Greg Pak isn’t giving himself much time to acclimate to DC Comics life. The writer, who has primarily worked on Marvel titles like the Hulk for the bulk of his work-for-hire career is jumping headfirst into the intricacies of the New 52 with Batman/Superman, a new June-debuting ongoing series with artist Jae Lee. Pak has been given the task of filling in a key untold story in the New 52 - a period that predates the current DCU by more than five years and even predates the events of Justice League #1 - the first-ever meeting between Superman and Batman. Fresh off the news of the new title, Newsarama had an opportunity to ask Pak a few early questions about his plans for the series, his views of the characters during this formative stage of their respective careers and what it's like shedding light on a period of the New 52 fans have been asking to know more about since its launch. Newsarama: Greg, let’s start at the beginning, DC tells us the series will deal with the first time Superman and Batman met in the New 52 universe. So can readers assume they in fact met and have/had a history together prior to the events of Justice League #1?
Greg Pak: Yes! You may think you've seen it all, but this is their true first meeting, at a critical early stage in their lives and careers.
Nrama: For loyal or hardcore (your choice) DC readers, the timeline of the New 52 is important. Using the Justice League #1 was “5 years ago” premise, can you tell readers approximately when the start of the series takes place, in relation to both the current day New 52-DCU and the Justice League first story arc period.
And how about Grant Morrison's first Action Comics arc as well?
Pak: The huge attraction of this story to me is the chance to explore who these characters are in their very early, raw years. So this story begins around the time of Morrison's Action #1, when both of these men are young and wild and dangerous. Anything can happen. They've never even heard of each other before – never even heard the word "superhero."
So how will Clark react the first time he sees an insanely dangerous combatant dressed like a giant bat? And how will Bruce react at the sight of an alien with the power to bend steel in his bare hands? It's a hugely fun place to dive in with these characters.
Nrama: So then can we assume Superman be sporting the t-shirt and jeans look?Will Batman look any different in this series?
Pak: All will be revealed soon! I'll just say you're going to see a much wider variety of costumes than you might expect.
Nrama: The series is described as an ongoing that tells the story of their first encounter. Will the series be set in the past indefinitely, or will you be telling an arc/or arcs in the past and then switchover to the current day, again ala Action and Justice League?
Pak: We're starting with this first meeting. But yes, this is an ongoing series and present-day stories are coming. Also, this initial story sets up some big things that will pay off in the present day later down the line.
Nrama: Can you tell readers a little bit of how you view each character at least as the start of your series. In your view, who is Superman at that point of time and where is he in his superhero career?
Pak: Clark Kent's a young reporter, an awkward farm boy in the big city, and a fairly recent orphan. He'll always side with the underdog and the little guy – both as a reporter and a superhero. But deep down, he's a lonely outsider who's lost two sets of parents. He has chips on his shoulder he may not even be aware of yet. He's still figuring out the extent of his powers and responsibilities – and at this young stage, there's always the chance that he might go too far.
Nrama: And Batman?
Pak: Bruce Wayne's a few years older than Clark, with a few more years of superheroing under his belt. But he's still in his early years, still developing his skills and figuring out his mission and boundaries – much closer to "Batman Year One" than "Dark Knight Returns."
Like Clark, he's an orphan. But he lost his parents under very different circumstances and has consciously adopted a much more punitive worldview as a result. He's trained himself superbly – he's insanely formidable – but probably too confident, particularly given the unbelievably powerful young man he's about to encounter.
Nrama: Given the time frame, will this DCU be at all recognizable considering Action and the first Justice League arc seemed to be the events that served as the catalysts for so much of the make-up of the New 52 U?
Pak: You got it. Everything is fresh and new to these characters. A hugely exciting canvas to work on.
Nrama: What, for you, is the dynamic that makes this team-up work in the New 52 incarnation? Is it because of a bond forged because of their place as the first two superheroes and the first fellow superhero each has ever encountered? Or is it a specific personality dynamic that bonds them and makes them a good team-up?
And is there even an immediate bond, or will these characters be more adversarial to one another in this period of time?
Pak: Each of these guys has come up in isolation, finding his own way, figuring out his purpose and methods. The remarkable thing is how similar they are and how similar their missions are. But it's their differences that define each to the other.
I'll go ahead and say it: Each man sees the other as the most dangerous person on the planet. And each man might be right.
Nrama: On that note, Geoff Johns has made it clear that the two now trust one another in a way they don't with their other teammates, even "5 years later."
Will you be showing specific events that explain that bond of trust? Or is it simply their longer, pre-Justice League history together and not tied to one or specific events?
Pak: All will be revealed in the fullness of time [laughs].
Nrama: Fair enough. How closely have you/will you be working with Geoff Johns, considering he'll still be a fellow caretaker of that particular relationship in Justice League? Should readers expect each title to play off one another in apparent ways?
Pak: I've only just met Geoff, but look forward to learning from and working with him as the stories progress. I'm studying all the current books dealing with the characters and have been working hand-in-hand with my awesome editor Eddie Berganza and have had multiple meetings with Eddie, Bob Harras and Bobbie Chase to talk through the story and characters.
The New 52 is a hugely exciting place to tell stories, and I have a ton of admiration and gratitude for folks like Geoff and Grant Morrison and Scott Snyder for what they've done.
Nrama: Okay then, to wrap up how about just few words on what you can say about the first story arc and whatever future story arcs, villains you can tease for the first year of the title?
Pak: Can't reveal our villains just yet. But I suspect DC fans may get very excited when they learn about him or her and what his or her participation means for the future.
And if I can, I'd just like to add that Jae Lee's drawing the book, and I'm crazy excited. Jae brings such a special atmosphere and depth to his books, and I think that's particularly key for characters like Batman and Superman, who are so closely identified with their very distinct cities and worlds. Jae's going to blow all our minds.
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