Scott Lobdell is easily one of the busier writers in the DC Comics library. Lobdell currently stewards both “Superman” and “Teen Titans” each month, but it was recently revealed he’s taken on “Superboy” #19 — which has a surprising gatefold cover reveal for the Boy of Steel’s origins — as well as a fill-in arc for “Action Comics.”
CBR News spoke with Lobdell about his current work in the New 52 including reintroducing Trigon and Raven in the pages of “Teen Titans,” what’s next for the teenage superheroes, crafting the origin story in “Superboy” #19 and the fact that his tenure on “Action Comics” will last beyond a single issue.
CBR News: Scott, starting off with the revelation from “Teen Titans” #19 of reintroducing Trigon to the DCU, what’s the challenge of re-integrating that character into the New 52 continuity?
Hmmm. I don’t really see it as a challenge as much as I see it as an opportunity. While I think Trigon has certainly left his imprint on the DC Universe on more than one occasion since his original debut — I confess to remaining a little curious about his master plan. I get that he wants to rule over Earth, but was never sure what was preventing him from doing so over the centuries (if not longer).
So, issue #20 really focuses on Trigon, who he is, what he wants and how he plans on getting it — exactly why is Raven so important to his plans and why he has apparently been involving himself in the lives of the Teen Titans at all.
We’re going to see a very long lived Trigon who is playing the “long game.” Everything he does he does for a very specific reason: he is a planner, a builder. Sometimes he uses seduction (like with Raven’s mom and Psimon) and other times he uses the sheer horror of the promise of Eternal Damnation. The guy has range.
Although Tim Drake has been through the ringer in the Bat-universe lately, it really seems like he’s been acting out of character lately. As the series progresses, how will this shift in his attitude affect the team dynamic of the Titans?
It is going to have a profound effect in very unexpected ways. I know some people hate seeing their characters put through an emotional wringer — but as a fan I’ve always loved it. I love it when a character makes the wrong choice (or escalating series of choices) and has to deal with the fall out of not so much being a hero, as much as being a human being who makes mistakes.
Even when you are on your own, the mistakes you make affect others — imagine what happens when you are the leader of a fledgling young team of super heroes. Kids who, for better or for worse, hang on your every word. Tim brought this team together — has held it together — through sheer force of will.
As Trigon will tell you, you want to kill your enemy, you take its heart. Tim Drake is the heart of the Teen Titans.
“Teen Titans” #17 teased the return of Raven. You’ve been hinting at the return for the character pretty much since the beginning of the New 52. She appeared in “The Phantom Stranger” #1, but this was her real coming-out party for the New 52. What’s been the most exciting aspect about getting to reintroduce this character not only to the DCU, but to the Titans as well?
Actually, I am pretty sure she cameoed in “Teen Titans” #1, didn’t she? Hmmm.
Since being tasked with creating a “Teen Titans” book where we see the characters for the first time in the New 52 (that is we see Tim meeting Cassie, Bart, Kon, etc.) I’ve felt it was important to create new continuities for the characters that weren’t just echoes of the old continuity. Some people have loved it, others have — um, loved it less!
When handed a character like Raven, it is just so exciting because she’s just so darn conflicted. Imagine if Satan’s daughter showed up at your prom. Even if she insisted she had the best of intentions, she’s, you know — still Satan’s daughter. If you weren’t nervous, if you weren’t skeptical, there would be something very wrong with you!
I’ve always loved Raven as a character, but over the years I felt she’s been depicted as a bit of a victim: very “I can’t have emotions because I might accidentally cause the end of all things.” I’d rather see a Raven who is in control of herself and those around her — she has a ferocious appetite for emotional connection, sexual energy, power — and she is not one to be denied. She’s Raven — it should be scary to be around her even at her happiest and most earnest.
Another character you’ve got set for an introduction in the next arc is Dr. Light, a character that had a huge impact on the DCU before “Flashpoint.” What can readers expect from your take on the villain?
