Smallville Chaos #2 came out last week and this arc has certainly lived up to its title. It is totally chaotic in this book right now with 3 ongoing plots happening, each one unraveling in front of our eyes. It isn't pretty right now and I'm not sure which arc is the most frenetic and hectic right now.
Bryan Q. Miller has been leading us to a Crisis-event since the very first issue of Smallville Season 11 and this is the closest we have come. I have been completely impressed with Miller's approach to this undercurrent of a universal threat. At times it has surged to the forefront of the book. But when it hasn't been in our face, it has been simmering in the background. This time, our noses are shoved in the danger of the Crisis with one of the most powerful scenes I have read in this book.
Add to that the Eclipso-invasion in Metropolis and the Luthor-led hostile takeover of the Holt/Kord particle accelerator, and you get a Smallville book on shaky ground. Thank goodness Lois is a rock!
The art is handled seamlessly by Agustin Padilla and Daniel HDR, bringing the right energy to a wild ride of security forces, demonic hordes, and planetary destruction.
We start out in Metropolis where an army of Metropolis' citizens have been possessed by the Eclipso diamond shards. We have become somewhat accustomed to the Watchtower group, this justice league, being able to mobilize and deal with a threat. That isn't happening here. Tess can try to spearhead communication and organize the team ... but when no one can respond, she isn't of much use. Metropolis is on fire. Superman is on another Earth. Emil and Bruce are trapped in STAR Labs. Everyone is off-line.
Metropolis needs a hero!
Meanwhile on another Earth, Superman is trying to save the day. But this world is literally being carved into pieces by the Monitor attack ships. At the very least, he can smash the advance Manhunter troops, making sure they don't hurt the populace.
But it is clear that this Earth is dying. The skies are red. The planet is crumbling.
I do like this Superman fighting until the end.
But here is where this book suddenly silenced me. This is perhaps the most powerful scene I have witnessed in Smallville.
The Lois of this world has been trying to help people, to fight to save this Earth. But that Lois has given up hope. The people she leads, in a church, all turn guns on themselves, a mass suicide in the face of planetary destruction. Imagine that ... a Lois that has lost hope that much. Scary.
There is power in this panel. The bodies slumped. The hand on gun in the foreground. A faceless dead body lying down in front of us. And our Lois and Superman hugging each other, but tiny. They weren't able to save these people. Keeping them small adds a feeling of helplessness. Great stuff.
And don't forget the third plotline as Lex takes over the particle accelerator so he can use it and Monitor tech to contact other universes.
I always love when Lex panels have him saying noble things while the evils of his ways happen around him. Here he says he is going to save the world. All while his Yellow-ringed Lex Corps gun down the security force. I suppose Lex could have simply asked to use the thing instead of getting violent.
The dissonance between words and art work here. Lex is deluded.
Metropolis needs a hero. Suddenly they have one.
Hank Henshaw, digitally trapped in a robotic body, and quite mad a few arcs ago, decides he needs to do better ... he needs to help. And just like that he enters a bunch of sentry droids, creating an army of one, and takes out the Eclipso victims.
I am glad to see Henshaw redeemed. And glad he wasn't forgotten. He does look a bit like the helmeted Superman of Futures End, don't you think?
With the Earth dying around them, Superman goes to the one place he hope exists and can help them. This Earth's Fortress of Solitude.
It is clear there is no way to save this Earth. It is being eaten by waves of energy, just like the Crisis on Infinite Earths worlds.
Beautiful art here.
And now, the mandatory monthly 'Lois is Awesome in this book' moment.
Flying into the Fortress, this world's Jor-El recognizes Superman as 'not Kal' and embeds him in some sort of crystal. Lois tells Jor-El that he is making a mistake and when he asks who she is to question him, she answers appropriately.
She's Lois Lane.
This is who Lois should be. Strong and confident enough to stand up to anyone.
We learn a little bit more about Luthor's plots. He isn't trying to reach out to other Lex's any more. He is reaching out to someone else. Hmmmm ...
I bet he wants the evil Earth 2 Superman to join him on this world. Or maybe Zod?
And we seem to be seeing some lack of 100% loyalty in Otis. I wonder if Mr. Berg is going to end up betraying Lex. He is the only one left who can. Booster Gold has been defeated by the Yellow Corps.
