[preview images from this week's Supergirl #34]
After defiantly declaring "I know who I am" and taking off her Red Lanterns ring in Supergirl #33, Kara Zor-El gets a fresh start in October as begins building a new life as a more confident and motivated superhero — and gets a love interest.
It's all part of writer Tony Bedard's plan to get Supergirl a life and purpose outside her role as Superman's cousin. Although Bedard has spent much of his time on Supergirl immersed in a tie-in with Red Lanterns, the storyline ended up allowing Kara to work through her anger and emerge with her mind "free of all the rage and confusion."
That emergence was obvious as Supergirl #33 ended, with the heroine out of the Red Lanterns costume and back wearing the familiar "S" on her chest. (And to be clear for Supergirl readers, although there was an epilogue in Supergirl #33 that appeared to hint at a new Gen-13 team at DC, Bedard said he wouldn't be introducing those characters. And although DC hasn't announced anything about the team, those pages were written by Frank Barbiere, who is writing Superboy: Futures End #1, so readers might look there for more hints about DC's plans.)
Next week, Supergirl #34 will tie-in to the Superman: Doomed storyline, showing that the maturing hero is now trusted by Superman to protect the Earth in his absence. Then in September, readers will see a potential future (and possibly get a hint about her love interest) when Bedard works with artist Emanuela Lupacchino on Supergirl: Futures End #1.
Newsarama talked to Bedard about what's coming up next in Supergirl, what he's accomplished so far in the title, and why the Red Lanterns tie-in ended up helping Supergirl evolve as a character.
Newsarama: Tony, since you've been writing this version of Supergirl, what's been the biggest challenge as you integrate her into the DCU after the New 52 relaunch?
Tony Bedard: Biggest challenge? Trying to get her some friends. Trying to get her a life. Trying to give her a reason to use her powers for good that goes beyond just being Superman's cousin.
When I picked up the reins on Supergirl, poor Kara had been through one disappointment after another. She lost her parents, her planet, and her only friend on Earth. She had been used and tricked by multiple people, including her first love. I wanted to give her a break!
But the thing I learned on the Green Lantern books is that if you're doing a top-tier character, you often have to play along with events in your sister-books, and that's certainly been true on Supergirl. So between a new Lobo, a stint in the Red Lantern Corps and Superman: Doomed, it's been a challenge to stay on target with what I want to do for her as a character.
Nrama: But I feel like she has evolved since you've taken over the book, especially in recent issues. I assume that was your goal… or did it come from the story as you wrote it?
Bedard: The goal was to preserve Kara's teen angst and her struggles on an alien world (Earth) while making her a little more likable, a little less of a whiny sad sack.
Along with that goal comes the need to give her a supporting cast, or at least a friend or two. And, as I said above, this can be tricky while accommodating storylines like the Red Lanterns crossover that I didn't see coming when I first got started on Supergirl.
But another thing I've learned over the years is that the unexpected is usually an opportunity, and that was exactly the case with Kara's time as a Red Lantern. It turned out that getting her on that team gave her an instant supporting cast that gladly accepted her and gave her the friendship she so desperately wanted.
It also gave Kara a chance to work through her own anger, frustration and angst. It even gave me a chance to inject more fun in the book, playing her off of outlandish characters like Zilius Zox and Dex-Starr.
The end result is that I really do feel like Kara's done some growing up and come to terms with her lot in life. I think she's ready to move forward in a positive way.
Nrama: Thus the move away from the Red Lanterns?
Bedard: The main thing the red ring gave her was a chance to face her own anger over losing everything she knew when Krypton exploded and being betrayed and deceived by so many people since she arrived on Earth. All that stuff makes for great drama, but I really think Supergirl needs to be an aspirational character, a positive example.
The other thing the Red Lantern Corps gave her was a much-needed sense of acceptance and belonging. Kara really needed that. And I have to thank Charles Soule both for coming up with the idea of giving Kara the red ring and for making his Red Lanterns book such a fun and funny read. It gave me a chance to inject some humor into Kara's adventures, and there's no better way to build empathy for a character than to make the reader smile and laugh with them.
But Rage is a pivot point for Kara, not a permanent solution.
Having faced and tamed her rage, she can come back as a more balanced person, a better exemplar of what it means to wear that "S" on your chest.
Nrama: OK, so she's moving forward in a positive direction. Yet there have been some recent revelations about her past, particularly the motivations we've learned of the WorldKillers toward her. How does her history tie into her growth as a character — and also into what's coming up in Supergirl?
