There's been a bit of debate recently over the direction of SUPERMAN and what the character deserves. Many fans feel he is not being used to his full potential and with the recent news that Grant Morrison is leaving ACTION COMICS, we've been faced wondering what the future holds for the Last Son of Krypton.
Comic Vine: Tell us everything you have planned for SUPERMAN…or at least give us a hint of what we can expect.
Scott Lobdell: Always joking! Of course I can't tell you everything... but I do hate interviews or panels where the creator stares cryptically at the audience and says "Read the book."
Part of the plan is to introduce a character who leaves Superman completely and totally and in all ways outmaneuvered. Someone who is smarter, stronger and more powerful than he is. (I always thought Doomsday was a frightening enemy because he is this unstoppable engine of destruction and pure rage. On the other side of the spectrum is Lex, who is almost as brilliant as Superman is super. We're introducing a guy who is both of those things and everything in between!)
For years people have been saying that "Superman is too powerful" -- that it is hard to write a Superman story because what kind of threat can he realistically face?
The first arc is about putting Superman (and the rest of the Super family) in front of a character who sees the most powerful person on the planet as little more than a pest. That's a place Superman has never been before -- and it is going to force him to be more resourceful and in some ways more ruthless than ever before.
CV: You said a few things at SDCC (uh oh), one of them was bringing back and updating Superman's existing villains. Can you tell us who we might expect to see this Fall?
SL: In a "this is how sausage is made" kind of way that I would only share with my friends on Comicvine... when I wrote the original proposal I was focused on updating Superman's roster of villains because I felt that ACTION had gotten to play around with The Classics, that it was time for SUPERMAN to be able to play with some of the characters that Grant hadn't re-imagined for the New 52. Kenneth and I worked up one particular character...
... and gave him a horror based origin that even left me unnerved, and I was writing! Kenneth came up with this haunting visual, it is disturbing to look at when you realize what it is. So many people who read the proposal would call or reply through email and say "Oh my god! I can't want to see this...!"
Then, when I turned in the first few plots, there was a debate going on: Is this a new character? Or is this a new take on a classic character? I'll be honest, because I like you people, we are about three months from printing and the debate is still going on. I can see both points very clearly, and I think Kenneth and I will be happy whatever is decided.
[Note: could it be the newly announced H'el character?]
Also, you know, while I have you here... I have to tell you, I LOVE the uncertainty of the creative process. I like that it can get messy and argumentative and passionate and anarchistic. I think it is SUPPOSED to be -- I think the best art is. Otherwise, we're just painting by numbers. "Oh, number 3. That means Lex goes here. On, number 8. That means Lois has to almost figure out his secret identity here." These characters have been around for nearly a century -- they were built to survive a little chaos!
CV: What about Kryptonite? There hasn't been any real mentions of it. Any plans or thoughts on the multi-colored varieties?
SL: I only have one Kryptonite story... and it is a whopper! All I can tell you is that the story involves Superman, Supergirl and Superboy and... they are not running from it, but towards it, as if their lives depended on it! Truly, there has never been a Kryptonite story like this one, of that I am sure!
[Note: most likely it has to do with THIS news]
CV: Many people seem to have a problem with Superman being "boring." Do you feel that's an easy fix or is it a little daunting to write the Man of Steel?
SL: I suppose it is possible to write a boring Superman story... if I tried hard enough! But when asked to write a story or series about the most powerful alien on the planet trying to live a relatively normal life on the only home he has ever known while feeling the need to use everything that makes him different in service of a people who he can never truly be himself around...? Yeah, I'd have to really concentrate to make that boring!
Again, Superman is the longest lived "super hero" for a reason. While some people bemoan "He's too powerful! You can't relate to him!" I say hogwash! We relate to him BECAUSE he is powerful!
From my proposal:
FIRST AND FOREMOST…
… we must rid ourselves of the notion that SUPERMAN is not relatable.
On the contrary, Superman is THE MOST RELATABLE CHARACTER, ever – it is why he has lasted so long.
Here are two tests – to prove the point.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever wanted to fly? Or catch a speeding bullet in your hand? Or see through walls? Or beat up monsters and mad scientists and save the world? Or have the only woman you love head over heels in love with you?
There is not a person is America – the world – that doesn’t want to be SUPERMAN.
Raise your hand if you feel unappreciated at work or home?
Who DOESN’T feel that they are Superman (doing the best the can, and doing it awesomely), while the rest of the world sees us and treats us like Clark Kent?
The truth is each of us dreams of having the power and the respect and the freedom that comes with being Superman before we even know there is a Superman.
The heck with Sparticus – We are all Superman. (Or want to be!)
CV: With the return of some classic Superman characters, is Kenneth Rocafort going to be doing any redesigns or will they mostly retain their original looks?
SL: This is Kenneth Rocafort we are talking about. Even when he isn't actively re-designing a character, he brings such a unique vision of everything he draws that even his "classic" designs are sure to look new and fresh and dynamic. We don't work that far ahead so I can't speak to the characters that will be getting redesigns... but I've worked with him long enough to know they are going to be gorgeous!
I will tell you a story about Kenneth! When I wrote RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #2 (I think it was) -- I had written in the description of the "Thousand Acres of All" that "We meet several "MONKS" and they are in a very bizarre "MONASTERY" - very strange and different." Our editor was like "You can't just say that -- you need more description for Kenneth." But I was like "Nay! Kenneth loves to create things -- I don't want to do anything to tamp down his creativity with my own vision. He has the basics, let him run with it." Everyone who reads RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS knows where he's taken us.
And finally, one more story: I am not a writer who feels the need to rule with an iron fist. I like sending out a plot and getting art work back before I script, because I like having the artist be a co-collaborator and not someone who is asked to "just draw". (Yeah, sometimes I need to ask an artist to scale back on something if they've accidentally given away or contradicted a plot point or something...)
Kenneth is one of those artists who often surprises me with the little things. In RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #8, there is a scene where Kori incinerates a bunch of horrible bad guys who have taken a hospital of children hostage. In the panel after she's done that, Roy puts them out with a fire extinguisher! LOL! That was all Kenneth -- I guess he felt it was important for Roy to make sure the fire didn't spread through the hospital. It made perfect sense and was a great bit that shows us more about the character of Roy than I would have come up with on my own.
Want to hear more from Lobdell? Be sure to check out Part 2 dealing with Superboy, the Teen Titans, Jason Todd and that comment about Tim Drake "never being Robin" on Monday.
Tony Guerrero is the Editor-in-Chief of Comic Vine. You can follow him on Twitter@GManFromHeck. He's never thought of actually catching a speeding bullet in his hands and hopes to never have one coming in his direction.