The last panel for DC Comics at C2E2 2014 focused on Superman, with creators coming to talk about the upcoming "Doomed" crossover and what makes the man of steel such an enduring superhero.
John Cunningham introduced the panelists, starting with Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder, though he said others will join the panel throughout. Scott Snyder and Charles Soule were listed as panelists in the program.
Action Comics was first up, by the pair of creators on the dais, and Pak said they've been having "a ton of fun" on the series so far. The "Doomed" storyline has a prelude in issue 30 of that series, on stands now. The already infamous scene from that issue of Doomsday killing polar bears was shown.
"That's not even close to Doomsday at his worst," Pak said. "You'll see a Doomsday you've never seen before. There are enormous comic book fights like you've never seen before, the wonderful supporting cast. Everything you thought it was going to be happens in the first issue, and all the others after that are going to be a surprise."
Snyder and Soule joined the panel while Pak talked up the storyline.
Both Soule and Pak are very excited about writing Steel in this crossover. "It's a fun character to write, someone who is trying to become Superman through just his own ingenuity," Soule said.
Soule noted that they've been planning this Doomsday story for about eight months. The creators promised that the individual books will still be readable and make sense, and not ignore their own supporting casts, but the whole will be a consistent story.
"The drum can't be beaten enough that this is not Superman vs. Doomsday from back in the day," Kuder said. "It is not a retelling of that story." Pak added that it has a bigger, new emotional arc that wasn't there before.
"If you love Superman, you'll love this story, I promise," Pak said, "Also, Krypto's in it!" which drew applause.
Superman/Wonder Woman was next on the screen, and Soule talked about issue 7, on sale now, which gives the characters one brief moment of peace before Doomed shakes things up. "They persevere and try to find a way to be together despite the things that come in the way of that, like Doomsday!"
The series' crossover issues will have some guest stars. Lois Lane and Batman both show up in #8, and Lois is back in #10 with some "big interaction with Wonder Woman. I love Lois Lane and Wonder Woman both as characters, and I want to do some really cool stuff for them, respect them both a lot," said Soule.
Pak announced that there will be a Batman/Superman issue of Doomed, not previously announced as part of the crossover.
Snyder joked that Batman fighting a lion was one-upped by these other guys, where Doomsday so far has killed Sharks and Polar Bears.
Aaron Kuder is writing an arc of Superboy, which came from him doing the Parasite villains month issue. "When they offered me Superboy, it's hard to tie into. It's about Jonathan Lane Kent, who is the son of a future version of Lois and Clark, who was then taken and brainwashed by Harvest to be this killer warrior who wants to kill all metahumans. Now he's dying, and he has to deal with his mortality." The book, Kuder said, is then about "how can someone stay angry when they're dealing with their own mortality?"
Kuder joked, "Superboy will be fighting a llama."
The recent Batman/Superman and Worlds' Finest crossover will actually have more payoff in Batman/Superman #12, as Pak didn't want to just tell a story then ignore it. "You'll see their relationship take another step."
Superman Unchained by Scott Snyder and Jim Lee was next, and Snyder apologized for it being late. "We overestimated our ability to do a hardcore monthly schedule. We decided it was better to be a little late and let Jim just go to town on it." Issue 8 and issue 9 will have extra pages, he announced.
Issue 7, which Lee has finished drawing and comes out in May, takes the character of Wraith further. Snyder said that Wraith is meant as a doppleganger of Superman's early years, when he was more involved in the war effort and was killing enemy combatants. The issue is "basically just an oversized brawl, and becomes this game of 'can Batman stay alive long enough'?" The fight is in the Batcave, and includes the dinosaur and the penny being used as weapons.
"Lois is a huge part of 7 and 8, and really becomes the hero of these scenes. The question is can Superman ever beat Wraith, and the answer is, not without Lois," Snyder said.
Soule said, "How good do these Superman books sound right now? Like the whole line is just so great - I mean, we're doing it, but I think they're really great."
Superman #32, on sale June 25, 2014, debuts Geoff Johns and John Romita, Jr. doing his first DC artwork. Cunningham said they're making a real, concerted effort to make the Superman line "stronger than ever."
That brought the panel to Fan Q&A.
The first fan asked about the approach to writing the great villains in Superman's lineup.
Pak said, "We talk about it. A lot. We always want to find surprising ways to dive into these characters. We have to find ways to push our hero in a new and special way - that's what every other character is used for." Soule said he likes the New 52 because he's able to "crack into a villain and turn their concept a different way." Snyder added, "Villains have to make heroes frightened of themselves. I tried to do that with Lex Luthor and with The Joker; we want heroes to have something revealed to themselves that maybe they didn't want to before. What is Superman afraid is true about himself, and how can I exploit that?"
A fan asked how the writers don't fall into the trap of thinking of the Superman of the old DC Universe, and keep him fresh.
Soule said that thanks to the relationship with Wonder Woman, he's able to focus on that and it's all brand new. Pak said that writing for him is a lot like acting. "I don't think about 'what would the New 52 Superman do right now?' I just know his history, and his backstory and his relationships, and when you know the guy, you know what the character is doing."
Snyder said that it's very intimidating writing Superman. He relates to the character by trying to think about the decisions that he makes for his wife and his kid and his relationships, and thinking about "what if those decisions all had global consequences?" That's what Superman is to him, someone who has to make these decisions that can change the entire world.
Pak agreed, saying he finds what he can relate to in any character - for him it's being a half korean kid who grew up in a rural area and moved to the big city. Soule approached Superman by going and talking to doctors and other life-savers, and finding out what their experiences are like to apply that to Superman.
Who would win in an all-out brawl between every Superman version? Snyder said, "Batman." to lots of laughs. He said that the Bruce Timm animated series version is one he loves so much, "but he probably wouldn't win." Kuder said Curt Swan's Superman is the one who he thinks of when he thinks of a real superpowered strong character. Soule said Red Son Superman.
What villains would you like to write? Parasite, Maxima, and Brainiac were all mentioned.
Any Superman story you think should get more recognition? Pak said Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale's Superman for All Seasons is one he's a big fan of. "I re-read that book when I started working on Action Comics." Kuder said Roger Stern's Superman had a "gorgeous way of capturing the daily life." A graphic novel called It's a Bird was Soule's response. Snyder talked to Mark Waid about Superman before he started writing him, and loves Birthright. He also said the Elliot S. Maggins novels about Superman are very intimate versions that he loves.