Just that that’s not Dr. Light! Much like when I set out to recreate Bizarro and Editorial was like “Awesome character! But he’s not Bizarro! He’s… H’El!” I was asked to come up with a Dr. Light story that zigged when it should have zagged.
So now we have two brothers, The Light and the Way. One is a brilliant and crippled man who needs the light generated by young metas in order to live. The other is a living avatar who only exists to serve the whims of his sick brother. So — yeah, you can see where they have very little to do with Dr. Light.
The Titans have had the opportunity to jump all over the DCU with the recent foray into “Death of the Family” and “Teen Titans” #18’s battle with the Suicide Squad. What part of the DCU will they hit next?
Well — I want to say they are going to find themselves in the 31st Century soon, which most people will assume means they are going to be running into the Legion of Super Heroes — but I am actually eager to explore the most remote edges of the Universe — a place where people ask “Legion of what–?” I want to see the galactic underbelly, so stay tuned!
Beyond the Teen Titans, it recently came to light that you wrote the big reveal in “Superboy” #19 concerning the origin of the character. What was it like to get back to writing Superboy in his own book?
It was a blast getting the opportunity to tie-up some of the subplots I started with the very first issue. (Has it only been 19 issues?! It seems like years!) I’ve been reading a bunch of your message boards (Hey, MissLane38! I never said I hated fans. I don’t!) and it’s been fun watching everyone guess the exact nature of the reveals we’ll be learning in “Superboy” #19. Alas, they are all wrong!
In terms of the teaser on the gatefold cover for “Superboy” #19, was that the origin you planned from the beginning for Superboy?
Wasn’t it Ralph Waldo Emerson who said “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines”?
Emerson quotes aside, how far back does the “Superboy” origin issue go in the New 52 continuity? Was there a particular time period you were excited to explore?
It doesn’t go back into continuity as much as it goes forward in continuity, where much of the story takes place.
All I can really say at this point is that people who read “Superboy” #1 will note that his chamber read “02” and here we are learning who was in 01. We’ll see a lot of the pieces fitting together at long last, a lot of mysteries resolved.
Have you been working closely at all with Justin Jordan considering your connection to “Superboy” and the character’s inclusion in “Teen Titans?”
I feel I would have to be at least as fast as a speeding locomotive if I were to try to keep up with Justin Jordan! I thought I had a lot of story ideas — the kid is gold mine full of them. But no, [DC Editor] Eddie Berganza lets me know what Justin is up to month to month — as someone who has written the character I don’t want to be up in anyone’s grill suggesting how I would to this or that. From everything I’ve read Superboy is in good hands!
You’ve been pretty busy beyond both “Teen Titans” and “Superboy.” In addition to being the ongoing writer for “Superman,” you’ve got a fill-in issue coming up for “Action Comics.” What’s the premise of the issue and will it relate to your “Superman” ongoing at all?
It is actually a fill-in arc. And you just revealed it here! I was eager to write a story where we got to see Superman off-planet and out of his comfort zone. We’ve seen a lot of adventures so far in the New 52 where Superman is either dealing with Earth bound threats… but I admit I am a sucker for those stories where we learn the man has quite a reputation outside of our solar system!
I also like those stories where Superman has to deal with cultures that are not his own, not of this Earth. There’s a lot of action in this story, a lot of galactic scope, and the art from the first three pages alone is spectacular. So everyone should strap themselves in for a bit of romp — the series is called “Action,” after all!
How does writing for a book like “Action” let you stretch different muscles for story and plot than you get to tell in “Superman?”
Sometimes I think if left to my own devices I would publish a book called “Clark Kent!” I love that guy! But “Action,” like the title implies, is an action-oriented title, so it is not as conducive as “Superman” is for the character-driven plots that I spend most of my time writing. “Action” is more actiony!
“Superboy” #19 is on sale now, and stay tuned to CBR News for more on all of Scott Lobdell’s DC titles.
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