SUPERGIRL #0 Answers, Raises Questions, Leads to H'El

In this week's Supergirl #0, written by Michael Green and Mike Johnson, readers got a lot of answers to the mysteries the comic has been exploring in the title's first year. But as promised, new questions were raised about the Superman family and their origins. 

 

Supergirl
now heads toward the Superman universe's first crossover event since DC Comics rebooted its universe last year. Titled "H'el on Earth," the crossover begins in November with Superboy #14, Supergirl #14 and Superman #14.

The Supergirl series, which launched last year and introduced a brand new version of Kara to the DCU, is also undergoing a creative shift, as Mike Johnson goes solo on the title. Mahmud Asrar will continue to provide art for the series.

Newsarama talked to Johnson to find out more about "H'el on Earth" and what's coming up for Supergirl.

Newsarama: First off, Mike, probably the biggest surprise was Superboy on Krypton in Supergirl #0. Will we learn more about that during the crossover?

Mike Johnson: Yeah, what was he doing there?! And what's he holding? All I can say is the crossover might be a good place to start.

Nrama: Fair enough. Let's talk about the origin for Kara that you guys created for Supergirl #0. The way she was rocketed from Krypton was obviously a really emotional scene, but it was very different from the way Kal-El was sent off to Earth. Was that part of your thinking, that things were much different for Kara than her cousin? 

 

Johnson
: Yeah, we wanted to take advantage of the fact that, with Supergirl and her family, you have the freedom to do things that you don't have with Superman's story, because Superman's story is so iconic. Superman's Krypton story ends, traditionally, with his mom and dad holding each other, comforting each other as they send their baby away.

In the same way that, with Supergirl as a character, you can sort of turn traditional "Super" mythos things on their head, we wanted to do that with her origin story here and show that instead of her parents comforting each other, watching their daughter being sent off, the family was really — even though it's a loving family — the family was really in a bad place when Kara left. And it was due to the fact that Zor-El wasn't tell his wife about what he was planning.

I hope it came across in the issue that he's not being evil in any sense. He's just thinking, if I'm going to be able to save my daughter, and even Argo, I can't tell them because they'll try to stop me.

Nrama: Yeah, that came across in the issue. And yet, we saw that he had experimented upon her. Is that a thread that may be picked up later?

Johnson: Yeah, definitely. We wanted to answer questions in the #0 issue. We really wanted it to feel like a complete story. But we also didn't want to tie everything up with a nice bow. We still wanted to leave some mystery, particularly about Argo City and the Worldkillers, which are more an extension of the events of the #0 issue and less the meat of the issue itself. The meat of the issue were the specific circumstances surrounding Kara's departure.

We've always been planning to bring the Worldkillers back, and we have some very cool ideas about how we want to do that. 

But at the same time, probably the largest mystery remaining is exactly what happened to Argo between the end of the #0 issue and when Kara found it in issue #5, where it's basically a dead city and to all appearances, her parents are dead as well.

So that's the last big mystery surrounding her origin that we're going to explore, hopefully within the next year. 

 

Nrama
: With Zor-El doing those experiments, do those explain some of Kara's unique powers?

Johnson: That a very good question that I can't totally answer without spoiling. But yeah, as we see in #0, he definitely had a plan to maximize the power of the yellow sun for Kara.

His plan was, essentially, not to send her to Earth to start a new life. That was more a last resort. His plan was really to send her in orbit around the yellow sun so that, if anything bad happened when she came out, she'd be at full power, which was what we saw in issue #1. She came out ready to go, and ready to go toe-to-toe with Superman. And that was unlike Superman, who, as we saw in Action Comics, was really still — his powers were still growing as he grew up on Earth.

But Kara, in her pod circling the sun, was just getting blasted for years with solar power.

Zor-El's plan was, if everything went smoothly, Argo would survive and he would retrieve Kara's pod once he knew that he and Alura had survived.

Nrama: You guys have gotten to the one-year point with Supergirl, and so much of what we've seen is her feeling like an alien and alone. Is that still the theme going forward into the second year? Or are things changing as she meets people who can become her supporting cast?

