Geoff Johns: Telling Superman's Secret Origin

Johns on Superman: Secret Origin

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As DC Universe Executive Editor revealed to Newsarama on Wednesday, in early 2009, Geoff Johns and Gary Frank will leave Action Comics, and move to the six-issue, standalone, Superman: Secret Origin, a re-telling of Clark Kent growing up and becoming Superman.

As DiDio described the series, “With the Superman books following Infinite Crisis, we made some suggestions as to some of the changes that might be occurring within Superman’s origin and who he is. There were a lot of things that have been changed over a period of time, and what Geoff has done, what Geoff always does so well is that he incorporates so many of the various aspects of Superman’s origin to what I feel is really a clean, definitive take on the character as he exists today, and more importantly, how we will continue to present him in the years to come.

“The John Byrne changes were important and strong when they occurred back in the ‘80s, and I feel that Geoff’s origin is going to make that same imprint now, for 2009 and past that.”

So what does Johns have planned along with Frank for Secret Origin? We asked him just that.

Newsarama: Geoff, why does Superman need a revised/tweaked origin now, or rather, a definitive one?

Geoff Johns: Because people have been asking for it. And so have we.

The new official "Secret Origin" of Superman is a project that Gary and I have been planning since we began working together on Action Comics. With the changes going on it made sense for Gary and I to move onto Superman: Secret Origin as a standalone series. The issues are longer than normal and it's given us time to work ahead of schedule. This incredibly important to us and the quality and eventual scheduling, must be perfect.

To me, origin stories - particularly "Secret Origin" stories in the DC Comics universe - are vital to the introduction of characters and mythology to the larger audience, and I think they can be to the long time audience as well. We haven't seen a modern day retelling of Clark's first adventure as Superboy with the Legion of Super-Heroes, or the day Superman met Jimmy Olsen or the origins of Superman's long time enemies like the Parasite and Metallo. More importantly, Clark Kent himself will be explored in his earlier years in a way I don't think he's ever been explored before. And freaking Gary Frank, one of the greatest Superman artists in history already, is illustrating it. Every cover, every panel, ever line.

For long time readers, with the inclusion of the Legion of Super-Heroes back in Superman's history, General Zod introduced and all the other changes made post-Infinite Crisis nearly 3-years ago, they've been requesting a definitive secret origin. Man of Steel was brilliant and Birthright was a beautiful book, but Superman: Secret Origin will be what lines right up for the modern day monthly books. It will feature new looks at the origin of not only Superman, but some of his greatest allies, enemies and supporting cast and it will tie into everything Gary and I have done so far on Action Comics as well as setting the stage for the future.

NRAMA: As readers of Gary and your work on Action know, you’ve been adjusting things on Krypton in New Krypton as well as touching upon Clark's early years, so what's the scope of this story, time-wise?

GJ: It goes from Clark's teenage years, through his first adventure with the Legion of Super-Heroes and into his arrival and introduction to Metropolis as Superman. We've included the first three covers with the interview and you can see a pretty big part of Clark Kent's history is being reintroduced as well - namely, Superboy. But with a bit of a twist.

NRAMA: Can you tell us any characters or beats that you're going to play up more than they've been mentioned previously? Any that you're going to de-emphasize?

GJ: You'll see Ma and Pa Kent, Lana Lang, Pete Ross, the Legion of Super-Heroes, Mordru, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, the Parasite, Metallo, Lex Luthor and others...

NRAMA: In telling Superman’s origin, what has to be there? What is inviolate, in your eyes?

GJ: I can only say, unlike previous Superman origin stories, this will be told almost entirely from Clark's eyes. We won't be spending an issue on Krypton. We'll be opening on one of Clark's earliest memories as a kid and moving forward from there. This is his story of self-discovery and the world's story of meeting Superman.

NRAMA: There've been many tellings of Superman's origins and early years - from the versions in comics to that of your mentor, Richard Donner in Superman: The Movie, to Smallville... what would you say yours is closest to?

GJ: This isn't Smallville or Superman: The Movie or Superman: The Silver Age, this is Superman: Secret Origin by me and Gary. It's a different look at the beginnings of the characters and mythos of Superman that will set the stage for the monthly Superman comics. And this does not signify the end of my involvement with the Superman Family.

This is also not the end of Gary and I as a team. We're in sync creatively on a level I think either of us have ever reached. Gary is one of the greatest storytellers and artists in comic books and these characters are as lucky as me to work with him. I am incredibly thankful for it all. And after Superman: Secret Origin, Gary and I already know what comes next. It'll be a monthly.

Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving!

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