Blending the best bits of “Moonlighting” with blockbuster action, writer Peter Tomasi delivered a knockout blow on “Superman/Wonder Woman” #13. Illustrated by Doug Mahnke, the creative team’s first issue split time between Clark and Diana getting ready for date night, and Superman and Wonder Woman facing off against a pair of D-list supervillains, Major Disaster and Atomic Skull.
And, as Tomasi told CBR News, the mildly obscure rogues are just the first part of a long game that he has planned for the series, which also includes unraveling the mystery of Wonderstar, a new superpowered character introduced on the issue’s final page. While online musings and social media speculation have been rampant that Wonderstar is a the son of Clark and Diana sent back from the future, the veteran comic book writer unequivocally denies that lineage, promising that the character’s origin will be revealed in short order.
Tomasi also discussed the New 52 debut of Magog, the antihero originally introduced by Mark Waid and Alex Ross in “Kingdom Come” in 1996. Tomasi, an assistant editor on the project at the time, says that he loves the character, but remained mum on whether the Earth-22 resident’s New 52 arrival is tied to the linewide “Convergence” event series coming in 2015.
CBR News: I think you really captured the dynamic between Superman and Wonder Woman in your first issue. When you get a chance to write those two characters, especially together, I guess it’s hard to say no.
Peter Tomasi: It is, especially when you are already doing Batman. How awesome is that? I am writing the Trinity — the three most recognizable characters in the DC Universe.
When you originally learned Superman and Wonder Woman would become a couple, what was your reaction?
I liked it. It was an opportunity to explore a relationship and how two people with such distinct perspectives could get together. It’s fun to see how their relationship grows and evolves and changes. And it’s a good thing to just shake the bag once in a while and throw some things together that you may question. There is nothing wrong with exploring stuff. The good thing about the business is that you can explore stuff and see how it plays, and then, if you like, change it all again.
Are you approaching “Superman/Wonder Woman” differently than a standard superhero title as so much time is dedicated to the relationship?
The fun stuff is always the character interactions when they are out of costume. Writing the apartment scene in the first issue was a real pleasure, and the way this first arc starts, there is a ton of action. And then it also gets very personal and goes inward. We’ll be exploring some of their new points of perspective through the action and how they act while they are in action. And then we will get into more of the behind-the-scenes, off-the-clock stuff.
I loved the bit about Bruce Wayne buying Clark Ernest Hemingway’s typewriter. What do you buy for the man that has everything, right?
That’s exactly right. It was something characteristic of Clark and who he is. And of course, Bruce would be able to pick the perfect present for Superman. And then Doug [Mahnke] had to reference a typewriter, which is fun.
What about Clark’s ability to type fast versus write fast? Is there a bible dictating Superman and Wonder Woman’s power limits?
When [artist] Pat Gleason read the issue, he was like, “That’s so you. Clark is totally channelling you.” Any writer that writes on deadline knows that you can fly across the keyboard, but that doesn’t mean you can get that story perfect, every time, the way you want it. You are always thinking and re-thinking. That’s the old expression: Writing is re-writing.
Obviously, Superman/Clark Kent has many faces, but for this particular series, what makes him tick?
The main thing is that there is an element different from his other books like “Superman” and “Action Comics” and that’s the woman he loves, his other half, is always beside him. With Wonder Woman in the mix on a constant basis, it changes the dynamic of the book big time. Compared to the other books, it allows for a whole different feel. In a weird way, it’s almost like “Batman and Robin.” With Robin in the mix — and even though he has been out of the mix for a while — he’s always permeated the book.
Obviously, having the title branded “Superman/Wonder Woman” right on the cover, makes it different, too. Each of them is different on their own than when they are paired up. The good thing about all of these books is that they all have a different voice and a different feel. Each book has its own distinct style, which I think is great for readers. By reading all of the different books, you get a real, rounded, 3-dimensional feel for all of these characters.
This question has been explored — and answered — many different ways, but is Superman’s secret identity Clark Kent, is it the other way around, or are they one and the same? And what about Wonder Woman/Diana?
I think Diana is Diana all of the time — in costume and out of costume.
