Interview: Charles Soule Settles Down with SUPERMAN WONDER WOMAN

Superman/Wonder Woman #3 may have featured the kiss seen around the world, but off the page, the moments that grabbed fans by the collar happened at the end of this week’s issue #6. With tons of online debate still swimming around the New 52 match-up of the Man of Steel and the God of War nee Amazon Princess, writer Charles Soule is riding the wave with a smile and growing support from fans old and new. We talked to Soule about the book’s success, the dynamic between his main characters quite familiar to fans of a certain space odyssey, and just where he’ll be taking Superman and Wonder Woman in the months to come.

r7ofMatt Santori: Charles, thanks so much for taking time out of your insane schedule! Superman/Wonder Woman has now finished its first arc. How do you feel about the reaction in contrast to expectations before the first issue?

Charles Soule: That’s a great question to start with. I think people have been ranging from pleasantly surprised to shocked at what the book actually is. I think that they were expecting something almost shallow, focused on fan service moments relating to Superman and Wonder Woman making out, or stuff like that.

And that was never what I intended to do. What I wanted to deliver was an epic super-hero story — an epic action story, really — that has a romance as part of its storytelling recipe. And I think that’s what people got. I felt from the beginning that a super-hero story that had a gigantic romance at its core has a huge amount of emotional resonance that you don’t always get in super-hero stories.

It’s also allowed us to touch on things that had never been touched on with Superman or Wonder Woman before, which is almost impossible to do. This is what I wanted to do from the beginning and I’m glad that people are finally seeing what the plan was. They seem to really be enjoying it!

superman-wonder-woman-6-silhouette-fightMSG: One of those things that we haven’t seen before is the difference between the characters, in that Diana seems far more at ease with herself than Kal. How has that dynamic been for you to explore and why do you feel that is?

CS: I think part of it is the secret identity. Diana has been raised as someone who has always been an Amazon and always been proud of that. She’s always known exactly who she was and has not seen a need to hide that part of herself from the world, generally speaking. But Superman has been raised differently. He’s not ashamed of his heritage or abilities, but he has been trained to — and has decided that he needs to — put that aside from time to time and just be Clark Kent.

In issue #4, they have a conversation where he explains that he needs to be Clark because it helps him stay in touch with the people he’s trying to save. And if he doesn’t do that, then he’s worried that he’ll end up putting himself above them, whereas Diana doesn’t see it that way. I think that’s a fundamental difference between them that is not bad or good. It’s just something that’s different about them.

MSG: And we did get a note regarding this story taking place before Brian Azzarello’s run, so going forward, are we going to see how Kal adjusts to Diana’s elevation to God of War, and how do you think that will improve or exacerbate that difference between them?

Superman-Wonder-Woman-6-Spoilers-Preview-Zod-Faora-3CS: You know, that’s interesting. After the recent issue that we’ve been discussing, we do catch up to the status quo fairly quickly in my title. It’s just one of those things that’s kind of weird. She’s the God of War now. What does that mean? How does that play out? It’s something they’ll talk about and will try to figure out about each other.

The way to think about the second arc of Superman/Wonder Woman is to look at it in context with the first arc. The first arc was about a new relationship where they’re both pretty excited to be with each other, and they’re kind of learning who each other are, to a certain extent. And then, they’re learning to become comfortable with that about each other. The final moments of issue #6 are meant to convey that they’ve accepted each other. They are who they are, and they should be together.

Now, the second arc is going to be more about them growing and changing, seeing how their relationship will bend or if it will break. I think the God of War story is one element of Wonder Woman growing and changing — and there will be others on the Superman side — for both of them. It’s one of those ways to keep the storytelling interesting.

MSG: The newfound rivalry between Superman and Apollo is an interesting one, although regrettably short-lived due to events in Wonder Woman’s solo title. What inspired you to pit the god against Kal with such a vendetta?

CS: First of all, there are not that many people who can hypothetically stand up to Superman. The God of the Sun is certainly one of them. I thought that, when you’re looking for an antagonist for Superman on a physical level, you’ve got to go pretty big. Apollo is right there. I also liked the idea that Apollo’s powers would relate so well to what Superman can do, as we saw repeatedly in these first six issues. First, they help Superman and then they hurt him dramatically when Apollo powers up Faora and Zod in issue #6.

tumblr_n11krwGLzs1su3dgpo1_1280So, I thought it would be neat to have an opportunity to cross the two pantheons, if you will, between Superman’s universe and Wonder Woman’s universe, just like when Wonder Woman has that great fight with Faora in issue #5. Getting the worlds to mix a bit was something I think readers wanted to see, I certainly wanted to write, and Tony [Daniel] wanted to draw. And he did a hell of a job.