Johnson: We definitely want to maintain the idea that she does not feel like she truly belongs on planet Earth. You know, just because she learned what happened to Krypton doesn't mean she's immediately going to feel like this is her home. She's still adjusting. She's still absorbing what happened.

But we also don't want to keep hitting the same point of feeling completely alone and alienated. That's one of the reasons we brought in Siobhan, the Silver Banshee character, and her brother in issues #8 through #10. And we're going to be seeing Siobhan in issue #13 and beyond.

And that's Kara's entry point to feeling a little bit more comfortable on Earth. 

 

Nrama
: The other big question still remaining is her relationship with Kal, and that scene in issue #12 felt very realistic and emotional, as you showed them adjusting to each other. What are your thoughts behind the way that relationship has evolved so far, and where will it go in the second year?

Johnson: Up until now, Kara hasn't even known the truth about Krypton, so she hasn't been inclined to believe that this big, strapping superhero is the little baby she used to hold in her arms.

In issue #13, she's going to learn more of the truth around what happened to Krypton, and that's going to start to soften her stance toward Kal. And she's going to begin to come around to accept the fact that this really is her baby cousin. Of course, accepting the fact that he's her cousin doesn't mean she's going suddenly want to hang out with him all the time. It's still such a mind-blowing and emotional thing to have to digest that we're still going to be playing that out.

We don't want Kara and Kal to be at odds forever, but at the same time, we don't want to rush into the sort of familiar status quo, where they're these loving cousins that hang out all the time and have no issues between them.

So to answer your question, yes, things will be changing for Kara, but it won't be overnight. You don't want to play up Kara's aloneness forever, but it wouldn't be true to the character if we just wrapped it up with a tidy bow and showed her feeling totally at ease with Earth and with Kal.

Nrama: At the end of issue #12, you teased that we'll see a battle with Simon Tycho. Is that where you pick up with issue #13?

Exclusive Interior

Supergirl #13

Johnson
: That's right. At the end of issue #12, we saw Simon Tycho back in his handsome new form. And #13 picks up literally seconds later.

Issue #13 takes place in what we've chosen to call Kara's "Fort of Solitude," but it actually gets a name of its own in issue #13. And it's through this new piece of Krypton on Earth that Kara comes to learn the truth about what happened to her.

Unfortunately, Tycho's the one delivering a lot of the news because he's found out things himself.

And then we go right from issue #13 to our Super-crossover.

Nrama: Right, and you're working with Scott Lobdell and Tom DeFalco on those?

Johnson: That's right. It's been a lot of fun. Scott and I are both out here in L.A., so we've been able to meet up. And we hop on the phone with Tom. It's been a ton of fun working with them. They're so experienced and such great storytellers that it's been a joy to hash out something that we all feel really excited about, and we hope that the excitement comes through on the page in every issue of the crossover.

Nrama: Is that when you become a solo writer as well, or does that start in issue #13?

Johnson: Issue #13 will be my first issue as the solo writer, and Sami Basri is coming in as the guest artist while Mahmud starts work on the crossover. But Sami's done an amazing job on issue #13, and he's really been able to capture Kara's character the way that Mahmud has established it, but at the same time bringing his own cool look to it. I'm thrilled to be able to work with Sami on my first solo issue.

Michael felt that making issue #0 our last co-writing issue felt like a good point for him to step aside for now. So we sort of book-ended it with issue #1 and issue #0.

And our hope is that issue #0 really feels like you could put it on the top of the stack, start with #0 and then read #1, #2, #3 and on and on, and issue #0, in its own way, feels like the perfect introductory issue. So we'll know if we succeeded if people feel like they can give #0 to someone who's never read this Supergirl yet and they're into it.

Nrama: You and Michael have been working together for a long time. What brought this change?

Johnson: Michael is only stepping aside, not because of a power coup on my part [laughs], but because he is swamped with film and TV work right now. And he just felt like he wasn't able to give his full attention to the book, and he believes Kara deserves to have his full attention. And I've been through the Green writing school enough that he felt confident to hand me the keys to the car and let me drive it off the cliff.