But back on the doomed Earth we see another power of Lois. The power to speak the truth, to love, help.
She tells this Jor-El that every version has worked to save Kal. Why shouldn't this Jor-El help save a different Kal. And then ... the soft please. It humanizes Lois a bit, shows her and Clark's love.
So Jor-El will help, if she will take him to safety as well. Shrunk to a power crystal, this Jor-El shunts the pair to a different Earth.
We see this Earth fade away. Worlds will live. Worlds will die.
Unfortunately, Jor-El doesn't send these two back to their world. Instead they land on shambles of an Earth. There are Manhunters amid the debris. The Monitors were here. There are also human skulls with omega signs burned into them. And a black crackling planetoid crashed into Earth. This place looks enough like Apokolips for me to be worried.
I have to say this was a great middle chapter. The story moved forward on all fronts. We see the threat the Monitors are, an Earth vaporized. We see Lois and Clark use their brains to escape that fate. We see the emergence of a new hero. And we see the evil of Lex, suddenly openly and brazenly malevolent.
And we are that much closer to the Crisis. Unbelievable. Incredible.
Since the inception of the New 52 in September of 2011, September has been DC's big month. We had zero month, a jump on 'origin' issue in 2012. We had 'Villains' month' in 2013. And this year, it is the 'Futures End' month, single issues looking forward 5 years at the title characters, a peek into a future that won't happen.
Unfortunately, unlike the other Septembers, I have very little interest in this one. Where an origin issue or a story focused on a rogue might grab my interest and make me try a new title, a look at a future timeline that won't happen, in a dystopian future, in a story that has to be one issue long is no lure. Unless the public sentiment is that the issue is a can't miss or if it stars Steph Brown, I doubt I'll be picking up any titles that aren't on my pull list.
But even for the titles I do collect, I have wondered what these issues will add.
Justice League United Futures End #1 was a good issue to showcase what these issues might add to the present timeline. Five years hence, the JLU no longer exists. This isn't that team's book. But what this book does give us is a look at Equinox and her power set, seeing who she may become as she matures as a hero. And we hear snippets of what has occurred in that 5 year gap. So I guess the question is will some of these hints of the future come to fruition? Are these the fruits of future plotlines that that writer Jeff Lemire has yet to seed? If that is true, then maybe these issues are intriguing.
Jed Dougherty is on art here. His style is different from Mike McKone's, more like a thicker lined Frank Quitely.
As I said, the star of this book is Equinox.
We get a nice little opening adventure where she battles someone named the Polargeist. He appears to be some sort of cyborg who also adds robotics and ultimately controls animals. We see him, riding atop a weaponized polar bear trying to hijack a tractor trailer.
There is lot to like here. Equinox calls herself the guardian of the land and its people. She frees the animals. She uses her powers to freeze the Polargeist. And she is greeted by the people she has saved, a group who clearly loves her. She is probably the Superman of Canada.
But she can't dwell on her triumph because the Martian Manhunter contacts her with a cryptic 'they are escaping!'
We might not know who 'they' are but Miya does. And it must be something big because she immediately leaves and tries to organize a group of heroes to help her and J'onn. Her first stop ... Animal Man.
You can feel the love that Lemire has for Buddy Baker and his family in this scene. While the Futures End world looks like Los Angeles in Blade Runner, Buddy has a nice suburban home with a pool, gleaming in the sun.
Buddy has retired but business is business. He sends Maxine inside so he can talk shop. I love that second panel. You can feel how aggravated Maxine is, hands clenched, shoulders low, storming off. Great information conveyed by the art. That is my favorite panel of the book.
While Buddy also received J'onn's message, he is 100% retired ... for real. This time he means it. He won't help Miya.
And then we get the rundown of the other members.
Green Arrow is dead.
Supergirl doesn't want to see Miya. 'Sure as hell.' Why? It is implied that there was a falling out. Why does Kara always have to be the difficult one?
Stargirl is off-planet.
Alanna is in no shape ... after what happened to Adam and Ultra. So some tragedy has shelved her.
So there simply is no JLU.
But there is a Justice League. Miya heads there to mobilize those forces.
This being the Futures End world, the Justice League headquarters is a fortress in the desert, complete with lethal defense systems. Luckily, Equinox can handle herself when they almost fire on her.
