Official Description: The Last Son of Krypton is one of the most recognized pop culture icons of all time, and this year, Superman is set to soar to new heights! Find out what makes The Man of Steel the hero that he is with the writers and artists who bring him to life: DC Comics group editor Eddie Berganza, Tony Daniel (Action Comics), Jim Lee (Superman: Unchained), Scott Lobdell (Action Comics, Superman), Michael Alan Nelson (Supergirl), Scott Snyder (Superman: Unchained), and others.
DC's John Rood welcomed the smaller Sunday crowd to the panel before introducing John Cunningham, the moderator for this second-to-last DC Comics panel of Comic-Con International: San Diego 2013.
Co-Publisher and artist of Superman: Unchained Jim Lee, writer Scott Snyder, writer of Superman and Action Comics Scott Lobdell, Supergirl writer Michael Alan Nelson, and editor Eddie Berganza made it to the Sunday morning panel.
The cover for Superman: Unchained #4 and some early interiors for #3 were shown on the slideshow and the creators started talking about their new series. Snyder said "I'm still pretty green, and the support you guys have thrown behind the book has really been amazing. This weekend, I feel like you guys, you wait and come to the panels, so let's give you some spoilers. This issue is really the point where Superman gets 'pwned.' I know I always get a text from Jim Lee at like 3am, where he asks "what about doing this" but I don't answer until the morning, and he's already just done it.
But then it's great. He has such a way of taking the script and magically transforming things exponentially better."
Superman gets punched and it zooms out to Google Earth style, showing him get punched across all of the state of Utah.
The character of Wraith is a secret Superman in the American military. General Lane tells Superman, "Deep down you're a coward, because you need the applause, the adulation. This guy has been the real Superman behind the scenes. What have you done?"
So in this issue, Snyder says, "We really go for the jugular with Superman, both emotionally and physically."
Lee pointed out that it's not a punch, it's actually a bicycle kick, which Snyder says is even better.
Berganza next talked about Superman/Wonder Woman, the new book that is "epic punching - things that are dangerous and huge always get in the way of their romance." Charles Soule is writing and Tony Daniel is drawing. The "big bad" is hidden, and someone who hasn't showed up in the New 52 yet.
Lobdell, writing both main Superman ongoings, has been slightly sharing the story between the two, making it less a daunting task and more of just a fun way to share momentum. He says "when I see all this other Superman work, each piece is so exciting, it makes me want to really step on the gas with this character, it's a lot of fun." Speaking specifically on Action Comics #22, he said, "A lot of the Superman stories we've seen in the New 52 have been pretty serious, and I missed the fun element to Superman. Hector Hammond is one of those characters that straddles the horrific and the weird/perky. So we decided "let's just do a fun story for a few issues" and make it fun and quirky."
They'll be revealing how Hector Hammond finds a space helmet big enough for his head.
In Superman, #23 and #24 both lead into November's #25 in a big way. "When we get to #25, the Superman-verse will literally not be the same from beyond," and it all comes from Superman, Supergirl, and Superboy re-teaming in those two issues before.
The psi-war stemmed from a desire to simply bring more telepaths into the DC world. The cover to Superman #22 shows off the Hive queen, who Lobdell said they didn't want to bring in yet, but Rocafort's redesign was so cool they couldn't.
The Superman Annual is a 38 page story with only 10 pages of Superman - it's actually a Lois Lane story, with Superman cameos. "It's Lois's 75th Anniversary as well, and it was time to really put the spotlight on her," said Lobdell. "It's a brilliant spotlight on her."
The Action Comics Annual #2 in October is the direct lead-in to Superman, Supergirl, and Superboy #25, and a direct follow-up to September's H'el #1. The story is called "Krypton returns," as H'el winds up in Krypton's past.
Lobdell then took the opportunity to show off a full, four-page hand-drawn comic of "Bluebird" by a 9-year old little girl whose pen name is "Amy Oak," real name Lorelei - he said he's amazed by it, and in a few years when she's up on a panel, he wants everyone to know that he has her very first comic. He did warn that it won't all be rosy for her, as she'll be challenged in the story.
Batman/Superman, which Cunningham said is very convenient thanks to yesterday's Warner Bros movie news, was next. Berganza said it's very fun seeing the mature Earth 2 Batman and Superman in contrast to the very young Batman and Superman from the New 52 Earth. "There's punching, but a lot of heart." He also teased that the Earth 2 Catwoman "really doesn't mind having two Batmen around."
