When Jeph Loeb reintroduced the one, true Supergirl to the DC Universe in the pages of "Superman/Batman," fans sat up and took notice. She made her first appearance in "Superman/Batman" #8, but truly wowed fans when she made her first appearance in costume with issue #13. In typical Loeb fashion, Supergirl's return to the DCU left many questions unanswered. Loeb will be addressing many of those questions and providing new ones in the pages of a new, ongoing "Supergirl" series with artist Ian Churchill, tentatively scheduled to debut this July from DC Comics. CBR News caught up with Loeb to get the low-down on his plans for Kara Zor-El.
To begin with, Loeb reintroduced the character and caught us up on what's happened within the pages of "Superman/Batman." "Kara -- she's more Kara Zor-El at this point having not been Supergirl for very long -- is in her mid-teens (we haven't locked that down yet, but she's comparable with the Teen Titan kids)," Loeb told CBR News. "She is Superman's cousin. Her Uncle was Jor-El -- just like most folks remember the origin. But, she is not the Silver Age Supergirl. That Supergirl died tragically during 'Crisis' and has been swept out of history -- so there really isn't anyone to compare her to (and yes, I've read and am a big fan of 'Many Happy Returns!')."
Loeb noted that Kara was sent to Earth in a rocket ship at roughly the same time as Kal-El, except her ship fell in to a crevice as Krypton blew up. The ship became embedded in a chunk of the planet, becoming a giant meteor that headed towards Earth, a storyline dealt with in the first six issues of "Superman/Batman."
"One of the nice parts about working on this title is I have the ability to tell self-contained stories with arcs, but with elements of the next story or past stories that are very gently mentioned," continued Loeb. "For example, the entire basis of Lex Luthor's attack on Superman in 'Superman/Batman' #1-6 was that he had information that the meteor came from the Planet Krypton and was headed toward Earth because Superman was here. Ironically, that was true to a certain extent in that the navigational system in the rocket was locked on Kal-El. So, maybe Luthor wasn't so crazy after all. Worse, we find out in the Supergirl arc that it was Darkseid who had been tracking it all along and because we know that Luthor and Darkseid share an alliance, it could have been very reliable information.
"All of that aside, however, Kara spent most of 'Superman/Batman' #8 - 13 trying to discover who she is and what she wants to be. This will be a continuing theme for the first year of the title. Usually, a hero puts on the costume and goes out and does the job. Kara's not so sure -- she's very new at this -- all of this. Earth. Powers. Hero. It's all new. But, she's very strong willed and determined to make it work. That has both good and bad in it. It's important to remember that she's a teenager. And most fifteen, sixteen year olds don't really know what want to do with their lives.
"That coupled with the possibility that she's even more powerful than Superman brings the problem to a whole new level. She also has this side of her that Darkseid either created or brought out who is essentially Dark Kara. She knows that is inside her. So, is she this badass who is pretending to be innocent and lovely or is she innocent and lovely and was turned briefly into a badass? It really is the story of someone who has greatness thrust up on her."
The action begins for Kara in the pages of "Superman/Batman" #19, which serves as something of a zero issue for the ongoing "Supergirl" series. Loeb said that issue sets up some of the background for the regular series and fills readers in on what Kara's been up to since "Superman/Batman" #13. Loeb added, "We also learn that Superman and Batman have continued to keep tabs on her and as her 'uncles' (in a very loosely defined way), they feel very responsible -- particularly Superman who still has to learn to let this girl go her own way. But -- and here's the fun -- they aren't the only one's watching. That mystery is tied into 'Identity Crisis' and I've been talking to Brad Meltzer who is such an inspiration for where this is all headed!"
Loeb's already established that Batman doesn't entirely trust this new Supergirl, yet he trusts the judgment of Superman who does trust her, although Batman's been keeping an eye on Supergirl regardless. Loeb said this plot point will definitely be explored further in the pages of "Supergirl." The writer noted, "The truth is we don't know very much about this girl other than what she's told us and frighteningly, there's not much chance of finding out what she is saying is true. Or at least, that's how Batman sees it..."