She talks with Cyborg about the message and how her team was 'torn apart' so she needs the main League's help.
So the future of the JLU doesn't sound too fun does it!
The new Justice League isn't The Big Seven.
Cyborg and the Flash are there. But also Dawnstar, a Red Rocket type guy named Vostok, and guardian character named Stormguard. At least I get some Dawnstar! And some acknowledgment that the Legion Lost crew is still on Earth, still in the past.
But the story suddenly gets all Kingdom Come.
There is a gulag for super-villains in Kansas on Mars. Captain Comet J'onn is the warden, keeping the peace with his telepathic powers.
But putting all those villains in one place is dangerous! The gulag is suddenly going to explode! (True both in Kingdom Come and here.)
The League decides they need to investigate and try to save the Manhunter.
And even more hints at the future.
Batman didn't go to Green Arrow's funeral.
But neither did Wildfire.
Okay! At least I know Wildfire is still around! He is my favorite Legionnaire! And, I thought for sure, he was the helmeted Superman. I wonder if my guess is still right. Maybe there are more than one.
On Mars ... which I guess has an atmosphere ... the heroes throw down with some of the villains. We see Mongul, Blockbuster, the Mechaneer, and Killer Frost.
We again see Equinox wield some ice powers. Is there more to her power set than that?
While the League fights outside, Equinox heads in to find J'onn. She finds him awake but crumpled at the feet of Gorilla Grodd. But Grodd is the least of their worries. J'onn is more concerned about 'the worst killer the universe has ever known' ... Captain Atom.
Ohhhhhh .... holy shades of Armageddon 2001! Of course, Atom was supposed to be the initial Monarch. And, back a few years, he actually finally became Monarch. And, in Kingdom Come, he became part of Magog's Justice Battalion. So there is some history for him to be evil.
Unfortunately, this story is continued in the Justice League Futures End issue, a book I'm not planning to get.
I have loved the JLU book so far and this issue did grab me a bit with this peek at a possible future. One, after being teased with only snippets of Equinox in the main book, it was great to see her actualized as a hero and using her powers. And it sounds like there is a fair amount of tragedy possibly in this team's future. A team torn asunder, a rift between Equinox and Supergirl, something awful happening to Adam Strange and Ultra ... that's a lot to think about. Plus Dawnstar and a Wildfire mention! And Buddy and Maxine hanging out by the pool alone was worth it.
And, while I suppose it fits with the tone of Futures End, I don't like a 'Hall of Justice' with gun turrets, a Kingdom Come gulag, and a Monarch-y Captain Atom.
Now there is a Six Flags relatively close to me that has had DC rides in the past including a Superman Roller Coaster. I can recall that as you waited in lines they had big cut outs of the Super-family and a blurb of their origin. The Supergirl was the Matrix one which had the nuttiest two line origin - 'A protoplasmic being from another universe who merged with a human girl to become an Earth Angel'.
In fact, I am pretty sure that that origin blurb is one of the things which prompted DC to redo Supergirl as once again Superman's cousin.
This new ride 'Battle for Metropolis' looks like an interactive experience where the riders have guns to shoot targets and to be part of the story.
It looks like Superman, Batman, and Cyborg have to rescue their captured comrades including ... SUPERGIRL. I don't think I should be too upset with Kara being a kidnap victim since the other captured heroes include Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and the Flash! Talk about heavy hitters!
I have to admit that I would rather have a ride with the Trinity heading to save their friends. How about putting Cyborg in a tube and let Wonder Woman be a star?
I do like how Supergirl looks here. I think this might be the first mass market representation of her New 52 costume.
If anyone in Texas hits this ride in the future, please let me know what it's like!
My love/hate relationship with variant covers will swing wildly to love in December when DC Comics releases books with Darwyn Cooke variants. These are landscape style covers and they show the DCU that exists in my mind. The covers were sprinkled over many websites but Comics Alliance gathered them all up here: http://comicsalliance.com/darwyn-cooke-dc-variants-december/
Now I have talked about my love for Darwyn Cooke in the past. I tried desperately to get a commission from him at the Boston Comic Con a couple of years ago (he wasn't sketching). His look is clean, nostalgic, beautiful.