But the hope is that Green will return at some point because he definitely still has ideas for Kara that he wants to tell. So while he's leaving now, it's not because of anything other than that he has so much on his plate. He only wanted to work on the book if he could give it his full attention.

Exclusive Interior

Supergirl #13

Nrama
: Getting back to this battle with Simon, it feels like he's gearing up to be her arch-nemesis. What were your thoughts behind the creation of Simon Tycho as a Supergirl villain, and was it influenced by Superman having his Lex Luthor?

Johnson: Yeah, we wanted to give her her own Luthor, but we wanted that to be the only thing that guy had in common with Luthor — the fact that he's human and he's rich. From that point on, he's his own guy. He's younger than Luthor, he's got a very snarky voice that we love writing, so we're trying not to make him sound like the usual bad guy.

And most importantly, his objective is completely different from Luthor's. Whereas Lex detests Superman for being an alien, and Lex feels like he has humanity's best interest at heart, Tycho actually couldn't care less about humanity. He loves all things alien. That was really his job. His company was about retrieving things that fell from space and studying them and profiting from them. And Kara is just another thing for him to study and take advantage of. But Tycho essentially loves everything alien.

And even though Tycho's story, for now, will be resolved in issue #13, you'll see in #13 that he is by no means off the chess board.

Nrama: Then we head into the crossover. How many issues will Supergirl be part of the "H'el on Earth" story?

Johnson: The exact number is still in the works, but it will be at least a couple of months.

Nrama: We've heard a bit about H'el and the threat he represents, but what is Supergirl's role in the story?

Johnson: As you said, the crossover really concentrates on a character called H'el that Scott has introduced to the Superman mythology. And he's such a great character. I'm hoping he has the impact and longevity that a character like Doomsday has had. It's great to be part of bringing a new, original character like this to the mythology.

The really interesting thing about H'el is that he has a tie to every member of the trio. For Supergirl, essentially, He'l represents an alternative for Kara to living on Earth and becoming assimilated the way that Kal has. Up until this point for Kara, it's looked like a simple matter of, well, if Krypton is gone, I guess I'll start here. And H'el offers a really compelling alternative.

The great thing about H'el as a character, the way that Scott has created him, is that H'el is not a mustache-twirling villain. He's not a villain even in the way that Doomsday was. He's a much more interesting, multi-dimensional character that is going to interact with each member of the Super-family in a different way.

Nrama: I'm curious to see what that means.

Johnson: I can tell you there's a giant clue on the cover of Supergirl #15, which was just released. That kind of gives you a hint about how Kara is going to react to this guy and where it's going to go.

Supergirl #15

Nrama
: I'm sure you've planned what you're hoping to do with Supergirl in 2013. You talked a little bit about her supporting cast, and you've implied that we might see more interaction with Superman, but can you say more about what's coming for Kara in 2013?

Johnson: The first part of the year is going to be focused on the crossover, but the plan is for that to set up a new status quo for the Super-family, and definitely for Kara. And then out of that status quo, we're going to be telling a new story introducing new characters the way we did with the Worldkillers and Tycho. But we're also going to see sort of the second act of the things we introduced in the first year.

We're seeing the second act of the Tycho story in issues #12 and #13. But after the Super-crossover, we're going to see the second act of the Worldkillers and really, finally answer the question of how Kara's father's experiments on her were tied to his experiments on the Worldkillers, and what that means for Kara and for her powers and for her evolution, not just as a character but literally, her biological evolution. That's a tease I can give you there. And evolution, with the Worldkillers, is key as well, because we knew that they grew from embryos to what we saw in issues #5, #6 and #7, but there's nothing to say that they won't stop evolving.

And then the other thread that we want to bring back in the second act is Silver Banshee, Siobhan, because as we saw in issue #10, everything seemed to end happily with Siobhan absorbing her father, Black Banshee, into herself, which somehow seemed to cure her of her own "Banshee-ness." But I'm sure comic readers will be shocked to know that things weren't that simple. And we definitely have big plans for that story to continue and see how Kara's relationship with Sibhan's brother will evolve. He represents the first hint of a love interest that we have for her.

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