Over the past decade, writer Peter J. Tomasi and artist Patrick Gleason have enjoyed great success together on “Green Lantern Corps” and “Batman and Robin.” This June they’ll reunite for “Superman,” now shipping twice monthly as part of DC Comics’ line-wide Rebirth relaunch.
While many characters will be in the spotlight as Rebirth begins, perhaps none will be under as much scrutiny as Superman. Why? In “Superman” #52, the finale of the New 52 run, the Man of Steel died. Most of the comics world was focused on the shocking reveals contained in “DC Universe: Rebirth” and glossed over the death of Superman, as well as the fact that he wasn’t the only Man of Steel to bite the big one in the issue.
Since the start of “The Final Days of Superman” arc, the New 52 Superman was revealed to be sick and dying from Kryptonite poisoning. In “Superman” #52 he flew the solar-flare-powered Superman (formerly known as Denny Swan) into space, absorbing his final flare, which ultimately killed them both. Now the DC Universe is left with the Superman that existed before “Flashpoint” gave birth to the New 52 (whose adventures have been unfolding in “Superman: Lois and Clark”), and his son Jonathan and wife Lois are along for the ride too.
With Gleason joining Tomasi as co-writer on the new “Superman” ongoing series and the book double-shipping, Doug Mahnke, who recently provided art for Gleason’s “Superman/Wonder Woman” arc, will split artistic duties with Gleason. Inker Mick Gray and colorist Jon Kalisz, both long-time Gleason collaborators, are also on board, which gives the distinct feeling of putting the band back together for this moment in Superman’s history.
CBR News spoke with Tomasi and Gleason about killing off Superman, launching the new series with a new Superman and a new status quo, and the importance of family to the stories they’ll be telling in Rebirth.
CBR News: Were you actually trying to outdo Dan Jurgens. You killed not one but two Supermen in “Superman” #52?
Peter J. Tomasi: That was the key factor. I had to outdo Dan Jurgens. [Laughs] That was my main mission. The story and the characters dictated how that should all play out. It was daunting and fun and crazy to write all eight issues and actually ship them all on time — and have really good artists to bring it all to life. It was a real pleasure and honor to do a story like that and I’m happy to see that people seem to be enjoying it.
I liked Denny Swan as a character. Or at least, I liked his origin as Denny himself was a bit of a knob. But was he misunderstood? Fans have lamented for the past three years over Zod’s death at the hands of Superman in Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel” but now we have two Supermen teaming up to kill Solar Superman. Were you worried about any backlash?
Tomasi: I wasn’t really worried about it. He was playing into a course of action that he had to take at that point. He tried every which way. He tried to talk him down and really tried to do everything that he could to get him off the ledge, so to speak. Superman was obviously sick and dying at the same time, so his window of opportunity was closing for stopping this unstable character from killing innocents at such a high level. The decision was to absorb all of his stuff but the guy also blew up. It was a fine line because in my mind, I also saw the evil Superman’s power was also getting to a peak where he couldn’t even control it. He was going to blow and die on his own so Superman basically beat him to the punch. He really more absorbed it as the guy went nova, so to speak. In my own head, he didn’t really kill him as much as act as a big sponge. [Laughs]
Okay, what about the other death of a Superman — the death of New 52 Superman. Obviously, killing Superman is a big deal but I feel somewhat a sense of closure that pre-Flashpoint Superman is back to being Superman in “DC Universe: Rebirth.” So basically, everything is back to normal… right?
Tomasi: It was really interesting to explore. I didn’t play the two Supermen as best buddies. He only really saw him from afar. He knew that he wore an ‘S’ and that he was a superhero, and that he lived on this world. He was a good person that did right by the world. In the end, he came in to try and help a situation and they really didn’t get a chance to interact. It was more of a mutual respect of two people that wore an ‘S’ like two marines meeting each other at a [Veterans Center]. They may not know each other — two different wars, one could be from Iraq and one could be from Vietnam — but there is still a mutual respect. The New 52 Superman feels that connection immediately and he can see that the pre-52 Superman is coming to do good and he right away understands it and makes sure that he is out of harm’s way because he knows bad stuff is coming.
Do “Superman: Rebirth” #1 and “Superman” continue to follow this storyline or does “DC Universe: Rebirth” allow us to move past multiple Supermen and multiple timelines like pre-Flashpoint and the New 52?
Tomasi: “Superman: Rebirth” #1 is very different than the other “Rebirth” issues because we had the pre-52 Superman and the New 52 Superman co-existing at the same time. “Superman: Rebirth” #1 is a real bridge. It’s Pat’s and my mission from the first issue to make sure that we understand who this pre-52 Superman is. What makes him tick? Who is he? What are his hopes and dreams? We want to make it so we can easily translate and transition to “Superman” #1 so that readers are right there with us. If readers followed the eight-parter, they will have gotten a lot from it but they can also come right in at “Rebirth” and boom, acclimate to everything right away because I feel that it’s a very accessible issue that bridges right into the new series.
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