I have to showcase the Supergirl variant, a complete throwback to a simpler time. From the blue skirt to the super-pets, this is Silver Age gorgeousness. We see a smiling Supergirl rarely these days and it's a shame.
This is perfect.
Yes I will hopefully be buying this.
And while all the covers are beautiful, I have to highlight my favorites.
The Justice League United cover is a great group shot featuring Supergirl in her new uniform. It reminds me of the ending splashes of New Frontier when we saw the heroes flying in the same manner.
It is a Supergirl variant so I may end up buying this.
I had a hard time just picking a couple of others to show. They are all so good.
I loved this Batman/Superman cover. It showcases so many things I wish was true in comics today. Look at how easy they are around each other, even in the aftermath of an adventure. You can tell they are easy friends. Batman smiling!! Superman relaxed and willing to show that he was worried.
This is perfect.
Check out the Wonder Woman cover with Diana in battle against some hyena-like or Minotaur soldiers.
No sword on her hip. Just her magic lasso and her tenacity.
What is not to love about this cover.
This is perfect.
The idea of the Silver Age Teen Titans being a rock band seems like it would be plausible in Bob Haney books. And Wally on drums seems dead on. I love how Wonder Girl and Speedy are leaning against each other as they jam. This is one of the sillier covers but it works.
And it reminded me ... again ...how much I miss Donna Troy.
This is perfect.
Contrast that cover to this cover of Batgirl. There is no silliness here, just hard core action. There is a pulpy, noir feel to this with the dark colors and stark angle of the bike. Despite that, Babs is smiling, like a femme fatale.
This is perfect.
I really am not a fan of variant covers. I wish these were the main covers so everyone, including me, could easily nab some. I might buy a new book simply for this cover. Isn't that what covers should do? Put new books in readers' hands?
Anyways ... these are beautiful and perfect. I'm going to start saving my pennies.
Superman Unchained #8, by superstar team of writer Scott Snyder and artist Jim Lee, came out this week, the penultimate issue of this comic's first and only arc. The book is ending with #9. Superman Unchained #1 came out 2 Junes ago. 9 issues in 15 months of a 'monthly' comic isn't a great rate.
Unfortunately, for me, that delay in the story has really hurt this book. I have looked forward to the book whenever it has finally hit the stands. But the stop/start nature of release has slowed the momentum of a complicated plot where 3 major threads are slowly weaving together.
Now I have to worry that the delays and then cancellation of the book has now hurt the story. Because while this issue is a slugfest with huge panels and splashes and double splashes, I am left knowing that this entire thing needs to be wrapped up in one issue, next issue, and I don't know if even a writer as great as Scott Snyder can pull it all together without it feeling rushed.
I realize I shouldn't damn this issue based on my preconceived concerns for the next. But I have to be honest, I felt a bit cheated with this issue because of the lack of story given the abundance of splashes. I always say 'big moments need big art' and the splashes are very nice. But knowing that we only had one issue left, I felt like the space could have been better used.
On to the issue.
As I said, the bulk of this issue is a knock-down, drag-out fight between Superman and Wraith with each gaining the upper hand momentarily only to have the other snatch it away.
There is a very nice opening near two-page splash of Superman about to drop a tanker ship onto the Wraith. It is a nice scene and captures the scope of the battle.
Snyder has a nice running theme through the issue of Superman asking himself how other people, other friends, other people he respects would deal with this fight.
Here he knows that Diana would 'unleash' the Warrior. She would push through. And hoisting a ship is a nice embodiment of that.
The Wraith has a myriad of powers, some of which border on Firestorm-esque. Before the tanker can be dropped, The Wraith dematerializes it by making the atoms unstable. He then pounds Superman pretty much across the planet. And we know that Superman is taking damage.
Superman then wonders how would Bruce fight? He'd fight dirty.
So he decides to try to suffocate Wraith, flying him to the moon and focusing his attacks on the trachea and diaphragm. The trachea/diaphragm lines sounded like Batman, how he always talks about the multitude of moves he could land on an opponent.
But the Wraith uses his energy powers again, emitting Kryptonite radiation and turning the tables, trying to suffocate Superman underwater on Earth.
