This week's Superman/Batman #53 is the start of a new storyline and introduces a new artist for the series, as Rags Morales joins the writing team of Michael Green and Mike Johnson for a story about what happens when Superman and Batman switch powers.
This marks the 10th issue since Green took over writing duties for Superman/Batman early this year, fresh off his stint as a writer on the TV show Heroes. Green is now one-third of the writing team behind the script for the now-in-pre-production Green Lantern movie for Warner Bros., as well as creator of the new NBC television show Kings, which debuts on the network in early 2009. Johnson is not only co-writer on the series with Green but also works with Kurtzman/Orci productions, part of the creative force behind the new TV show Fringe.
Yet the pair have emphasized to Newsarama several times that despite their Hollywood schedule, they're dedicated to continuing on Superman/Batman. And the last nine issues have proven it, as they've worked with artists like Shane Davis, Ed Benes and Rafael Albuquerque to produce their own brand of sometimes-dramatic, sometimes-humorous and always action-packed issues that play with the contrast between Superman and Batman.
As Morales takes over art for this new story, we talked to Green and Johnson to find out more about how Superman and Batman switch powers and what other character will show up in the story.
Newsarama: What can you tell us about this storyline and how Superman and Batman switch powers?
Mike Johnson: Power switching is probably the oldest trick in the Supes/Bats playbook, but we saw it as an opportunity to get deeper into the psyche of the characters. It brings up all sorts of interesting questions: How would they react? How would it affect their relationship? How would it affect the world? There's no point in telling the story if it isn't rooted in something deeper than just
spectacle. Which there will be plenty of. The actual switch involves a favorite Super-villain who enjoys haggis and screaming.
Michael Green: Yep. For us it always goes back to, "What's a situation we can put these two in that allows us to explore their similarities and differences?" That’s the whole point of this series.
NRAMA: How did you guys come up with the concept?
MJ: Magic Superman/Batman 8-Ball. And also wanting to revisit classic S/B stories with a new perspective. Buy your World's Finest Showcases now!
MG: The real secret is that Mike IS the S/B magic 8-Ball. I shake his head and stories like this come out. Every writer should have one.
MJ: Michael's so gracious. If I'm the 8-Ball, he's like the S/B Ouija board. Or something.
NRAMA: You mentioned them a little bit, but going deeper, what challenges will the characters face as a result of the switch?
MJ: Imagine if you suddenly had Superman's powers -- no time to adjust, no Ma and Pa Kent to raise you, no room for trial and error. That's what Batman has to deal with. But of course, no one is more mentally tough than Bats, so it's no problem for him. Right? As for Superman, he gets to feel what it's like to be normal, including fun things like surgery.
MG: Shaving is a new one for Superman. Shaving with heat vision a new one for Bats.
NRAMA: What other characters will we see in this storyline?
MG: We'll see how the switch affects the S/B supporting cast: Lois, Alfred, Robin, Nightwing.
MJ: There may or may not be an epic throwdown involving the JLA.
MG: Bane gets another chance to break the Bat. Also: ninjas.
MJ: And a cat. And a very hot magician.
NRAMA: How has it been working with Rags Morales? What does he bring to the story?
MG: He brings awesome. Buckets of it.
MJ: Seeing Rags' pages come in is like getting to watch a new Superman/Batman movie every month. We're throwing some crazy stuff at him, and he makes it more epic and powerful than we ever imagined. And it's not just the big explosions. He's a master at the quiet moments between that matter most. We're so lucky to have him.
NRAMA: What else is coming up for the characters in your series?
MJ: We'll find out who was watching Lana be so mean to Superman back in issue #49. Robin and Supergirl will compare sidekick notes. A character believed to be resting in peace will be returned to the DCU. And a little further down the road, we're going to show what happens with that room full o' K that Batman has in his basement. It's kind of big.
MG: Also, ninjas.