SUPERMAN/ WONDER WOMAN Brings Emphasis on Action, Major Villains
Superman/Wonder Woman #1 Interior Art by Tony Daniel
CREDIT: DC Comics
When Charles Soule and Tony Daniel launch Superman/Wonder Woman in October, they're kicking off the run with one of the most threatening villains in the DCU: Doomsday.
Subsequent issues promise other heavy-hitters from characters associated with the title characters, including Wonder Woman's pantheon of gods and Superman's Kryptonian enemy General Zod, as well as an appearance by the Justice League of America.
Those are a lot of impressive set pieces for two of DC's most iconic characters, but Superman/Wonder Woman has an added element that most team-up comics don't — the title characters are dating. That has caused some fans to question whether it will be too heavy on romance, but Soule says he's hoping the introduction of Doomsday and Zod make it clear this book is plenty exciting too.
While Daniel's a familiar artist to most DC fans, with recent runs on the high-profile books Action Comics and Detective Comics, he told Newsarama that his approach to Superman/Wonder Woman is unique, and he thinks it's the best work he's ever done.
Soule, who still works as an attorney in New York City, is fairly new to the DC line-up, but he's currently one of the most prolific writers in comics. Earlier this year, he took over Swamp Thing for DC, then later added Red Lanterns. At Marvel, he's writing Thunderbolts, and he's got a new ongoing series called Letter 44 starting in October from Oni Press.
With Superman/Wonder Woman, the two hope to offer something unique in the marketplace — an examination of the relationship between two characters against a back-drop of major, exciting events in the DCU. Newsarama talked to the two creators to find out more.
Newsarama: Charles, now that we know Doomsday and Zod are the first couple of villains for Superman/Wonder Woman, it's becoming apparent that this comic is going to have some pretty big action pieces. When you selected these villains, was the point to make sure they were threats that were big enough for two such powerful heroes?
Charles Soule: Yeah, that's right. We wanted to go big off the bat. We wanted to stake our claim and make it clear that this was a book that mattered — not just from the idea of the couple at its heart, but also from the events that would be depicted in it and their impact on the DCU as a whole, and in Superman's life and Wonder Woman's life.
So it's not just an "also-ran" book. This is very much integral to the whole DCU and things that happen in it. So the villains are big on purpose.
Nrama: There's a perception among some internet fans that this is a "romance" book. Obviously, with Doomsday and the Gods from Wonder Woman, and even Zod in the mix, this book has more drama and action than that. Are you playing a balancing act between the intimate and the blockbuster?
Soule: Well, think of any story or film — let's say Man of Steel or Dark Knight Rises, just to choose two DC-based films that have come out. Those films were a balance of many, many elements, of huge-scale action, of quiet, personal character moments, and some romance, and some horror, and all these emotional beats that all come together and make a very satisfying experience.
I don't think any really great story is just one thing. Like, if you had a book that was only punching the whole time, it would just be noise. It would have no impact whatsoever.
So Superman/Wonder Woman is fortunate in that it is able to use romance — or a romantic relationship, because I think "romance" has some stigma attached to it — but a grown-up relationship between two adults as one of the many elements it can use in its overall mix of beats.
So we get incredibly sweet action, but we also get these characters who care about each other. We get to see why they care about each other. And any relationship where the people legitimately care about each other raises the stakes enormously. If one of them gets hurt, the way that plays out is so much stronger.
I think it's fabulous. I think it lets this book have a depth that some other books don't. And I'm very excited about the way it's all come together.
So yeah, there's romance in it, but there's a lot of other stuff too.
Nrama: Tony, have you gotten a chance to draw these villains? Can you describe how you're drawing Doomsday?
Tony Daniel: I haven't yet, but when I do, what I like to do with characters that already exist (and I think the New 52 version [of Doomsday] has already been established), is make some little tweaks and stuff to make it my own.
But [drawing these iconic characters] is as exciting for me as when I was on Batman and I would get to draw the Penguin or the Joker. It's the same thing to get to draw Doomsday or Zod or, say, Lex Luthor. These are some of the most recognizable villains in the world.
Nrama: Is it daunting at all?