Superman then wonders how Lois would deal with this fight, this battle he is losing. Lois would 'dig down deep' and tough it out. I love how Snyder has handled Lois in this series. And here, having Superman include Lois' strength of character with the other members of the trinity shows just how 'powerful' Snyder thinks Lane is. It shows how powerful he thinks the Superman/Lois relationship is.
'Dig deep' sparks an idea in Clark.
He tunnels down to Earth's core. There, the internal magnetism of the planet interferes with the Wraith's control over the electromagnetic spectrum. All that is left is strength and invulnerability. It seems a little out of the blue but internally consistent.
Without his EM powers, the Wraith gets battered. It allows Superman the time to monologue a bit, the discuss his philosophy. He doesn't hide behind an army like the Wraith. He doesn't sneak attack like the Wraith. He does stand out in the open, stating who he is and what he believes. It has led to him being attacked. And he has become a good fighter.
Part of this story has been comparing and contrasting the Wraith and Superman, their origins semi-similar. This was a nice coda.
And then there was my favorite moment of the book, this epilogue to the fight with the Wraith unconscious in the magma.
Superman mentions his friends and allies. How brave they are. How steadfast they are in the opinions. How they aren't anyone's lackey. They live in the light.
Having read the issue you can rattle off a short list of those people: Batman, Wonder Woman, and Lois.
But there is the whole gamut of other plots that need to be wrapped up.
The Ascension cult seems to be dismantled. The Wraith is unconscious. Are those plots done?
But what about the Earthstone, the voice inside it?
What about Lex?
What about Jimmy and the device Lex attached to his hand?
What about the origins of the Wraith?
Can it all be wrapped up?
Suddenly it looks like they are all balled together. Superman, Lois, General Lane, Jimmy, and a holographic Lex all congregate near the half-destroyed Fortress.
The Earthstone is calling out to aliens. The aliens that sent the Wraith. They are approaching Earth to attack. They want to see what Earth did with the 'equation' that unlocked information. And Lex knew all about it.
What I thought was a deadly joy buzzer attached to Jimmy turns out to be a case holding a syringe of concentrated solar energy, gleaned from his solar tower.
It will make Superman super-powerful but will burn him out. He'll be on a suicide run.
It sounds a little like the All-Star Superman solar overdose. And I suppose we'll see some battle sequence against these aliens next issue.
But has this issue brought the story to the place it needs to be. I would feel so much better if we had 2 more issues!
As I said, I shouldn't damn this issue for preconceived concerns. I thought this issue's fight, particularly when you heard Superman's praise of his friends, was very good. But I have usually been extremely happy with this book.
And it is a shame that we won't be reading more Snyder Superman and Snyder Lois.
Every so often, comics throw me a wonderful surprise, something so unexpected but so great that I am reminded why I still love this medium. And then, there are the even rare surprises which not only remind me why I love comics but also transport me back to being a kid, which bring such pure happiness that I am a little Anj, sitting under a tree at a beach house, reading a dog-eared comic in sunlight. Scooby Doo Team-Up #6 was one of the latter. An all ages book by uber-writer Sholly Fisch, this issue harkens back to Saturday morning cartoons, the Super Friends comic book, and a hot pants wearing Supergirl. Fisch is able to perform that rare magic in a book like this, make it kid-friendly but throw in enough Easter Eggs and silliness to please the adult comic reader who picks it up. Heck, I'm not even a Scooby Doo fan and I liked this. It brought me the same joy that Super Friends #37 did back in the day, seeing Supergirl get some exposure with small screen superstars.
The Scooby Gang has been invited to the Hall of Justice to help the Super Friends solve a mystery. (That is another sentence I never thought I would ever write.)
It seems the Hall is haunted by 'The Rainbow Ghosts', seven ghosts each of whom is a different color. And the Green Ghost attacked Superman making him disappear!
With Superman missing, the Friends need to step in for him, making it appear that he has not disappeared. And that means they need help with the mystery. And to keep things looking normal in Superman's absence, they will disguise the Scooby Gang as people who would normally hang around there.
So Velma, Shaggy, and Scooby become 'Wendy', 'Marvin', and Wonder Dog. Holy 1970's Batman! I love how Wendy is in the FBI, Wonder Dog is involved with national security, and Marvin is a dentist.
And Fred and Daphne get dressed up as Zan and Jayna. I love how Daphne is almost embarrassed to be the twins.
