Now that Michael Alan Nelson has established his new direction and style for Supergirl, the writer is introducing Cyborg Superman to the DCnU - and to September's "Villains Month."
Under the direction of Nelson and Supergirl artist Mahmud Asrar, Cyborg Superman is getting a revamped origin as he's introduced this summer. And according to Nelson, the character now has a connection to Supergirl in the New 52.
The pre-New 52 Cyborg Superman was more connected to Superman and Green Lantern, as he played roles in events surrounding the deaths of both characters. But Nelson has promised that DC has made the new Cyborg Superman "intricately associated with Supergirl."
DC has already indicated that 2013 will be a big year for Superman, from the new movie Man of Steel to the new Superman Unchained comic by Scott Snyder and Jim Lee, and Nelson has implied his title will be part of larger Superman plans and more in the DCU.
Although Nelson started on Supergirl last month, he started writing in the DCU only a few months ago, as a late replacement writer on the now canceled Ravagers. before that, he was best known for his work on indie series like Fall of Cthulhu and 28 Days Later.
But with Supergirl, the writer has already won fans and positive reviews as he continues the story of Kara's "coming of age," while adding a sense of adventure and fun to the book.
Next up: Nelson is developing a rogues' gallery for Kara, including a new iteration of Cyborg Superman. Newsarama talked to the writer to find out more.
Newsarama: How long have you known you were going to use Cyborg Superman in Supergirl? Was it something you knew from the start?
Michael Alan Nelson: No, it wasn't something I knew from the start. I had pitched several ideas for my first story arc, but none of them really gelled with what was happening in the larger world of the Super books. So Cyborg Superman was suggested as a possible villain for Supergirl. Everyone seemed to like the idea so we went forward with developing the story, and I think it's turned out to be something pretty special.
Nrama: Were you a fan of Cyborg Superman? What was it about the character that appealed to you?
Nelson: I had a passing familiarity with who Cyborg Superman was pre-New 52, but the new direction we have for the character is something I find very exciting. I really dig the way we've made him intricately associated with Supergirl as opposed to just borrowing a Superman villain. But the most exciting thing for me as a writer is the emotionally volatile story I get to tell because of that association. I've been having a great time with it.
Nrama: This new version Cyborg Superman is obviously... well... a cyborg. But does he still have the mind of a human? Is that still the core of the character?
Nelson: Yes and no. Any human memories are lost to him and the basic empathy that most humans possess is completely gone. I see the core of his character as a desperate need to fill in the missing gaps, to feel complete no matter the cost.
Nrama: Are you able to reveal who the human is within Cyborg Superman? Or anything about him?
Nelson: I'm sure there will be plenty of speculation and someone somewhere will probably figure it out, but no. I won't say anything about him.
Nrama: So you said he's connected to Supergirl?
Nelson: Depending on how you look at it, yes. But it's playing with that connection and making it something profound that has been so much fun. We really wanted to make him a big part of Supergirl's world and playing with that connection has been one way of doing that.
Nrama: How would you describe the Cyborg Superman character overall?
Nelson: In a word, cold. He's someone who has absolutely no concern for anyone or anything around him. If he wants something, he will do whatever it takes to get it. He can be calculating, cunning, and a whole host of other words that begin with "C." He may seem reasonable, even logical, but understand that he has no desire to satisfy anyone other than himself.
Nrama: Why do you think this villain works with Supergirl?
Nelson: Because they both want to have their pasts back. Kara in the literal sense. She wants to be back on Krypton with her family and friends while Cyborg Superman simply wants to have his memories returned, to feel whole again. But Kara will never be able to have that. Cyborg Superman just might. But keep in mind, this arc's title "Be Careful What You Wish For..." doesn't just apply to Supergirl. And hopefully, when the Villain One-Shot hits and it comes back around to Supergirl, that will all make sense.
Nrama: The villain is also part of your Supergirl arc, both before and after September's issue. What does he bring to the Supergirl title in upcoming issues?
Nelson: He presents Supergirl with a difficult choice. And I have to be honest, if it were me given that choice, I don't know if I would go the same way Supergirl is going to go. She's stronger than I am. But then Cyborg Superman will have to make a choice as well, which I think will be even more heartbreaking. At least that's how I see it all in my head. Hopefully, I'll be able to get that across on the page.
Nrama: How important is the September issue to what you've got coming up in Supergirl?
Nelson: Well, you won't have to read the September issue to understand what's happening in Supergirl. However, it will give a great deal of context and make the events of the following issue even more heartbreaking than if you hadn't read it. The issue isn't necessary, but it will add so much to the story that Supergirl fans shouldn't miss it.
Nrama: In your first issue, we saw Supergirl interact with Power Girl and battle with "Sanctuary," and you included some well-placed humor. Is that issue representative of what you've got coming up in Supergirl?
Nelson: Probably not to that degree, no. At least not for the next few issues. The Sanctuary issue just really lent itself to that kind of story and I had an absolute blast writing it. Though I would love to keep up that level of fun and humor, that tone would clash heavily with the gravity of what's coming for Supergirl. There will still be humor and I'll always be trying to inject fun into her stories, but it's going to be a few issues before I'll have a chance to go as all-out as I did with #20.
Nrama: How would you describe the next few issues of Supergirl leading up to September?
Nelson: It's going to be difficult for Kara. In some small way, she can have what she's wanted ever since Krypton was destroyed, that is, if she's willing to pay for it. And the price might just be too high.
Nrama: What's Supergirl's biggest internal challenge in upcoming issues?
Nelson: Finally accepting that her place is on Earth. It's been a long time coming and she's still not quite there yet. But this next arc I think is what will finally provide that epiphany that she needs.
Nrama: As Supergirl and other DC heroes disappear in September, what opportunity does that give Cyborg Superman in his "Villains Month" issue?
Nelson: It gives readers a chance to learn who he is, how he became a monster, and hopefully feel a bit of sympathy for him. The idea is for the issue to add some emotional weight to every encounter he will have with Supergirl in the future.
Nrama: But the Forever Evil events affect the whole DCU. So how do the events affect Kara?
Nelson: The events are going to be rather confusing for Kara. Right now, she's struggling to find her place in the universe, wondering if she even has a place at all. That becomes more difficult when the landscape keeps changing underneath her. The challenge and the fun for me is navigating these sea changes while still developing Kara as the center of her own little corner of the world and focusing on her own goals and desires for her own future.
Nrama: How has it been working with Mahmud Asrar on Supergirl?
Nelson: Mahmud is fantastic. Not only is he incredibly talented, but he's also a wonderfully sweet guy. It's been an absolute joy working with him.
Nrama: We've seen indication that H'El has his sights on Earth again. Is there a chance he'll come into contact with Supergirl again?
Nelson: Oh, there's always a chance. That's one of those things where we'll just have to wait and see.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans about Supergirl or your Cyborg Superman issue?
Nelson: Only that I encourage Supergirl fans to pick up the Cyborg Superman Villain issue if their finances allow. It won't be necessary to understand the Supergirl story, but it will add a dimension of interconnectivity between the two characters that will make their future interactions even more poignant.