This week saw not one, not two — but THREE — chapters in this summer’s Superman: Doomed crossover event ship this week, with a special one-shot accompanying the monthly issues of Action Comics and Superman/Wonder Woman. Two of the three writers behind Superman’s new encounter with Doomsday, Greg Pak and Charles Soule, were able to chat with Comicosity about some of the big picture ideas behind the event, what happens when you get Lois Lane and Lana Lang in a room together, and just what Clark really does think about his two best friends.
Matt Santori: Thanks for taking time to chat about Superman, gentlemen! The Doomsday we’re encountering here is a very different monster than we’ve seen before. Can you talk about what motivated the change in his make-up and origin for the story?
Greg Pak: We’re going to learn more — and our hero is going to find out more — about his actual origin in Batman/Superman #11, which comes out next week. I highly recommend it for folks who are interested that, drawn by Karl Kershl, Tom Derenick, and Daniel Sampere. It’s pretty darn fun. Check that out!
So, why is Doomsday different? I think we just wanted to take it to the next level. We all know and love the Doomsday of old, and those incredible smash-fests in the original story that were hugely visceral and tons of fun to read. But we wanted to amp it up.
I tip my hat to Scott Lobdell, who was the first one to come up with that idea that wherever Doomsday walks, living things all die around him. The rivers turn black and trees catch fire. The idea of this horrifying wave of death following him wherever he goes was something that really resonated with us and would help us take it to the next level.
MSG: I’ve asked Greg this question before, so Charles, I’d like to hear what you think. We see Superman having the same debate a lot of comic fans have had over the past year — can Superman kill and still be Superman? What do you think this encounter with Doomsday adds to that discussion?
Charles Soule: This is something that we’ve spent an enormous amount of time on. You can see it addressed pretty thoroughly in the issue itself, in the conversation he has with Perry White. As the story continues, you’ll see that it has direct emotional and physical effects on Superman. There’s also a whole metaphorical side to it with Superman. You cross that line and then what does it do to Superman and the world. What is the world like with a Superman who has done this.
At the same time, I think the speech that Perry gives him in Doomed #1 lays out my point of view on this. There are situations where you just have to rely on your internal moral code — the way that you have been brought up. Sometimes you have to make decisions where you don’t know who you’re going to be on the other side. You don’t know what’s going to happen. You just know there’s a right choice and a wrong choice, and you make that right choice even though it’s not perfect. You know the way you have to go, and find out who you are on the other side of that decision.
I’m not saying that’s everything that Doomed explores, but we’re dealing with that quite a bit.
MSG: This is the first time — not just in the New 52, but in many years prior — that we’ve seen classic Silver Age frenemies Lois Lane and Lana Lang interact. What role do you see these two women playing in Clark’s life together, and how do you see them relating to each other?
GP: That’s going to be a ton of fun to explore! I’ve been dying to do that since I first starting writing Action, and we’ll definitely see more of it. It’s a complicated thing right now, because there’s some indication that Lois might not quite be herself at the moment, and may have motivations that are pretty unusual for Lois Lane. So, how she interacts with Lana today may be different than how she interacts with her in a few months.
But that’s all part of the fun, actually. I think these are two women who, you know, love this big lug in their own ways. And they know him in different ways as well. I think those kinds of contrasts are also fantastic. In the sense that Lana grew up with Clark Kent as a kid, she has a different take on him, a different sense of who he is than Lois would. Lois met Clark as an adult, and has had interaction with Superman as an adult. So that provides some interesting contrasts. These two women may bond. They also may have different opinions about things in very interesting ways.
But even when you take Clark Kent and Superman out of the picture, I think these two women are fascinating together. They’re both straight-up heroes who are going to go out into the world and make a difference. They’re crusaders, frankly. At the same time, they’ve both got their own quirks and flaws. I’m dying to see what they do with each other when they’re not talking about Superman. They are fascinating characters, in and of themselves, and have every reason to believe I’ll continue to love writing them.
CS: I think it’s also worth adding that Wonder Woman is in the mix significantly as well. She has her own perspective on Superman and Clark, because she has come at him in her own way too.
One of the things I should say that none of us are interested in is making these women competitive with each other. While they all come at it from different directions, they’re all aligned in their love and support for Superman and hope that everything is going to work out, despite all the terrible things that are going to happen to this poor guy.
MSG: Both Lois and Cat Grant are epitomizing the place of the intrepid reporter in uncovering the secrets behind Doomsday, but fans often forget that Clark himself is an award-winning journalist. What place do each of you feel this aspect of the Man of Steel has in today’s comics — simply a cover, or a deep part of Clark’s persona?
CS: I love that part of him. Truth, justice, and the American way — those are things that can be achieved in more than one fashion. You can do it by being Superman. You can also do it by being a journalist. That’s one of the things that I think was brilliant about the conception of Superman in the first place as a journalist: there’s more than one way to be heroic.
GP: I agree with all of that! Also, as the writer of Batman/Superman, I love what it does to the idea that Batman’s the smart one and Superman’s the dumb one. Clark Kent is a great reporter and Superman is a smart cookie. It’s a lot of fun to embrace that part of Superman. He’s a detective in his own way. He has different motivations, and different ways of going about things than Batman and Bruce, but that whole reporter aspect of Clark is fascinating. In different stories, I explore that in different ways. It may not always be in the forefront of every story, but it’s always in the background for me.
One of the great things that Grant Morrison did when the New 52 started was go back to the roots of Superman as a crusader, and that his reporting was part of that. Clark always sticks up for the underdog, and Clark as a reporter looks out for the underdog as well. I think it’s a great thing to continue with.
