Friday at San Diego Comic-Con, and after my interview with Darwyn Cooke this morning (look for it soon! it'll be on video and everything!), the first panel up for bids was Superman. So here's the report, liveblogged as it happened.
John Cunningham moderates the panel about the Man of Steel, whose titles have been kind of scattershot lately. With a plug for the worthy DC: We Can Be Heroes campaign before stoking the fanboy fires for the Man of Tomorrow.
Shane Davis of Superman: Earth One takes the stage first. New Superman writer Scott Lobdell is next. Mike Johnson from Supergirl and editor Matt Idelson complete the panel.
Superman: Earth One Volume 2 follows up the bestselling Volume 1. The "Man of Steel" movie has nothing to do with this, by the by. Davis says it will start off with Clark with a feather in his cap about breaking Superman news and Lois hating him for it. Clark's gotten a bit full of himself. This is a Clark Kent who won't have the coat and the hoodie anymore, but he'll have goofy grins all the time. Different from volume 1. Also, Parasite will be the villain, and Clark's article on Superman will be the reason Parasite comes to Metropolis. Clark has a new love interest, a girl in his apartment building, and he's a country boy without much clue about what to do with the opposite sex. Three big Parasite battles – Stage 2 Parasite. Davis wanted a Parasite who looked like you would not want to touch him, hence a lot of pustules and gross things. Parasite can suck power from anything, including a Slurpee machine. Davis always thought Superman was brash and pig-headed to jump into fights assuming he's the strongest. The first fight ends with a butt-kicking for Superman. The second fight is a lot of running away, the third fight will have help against Parasite. More action in Volume 2 and a lot with his responsibility of his power.
He was raised to hide his powers, so he doesn't have any training on how to fight. He just throws a lot of blind punches, and Parasite out-fights him, too. Parasite gets Doomsday-sized and knees Superman in the head. Davis was pitching eye-gouges for desperate Superman fighting, and he was told "Superman fights fair, come on."
Superman Earth One Volume 2 will be 120 pages.
Superman #0 image is Lobdell's first issue. This one takes place on Krypton, giving us a sense of what JOr-El is like, and the horror of the night he realizes Krypton is going to die – the same night he learns he's about to be a father. They won't be in 'save baby' mode, but in an earlier state of mind.
Superman #13 is the official run. Lobdell pursued Superman like nothing else, with a huge document explaining Superman in his eyes, a redo of Bizarro, etc. So far, Superman has been about new characters, and now he wants to do completely new versions of existing characters, treating them as if we're seeing them for the first time. He's also concentrating a lot on Clark. Traditionally he's been shown as a bungling guy. Superman has everything he says analyzed all the time, so he's guarded, so Clark Kent is going to be more like his id, the guy who doesn't have to be so guarded and measured all the time, and he can actually have opinions. He'll be much more honest. He jokes that he'll be "sexier," but says there isn't any sex in it, but "the truth is sexy, so yes." Lobdell annoys everybody with his Superman enthusiasm at the office.
Superboy #0 is shown. Why was Kara so disgusted by him when she met him? They'll lay out why "clone" is a dirty word for Kryptonians. "Kon-El" means "abomination in the house of El." We'll see why clones are a frightening concept for Kryptonians – they started making clones as helpful servants, but they deteriorated into homicidal warmongers. Kara realizing Superboy is a clone freaked her out, as clones are like cockroaches that need to be killed immediately to her. Superman is more about giving him a shot. There will be conflict between the three Supers.
Superboy #11 is fun for Lobdell talking about Superboy's incidental bank robbery just because he needed money. He doesn't know much about how banks or society work. Bunker gives him the business about it. Tom DeFalco's coming on with Superboy, and he'll have a lot of physical challenges – something Lobdell wasn't entirely interested in that, so now it'll be different.
Action Comics #0 with a Ben Oliver cover. It'll be Superman's first adventure, showing us he had no clue what he was doing out of the gate. He stumbles a lot, and we learn things about Jimmy Olsen we didn't know.
Action Comics #13 reveals what happened to Krypto. In a good way. It brings back two villains who are connected, and brings us back to the first issue as well. It's the first Grant Morrison issue aligned with the present day, and should now have coordination with the other super-titles a lot more tightly.
Smallville Season 11 has Superman vs. Batman.
Supergirl #0 will reveal Supergirl leaving Krypton and how she got into her situation. They're having fun making the Superman family a bit messier as far as relationships between the El family members – and it comes to a head when Krypton is dying, says Johnson.
Supergirl #13 gives her a Fort of Solitutde, not a fortress. This is a book about being a teenager, and every teen has their sanctum where they can shut off the world. This is where she preserves and honors the world she left behind. Her powers are still not quite under control – smell, x-ray vision, etc. This place is a sensory deprivation tank for her. They're giving a different look than the Fortress, too, and it'll look more like what we've seen of Krypton so far. THe bad guy is Simon Tyco, a guy who got "Anakin Skywalkered." He's combining his smarts with physical power now. They're trying to make the #0s stand-alone, but also making them flow into the main series.