I think for Clark, to a degree — and it’s a very small degree in my mind — when he pops on the Superman costume, he is still the farm boy from Kansas. That’s when he is Clark Kent and when he is Superman. His upbringing is a part of him, and I don’t think he changes that much when he is in costume. He’s obviously going full blast when he is in costume, and he uses Clark Kent as the alter ego, but it’s a shading. I don’t look at it as a complete going through the door and changing personalities kind of thing. I look at it as Clark is Superman and Diana is Wonder Woman and vice versa when I am writing them. It’s like putting your gun and your badge away for the night and then going out in the morning to help people.
Growing up, were you a Batman fan or Superman?
I was a Batman kid, most definitely. I loved the first two “Superman” movies with Christopher Reeve. Those were definitely stunners as a kid, when you were watching on big screens like they used to have. [Laughs] The character was great. Those “Superman” movies were it for a long time, before “Batman” came out on the big screen. “Superman” was the superhero movie for a long time.
But Batman was the character for me as a kid. I loved the show, which was in syndication. We took it seriously as a kid, and not camp. I was into him, with Halloween costumes and comic books. “Batman” and “Detective Comics” were the comics for me growing up, aside from the Western and the war books that I liked a lot, too. And growing up in Gotham, in New York City, Batman books were the ones for me.
What about Wonder Woman? Was your introduction to the character, like many, the Lynda Carter TV series?
Yes. I loved Lynda Carter. But in terms of comics, my knowledge of Wonder Woman wasn’t very deep. I did actually read the George Perez stuff when they were coming out. I really enjoyed those but there wasn’t really much between then and the New 52. But Brian [Azzarello] and Cliff [Chiang]’s “Wonder Woman” really knocked me out. That was my one true, long read of the character. I really loved what they did.
It’s weird. When you’re writing Wonder Woman, she can overpower you. She takes over the page, sometimes. In a very short time, I have real affinity for her, now. I am really enjoying it. Admittedly, I wasn’t hooked on the character growing up, but suddenly, she’s really sunk a hook in me. Sometimes when you are with something for a long time, you may get even a little fanboy-ish, but when you come to a character a little later or in a different way, it just feels fresh and new. I am really enjoying writing her, especially with the dynamic between her and Clark.
You get a chance to write Superman and Wonder Woman, and you immediately know the two supervillains you want them to face. Two of the biggest, baddest dudes in the DC Universe: Atomic Skull and Major Disaster. Huh? [Laughs]
[Laughs] Yeah, there’s a long game here. As people will discover, there is a long game, which will show why these characters are coming and what we’re actually building towards. We’re not having 10-issue arcs, but we’ve got a long game and we’re going to play with that. And you’re right. Everyone was like, “Major Disaster and Atomic Skull? What? I don’t get it.” I think people will come around once they see our big game plan.
I also liked the liked the looks of them and I liked their powers. I knew Doug could draw the hell out of them, and they definitely fit what I needed them to do at this juncture. As the next issue will show, there will be some other villains that will appear. And again, people will be like, “What? I don’t get it.” But they will. There’s a reason for everything. We’re just putting the pieces on the board, and we’re going to start moving them around, lickety-split.
The dialogue between Major Disaster and Atomic Skull in your first issue certainly indicates that they might be taking orders from someone else.
Yes, absolutely. There is someone else in the mix that we haven’t seen yet, but will see at some point — lots of machinations coming up.
And now the million dollar question: Who is Wonderstar?
[Laughs] You’ll have to wait and see. And you won’t have to wait long. We’re putting everything out there, fast and furious. We’re not holding back and decompressing. You won’t have to wait ten issues for a big reveal. We’re really trying to make this book hit quick. We want to keep moving and put as much into each issue as possible. We want to keep spinning plates — and have those plates come crashing down.
You mentioned the long game, and looking ahead to February, you’re writing the New 52 debut of Magog. Now, I’d forgotten, but you were an assistant editor on “Kingdom Come,” correct?
Yes, that’s right, so I have a very close history with “Kingdom Come” and Alex [Ross] and Mark [Waid]. It was a great early project to work on in my burgeoning career at DC. He’s a great character, so I am looking forward to working with him.
His arrival ties in nicely with the Convergence event, so a character from Earth-22 makes sense, right?
[Pauses] Maybe. [Laughs]
And didn’t Superman and Wonder Woman have a child in “Kingdom Come”?
Look. I can definitely put a pin in this: There is no child happening between Superman and Wonder Woman.
“Superman/Wonder Woman” #13 by Peter Tomasi and Doug Mahnke is available now.
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