According to Greg Pak and Charles Soule, "this isn't your daddy's Doomsday."
Instead of retelling the story of how Doomsday killed Superman, which was done (to great media and reader attention) in the early '90s, the two writers are hoping to explore an attack on Superman that comes from a completely different angle — as the hero is infected from the inside, fighting the monster within.
But that's not to say this is a small, introspective story — far from it. The Superman: Doomed writers promise plenty of action, as well as appearances from DC characters as diverse as Brainiac, Guy Gardner, Swamp Thing and Krypto.
Having initially worked with now-departing Superman writer Scott Lobdell, Soule and Pak are continuing the story all the way through August.
Superman: Doomed will pick up next in Batman/Superman #11 next week. Then it crosses over the next three months of Action Comics and Superman/Wonder Woman, including July's Annuals for the two series.
In August, readers will also see Supergirl #34 tie into the story, and another Superman: Doomed one-shot with DC's solicitation reading:
SUPERMAN: DOOMED #2
Written by GREG PAK and CHARLES SOULE
Art by KEN LASHLEY and JACK HERBERT
Cover by GUILLEM MARCH
1: 50 Variant cover by DAN JURGENS and NORM RAPMUND
One shot • On sale AUGUST 27 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T
And because they've changed since their original solicitation, here's the new synpopsis and cover to Batman/Superman #11.
"SUPERMAN: DOOMED - [INFECTED]: Chapter 3 - With Superman having turned himself in to the authorities, Batman and Wonder Woman, with Steel and Krypto's help, plunge into the Phantom Zone to discover what Doomsday's origins are. But something has happened to the endless void! Within the deepest part of the Phantom Zone lurks someone who will either help the team or doom them even more!"
A Man of Steel who has lost himself in the monster must once again go up against the first threat he ever faced as Superman in the form of a villain who now has the power to warp reality with a thought. But this time if he defeats Brainiac, Earth will be lost. Batman, Wonder Woman, Steel, Supergirl are joined by Starfire, Guy Gardner and Green Lantern Simon Bazz and even Swamp Thing to make a fateful decision about their friend.
Newsarama talked to Soule and Pak about the what's coming up in the crossover, the choice to infuse the story with humor, and whether this is, symbolically, another potential "death" for Superman.
Newsarama: Charles and Greg, how did you come up with the idea to go about writing a Doomsday story where it affected Clark Kent in this way?
Charles Soule: One of our goals from the very beginning of developing this project was to tell a story about Doomsday that was not the Death and Return of Superman, in the same way. Obviously, that story has been told, and everyone's going to be thinking about it. We didn't just want to repeat it.
So now, doing a crossover of single-issue chapters, hopefully it's pretty clear that what we're looking at is that Superman struggled mightily with whether or not to take Doomsday down, and now it's about how that decision's affecting him and his life and everyone around him.
So that's where we thought we'd take it.
It was a way to kind of flip the whole concept on its head and focus on another angle that's really very character-based, which I think is where Greg and I like to write — the action stuff too, but the character stuff is really… if the character stuff isn't in there, there's no point.
So I think that's where it all came from.
Greg Pak: Yeah, in terms of practically how it all came together, we've been meeting — me, Charles and Scott Lobdell and Superman editors — for six months or so now. (Maybe even longer. Maybe it's been like seven or eight months now.) And it just kind of developed organically.
At a certain point, the idea of doing this story with Doomsday arose. The more we talked about Doomsday, the more we wanted to come up with a different way to show Doomsday. This isn't your daddy's Doomsday, and we wanted to make him even scarier than the original, which was pretty darn scary. That story's great. But we wanted to take it to the next level.
I give a lot of credit to Scott Lobdell for — I think in one of the early write-ups we did, he included the phrase, "wherever Doomsday walks, the rivers turn black and the trees catch fire." And that stuck with us, this idea that wherever he goes, everything dies around him.
That was a new way to look at the powers of this creature, which exists only to exterminate life. So that was a great starting point for us. And we went whole-hog with it.
But also, like Charles said, we knew that we wanted to take it to the next level. And when we realized that we had this idea of Superman basically being infected, we realized that that was fully where the heart of this story was going to be.
The trick was to do the kind of story everybody thought we were going to do in the one, giant one-shot, and then spend the rest of this huge event taking it to the next level, as we see what happens when Superman gets infected by his worst enemy.
Nrama: Charles, picking up on what you said about how Superman kind of paused to consider whether Doomsday should be killed. I noticed that Wonder Woman didn't even think twice — she said "we have to kill this thing; it's killing the world." Was that meant to not only show the contrast between the two characters in the story, but also highlight their differences despite their relationship?
Soule: People have their differences on these points, but I think Wonder Woman was raised in a completely martial society. She was trained by the God of War. She's someone who believes there are times when you have to kill the monster, basically.
She also grew up in a society that is full of monsters and horrible beasts and things, who come out and rampage and kill people. So I think that's how she sees Doomsday. For her, there's less of a conflict.