Lobdell wants to bring Supergirl into Teen Titans, and Johnson said okay, but only if he could write Titans.
Q: How much influence will World of Krypton from John Byrne have on their Krypton? Not a lot, says Idelson. They're trying to do different things. They will share a spirit of really cool sci-fi.
Q: Batgirl is here, wanted to ask a question for Bryan Q. Miller (who isn't here) who was going to have Stephanie Brown in Smallville as Nightwing, but then it got revamped. The panel has no idea, and she's not surprised they don't know.
Q: A guy who was at a Stan Lee panel yesterday, and apparently Lee jokingly resented Superman's lack of physical means to allow him to fly – saying Thor needs a hammer and such. What do they think? Idelson jokes that he has propellers beneath his cape. Davis says in the old stuff, the cape is a prop to illustrate what direction he's going in.
Q: A guy dressed as Myxtlplyk asks what happens if Zatanna says his name backwards. Then he asks about Terror Man and the flying horse? Lobdell has no plans yet, but he often gets surprised by his own inspiration. Davis wants it to be a flying goat instead.
Q: A Lobdell fan is excited for this, and asks if Superboy is going to get a better costume? Lobdell proposed something to Dan DiDio and Bob Harras, a new character design for Superboy – a new costume is happening. As Superman becomes less straight-ahead iconic with T-shirt and the hoodie looks, Lobdell says new looks will happen – teenagers wouldn't wear the same thing all the time anyway. Johnson says Supergirl's costume is important to her because it connects her to home – we see why in #0. Davis says Superman: Earth One modifies his suit for a reason. Lobdell polls the crowd about whether or not they like messing with Superman's look – and a tepid response.
Q: Will Superman be more of a mentor to Kara and Superboy now? He'll give his two cents, and they'll tell him to take a hike. Supergirl's done it already – they're at the overconfident teenager stage. Supergirl goes to his Fortress and moves the relationship arrow slightly, but they won't be super pals. No mentoring.
Q: Is there anything in the New 52 that they got rid of from Superman that they want to keep out (like hypnotic kissing and what-not)? Nothing seems to come to mind. Grant had him still leaping in single bounds early on. Lobdell says Superman #13 has him in Metropolis with Kent Grant, and Superman goes up to fight a creature who hits him so hard he lands in Texas. They want Superman to be about "This is a job for Superman." Including fighting guys who can do that.
Q: Cyborg Superman, Steel, Eradicator coming in? Steel was in the annual, advanced a bit. Eradicator has been discussed, but he'll be totally different. Cyborg, no, not yet.
Q: A Lois Lane fan talks about her place in the mythos, and with a lot of commentary that she's not going to be the love interest for a long time or as a street reporter, how is she going to remain important? Lois is very hands-on, regardless of her job. Lobdell sees Clark and Lois as "besties." A lot of relationships take a long time to happen. Clark and Lois are often competitors professionally, but he's trying to reflect a realistic relationship about co-workers who have feelings for each other but are very different. She will be very much a part of his life, but she won't be a love interest. In Superman Earth One, she's not a love interest at all. She's going to start investigating Clark Kent's entire life – she's very petty in it. Davis likes her, she's hot, and she breaks it off with some dude in a fun way that he likes. She hates him because she likes him, he thinks.
Q: A guy dressed as Lex Luthor asks about Lex plans from each of them. Davis can't comment on "the Luthor or Luthors." Lobdell has been battling over three weeks about things he wants to do with Luthor. It's created a firestorm of anxiety through the halls of DC. There will be an aspect of Luthor that's never been seen before. The debate is ongoing, and Lobdell might lose. Luthor hasn't really been in the present yet, just the past.
Q: A new American citizen talks about how hard it is to change the American flag, and Superman is an American icon – is he the only one that misses the shorts? Idelson says it was to show that they're not afraid to change anything or everything. If they can change that, they can change anything. Davis says the undershorts are kept in Earth One. Lobdell jokes that he's just wearing them on the inside now.
Q: Will Lobo be appearing? What will your take on Superman racing the Flash? Lobdell has no Lobo plans, and he finds the Flash/Superman thing incredibly silly. Idelson says Superman is faster. Johnson says Supergirl is faster than both. Davis says Superman will cheat by flying to beat Flash.
Q: Might Superman mentor anybody else? He hasn't actually been doing it very long, so making him a mentor doesn't make much sense. He'll be a big brother at some point. Johnson says Superman might get the sense that mentor is a role he may have to play at their next meeting.
Q: Any expansion of Superman Beyond? Idelson says there are no plans yet.
Q: Is it a challenge to come up with unique villains, or is it more challenging for superheroes going evil, or revamping/spinning off old villains? Davis says it's always more challenging to bring in new characters, because fans accept iconic characters more easily. New characters are more difficult to get across. Johnson is making new characters but tying them to Krypton so it doesn't feel completely random.
Q: Will Superman meet up with Superboy soon? Lobdell says they will shortly, and Superman will be disturbed about how someone got a hold of his DNA.There has been editorial talk about what Superboy's feelings about Superman, and Lobdell thinks Superboy couldn't care less about the S on his chest.