Ultimately, Loeb's goal with "Supergirl" is to establish Kara as the one, true Supergirl in the DC Universe. "She's Superman's cousin -- that's a huge legacy to live up to. How can she deal with that? And like 'Superman/Batman,' it will be huge in scope. This label that folks have put on me as 'the Jerry Brukheimer of Comics' I find as a huge compliment. You know, when they were called Spielberg movies ('Jaws,' 'Close Encounters,' 'Jurassic Park') 'popcorn movies' were fun. Somehow the snooties decided that popcorn was all popped out. But, when you look at how many times 'Superman/Batman' has been the #1 book, and always in the top five, we may be onto something that we can't really explain other than it's not so bad to have fun for your $2.99!"
Fans can expect a Power Girl/Supergirl battle in the pages of "Supergirl" #1. At the moment, Supergirl is clearly Loeb's character to define, while Power Girl is a character that Geoff Johns has been spending time defining in the pages of "JSA." In addition to being two of DC's big-guns, Loeb and Johns are close friends and share office space together in Los Angeles, so Loeb has Johns' total approval to work with Power Girl.
"I wouldn't dare do a Power Girl story without Geoff on my shoulder," said Loeb. "And yes, there will be some reveals about Power Girl's origins in that first issue. Don't forget, it's got the whole blammed JSA there -- Power Girl is just a part of it."
In the beginning "Supergirl" will be about finding out who Kara is, according to Loeb, and that includes where she is and whom she's been spending time with. "The promise at the end of 'Superman/Batman" #13 - that there are places to be and teams to meet - The Teen Titans, The JSA, The Outsiders and The JLA - who will all be there in one way or another. And then, we can't forget about Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman -- they are all very important right now."
Loeb's been instrumental in bringing back a number of characters from the Superman family archives, such as Supergirl and Krypto, and when asked if he plans on reintroducing more from the pantheon he joked, "You mean where'd you hide the Beppo the Monkey story, Loeb?" That being said, he's enjoyed the role he's played in adding to the Superman legacy.
"It's funny, I know I've 'reintroduced' a lot of those elements (Bizarro #1 too!), but it's always been done with a difference," explained Loeb. "First of all, nobody in the DCU remembers any of these characters so they are meeting them for the first time (just like any reader prior to 1986 which is nearly twenty years ago!). Krypto doesn't have thought balloons, can't understand everything you say to him. He's a dog with Superman's powers. That's an incredibly dangerous idea. He has no idea why anyone would be up with him tearing off Mongul's arm when he attacked Lois. Or that he hates Kara simply because he feels like she doesn't belong in the Fortress! And even Kara -- she's not the same girl who was in awe of her cousin as her Silver Age counter part was. This girl has some real issues with being Supergirl and we'll see how those play out."
While Loeb may be the main arbiter of Supergirl's future for the moment, he's more than happy to share the character with his fellow DC writers.
"Part of what makes working at DC so great right now is that we have these lines of communication between Dan Didio, myself, Geoff, Brad, Judd Winnick and Greg Rucka," said Loeb. "I mean, between that crew, we cover most of the bigs -- and if we'll bring anybody in, it'll make the story better. I'd no sooner tell a Green Lantern story without talking to Geoff and while I don't have any real control over what everyone else does in the DCU, usually Dan will give me a call or Eddie Berganza to say so-and-so is planning on using Kara and here's the idea. It's more about whether or not that's going to bump into anything I have planned and I can always change my plans for someone else's better story! So, hell yes, I hope she shows up all over the place -- 'cause she's going to be showing up all over the DCU in the first year! Wouldn't it be cool if she turned to be like Wolverine and was in about 40 comics a month?! (laughs)"
Joining Loeb on "Supergirl" is his old "Cable" and "Coven" pal Ian Churchil who Loeb says "is just pouring his heart into every page. All I can say is if you enjoyed what Mike Turner was doing -- you're going to love what Ian has in store. Ian's enthusiasm alone is a great reason for me doing the book. We've wanted to get back together for years and this couldn't be a better project for it!"
Finally, Loeb closed out out chat by talking about what makes Supergirl a compelling character for him to write.
"I love that she has all this power and has to learn what it is to be a superhero in the DCU," said Loeb. "It's one thing to try that with Manhunter (which is terrific), but when you have an icon like Supergirl trying to find her way and, at the same time, at a power level that we haven't even begun to explore ... it should make for a bitchin' good time."
Special thanks to Stephen Gerding of 4 Color Review for his help with this story.