Johns Finds New Krypton with Robinson and Gates

As the world descends on San Diego for Comic-Con International, CBR News checked in with superstar writer Geoff Johns this past Tuesday night to discuss the highly anticipated relaunch of the Superman franchise that was officially unveiled Monday in DC's October solicitations.

Beginning October 22 with a one-shot "Superman: New Krypton Special," a nine-part crossover series will weave between the pages of Johns' "Action Comics," James Robinson's "Superman" and Sterling Gates' "Supergirl." (Gates' first issue on the ongoing monthly, "Supergirl" #34, was also solicited Monday.)

The special features art by Pete Woods ("Action Comics" and "Amazons Attack"), as well as the artists currently working on Superman books including Gary Frank, Jon Sibal, Renato Guedes and Wilson Magalhaes.

Johns told CBR News, "The story grows out of my 'Brainiac' arc in 'Action' and the 'Atlas' arc James has going in 'Superman.' But to put it simply, when those stories end there are 100,000 Kryptonians left on Earth going: 'This must be New Krypton, how wonderful.' And the story builds from there.

"It's obviously a very personal story for Superman, and Supergirl gets caught up in the action pretty quick."

With lots of storytelling still to come in "Action" and "Superman," leading up to the Superman event years in the making, Johns was not keen on sharing any more details about the mega crossover but he did have plenty to say about Gates, the 26-year old newcomer from Tulsa, Oklahoma, who got his big break into comics working as Johns' editorial assistant.

"Sterling's first issue of 'Supergirl' is the best issue of 'Supergirl' I have ever read. I think he's got a great take on the character and a great energy for the character," said Johns. "James and I really believe in him. [Editors] Matt [Idelson] and Nachie [Castro] really believe in him and [artist] Jamal Igle is turning in some amazing pages on that book. 'Supergirl' is going to be a book to watch.

"And Supergirl is a character that James and I are already integrating into our books, 'Action' and 'Superman.' She is very important to Superman and we want her to be as prevalent and prominent in the Superman mythology as Robin is to Batman. She is not always going to team up with Superman but she has a very important part in his life and his world. And a lot of things are going to come out of her book that will be pretty big for the world of Superman and the other 100,000 Kryptonians."

Moving forward, Johns said the plan is not to have the Superman books cross over all of the time, so when it does happen it will be for something big.

"It will happen here and there. The books will interweave, separate, then interweave again. It depends on the stories we are hitting on," he explained. "We haven't done a Superman crossover since 'Up, Up and Away,' so it's cool to do one. It's been a while."

Johns also had high praise for the third member of the Superman writing team, his close friend James Robinson ("JSA" and "Starman").

"James is a really amazing writer. He's one of my favorite writers in comics. I always like working with people I respect and admire. So working in the world of Superman with James and Sterling has been great," said Johns. "James has a real love for the DC Universe and so does Sterling. It's actually really rare to find writers, who have a huge passion for the DC Universe more than the Marvel Universe. It's just not as common.

"One of Sterling's favorite characters is Supergirl. And that's not because he is writing the book. She just is. Sterling loves all the DC Universe. He loves all the majors and minors. And James does too. He's taken so many minor characters, or at least guys who might be considered minor - and I think I have too, to an extent - where we take a Starman or a Black Adam or a Captain Cold or even Citizen Steel, and made them into characters who share the same importance of everybody else."

And while he was sharing the love, Johns also gave a shout out to his artist on "Action Comics," Gary Frank.

"He is so fast. And I think he's the best Superman artist of this generation. I think his Superman stuff is unbelievable. Every time I get new pages and talk to him, it just blows my mind."

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