Over in Supergirl, Kara is trying to stay alive while Brainiac and Cyborg Superman are battling over her. "If you think you know who Cyborg Superman is, you really don't, wait till you see the New 52 version here," teased Berganza. Nelson, meanwhile said she has a major decision to make, "if she can have everything she ever wanted - but at great cost, would she do it?" and he really doesn't know what he'd do in the situation. Kara also sees her mom in the preview pages, perhaps teasing who Cyborg Superman is.
Finally, Superboy took the spotlight, and Berganza talked about Psycho Pirate. He joked the scripts are difficult because Dr. Psycho is also involved. "One thing the Supers are not good at dealing with are people attacking them on a psychic level - but the unique thing about Kon is that he can tap into those telepathic powers a bit - and we'll see why he has them here" in issue 24 and beyond.
Fan Q&A time!
A young female fan asked "Why did you cancel Superman Family Adventures and Tiny Titans, cause I really liked those comics?" - it was the fan who made the comic for Lobdell. Jim Lee responded, "We are keeping those trades in print. We generally do our children's books in conjunction with Cartoon Network. We do have a lot of plans to add to that line for this year and next year, and please tell us how we're doing next year."
She followed-up, "Does Superman ever smile? He doesn't seem to smile in any of the art you showed at all!" The panelists laughed, and Lee said, "He does, he does. He's a compassionate person, he's a passionate person. You'll see these great relationships between him and Lois and him and Jimmy Olsen, and even him and Lex Luthor. It's in there, but you have to be patient." Snyder said, "After he gets up from being destroyed I'll try to make him smile too! He is a symbol of inspiration and hope. When he gets up and triumphs, you'll see him smile." She was dressed as Bluebird too.
A female fan (it's Batgirl!) thanked and praised DC for hiring more female writers, and getting up to around 10% there (but wants more, of course). She asked, however, about the reverse seeming to happen with artists. Lee said that he has seen more female creators starting to come to them, and he's trying to make sure they know they're welcome. "I just want to look at the work and appreciate it!"
Berganza said that a female penciler will be added to the Super books soon, but he can't reveal who or which one just yet.
Because of the campaign around Man of Steel, a fan asked, "How does Superman shave, and will we see it in the comics?" Lobdell joked, "We've never seen him blow his nose either, there's a lot of personal hygiene stuff he isn't seen doing." Snyder said, "I just say heat vision and mirrors for everything."
A fan praised Supergirl then asked if Superboy's costume, with all the lights, is his final costume or he'd get something new. Berganza said, "Scott, we can debate about this because something is coming up maybe..." Lobdell, "From his point of view, this is how he identifies himself because it's what he came into this world in."
For Nelson and Snyder, does your Horror comics background influence your take on Supergirl? "You know, I've always liked a story with a little dark twist - stories that are fun and happy and slowly devolve into the darkness. It's interesting only when it has something to contrast against. I wrote a horror story with just darkness from beginning to end but there were no dynamics to it. Sometimes a horror element is something to bring to the table, sometimes it's not - I'm known for it but I don't turn to it every time." Snyder said it's something he thinks about a lot because of his son, and a bunch of art he and other kids did, and his son had donw this drawing of a cat being attacked by a giant squid and he loved it. Digressing, "In good horror, the best monsters are twisted versions that are parts of yourself. You need to look at yourself and say I'm terrified of what I see. That's what the great monsters do in their best form." He says that definitely influences Superman: Unchained and how Wraith is a dopplegänger of sorts to Superman.
In Batman/Superman, the Earth 2 world is being a little more revealed, promises Berganza, not just Batman and Superman themselves. What "our" Superman learns there, he'll carry back into his own world.
Next question comes from a fan dressed, appropriately, as the Riddler. He asks if General Lane's attack on Superman that Snyder mentioned has a direct effect on him, or if he's able to roll it off. Snyder, "Not to no comment on it, but a big part of what happens to him is the answer to that question. He asks himself if he should change. That's part of the Lois story as well, and Lex as well - they're all putting pressure on him in physical and mental ways there." Lee said that Gen. Lane actually has a father-figure role with Superman and he takes it much more to heart because of that.
Lobdell said that they are striving to "make Superman of the moment" in response to a fan's question about whether they'll deal with things like the NSA spying and Snowden, but there are no immediate plans.
Final question: In Man of Steel, it looks like it's harder for him to fly, but then he figures it out and just takes off later - I was wondering how he flies, and how easy it is for him to take off? Lee tried to do some pseudo-science as a joke, and that was it!