runs into an old boyfriend, a character Wilson created, and sees the nice, normal family he has, Lois can’t help but examine the choices she made and wonder if they were the correct ones.
CBR News spoke with Wilson about “Superman” #704 and the writer shared details about the “everydude” Lois could have lived with happily ever after and why she went to bed every night as a young girl with the Man of the Steel on her mind.
CBR News: First of all, I know you have a long history writing for magazines and newspapers, but what’s your knowledge of Superman and his extended universe of supporting characters?
G. Willow Wilson: Aside from Lex Luthor, the characters orbiting Superman always felt very overshadowed to me. I always thought of Lois as kind of annoying and dense, so reading about her as she appears in her most contemporary monthly form, I was pleasantly surprised to find that her character had gained a lot more depth and grit. That presented intriguing possibilities when writing “Superman” #704.
What was your first experience with the Man of Steel?
For most of my childhood, Superman meant Christopher Reeve. I thought he was about the coolest guy ever. I had Superman pajamas and everything, even though Superman was ostensibly a “boy” thing. I refused to see Christopher Reeve in any movie that wasn’t “Superman” through “Superman IV.” Until very recently, I had no idea he was actually a talented thespian, God rest his soul. So movies were my entry point.
Does Superman appear in your issue or is this a Lois Lane only story?
Supes does have a cameo, but Lois is very much the focus of the story.
What makes Lois Lane such a strong leading lady and a character capable of carrying her own story?
Well, for one thing, she’s smart. Not comic book sidekick Girl Friday smart – legitimately smart. That lends itself well to snappy dialogue and compelling stories. The wisecracking, take-charge thing helps too, because it makes her fun to read about. And to write. I have to tell you, I had my doubts about doing a Lois story, but as soon as I sat down to write, she practically jumped off the page and started giving orders. It was great.
What can you tell us about the story you’re going to tell in “Superman” #704?
Lois gets a glimpse of what her life might have been like if she chose the standard, white picket fence route instead of being swept up in the orbit of the most famous man on Earth. On one level it’s sort of a domestic comedy, but on another it’s a very real discussion of what qualifies as success for modern women who are expected to excel at everything, from career to motherhood to human being-ness.
Can you share any details about this old boyfriend that appears? Is he an existing character or one that you created?
I got to invent him out of whole cloth, which is always fun. He’s very much an “everydude.”
Did you channel your years of newspaper writing into Lois?
Well, yes and no. I channeled the sort of ruthless personality it takes to chase down stories day after day – a personality I do not have, hence my literary exploits.
Have you been impressed with the art of newcomer Leandro Oliveira? And who’s the kid that did the cover, John Cassaday?
Yeah, that John Cassaday guy. I think he drew a couple of “X-Men” issues? I dunno. Seriously, I was geeked to hear that he was drawing the cover. I love his stuff. And he has cool hair. Leandro, like me, is a newcomer to Superman, so it was our first time out together, which is always nerve-wracking, but he’s Brazilian, so I wasn’t too worried. Brazil seems to churn out talented comics artists like mad.
How did you land this assignment? Have you been pitching some Lois Lane stories?
The offer came totally out of the blue. I just found an email in my inbox, two days after I got invited to a holiday dinner at the State Department with a bunch of distinguished Muslim Americans who do much more important things than write comics. An editor friend joked I should start eating more apple pie and put a flag on my lawn. Superman and dinner in Washington DC with Madame Clinton? It doesn’t get much more all-American than that. I couldn’t make the dinner, so I’m glad the Superman gig worked out.
What else are you working on these days, comics or otherwise?
I’m in the final act of a novel that I think comics fans will enjoy. It’s sort of “Snow Crash”-y, but set in the Middle East. There are also a couple of other comics projects in the works, but I’m afraid I have to be mysterious about them. More soon.!
“Superman” #704, written by G. Willow Wilson and featuring art by Leandro Oliveira, goes on sale October 27.