Before Greg Pak takes over Action Comics in November, he'll be setting the groundwork for his future Superman stories in three issues as part of DC's "Villains Month" event in September.
Pak will write Justice League #23.1: Darkseid with Paulo Siqueria on art, Action Comics #23.2: Zod with Ken Lashley drawing, and Batman/Superman #3.1: Doomsday with Brett Booth on art. He is already writer on the monthly Batman/Superman title, which launches this week .
Villains Month is a tie-in event for the Forever Evil mini-series . As part of the ending of this summer's Trinity War crossover, the DCU heroes disappear and the bad guys take over. Readers will see DC's titles turn "villainous" during the entire month of September, in one-shots that both examine their histories and set up stories for the future.
In this first part of our interview with the writer, Newsarama talked to Pak about his Villains Month issues and what they'll examine about these three well-known DCU rogues.
Newsarama: Greg, you're writing quite a few comics for Villains Month, and now we find out you're writing Action Comics. How did your participation come about?
Greg Pak: Since I started working on Batman/Superman, I've been spending a huge amount of time talking with Superman editor Eddie Berganza. We've bounced around all kinds of crazy ideas about a ton of different characters, and I think at a certain point he just thought I'd be a good match.
Nrama: What do you think of the Villains Month idea overall?
Pak: I love it. Actors always talk about how fun it is to play villains. I think writers get the same kick. And I think it's a great thing for all of DC's heroes to have their villains built up like this. A great hero book needs great villains, so the time we spend building up the backstory and motivations of our villains should pay off in a big way as the regular books continue.
Nrama: You're writing a couple Superman-specific villains with General Zod and Doomsday, and there's indication that Superman plays a role in your Darkseid issue. Since you're writing Action Comics, is there a reason you're writing these three villains in particular?
Pak: All three of these characters had come up earlier while Eddie and I were talking about possible stories. Darkseid, for example, plays a huge role in the New 52's Earth 2, so I'd been thinking about the character while working on the Earth 2 elements of my first Batman/Superman story arc. It's a big thrill — these are huge characters and it's a kick in the pants to be telling critical stories about them in the New 52.
Nrama: Darkseid has already played a pretty significant role in the DCU. What part of his story will we read in your Villains Month issue?
Pak: We're doing some big, bold stuff here — delving into the character's earliest days, exploring the horrors of Apokolips, and getting to know a new character who might just be the biggest thorn in Darkseid's side.
Nrama: How would you describe Darkseid as you're writing him?
Pak: A furious, contemptuous godling who reaches his full potential, to the horror of all those who surround him.
Nrama: What facet of him are you exploring in your issue?
Pak: Cosmically powerful villains become even more terrifying when you get a sense of their very human motivations. By going back to his earliest days, we're getting the chance to see a side of him never before revealed in the New 52.
Nrama: What other characters are you getting to write in the Darkseid issue?
Pak: I can't say too much without spoiling things. But we'll meet the people closest to Darkseid in his earliest days — as well as his first victims.
Nrama: How does Superman play a role in the issue?
He's a big focus. I'll say no more.
Nrama: How does the Darkseid issue tie into what's coming up in your Action Comics run and the greater DCU?
Pak: It provides some context for some of the crazy stuff that'll be going down inBatman/Superman right around then. And it sets up something big that will pay off in the near future.
Nrama: What can you tell us about the Doomsday issue? What's the premise behind the story you're telling?
Pak: For generations, Kryptonians have told stories about the monster known as Doomsday. But which stories are myth, which are rumors, which are lies, and which are true? We'll hear several stories from a variety of surprising narrators. It'll be up to you to decide who's telling the truth.
Nrama: I know this one is taking place, at least partially, on Krypton. Are you getting to add to the mythology of the New 52 version of Krypton before your Action Comics run starts?
Pak: Absolutely. It's a little crazy and a ton of fun. A lot of this is brand new territory for the New 52. It's a thrill to be part of the team exploring some of these corners for the first time.
Nrama: What part of Doomsday interests you as a writer, and how is that driving your story?
Pak: I love the idea of a terrifying monster that lives in people's minds in several different ways. To some, Doomsday might just be an old legend. To others, he's a terrifyingly real threat. I'm intrigued by how all of the various interpretations serve the needs or interests of different narrators.
Nrama: What part of General Zod's story are you examining in his Villains Month issue? What's the setting and set-up?
Pak: We're revealing certain aspects of Zod's origin story for the very first time.
Nrama: Well that's cryptic. Let's come at this in another direction. How would you describe General Zod as he appears in the New 52?
Pak: A ruthless crusader who's entirely certain of the correctness of his utterly insane plans.
Nrama: Is it at all influenced by the Man of Steel movie?
Pak: I actually wrote the script before I saw the movie. But I was pretty pleased to see there are some parallels between the Zod of the movie and the Zod in this book. Without revealing too much, I like the fact that in both the movie and this book, Zod has a worldview and mission that make a kind of twisted sense from his own point of view. I think the best villains are like that — they creep us out partly because we can almost start to see where they're coming from.
Nrama: How much research did you have to do for these comics? Or were you already familiar with these villains?
Pak: These are some of the biggest villains in comics, so I had a pretty good sense of each of them. But I spent a lot of time reading up to immerse myself a bit more in their worlds.
Nrama: Then before we talk about your Action Comics run, is there anything else you want to tell fans about your Villains Month issues?
Pak: The artists on these books are just amazing. Ken Lashley is drawing Zod, and even as we speak, he's bringing great, savage energy to some key early scenes. Brett Booth is drawing Doomsday, and the page 3 splash is going to blow your minds. And Paolo Siquiera is drawing Darkseid. He's been turning in some great designs that evoke a huge, mythic past for these characters. Can't wait until we can start sharing.
Check back with Newsarama when we talk further with Pak about his plans for Action Comics.