MSG: You mentioned Batman, and one of the things we’re seeing is what seems like a lot of deep feelings about Batman and Wonder Woman come out with the Doomsday virus. Will repercussions play out in the coming months, or are we to chalk Kal’s feelings up to the illness?
CS: One of the things I think we’re seeing in that scene, and in all of Superman/Wonder Woman #8, is that Clark’s censors are off to a certain extent emotionally. He’s saying things that he might not entirely mean. You know how sometimes you just let loose and say things that you don’t really believe or truly mean, but you know that there’s a shock value to them? Just because Clark says those things when he’s under the effect of the Doomsday spores doesn’t necessarily mean he believes that Batman is only trying to emulate people with powers by spending all of his money on being a smart guy.
On the other hand, you can see an ounce of truth in it too. So, the reason I think a speech like that usually works is that maybe there’s 5% or 10% of truth to something like that. You think Batman’s never thought about how he’s in an arms race with the people who are born with these powers? I don’t know. I would say he probably has thought about that, and that’s why he’s improving himself. He don’t necessarily put himself in competition with them, but I bet he feels he needs to keep up just to stay at the top of his game.
You can take that impetus — which is a strong, good, positive one on Batman’s part — to try to make himself the best he can be in order to save the world. But you can also take it negative if you want to, just like you can do with anything. You can do that with comic reviews, or anything else.
GP: One of the big themes of this storyline is trust. Spoiler alert — Superman is infected now. So, the question is, can his friends trust him? How far can he trust his friends, and how far can he trust himself? That gives us incredible things to play with regarding Wonder Woman and Batman, and this storyline will have a big influence on the emotional relationship between these characters.
MSG: And of course, we also had a callback to Diana’s “Han Solo” moment in Superman/Wonder Woman #6 as well…
CS: I think that the idea is to keep accessing these moments. Superman is realizing that he’s turning into something that he doesn’t want to turn into, and he’s very scared of that. He’s trying to get Wonder Woman to an emotional point where she might be willing to do what has to be done. He’s goading her by saying, “You don’t even love me anyway. You can’t even say it. Why is it such a big deal to you?”
It’s also just nice continuity. I think that moment was one that a lot of people have been talking about in this series and you don’t want to let that drop. The fact that she still hasn’t, to this day, said “I love you” back is kind of a big deal. When you’re building a series that has a horizontal and vertical continuity — in other words, you want it to cohere in and of itself with callbacks within, but it also has to be in continuity horizontally across the entire crossover — you have to find these main characters moments that instantly bring people back to what you did earlier in the series.
MSG: The Doomed crossover has so far featured a stunning cast of guest stars, from Lex Luthor and his Justice League, to a newly armored Steel. Can you share a bit of your perspective on this character, and will we be seeing new aspects to his relationship to Superman?
GP: I love Steel. He’s one of those characters that I just thought was awesome when I was reading the original Doomsday story. He’s just really really cool. I was excited to write him on that kind of visceral level. The more I’ve written him, the more I see he’s a brick, you know? He’s one of those guys whose heart is always in exactly the right place, and he’s just a regular dude. Incredibly smart in this suit that he’s built, but he’s just a regular dude. And yet he’s going out there, toe-to-toe against Doomsday. No one else who’s just a regular dude does that in this book.
That kind of tremendous heart is fun to write. His relationship with Superman and the other characters will go through many stages. He’s stepping up in some major ways and there will be repercussions from that.
There’s also going to be some points where he’ll pair up with another character I’ve been having a ton of fun writing, and there are some interesting sparks that will perhaps fly there. I will say no more. Just keep your eyes open.
MSG: Any final thoughts for the fans on the crossover, gentlemen?
CS: Given the amount of time spent crafting it, I think that Superman: Doomed is going to feel very consistent, like something built at a very steady and consistent pace. We spent a bunch of time just yesterday at the DC offices just working on the end beat for this. I feel very confident in the power of the ending, and you can’t always say that. Sometimes you just have to wrap a story up, but this is really going to pop. I’m excited about it.
GP: I also want to plug all the different artists that are working on this. This is a tremendously huge crossover with hundreds of pages, and we have a ton of artists involved. And they are all bringing their A-game. We’re writing big big action and big big emotion, but also, small subtle emotion. These folks are all stepping up big time.
Aaron Kuder has been doing amazing work for Action throughout. We’ve had folks like Rafa Sandoval helping us out on Action as well. Of course, Tony Daniel is knocking it out on Superman/Wonder Woman. The special Doomed tie-in Batman/Superman issue coming next week is by Karl Kershl, Tom Derenick, and Daniel Sampere. They’re all delivering top-notch work.
And Ken Lashley did all 38 pages of that giant Superman: Doomed one-shot. If you know anything about comics, you know that doing a huge book like that on a deadline is really tough. He came through with flying colors, and drew every single page himself. It turned out gorgeous. So, high five to Mr. Lashley there!
MSG: Awesome! Thanks so much, guys!
The next part of the Doomed storyline arrives in stores next Wednesday in Batman/Superman #11, written by Greg Pak, with a culmination arriving in August with a Superman: Doomed #2 special, written by both gentlemen:
SUPERMAN: DOOMED #2
Written by GREG PAK and CHARLES SOULE
Art by KEN LASHLEY and JACK HERBERT
Cover by GUILLEM MARCH
1:50 Variant cover by DAN JURGENS and NORM RAPMUND
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 Baz and even Swamp Thing to make a fateful decision about their friend.
Image and solicitation courtesy DC Comics.