And to hide Superman being missing even more, the Friends called in Supergirl to be a 'red and blue blur', stepping in for him in a pinch.
There is so much goodness in this panel that I smiled for hours when I first saw it. A classic hot pants Seventies Supergirl. A Smallville blur reference (maybe). Her handling crises, a reference to COIE (maybe).
But to have her call herself 'Rupergirl', imitating Scooby, was soooooo perfect. Perfect.
The time to contemplate the mystery ends rather quickly. The ghosts arrive and attack.
Supergirl is tasked with keeping the Scooby Gang safe while the Super Friends battle.
Amazingly ... somehow ... the ghosts defeat the heroes, making them all disappear too!
There is something unsettling about these ghosts. They are tangible.
This one is stronger than Supergirl.
And the yellow one can emit an energy beam, trapping Supergirl like a fly in amber.
I suppose it isn't too big a surprise to discover they aren't ghosts.
They are the Legion of Doom in disguise. That explains their powers. And Lex explains that by hiding who they were, by pretending to be ghosts, it gave the Legion an element of surprise.
Like before, there is such wonder here. As a kid I loved Battle of the Super Friends. So to see a classic Hannah Barbera Legion of Doom, right down to the pantsless Brainiac, was fantastic. The Scarecrow even calls the gang 'meddling kids', the classic tagline for the group!
Amazingly, the Gang is able to escape. Partly due to some quick thinking by Velma who uses Bizarro-speak to set the imperfect duplicate on to his comrades.
That Velma ... always thinking!
And the rest of the Gang realize that the 'disappearance' of the Super Friends is probably them being shrunk by Brainiac. And since Brainiac likes to put shrunken things in jars, they decide to look in the kitchen. And there are the Super Friends, in what appears to be an empty peanut butter jar.
They are freed and attack the Legion, even though they are 'reeny riny' ... or teeny tiny.
How great that Superman yells 'For Justice'!!
But perhaps the best turn is when Sinestro's ring leaves him and goes to Shaggy and Scooby. They are able to instill great fear ... because they always scare themselves. Unreal. Strange. Perfect. And, I suppose, plausible in this wonderful Saturday morning world.
With Sinestro's ring on his finger, Shaggy enlarges the Super Friends and binds the Legion of Doom.
All except Luthor who pulls out some sort of ultimate weapon.
Who saves the day?? Supergirl!!
Freed from Sinestro's amber when Shaggy took over the ring, she arrives to capture Superman's arch-enemy! The day is saved.
I said it before, I am not a Scooby Doo fan.
But this was just about as perfect an issue as I have read recently. Suddenly I was a 8 year old kid again, grinning like a goof, and thrilled to see the good guys win in a nutty way. Yes, it is nostalgic for an old guy like me. But it works on a kid level too.
We recently learned that Tony Bedard's run on Supergirl will be over shortly and that writers Kate Perkins and Mike Johnson will be taking Kara down a new creative direction. I have loved Bedard's run on the book as he understood Supergirl and made her more like the character that I love, even in the midst of her becoming a Red Lantern and joining the JLU. I had the opportunity to interview Bedard recently, asking him about his take on Supergirl, his current run, and where he was hoping to take her. It was hard not to be a fanboy. Here is the interview.
Anj: You have had a couple of short runs on two different
incarnations of Supergirl, a brief run on Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes, and even had her in R.E.B.E.L.S.! Have you alwaysbeen a fan of Supergirl? What do you think of
her as a character? What are her key attributes or character qualities?
TONY: I started reading comics relatively late in life,
around the age of 15. It was the mid ‘80s and the first thing that really
hooked me into superhero comics was Marvel’s SECRET WARS. I was so jazzed by it
that when I heard DC was also doing a mega-event called CRISIS ON INFINITE
EARTHS, I dived into it. So, ironically, my first exposure to Supergirl was her
death in that series. But it left a lasting mark and I have always deeply felt
her importance, even at times when she didn’t seem as important to whatever
“big thing” was happening in comics. As for getting to write SUPERGIRL during
the “Amazons Attack” event, and also getting to write a few issues of SUPERGIRL
AND THE LEGION OF SUPERHEROES, that was sheer, wonderful luck. So, while I’ve
always liked the Supergirl character, I’ve just been fortunate that they asked
me to write her this many times. For me, her key attributes are the things that
come with wearing that “S” on your chest – the responsibility to use your gifts
for the benefit of others, the humility and self-sacrifice to serve the greater
good even though you’re powerful enough to just take what you want. And I think
Supergirl should have a brightness and optimism that matches her youth. She is
filed with promise and potential. She should be an aspirational character, a
role model. I think this can be maintained, even when you’re trying to fill her
stories with teen angst and the sense of confusion and isolation that comes
with being a teenager.
