Comic-Con 2013: DC’s Superman New 52 Panel

Superman Unchained #2


It's been an interesting 75th anniversary year for Superman. The Man of Steel movie didn't inspire confidence enough to give him a standalone sequel, so they threw Batman at him to buoy his feature film fortunes. But we've got Superman Unchained by Scott Snyder and Jim Lee to help out his comic fortunes that haven't been all that great, either. Then, in Trinity War, he just got mind-controlled into murdering a guy. So let's find out what's up at the panel today for his New 52 fortunes.

On the panel are Snyder and Lee, as well as current Superman writer Scott Lobdell, Supergirl's Michael Alan Nelson and editor Eddie Berganza. Here is the liveblog of the Comic-Con panel as it happened!

Superman Unchained #4 cover is shown with evil Superman beating up regular Superman. Snyder thanks everyone for the support, as he was nervous about doing this with the spotlight of working with Jim Lee. Snyder still feels pretty green and feared his flaws would be magnified. Snyder says #3 is where Superman gets owned. pwned! Lee says he keeps sending him texts at 3am asking questions, gets no response and then does what he wants anyway. Superman gets knocked across Utah in a Google Satellite sort of way. This character is called Wraith is from a ship 75 years ago responding to a space message sent up into space to ask for help to be better. It's a parallel of Superman's 75th anniversary. Wraith and General Lane call Superman a coward, because he needs everyone to love him and won't go into places where evil is happening due to politics, because he needs to be a public hero. Wraith has done more good as a secret weapon than Superman has. Snyder is really going for the jugular on Superman. Wraith bicycle kicks Superman across states.

Superman/Wonder Woman ongoing. Berganza says this going to be a romance story that involves a lot of punching. They try to have dates, but it seems like the universe is trying to kill both of them always. Charles Soule is the writer with Tony Daniel as artist.

Action Comics #24 is in October. Lobdell is handling Action now, and he's treating Action like a biweekly, every two weeks giving a modern story alternating with the five-years-ago stories. Lobdell talks about the old days with artistic competition between Lee and Todd McFarlane and Liefeld and everybody, and the Superman creators are feeling in a similar way now and it's making everything better. Tyler Kirkham art from the current issue #22 is shown. Lobdell likes Superman because he can have earth shattering serious stories, but you can also have fun with him with Mr. Mxtylplk and the current villain, Hector Hammond. It's funny to think of how Hammond gets a space helmet big enough for his head.

Superman by Lobdell as well. Superman, Superboy and Supergirl on #24 with Daily Planet crumbling in the foreground. #25 is a big issue he's leading up to, because traditionally 25th issues are game changers. The Superverse will not be the same after 25. #22 cover is shown, with the Hive Queen who is no longer a girl in a bee costume. They haven't had a lot of powerful psionic characters yet in the New 52 who were Superman level threats, and now Hive Queen is. In #23, we see her horrific side once Hammond gets the better of her. Her grip on Metropolis has lasted since Brainiac took Metropolis in Action Comics, revealing a lot more damage to the city than we'd known. The Superman Annual with Dan Jurgens shifts perspectives of all the New 52 stuff, and Lois Lane fans will like that. The cover is shown, and it looks like H'el is back. The spotlight on Lois will be huge in that issue, but what they do to Lois is awful. But it's Lois Lane's 75th anniversary, too.

"Krypton Returns: Part One," Lobdell talks about a time travel story involving the three Supers in the #0s, and it's being picked up and will run into the #25s. H'el wound up in Krypton's past. In H'el #1, we learn all of his secrets, which leads into Action Comics' Annual #2. This Krypton story ends in a staggeringly different way.

Lobdell shows off a comic from a 9 year old girl pen-named Amy Elk. It's adorable.

Batman/Superman, just in time for the Batman/Superman movie announcement. In this comic series, the New 52 guys have been thrown into Earth 2, while the New 52 guys are hotheads at the start of their careers. Great Jae Lee art is shown. Earth 2 Wonder Woman is there, too. Greg Pak is doing cool stuff here. Batmen and Supermen fight each other, too. It's "punching with heart."

Supergirl #24 has a Brainiac type and a helmeted Superman type. Nelson talks about Supergirl being her own worst enemy, as she realizes she's being manipulated, along with other people. She finds herself underfoot as two giants start battling each other. The helmet Superman was probably Cyborg Superman, who is not who we think he is. The revelation will be surprising. Supergirl has to make a decision about whether she can pay the cost to get everything she ever wanted. Supergirl is with her mother, so something weird is going on in #22.