MSG: There’s a certain amount of cracked mirror reflection in the relationship between Zod and Faora with our starring characters. Other than their appearance in Man of Steel, what drew you to these two and what are your thoughts on Faora’s character especially? She’s had much less pedigree in the DC Universe than Zod since their Silver Age introductions.

CS: One of the things that can be tricky in a title that already has two leads who need a lot of screen time and character development, is that you sometimes don’t get to develop the bad guys as much as you’d like to. That said, I think we can see that Zod and Faora are for sure a couple, and Zod goes to great lengths to get her out of the Phantom Zone. And at the same time, they feel like a couple that’s been together for a while. They have their little squabbles here and there, but they’re very unified and certainly a team.

As far as Faora goes, I see her as very capable. She is mildly subordinate to Zod in that I believe she has a lower rank than general, but she really considers herself his peer. In a way, it’s just neat to get another strong woman into the title. It’s just neat to write awesome female characters, and Faora is certainly that.

Superman-Wonder-Woman-6-Spoilers-Zod-Faora-3MSG: The last line between Kal and Diana is pretty much everything fans of both characters have been waiting for — that classic Han Solo moment. Digging in a bit, is it just Diana’s wicked sense of humor at play, or is there a genuine imbalance to their relationship?

CS: It’s not something I’m going to let drop. When you say “I love you” to someone and they don’t say it back — no matter what cute thing they say to you — it sticks in your mind. So, Superman will definitely be thinking about it.

As far as why she said that and why she did it, I think that Diana is slightly less familiar with the idea of romantic love than Superman is. Superman has been on Earth. He’s probably had his schoolboy crushes and all that. He’s probably dated people before Diana. And she’s probably relatively new to this dynamic, in my opinion and in the way I’m writing her. With everything else they have going on, and the dude saying “I love you” — it’s not that she doesn’t feel it too. It’s that she’s probably processing a lot at that moment. I think it’s a lot for her to handle, considering they were just beaten half to death and are stuck in a nuclear power plant while Zod and Faora are out to destroy the world.

We’ll see how it plays out, but it’s one of those great moments that you can use to build some conflict and tension going forward in the series, hopefully in a good way.

mm6sMSG: Heading into the Superman: Doomed crossover arc, any thoughts or teases you can share with us about what fans can expect to see?

CS: I’ve been working on that arc for ages with Greg Pak and Scott Lobdell, just to get everything narrowed down and figure out the plot points and beats. It will show when the issues start coming out. It’s a very cohesive and well-planned event, with multiple stages and really cool twists and turns. We start with a place that people might be familiar with, that is, Doomsday wrecking havoc like we saw back in the original Death and Return of Superman storyline. But then it goes to really, really cool and different places.

I said that the second arc of Superman/Wonder Woman was about change, and the Doomed story is going to be one of the main drivers of that change in a way that you’ll get pretty quickly. I’m really proud of the work that we’re doing, particularly the big Doomed one-shot that opens all of this, hitting the first week in May. It’s going to set the stage for everything we’re doing, and it will feel as epic as any universe-spanning crossover that covers the whole line. And in fact, it will cover the whole line by the time we’re done.

Amid the many, many books Charles Soule pens, Superman/Wonder Woman ships monthly from DC Comics. You can check out Charles’ other writing in monthly titles such as: Swamp Thing, Red Lanterns, She-Hulk, Letter 44, Thunderbolts, and the upcoming Inhuman. Did I forget any?


Related posts


  1. Monkey Tennis said:

    How can there be any ’emotional resonance’ in a story where neither character is written with anything approaching an actual personality? Since this book started, I’ve half expected Clark or Diana to do this on the last page of each issue…

  2. Matt SantoriGriffith said:

    I totally disagree. I feel like the last six issues have been ALL personality, really digging into Clark and Diana’s thoughts and perceptions about how they interact with the world and each other.

  3. Monkey Tennis said: the most po-faced, generic, soulless (no pun intended) way possible.

    Fair play, New 52 Clark was a blank slate to start with. But in her own book, Diana feels like an actual, real person. In this, she reads like… I don’t know… That’s the problem. It’s like there’s absolutely nothing to her.

  4. Popper Most said:

    yeah they’re just completely witless in this book, both of them. They’re a boring, self-absorbed couple.

  5. Popper Most said:

    Soule please kindly remove yourself from this book. This relationship could work, but it doesn’t, it’s just a big messy pile of maudlin relationship clichés. As for Wonder Woman, it’s as though she’s on more morphine than a dying person

  6. David Grant Lloyd said:

    Great interview. Soule is a terrific writer and, combined with Daniels art, SM/WW is the best comic on the market. Epic drama, action, romance and characterisation. The superhero genre doesn’t get any better than this.

  7. CharlesHB said:

    This is a great interview, it’s always interesting to see the thoughts behind the creative process.

