SUPERMAN: DOOMED is the new cross-over story spanning through numerous books and creators that gives readers a whole new look at one of Superman's deadliest foes, Doomsday. Writers Greg Pak (ACTION COMICS) and Charles Soule (SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN) chatted with us, over the phone, about this story.
COMIC VINE: A lot of people assumed this was going to be the New 52 retelling of the Death of Superman, but this story really throws the reader a curve ball right away. How did you all come up with the idea to infect Superman with Doomsday instead of just having them battle it out?
CHARLES SOULE: Part of the idea was to really make a Doomsday concept we already had and twist it up and shape it to make it feel different almost immediately. In a way, it is the Doomsday we remember from the old days and at the end, it starts to take a very dramatic turn, which carries through ACTION #31 and SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN #8, which both came out on the same day. We really tried to enhance Doomsday and make it interesting in other ways and credit goes to Scott Lobdell for making the idea of wherever Doomsday walks, death follows. He walks by a river it turns black. He walks by a forest, it dies. His ability to infect other people, spoiler alert, Superman at the end of DOOMED, that's going to play out significantly in the early part of the whole event we're doing.
GREG PAK: I honestly don't remember the exact origin or who spoke the idea that Superman might get infected. I remember bouncing around an idea of the Doomsday virus at some point, but I don't remember who first spoke the words, but it totally makes sense. I think we were all drawn to it because to make a big blockbuster story, you have to have real emotional resonance. There have to be real emotional consequences and yes, getting beaten to a pulp by a giant rocky monster can be a real consequence but this infection idea let us take it to this level in terms of personal stakes for all of our characters, so it's been a blast playing with all those levels.
CV: You've both really turned this character on his head. Superman is full of rage and fantasizes about hurting those around him. How did you decide what Superman becomes as far as the physical and personality changes?
CS: We have a scale so there's a spectrum of changes that he goes through and we talked a bit about what that would be and how does it play at different stages and how he's like physically and emotionally. You see a lot of that in SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN #8 where he's saying things he wouldn't normally say and doing things he wouldn't normally do. He's not evil, exactly, but he's certainly very aware he's changing and very worried about it. He wants people to take him out if he gets to strong. It's certainly cool for me to write and the changes going forward are dramatic so it's better and better.
GP: Charles had a great idea of this one half scale and I won't say anything more about that for fear of spoilers, but it's pretty helpful and we refer to it in the body of the scripts, using numbers from one to ten. And Aaron Kuder did a great thing where he did sketches of different stages which has been a great guide for us to help keep that all straight.
CV: Was there ever a line you didn't want to cross with changing this character?
CS: No, not really. As you see, we take it really far and that's part of the fun of it. We sort of throw off the chains. I don't know how to describe it but that goes to some fantastic places. We're [Scott Lobdell, Greg, and Charles] all in the mix of how we want to use him. We don't want to break him. We just want to put him through the wringer in a way that's emotionally satisfying for the reader and for us, but mostly, for you guys.
GP: I love the idea of a story that would take the character's greatest strengths and the various things that we love about Superman maybe the things that make him dangerous. And to see how he reacts to that. It's really going to test who Clark Kent is and I think that's the best kind of story.
CV: In Action Comics, we finally see John Irons become the Steel we all know in love because he too was infected, while fighting Doomsday. Was this a group decision and how does it feel to write that moment where you get to raise a hero to his full potential?
GP: Yeah, it's a blast. I love Steel and I talked a lot about this character with Eddie Berganza. I think with Eddie who was like "let's see if we can find a way to do some special with him and take him to the next level." I was thrilled to have the chance to do that. My challenge as a writer is to find a way to make it matter and to make it fit organically into the story and make sense so that it serves the story and takes the character to the next place, in terms of his or her emotional story. So, knock on wood, we got here. It certainly was a lot of fun to do it and see how the artists have drawn him and Aaron Kuder drew the heck out of him. When you throw in the guy with liquid, steel skin you wanna have great colors. And Wil Quintana is just selling it with the colors on this book. It's been a ton of fun.
CV: That moment when he walks out of the pool, the 11 year old in me got very excited and wanted to cheer at a book for the first time in ages.
GP: ::laughs:: Awesome. I did it for you, my friend.
CV: Why release the first three parts of the story in one week?
CS: It's a big story that runs all the way through August. The good thing about this is that there's a huge bite of the apple in a binge-watching culture so people to binge to a certain extent. Getting those three comics on the first day is a way for people to really understand what we're doing and where we're going to go and get a huge bite of awesome Superman which I don't think is such a bad thing.
Thanks to Charles Soule and Greg Pak and make sure to check out the Doomed story line! Also, here's a solicit for SUPERMAN: DOOMED #2!
SUPERMAN: DOOMED #2
Written by GREG PAK and CHARLES SOULE
Cover by GUILLEM MARCH
One shot • On sale AUGUST 27 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T
A Man of Steel who has lost himself in the monster must once again go up against the first threat he ever faced as Superman in the form of a villain who now has the power to warp reality with a thought. But this time if he defeats Brainiac, Earth will be lost. Batman, Wonder Woman, Steel, Supergirl are joined by Starfire, Guy Gardner and Green Lantern Simon Bazz and even Swamp Thing to make a fateful decision about their friend.