Superboy #24 has a Brett Booth cover, introducing a new Psycho-Pirate. It ties into the psi-war in Superman. Dr. Psycho is running around, too. It makes for difficult script reading, because everything is 'psycho' or 'psi' related. Superheroes aren't always good at psychic plane fighting, but Kon is able to do that. Why? We'll find out.


Q: A kid asks why Superman Family Adventures and Tiny Titans got cancelled because she really liked them. This is Amy Elk that Lobdell mentioned earlier. Lee says the kids books often tie into the Cartoon Network stuff, but they have a plan for more kids books coming soon.

Q: Does Superman ever smile, she also asks? That doesn't happen much in the New 52 anymore. Snyder is establishing some relationships between Superman and Lois and Jimmy Olsen and stuff. There will be more smiling, Snyder promises, after he breaks him apart with Wraith. The girl then gets a prize of a hat that has Superman smiling on it.

Q: The number of female writers is going up at DC, and she's excited about it, even though it's only 10 percent and it's still pretty low, but kudos to that, so why are female artists on board? Lee is saying tradition is changing and is much more inclusive, and that percentage will change as more women get into comics at an earlier age at events like Comic-Con. There's no exclusionary policy – you are judged on the work you create. That's the guiding light by which they work. Snyder plugs future female written books that will need noise and support. Berganza is adding a female penciler to one of the Superbooks. Lee thinks they can always do a better job of diversity in general. They rely on established veterans a lot, but it's a slow process of changing the talent pool.

Q: With the Superman movie – how does Superman shave in the New 52? Lobdell says Clark had growth before, and we haven't seen a lot of personal hygiene questions about Superman answered, and he's not interested in seeing those things – like blowing his nose. Snyder says 'heat vision,' but that won't work on his toenails, according to some fan that made Snyder run away.

Q: Supergirl fan asks about Superboy getting a real costume, or is this his real costume? Lobdell says that there's a sense of identity from this costume from when he was first introduced from his point of view. He's in no rush to change that. The fan recommends the Action Comics #1 Superman costume would be great for Superboy – the T-shirt and jeans look, just like he had in the pre-New 52.

Q: How does horror comic background influence takes on Supercharacters? Nelson says he's known for horror comics, but he's written a lot of other stuff like fantasy and romance as well. He likes stories with darkness hovering underneath, and fun stories that evolve into something darker. Darkness is interesting only when it has something to contrast it. Horror is not his go-to every time. Snyder says his 6 year old is turning into a supervillain – he was Darth Vader for Halloween while other kids were dressed as something happy, and drawing pictures of kitty cats being eaten by giant squids. That makes Snyder a proud dad, because he was afraid his kid would be an Ultimate Fighting jock and they couldn't write poems together or something. He likes horror because monsters are twisted reflections of what you don't like about yourself. With Superman, you don't necessarily need monsters but antagonists. That is a horror element he's using in Superman Unchained, to force heroes to overcome emotional flaws.

Q: Batman/Superman is working with the tradition of young characters meeting older selves on Earth 2 – how much in spirit is this intending to be like the pre-New 52 models? Berganza says it's more about facing mature versions of themselves. We'll find out that it's not all roses, and this world didn't really trust Superman as much, and Earth 2 was stockpiling against him. The current versions of Supes and Bats don't remember this meeting – why is that? We'll learn.

Q: Questioning the morality of Superman's actions as 'cowardice' – will it affect Superman's M.O.? Snyder says a big part of what happens is how he reacts to that, and he doesn't want to spoil it. He has to deal with these questions with real threats in front of him to put pressure on him. Lee adds that there's a weird father/son dynamic with Superman and General Lane calling him a coward that makes it much more emotional. "It's a tough scene."

Q: Will more current events about government surveillance make their way into comic stories? Surely good stories can be told there. Lobdell says Superman #13, where Clark left the Daily Planet and corporate-run media, is a commentary on real world problems with media as well. There will be more of that in making Superman feel 'of the moment.'

Q: Did Snyder draw any inspiration for Wraith by the original incarnation of Siegel and Shuster's Superman? Snyder says yes. Back then, Superman was in World War II, and that's why Wraith has been doing that, too, behind the scenes. He thinks Superman would get involved in those historical events, and his current policy of non-involvement might not be the right way to go. He's very human.

Q: How does Superman figure out how to fly, a kid asks? He suggests Kryptonian gravity is much heavier. Lee starts technobabble for comedy jokes about valent electrons and stuff.