One of the biggest parts of DC Comics’ current “Rebirth” era has been the full reintegration of the family of characters surrounding Superman. From his teenage cousin to his now superpowered former flames to his son, the world of the Man of Steel is bigger than ever both on the page and in the publishing line.
Thursday afternoon, the breadth of the Super line got a spotlight at the 2016 New York Comic Con as “Superman” co-writer Peter Tomasi and artist Doug Mahnke were joined by “Supergirl” writer Joe Orlando and “Superwoman” writer/artist Phil Jimenez for a wide-ranging talk on their plans for everything S.
The panel started with Tomasi apologizing that his co-writer and artist Pat Gleason couldn’t make it to the show because he was hard at work drawing the latest “Superman” issue for their deadline.
But the book did get a spotlight as the just-released “Superman” #8 was brought up. Tomasi called it an homage of sorts to the late Darwyn Cooke’s work with Dinosaur Island in “DC: The New Frontier” as Superman and his son travel to the locale to “punch pterodactyls in the face.” The writer added, “When you think about our arc, we went from Eradicator to the moon and from a county fair to Dinosaur Island. We’ve got great stuff with Robin coming up…and Frankenstein and the bride…when you talk about adventure, we’re all over the place. But it all ties to the story we’re telling, which is a blast.”
Mahnke spoke to his part in drawing the story, saying, “This is a very easy flavor to swallow…it’s Superman at his best. When you put him next to his son in this learning experience…it’s a whole story about discovery, and it allows the artist to play a lot more with emotion. I play not just with a grim and determined Superman but also with this wide-eyed boy – he’s afraid and in awe, and it’s great to explore that relationship.”
The incoming “Superman” #10 shows the first meeting of the new “Super Sons” who are soon to star in their own series also written by Tomasi. “These two issues are going to be a great platform to explore Clark and Bruce’s various parenting skills,” he said. “[With Damian and Bruce], those characters voices come really easy. It’s a lot of fun because it feels like forever since we’ve worked with them even though it hasn’t been that long a time.”
Jimenez spoke to his plans for next week’s “Superwoman” #3, which continues to play with fan expectations of what the book is actually about. “I think of Superwoman, the very concept, as team oriented,” the writer/artist said. “As far as I’m concerned, this is about women helping each other and women helping people. It’s a book about people finding the best in each other. Lana and Lois may not always get along, but they feel ‘We can work together well and make the world a better place’…they don’t work from places of angst…They might interpret what that S means differently.”
He also dissected his cover for issue #3 which features layers of Luthor armor and a Mother Box to complete his visual approach. “Somebody once said I’m a better designer than I am a drawer, and that’s probably true…here I wanted to showcase the villain and the strange Bizarro-Women who have been showing up in the book so far.” A look inside the interiors of the book showed a new version of the Atomic Skull who goes on a rampage during a power outage in Metropolis.
The last major element of the panel was the adventures of “Supergirl” which is still early in its own “Rebirth” run. “It was great to bring her back and remind people why they love her and show people who don’t why they should,” Orlando said. Coming up in the book is the conflict between Kara and the new iteration of Cyborg Superman – who happens to be her father. “It’s the crux of the first arc, certainly. I think it’s an interesting counterpoint to the story going on between Superman and his son. I grew up in the ’90s with Hank Henshaw, and I saw the Cyborg created in the New 52, and I thought it was full of pathos. He’s the brother of Superman’s father, and he fails…what’s interesting about [Cyborg Superman and Supergirl] is that they both thing they’re heroes…that’s where he thinks he’s coming from, but it’s filtered through being a killer robot from outer space. But it’s also relatable. I think you feel for him, and he’s a tragic character.”
And will Cyborg Superman survive this first arc? Orlando wouldn’t say, but he did note that Supergirl is not just interested in saving people in danger but saving the dangerous people as well. “That’s how she is. That’s her true strength. So regardless of what happens with Cyborg Superman, she’s invested in what happens to him and who he is.”
The discussion moved to fan questions where Orlando explained that for the time being, “Supergirl” will not be crossing into the stories of her cousin and his expansive supporting cast. It will happened eventually, but for now the goal is to establish the character on her own. Similarly, there’s no current plan for Metallo to appear in the comics, but eventually he’ll have to appear, said Tomasi.
As for the playground of Metropolis, Jimenez said that part of his plan for bringing back the Golden Age newspaper “The Daily Star” was to recast it as an organization somewhat like “VICE” magazine. A major theme in the book will be the way we consume news in the 21st Century and how reporters find new methods (some good, some bad) for finding and writing their stories.
Many fans asked about supposed discrepancies between the previous Superman comics and the new Rebirth era, and Tomasi spoke to the idea that continuity mattered less than what makes for a good story in the moment. Similarly, someone wanted to know how much the “Watchmen” characters will play a role in their books or exert any pressures onto how they tell their stories, but Tomasi again had a simple answer, “There so much stuff coming down the pike…just don’t ask about it. Let it happen.”
Stay tuned for more from NYCC 2016 all weekend on CBR.
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