Anj: That vision of her as a young hero, learning the ropes while understanding what her responsibilities is mine as well. And yes, I think she should be an aspirational character as well.
Anj: You wrote three issues in the last incarnation of
Supergirl, between Joe Kelly and Kelly Puckett’s runs. The issues were also
crossovers with Amazons Attack as well as Countdown. What can you tell us about
those issues? Did you ask to write them? They also seems to be an attempt to
rehabilitate her character after a rough portrayal in Amazons and prior stories
where she was angry and isolated. Were you hoping to make her more likable back
TONY: The Amazons Attack issues were offered to me out of
the blue. As a former editor, I know that when you plan these big events,
somebody is bound to drop out, or a creative team gets shifted around, and
suddenly you have to get some issues covered. So when the editor called asking
if I could pinch-hit on SUPERGIRL, I was only too glad to step in. The funny
thing is that I hadn’t been keeping up with SUPERGIRL at the time and didn’t
realize that she’d been portrayed as angry and isolated. I just wrote her as I
thought she should be. As I’ve said in previous interviews, I want my Supergirl
to be likable and upbeat. So even though she was screwing up, crashing Air
Force One, etc., I still wanted her underlying character to be wholesome, well
intentioned and sympathetic.
Anj: I love that the way she acted in those issues was your 'default' Supergirl. That is fantastic. I loved those issues and thought that maybe DC had asked you to soften her edges given the upcoming run.
TONY: But when I think of those issues, what really stands out to
me is how great it was working with Renato Guedes. Holy crap, that guy is amazing!He drew Supergirl like a human being, and he
put those biker pants under her skirt. Thank you, Renato! Maybe I’m just old,
but the LAST thing I want from a SUPERGIRL comic is one of those upskirt shots.
I remember seeing a few people online complain that he had made her “too fat.”
Unbelievable. He made her look like a real girl is what he did.
Anj: Yeah, his stuff is great. I loved how he drew Supergirl here and when she appeared in Superman when he was drawing that book. And don't remind me about the bike shorts debacle. Like you, I thought they made perfect sense.
Anj: I was a big fan of R.E.B.E.L.S. and reviewed it monthly
here. I loved that Supergirl was part of the opening issues. Were there plans
to ever bring her back to the book? Do you miss Vril Dox?
TONY: I miss Vril Dox every day! I even tried to sneak him
back into the DCU in the Villains Month BRAINIAC issue. But I don’t think we’ll
be seeing a New 52 REBELS series any time soon. As for having Supergirl appear
in that series, having written Kara in the 30th Century already, she
seemed like the best person to deliver a message from Brainiac 5 to his
forefather Brainiac 2 (Vril Dox). It was just a guest appearance, but I felt
really good about the way Brainiac 5 sent his message: having her actually
write it on a blank DVD with her heat vision. Cute trick. Y’know, I’ll always
be grateful that DC let REBELS go as far as it did. I think it was 28 issues.
It was one of those times where something was liked internally and they really
gave it a chance. Maybe if the DCU follows in Marvel’s movie footsteps, then
REBELS could be the Guardians of the Galaxy surprise movie hit of 2022…?
Anj: Can you talk about how you ended up on the current
Supergirl book? You have gone on record as saying that you wanted to make the
angry and isolated New 52 Supergirl more likable and relatable. Did you seek
out the assignment? And what were you hoping to bring to the book? Did you know
early on that it was going to be a short run?
