As the Superman: Doomed storyline builds toward its conclusion later this month, readers got three issues of the crossover this week and found out just how dire circumstances are for Superman and the heroes of the DCU.
Written mainly by Greg Pak and Charles Soule (with early help from then-Superman writer Scott Lobdell), the Doomed story has crossed between the Super-books since their prelude issues in April. But the whole thing will wrap up this month with next week's Superman/Wonder Woman #11 (preview via 13th Dimension), a tie-in with Supergirl #34, and the conclusion in the oversized Superman: Doomed #2.
The story revolves around the transformation of Superman into a Doomsday-type monster, as the Earth struggles against an invasion by Brainiac. The story has involved a huge cast of characters from the DCU, with action, humor and drama.
Newsarama talked to Pak to find out more about the themes being explored in Doomed, as well as what's coming up next for Action Comics.
Newsarama: Greg, among the themes explored in this storyline was this idea of trust and friendship. Was that a theme you intended to explore?
Greg Pak: Yeah, there's this whole question of whether Clark can trust himself, or whether Superman can trust himself when he's up against Doomsday and Brainiac. He's got these terrible monsters clawing at his brain, basically.
And it continues to be a theme, as these stories pan out, because there's an interesting way in which the folks who Superman has befriended over the years and months come to his aid, and not only help him deal with the physical or psychic threats that he's grappling with, but I think there's a way in which folks are helping him by just believing in him.
I think that definitely a theme that we're playing with, this idea that, even if you're Superman, you can't do it by yourself, and that there is that capacity to be like Superman in all of us. Those are definitely things that we're exploring in the story.
Nrama: There's also been this idea of an internal struggle — in practical terms, battling your own demons, but in the case of Lois Lane and Superman, they're literally battling monsters within their own minds. It's been fun to see that play out visually. Was that something else you planned to play with in Doomed?
Pak: Yeah, but you know, when stories come together, sometimes there are things that we're very conscious of in the very beginning, and sometimes there are things that are coming through and we realize that it fits with everything else we've been working on.
The Lois stuff is the latter. Coming into this story, Scott Lobdell had been working on a story with Lois being possessed by Brainiac. That was one of the chess pieces we had on the board when we got together to start talking about how to build this crossover. It was an element we had to work with.
And as that part of the story developed, we began to realize it would provide some great parallels between what Superman is going through and what Lois is going through. And it led to these really fun scenes in the Action Comics Annual #3 and Action #34, where we see that parallel between Lois and Superman.
So yes, some of that is by plan, but also, some of it is by serendipity. You play your themes as best you can, and then as you're working, you sometimes realize it even worked together better than you realized in the beginning. It was great when we were able to put all those pieces together and see how they fit.
It's been such a pleasure to see how the story evolved, and I've really enjoyed working with the other writers and editors. Charles Soule in particular has been great to work with. It's nice to have really good creative partners who have their eyes fixed on the same prize. Our editor, Eddie Berganza, has been fantastic in that regard. We went through a lot of hard work to make sure it all fit together.
Nrama: Let's talk a little about what's coming up next. Superman/Wonder Woman #11 is the last chapter before the ending in Superman: Doomed #2. What can you tease about those two issues?
Pak: There's a big cliffhanger at the end of Action Comics #34, as we discover that the Phantom Zone has been blown open and Mongul and Non — the ally of Zod and Faora — that those two have been released from the Phantom Zone. And that's something we set up in Batman/Superman #11, and here's the payoff.
And bigger payoffs with those two are coming just around the corner.
In Superman/Wonder Woman #11, you'll see the payoff of that, as well as what our heroes do as they face this Brainiac mothership. They tried the craziest, best plan they could think of in Action #34 and failed spectacularly, so now they've got to come up with another way to attack this thing.
It's non-stop action until we get to Superman: Doomed #2, which is the massive, 38-page climax of the whole storyline. So you'll see more giant action in that, as well as the biggest emotional payoffs.
Nrama: In October, we'll see "Doomed Aftermath" stories in Superman/Wonder Woman, Supergirl and Action Comics. Are you still working with the other writers at that point, in October? Or are you telling your separate stories about what happens in the aftermath?
Pak: The books will not link together as closely as they have, in the sense that they're less one chapter leading directly into the other chapter.
The way we've been doing it is that the last page of Action would be picked up in Superman/Wonder Woman. In October, it will be a little less like that, now that the books are dealing with the aftermath of the characters that are in those books — what they're experiencing in the wake of all this — and they're also setting up the next separate storylines that those books will be going into.
They're all tied together because it's all dealing with the aftermath of Doomed.
And there are, indeed, some big repercussions coming.
But they're not locked together the way the new stories have been, in terms of leading directly from one to another during the first part.
I'm actually really thrilled with the "Aftermath" issue for Action Comics, issue #35. We're doing some surprising things there, and digging deep emotionally.
It may be one of my favorite things I've ever written.
Nrama: Wow. How do Doomed and the "Aftermath" story in Action set up the next storyline? Can you tell us what's launching in November?
Pak: One of the covers shows a Smallville sign, and the "Small" has been marked out, and now it says "Horrorville." So something creepy is afoot in Smallville.
And yes, there are some very specific changes and repercussions that come out of the Doomed storyline and affect the characters.
It's a brand new story. It's not like chapter four of Doomed or anything like that. It's a brand new story. But you are going to see how the Superman universe has shifted a little bit as a result of Doomed, in very big ways for certain characters.