James Robinson: Writer With 100,000 Supermen

Yesterday, CBR News spoke with Eisner Award-winning creator James Robinson about writing DC Comics' "Superman" without the Man of Steel as a headliner. The reason the hero formerly known as the Last Son of Krypton is unavailable to the writer is because he's off planet starring in Robinson's other title, "Superman: World of New Krypton."

Co-written by fan favorite Greg Rucka and illustrated by Pete Woods with covers by Gary Frank, "Superman: World of New Krypton" is the 12-issue miniseries born from the bestselling "New Krypton" crossover event Robinson presented in "Superman" in conjunction with Geoff Johns' "Action Comics" and Sterling Gates' "Supergirl." "New Krypton" featured the death of Pa Kent and the "resurrection" of 100,000 Kryptonians who were trapped in the bottled City of Kandor, freed during Johns' "Brainiac" story arc in "Action Comics."

Now led by General Zod, who is considered a hero, New Krypton is not the utopian state Superman fans may have expected of the home planet of Jor-El and Lara Lor-Van. Nonetheless, Superman flew to New Krypton to be with his people, about whom much has been learned in the first three issues. For the most part, Kal-El was trying his darndest to fit in, but change is in the air and Superman is about to face some enormous challenges in the months ahead. What kind of challenges? Well, a visit from the Green Lantern Corps for one. Oh, and a little trial for his life (or death) too.

Wanting to know more, CBR News asked James Robinson about writing the most iconic comic book superhero ever and what it's like being an Earth(-adopted) boy living in a Kryptonian world.

CBR: Originally, Andrew Kreisberg was to write "Superman: World of New Krypton," but due to a full-time writing gig on "Fringe" he had to drop the assignment. You and Greg Rucka picked up the ball and ran with it. Despite coming in late, is the series what you expected?

James Robinson: It's a delight - and I say this absolutely whole-heartedly - to work with Greg Rucka. I've always been weary about working with other people but we're having so much fun plotting this book out, I feel like when I read the book, it doesn't feel like half of it is written by James and half of it is written by Greg. It feels like another writer is writing this book. It's the best of both of us. So, in that regard, I'm really enjoying it.

I know where the book is going and I know some of the stuff we have planned and it isn't by any means an accident that every issue ends on a cliffhanger. We want people to come back the next issue. At the end of it, it's this big opus that we're doing with beautiful art by Pete Woods. I'm so proud of what he's doing on this book. It's just wonderful and exciting to see the pages when we get them from him every time he sends us some.

Effectively re-imagining Krypton has to be rewarding, is it not?

One of the things that I do pat myself on the back about in terms of contribution is the idea of the guilds as a way of explaining the different classes. Basically, it was just Alex Ross making a cover with all the different Kryptonians on it. So that was sort of the genesis of it all. And Geoff [Johns], I think, has more an affection for the look and aesthetic of the Silver Age Krypton, as do I, as we do for the austere John Byrne version. So coming up with a way of having our cake and eating it and combine all of them and the Military Guild and everything else is a lot of fun.

It's fun to incorporate some of the culture in too. And then Greg comes along and says, "You know, there's five Kryptonian gods. What if each guild worships a different god?" Making that all make sense so it all feels organic and has logic to it is really rewarding. And the city is amazing. If you look at the work that Pete is doing, even the architecture, some of it is Science Guild, some of it is Artist Guild and it all has a different feel to it.

From the solicitations, we know Superman is going to be facing the Green Lantern Corps and go on trial for his life in the months ahead. Is there something you can share about what other challenges Kal-El might face on New Krypton?

Knowing ultimately where the book is going and what we have planned is exciting. The arc of the relationship of Kal-El and Zod, which I think is going to take some interesting turns that you wouldn't expect, is going to be a lot of fun to tell.

I'll just say I'm very happy Andrew Kreisberg had the other commitment and couldn't do the book. It was a very lucky thing for me.

The internet is all a flutter that in August a big crossover event is happening in all the Superman books. Can you share any details about that?

I can tell you this. It's five issues and there's a "Jimmy Olsen" Special thrown in that will be dealing with some peripheral elements of what General Lane is planning and some of the other stuff. It's basically one long story that begins with a cliffhanger at the end of "World of New Krypton" #5 that leads directly into "World of New Krypton" #6. It will then go through "Action Comics," "Supergirl," "Superman" and it will sort of have an epilogue in "World of New Krypton" #7.

It will be a five-issue roller coaster. And it will have all of the characters meeting each other. It's a race against time. There's a ticking clock involved. And lots of things that you've seen in the present, that you don't think are important, will all begin to come together and pay off.

One of the things that people have said they like about "Superman" but they hope isn't every issue is the way that it's very... a character here for two pages and then there is a character here for two pages. I'm doing an ensemble book more than a book with one character. But there will be more of a sense of a though-line of all of those characters with one overriding plot that will come from out of this crossover. So all of this has been planned and it's what we've been heading towards.

Are you planning on sticking with Superman in some way post-"World of New Krypton?"

I don't know how I feel. I've signed an exclusive with DC so I'll definitely be working with DC but I don't know. At the moment, I'd like to say, "Yes, I'd love to do more Superman." But I don't know if there will be some other writer with a great set of ideas and it will be time for me to step down or if I'll just be burnt out on it by then and it will be time for me to do a different character. It's too far into the future for me to say what I'll be doing. But I'm very, very much enjoying what I'm doing at the moment and I hope that reflects in the scripts I'm writing and also I hope that the fans are enjoying it.

I have been, just lately, in the chat rooms and there have been a few more people starting to get behind it and saying, "They're actually doing something kind of interesting and it's something we haven't seen before." So I'm glad people are responding in that way.

Don't miss tomorrow for the final chapter of this three-part series when James Robinson speaks about the reunion of Green Lantern and Green Arrow in the upcoming "Justice League: Cry for Justice."

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