TONY: This was another instance of DC calling me and
offering me the gig out of the blue. They knew I was looking for a new project,
but I didn’t specifically lobby for SUPERGIRL. To be honest, it’s hard to get a
gig you’re going after unless it’s a completely new pitch, like I did with
R.E.B.E.L.S. (Yes, I know I was just trying to re-launch the criminally
under-appreciated L.E.G.I.O.N. ’89). Once they gave me SUPERGIRL, what I was hoping
to bring to the book was a supporting cast and a lighter tone -- a moment for
Kara to get past her resentment and embrace her new home. What DC wanted was to
build up her rogue’s gallery and to play up the “stranger in a strange land”
aspect. I tried to give them what they wanted and get the stuff in that I
wanted. It ended up a bit of a mixed bag, but looking back I’m pretty happy
with the run, even if much of it was dealing with characters and situations
that I sort of inherited.
Anj: Knowing how you had treated her in all the prior runs that we've talked about, I was thrilled to hear you were on the book and what your approach was going to be.
Anj: But then shortly after the announcement of you coming on board, we
got the news about Red Daughter. Did you have to adapt your plans dramatically
because of the new plot direction? How closely did you work with Red Lanterns’
writer Charles Soule on the arc?
TONY: I got to work fairly closely with Charles, since it
was his idea to make her a Red Lantern to begin with! And I have to admit that
when it was first presented to me, I wasn’t sold on the idea. I was trying to
take her away from being angry all the time and we were going to make her a
Rage Lantern?! But it didn’t take long to realize this might be the perfect
pivot point for Kara. She couldhit bottom and then end up rejecting anger.So I went along with it, and the great
surprise was that by making her a Red Lantern, we gave her an instant support
network and people to play off of and it turned out to be a great little
storyline. I owe a lot to Charles, especially for making RED LANTERNS a fun,
upbeat read. It made it easier to bring some of that fun to SUPERGIRL.
Anj: I thought Red Daughter was handled very well and actually
showed a more likable and friendly Kara despite the rage ring.Was it hard to write a character who embraced
rage while trying to make her a more heroic and positive person?
TONY: It was surprisingly easy. Kara had been searching for
friends, for a place to belong. After a few really bad turns, she suddenly had
a bunch of people who valued her power and wanted her around (except for Guy
Gardner, who was wise enough to see she shouldn’t be one of them). It all
worked out pretty nicely, with both moments to see her as a hero, and a great
life lesson for Kara. Being a Red Lantern was one of the first times that
people actually cheered for her. She deserved to be wanted for a change and she
finally got a taste of what it felt like.
Anj: You sowed the seeds of future plotlines which may never
come to fruition. Can you tell us what you were planning with Blaze? Siobhan?
Michael? Shay Veritas?
TONY: I was going to have Blaze create a trio of henchgirls
called the Furies. Remember Siobhan’s roommate and her two friends? They were
all orphaned in superhero battles and had sworn themselves to finding a way to
make super-people pay. They were going to beat Supergirl and take her back to
Blaze’s home dimension. Hilarity would ensue. I wanted to get Siobhan in there
more, to make her and Kara a team. I had one issue where the newly Red
Lanterned Kara fights Silver Banshee, and I contrasted their fight with
flashbacks of Kara and Siobhan just having fun roommate moments. That remains
one of my favorite things from the run: just letting her have a friend. Michael
returns in my final issue, and we’ll see if they do anything with him after
that. If not, it was enough that Kara met a guy who had every reason to hate
life and yet retained a positive outlook. He was in many ways a good role model
for her, and he didn’t want to trick or use her, which is nice for a change.
And Shay I wanted to keep playing sort of mysterious. Is she really a friend to
Supergirl, or does she view her as another science project? Shay’s still a bit
of a cypher to me, which is okay if she’s played for mystery. But I liked doing
scenes of her staff at the Block talking about what it’s like being stuck
there, having to wear her face, alternating between admiration and resentment.
It gave the whole Block set-up a little complexity.
Anj: Too bad we won't get the chance to read that Blaze arc. Sounds like a blast. Anyways, as a big Supergirl fan, I just wanted to thank you for
writing such a great Supergirl, a young, positive hero still learning the
ropes. While you have a couple of more issues on your run, any last words for
TONY: I just wish the new team success. Kara’s had a rocky
time since the New 52 launch, but I feel like right now she’s well positioned
to move forward and become a true hero on her own terms. And I wish Emanuela
Lupacchino all the success in the world! She’s an amazing artist and Supergirl
couldn’t be in better hands, art-wise!
Anj: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to Supergirl fans! Looking forward to your last 2 issues.