Bedard: Kara's history is hugely important to defining her character, especially for giving her a reason to use her powers for the good of others, rather than for her own personal gain. One thing I tried to do, especially in her origin story in Secret Origins #1, was to set up that in Kara's family on Krypton, the men may have been the thinkers, but the women were the doers. It wasn't enough to me that Kara just follow in her cousin Kal-El's footsteps when she got to Earth. I wanted her to have her own Kryptonian reason for wanting to do something positive and proactive with her life. That's what's expected of a daughter of the House of El. Heck, it's even kind of feminist, not just making her a subset of Superman.
Another way her history will impact Kara is the fact that her father, Zor-El, wasn't always such a great guy. He created the Worldkillers, tricked Kara into leaving Krypton, and ended up becoming the current Cyborg Superman.
And in the upcoming "Five Years Later" issue, Supergirl will have a rematch against the monster who was once her father — but not how you might expect.
Nrama: Yeah, let's talk about Supergirl: Futures End #1. This involves Cyborg Superman?
?Bedard: Yeah, we jump ahead five years to find Cyborg Superman has been joined by...Cyborg Supergirl!
Father and daughter are terrorizing the galaxy, and now they've set their sights on Earth.
But we'll also learn about a big romance that Supergirl had between now and five years from now, with the last person you might guess.
And this will be the key either to the Cyborg master plan, or to their cyborg downfall.
Nrama: Interesting…. so does this issue hint at things coming up for Supergirl soon — in other words, is Cyborg Superman playing a role in your plans for Supergirl in the coming months?
Bedard: The whole unresolved issue is that Supergirl doesn't know that Cyborg Superman is her father. And that moment when she finds this out will remain a payoff for a future date. But it will definitely rock her world when it happens.
Nrama: OK, next week, you've got a tie-in to the Superman: Doomed crossover, your first "official" tie-in to the Super-books since you took over. How would you describe Supergirl's relationship to Superman now? They've fought a lot lately… but she seems to want to help him in Doomed.
Bedard: I think it's still a pretty strained relationship. Not adversarial — she loves her cousin — but he's really more Earthling than Kryptonian at heart.
Kal-El is Superman because of the values he learned from Ma and Pa Kent. Kara didn't have that upbringing. So it's hard for her to relate to Kal, just like it's hard for her to figure out the "rules" on Earth. I think that will continue to be the case for a while, though she's getting better at fitting in and using her powers to defend her new home.
Nrama: What's her role in the Doomed storyline?
Bedard: Supergirl and the Red Lanterns take on "Superdoom," who proves to be more than a match for all of them, but Superdoom manages to get control of himself enough to ask Kara to watch over Earth while he's in self-imposed exile. This will be a challenge for Supergirl, since the military set off a Kryptonite bomb to drive away Superdoom.
But it also shows that despite the distance between them, Superman recognizes Supergirl's potential and would turn to her in his darkest hour.
Nrama: That's a lot of trust for him to place in her. Does this mean Supergirl will be interacting more with the Superman books?
Bedard: Well, that's hard to say, long-term, but I think she's due for some of her own stories in the near future, having crossed over so much recently. Of course, Supergirl is also a member of the new Justice League United, so she has a presence that extends beyond her own series.
Nrama: OK, let's talk about what's coming up in October, with Supergirl #34. Solicitations say this will set her on a "new course." What's the issue about?
Bedard: October will see Kara with a new love interest — finally! — and it will also see her teamed up with Red Hood, one very bad boy with a strange attraction for her.
Nrama: Is this the start of a new story arc?
Bedard: It's more of a character issue than a launch point for a story arc, but I think with all the big moments and crossovers and such, a character-centric issue is just the ticket right now.
Nrama: And having a love interest is just the ticket too!
Bedard: Yeah, romance for the Teen of Steel is something I think a lot of readers want to see. I know I do. She deserves something good in her life.
We'll see how long it lasts...
Nrama: Then to finish up, is there anything else you want to tell fans about Supergirl?
Bedard: I just want to thank everyone who has been so kind and supportive since I took on the book. Especially at conventions, I get to see how much Supergirl means to some people, the real heartfelt love they have for her. It's a wonderful reminder of how lucky I am to be working on this book and help set part of the history of this beloved character. I'm like a proud father working on this book, and I get to do so with such talented people, from Yildiray Cinar to Emanuella Lupacchino, to old, dear friends like Jeff Johnson and Karl Moline. I'm lucky to have this opportunity and I know it.