Yes, I think that's something that makes her different from Superman, and that's one of the things we're going to explore in their relationship.
Pak: Clark was taught, growing up, not to punch down, you know, by his parents. He's this kid who discovered that he has these tremendous powers, and he was taught to use them to help out the underdog and not be a bully.
So it's always in the back of his mind, how far he should go.
One of my favorite little bits in the book is when he talks about talking for an eighth of a second, because when you're Superman, that can be a long time. You know what I'm saying?
But the fact is, he would hesitate that tiny little bit, because as Charles said, he wasn't trained as a warrior; he was trained as a defender. And I think there's a difference there.
In the end, he did what had to be done, because of the reality of the situation. But because he's Superman, he has to ask himself those questions.
Nrama: But now the story is turning away from the monster Doomsday, and it's more about the monster Superman, right? That's what the threat is going forward?
Pak: Well, you're going to have to read it. I wouldn't necessarily say explicitly about that.
Is Superman a monster? If you give the strongest man in the world even more power, does that inevitably turn him into a monster? There are certainly some who would perceive him that way.
We're going to find out who he is, I guess.
Sorry I'm answering you with another question, but that question is, who is Clark Kent at his core, and is that core strong enough to survive?
Nrama: So in a way, the battle with Doomsday — and I hate to put this into words, because I know you guys are avoiding comparisons with the Death of Superman story, but in a way, telling the story of Superman battling within himself, against the potential monster he could become…. there is a threat of it killing Superman and Clark Kent as we know him, right? It's almost a symbolic death of Superman, right?
Soule: That's a fascinating interpretation, Vaneta.
Soule: I think we're trying to do something that is very layered, that has a lot of metaphorical stuff going on, but also has a lot of really amazing action and character beats, and really neat interactions layered on top of it.
One of the things that's really fun about this, as a whole, is that we have the entire Superman cast available to us, and we have, basically, we can pull in whoever want, as far as Justice League members or anybody else.
Steel plays a huge role. And Krypto, as I'm sure was Greg was just about to tell you.
So we're trying to make this as big as we possibly can. You need to have strong, underlying themes and metaphors — and the one you mentioned is something we've talked about a lot.
Nrama: Before we talk about some of the characters you're bringing into this story and what's coming up next, I would love to discuss the humor we've seen in the story, especially in the last chapter, in Superman/Wonder Woman #8. I don't think anyone would have thought a Doomsday story would be quite this funny.
Pak: That's really nice to hear — I appreciate that. I mean, one thing that I think about is that a lot of my favorite big, crazy action movies are all really funny. Jaws — there are tons of laughs in Jaws. And Aliens. I mean both those movies.
I think if you're going to do good character work, you're going to have tragedy and comedy in there, because that's life, right?
And if you're going to be true to life, you're going to have ridiculously funny moments.
The trick is embracing those without the whole story into a joke. I mean, sometimes you do want to turn your story into a joke, but in this case, we're just trying to use that humor to keep it real. You know what I mean? To make it understandable and real and fun on that human level.
Nrama: Let's talk about what's coming up. We've seen Lex Luthor interacting with the Justice League members, and we've seen different characters from the Superman cast. Now we're going to see Krypto and Supergirl, and Brainiac?
Soule: Well, every request we've made, as far as characters we want to use or places we want to go has been answered, like, yeah, go for it.
So there's a strong push to make this as big as it can get. We're trying to show how this change in Superman's life affects not just him but the entire DC Universe, and the entire planet.
It just gets bigger and bigger.
As you mentioned, Brainiac may or may not be a part of it — although it would be strange to solicit an issue if he's not going to be part of it, but I don't want to spoil too much.
Basically, almost any character you can think of shows up in one way or another. It's great.
Pak: One thing that I think might be new information for folks is that Chapter 3 of Superman: Doomed comes out next week, and that is Batman/Superman #11, which was a special issue that we found room in the schedule for. And drawn gorgeously by Karl Kerschl and Daniel Sampere and Tom Derenick.
If you are a fan of the Grant Morrison Action run, then you definitely want to pick this up. The Phantom King makes an appearance here, in a pretty interesting way.
And you know, you're seeing a ton of amazing artists in the Doomed story, at the top of their game, who are cutting loose hugely. I mean, Ken Lashley absolutely killed that big Doomed one-shot.
And in Action, we've got Aaron Kuder, who's been doing amazing work throughout. Folks like Rafa Sandoval have also been helping out.
Soule: And Tony Daniel on Superman/Wonder Woman, with Paulo Siqueira helping out from time to time, which has been fantastic.
Pak: Exactly. I mean, one of the glories of working on a big crossover like this is you get to see so many different artists' versions of the characters. And it's just a ton of fun. And all the art has been top notch, so I hope you'll continue to enjoy it.
Nrama: Then to finish up, is there anything else you wanted to tell fans about Superman: Doomed?
Soule: We've crafted something that has lots of great twists and turns, that has lots of great action, that goes to places you're probably not expecting. Get every part of it!