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City Life: Chuck Austen Investigates the Secret Life of Cities in 'Superman: Metropolis'

In our world -- what DCComics once called Earth-Prime before they then gave us Hypertime --the Y2K threat is nothing but a memory of a disaster that wasn't. But inthe DC Universe, Chuck Austen is going to spend a year reminding readersthat Y2K was big trouble for the Man of Steel in "Superman: Metropolis."

"It's a story about the city, the Tech, and the boy in the middle,"Austen told CBR News on Wednesday. "We'll see Metropolis through the eyes,primarily, of Jimmy Olsen, The Daily Planet's resident, young,photojournalist."

In 1999's "Superman Y2K" special and story arc in the regular Supermancomics, the advanced Brainiac 13 transformed Metropolis into, quiteliterally, the City of Tomorrow. But while the residents of Metropolis havegotten used to their Jetsons-style hometown, they shouldn't take Brainiac13's computer virus -- which they call the Tech -- for granted.

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"The Tech has been a fixture of Metropolis and the lives of the peoplewho live there ever since it showed up in Y2K and was left behind byBrainiac. It turned Metropolis into something otherworldly and futuristic,and made Lex Luthor an ungodly wealthy man. But what actually is it? Andwhy does it do what it does if Brainiac is no longer inside? Or isBrainiac really no longer inside?

"As the Tech begins to assert itself as an independent entity,influencing the city and its people, these are questions Jimmy and Supermanwant, and need, to have answered."

While Y2K was a convenient excuse to remodel Metropolis to more closelyresemble the futuristic skyline seen in the then-current Superman animatedcartoon, as a long term story element, it wasn't one that most reader wereclamoring to have more follow-up on. Of course, it just takes the right oneSuperman reader.

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Such as editor "Eddie Berganza," Austen laughed. "He came to me withthis idea, and a hook that would make it cool and more interesting for meto write than your average Superman comic and I thought it was brilliantand couldn't wait to give it a try.

"Basically, it was just something fun that Eddie thought of, I gotexcited about, and we decided to run with it and see what we could makehappen. It quickly grew into something very fun and cool, and not the leastwhat anyone would expect."

Despite the title, Superman isn't the star of the comic, Jimmy Olsen is.And, in fact, the Man of Steel won't be appearing in every issue. Otherhigh profile superheroes may make an appearance in the book -- Austenexpressed interest in seeing Wonder Woman, the Flash or Green Lantern --but nothing has been finalized.

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"The main character is going to be the Tech. What it is and why itbegins, rather suddenly, doing these very strange things, and how it goesabout developing a relationship with Jimmy.

"Other than that, we're going to have other members of the Metropolispress corps floating around, and that means some fun guest starring rolesthat will fit perfectly well in with the theme of the book.

"I'm also introducing a female photographer, some professionalcompetition for Jimmy and a potential love interest, a woman who was aglobal news correspondent and has given up her more high profile job andcome to Metropolis because she's fascinated with the Tech and what it does."

As for whether Brainiac 13 will be appearing in the series at all,Austen isn't telling.

Art on the series is by Danijel Zezelj.

Outside DC, Austen has a full schedule, over at DC's crosstown rivals,Marvel Comics.

"I'll continue writing the ['Uncanny X-Men'] for as long as they'll haveme, I'm working on a new War Machine project, and I'll be continuing the'Call of Duty' as a regular series. I've got a pretty full schedule."

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