    I came into this as a fan of the idea of Superman and Wonder Woman together. Having seen the pairing in elseworld, it seemed a relatively untapped seam of stories.

    That said potential doesn’t translate into successful execution on the page without a great creative team, Soule, Daniels, and Morey are fantastic across this arc.

    It’s easy to miss the ball, but they’ve hit this one out of the park.

    Soule’s writing in particular has been special, he’s balanced the two leads very well, there is a strong sense of forethought into their motivations, building on the known backstory. Soule has shone a light on the things that bring them together, and a common purpose, shared ideals of truth and justice – the ability to be honest with each other from the get go ( something traditional super-hero relationship always lack, and I’ve never understood the attraction of a relationship built on deceit ) but importantly the differences in their backgrounds too. Clark is processing what it means to be Kal-El, he had to live as human among humans. Diana has lost – for now, her family – but that’s a new event, she’s grew up with a Mom and extended family of kick ass warriors, as a princess. Clark’s loved ones by contrast were fragile, his parents died in a car crash.
    This is one facet, but it impacts Clark’s reaction time, his thoughts when he fights alongside someone he loves.
    It’s also the grasp of the characterisation of the protagonists; both the fixed elements which remain common to every version over the decades, and the evolving aspects which change along with the narrative, and the latter means understanding and using what other teams have done in other books, for example Johns hinted strongly that Diana never said I love you to Steve Trevor when they were holding hands. So ‘it’ comes with added potency. Using Diana’s family, and Strife in particular to create strife, is another example, but above and beyond this is the reintroduction of things missing, such as Dooms Door, and the invisible ‘plane’.

    The last issue was deft because every explosive event was a pay-off for a moment already fore-shadowed in an earlier book, every idea that exploded had already been introduced, such as the Atom splitting sword, or Apollo’s vengeance- with Strife egging him on in the background.

    The most polarising aspect of Superman/Wonder Woman seems to be it’s success. Part of that story is the way readers not sold on the idea when it first arrived in Justice League #12 have been pleasantly surprised by the new joint title, it’s one thing to win the praise of folks like me who were already interested in seeing this story told, it’s another to win friends and influence fans. This has caught some by surprise of the other kind, because they prefer another narrative – and that’s great, each to their own, but it’s also brought out the worst in certain fans, going back again to JL #12, but exacerbated because they expected this pairing to be short lived I guess. Then Clark dropping the Love bomb has really irked.
    Success for the moment means the book will live for another arc, and that’s all we can expect as fans of a commercial company.

    Diana and Clark will be a couple as long as DC sells books and merchandise ( don’t forget to buy the t-shirt ) and when, if, should, that change DC will do something else, but getting mad at the Market, the comic / merchandise buying public for liking something is pretty much like King Canute commanding the tide to turn back.

    As a fan of comics, and this idea in particular I’m just really glad DC gifted us this team, who are producing one of the best comics period of the moment.

  8. Justice said:

    Have we been reading the same solo book for her? The WW in the team up book has a million times more personality then the version in her solo comic.

  9. Monkey Tennis said:

    When? Honestly when has that happened? Her not-all-all-forced speech to the girls in #4 (presumably in a last-ditch attempt to avoid any Bechtel accusations) Her… um… You see, that’s the other problem. Outside of her relationship with Clark, there’s been so little in the book to define this version of Diana.

    Now that I think about it, she’s less pod-person and more Stepford wife. She’s an idealised version of Wonder Woman, which is presumably why some people like this persona. So she speaks all worthy and she plays the mighty warrior (albeit when she isn’t getting her butt kicked) but there’s nothing behind it. She’s just this vacuous shell, little more than a plot device in a book that she’s supposed to be a co-lead in.

    Frankly, I’d find it more plausible right now if DC pulled another Lobo and it turned out the Wonder Woman in JLA and SM/WW really was an alternate version. It’d certainly be lot easier to accept that than trying to consolidate Azarello’s more believable, more real, more layered Diana with the flat and bland version in this book.

  10. Matthew Garcia said:

    I completely agree with you, @disqus_XOG9X5CJhV:disqus.

    It’s discouraging how bland and boring Diana is in the Justice League books and in this team-up title. In her book, she’s strong and determined and caring and loving and relentless, in the others I’ve read…she’s ditzy.

    It reminds me of way back when, when the Justice League first began, where they were like, “Hey Diana, You get to be the secretary.”

  11. Robenson said:

    Great interview about a great book brought to us by great artists. Unfortunately there will always be haters. Keep up the good work.

  12. kidstandout said:

    yup your definately not reading the same book… sm/ww #7 had more personality for diana then anywhere else in the new 52. the last time diana was in a club in her solo, she spent the whole time brooding where in the formentioned issue, she actually has some fun with clark. something you rarely see from diana across most of the new 52