Daniel: I don't put too much pressure on myself. I just try to do the best I can and work within myself and make them as cool and interesting as possible.
Nrama: DC has given us four pages as a preview, and there's a nice example of the scale of the book, with these scenes in the sky and in the rain and underwater. There's also a lot of body language between the characters. What's your approach to these two characters?
Daniel: When drawing Clark and Diana, I wanted them to still look like Superman and Wonder Woman, yet I wanted to try to capture that other side of them — a normal couple having a conversation. You know, they're not standing there with their hands on their hips. They're very relaxed, very comfortable and so on.
And that's challenging, when you've got these larger-than-life characters, to make them look more on the human side. It's harder than it looks. So it's a lot of work to get them to look natural.
Nrama: Charles, there is a big continuity question still hanging out there about Doomsday. People think of him as the villain who killed Superman, although we haven't gotten clear confirmation that the New 52 included a Doomsday vs. Superman battle. I know Greg Pak has his Batman/Superman #3.1: Doomsday issue coming out later this month. But can you say if Doomsday has a history with Superman? Are Wonder Woman and Superman aware of the threat he presents?
Soule: The way that plays out is something I'd like to leave for the issues. But Doomsday is a known quantity to Superman, to a certain degree. Let's put it that way.
Nrama: The solicitations make it seem like they're trying to enlist help from the gods because they know what a threat Doomsday presents. Is that the first story arc? Them dealing with that threat? And can you describe how the Justice League of America gets involved?
Soule: You know, I don't want to spoil any of it. I'll say that other heroes come into it, the gods come into it, Wonder Woman's family is involved, and you get appearances from a lot of other really great heroes in the DCU and great bad guys in the DCU.
But it has so many cool twists and turns and unexpected things happening that I don't want to give you too much of a road map.
And even what it sounds what you're thinking is happening in the first issue isn't really what happens in the first issue. It's really about picking it up in a month and finding out.
Nrama: Tony, I assume you've drawn a lot of the guest heroes before, but what's it like getting to draw Wonder Woman's pantheon?
Daniel: It's great to get to play in the Wonder Woman sandbox, and the Superman sandbox. I get the best of both worlds. So drawing all these characters is breathing some fresh life into my work. All these characters and the environments and the flying around — I'm drawing things I haven't drawn in, like, six years because of my runs on Batman and Detective Comics.
So it's really been enormously inspiring and has given me kind of a fresh approach, and I think that translates on the page and in the colors and the inks and everything.
It's very different from what I've done in the past, and frankly, I think it's going to be, by far, my best work ever.
Nrama: You say it's different, but in all the years I've been interviewing you, I think you're style has evolved a lot. Can you even describe what's different in Superman/Wonder Woman? Or is it just a subtle change in the way you're approaching these characters? Maybe more stylized, or cleaner?
Daniel: Yeah, I tend to adjust and grow my style. My style's always like a progression, as I'm seeking to improve on what I've done before. I'm always trying to serve the character and the story. As far as specific things that are different, I'd prefer to let the reader look at it and see what strikes them.
Some of the elements that have dramatically helped the visuals you see, stylistically, is Matt Banning, who's the inker, brings in an amazing style of ink that can't be replicated by anybody in the industry. He's just phenomenal. So when you put my work and his work together, you get this awesome, crisp-looking, stylized art. A lot of that has Matt Banning's fingerprints on it, just because of the chemistry between us. I give him room to play around and bring his magic to it. And that's something that he loves to do.
And we have Tomeu Morey, who's my colorist, who colored me over on Detective Comics and Justice League and Action Comics. What he does is so different, you know, with more of a European flair to it, sometimes more of a painted look.
It's just a very different looking book when you put the three of us together. It's very unique in that way.
As Charles mentioned, this is a very different kind of story. And what I think is, it's the perfect combination of ingredients to make a very successful book.
Nrama: Then to finish up, Charles, is there anything else you want to tell fans about Superman/Wonder Woman before they pick it up?
Soule: I think it's going to be a really great experience to read. I think people are going to be really surprised by it. I think it's a breath of fresh air. And I've got to say, it's good. It's good.