K. Perkins, the new co-writer on DC's Supergirl comic, calls Kara Zor-El "smart, tough, strong-willed, and curious," and she has strong feelings about how the character should be portrayed in comics — and on television.
Or more specifically, how she shouldn't be portrayed. "I don't want to see any more strong female characters in media get passive or make bad choices because of a romantic relationship or because their journey gets 'too difficult,'" she said. "No one has time for that any longer. I certainly don't. That broken record has played too much and too often."
Perkins, who's working with Supergirl veteran writer Mike Johnson on the series, is a New York writer/producer who previously specialized in screenplays, plays and young adult supernatural fiction.
But in November, with Supergirl #36, she'll kick off a storyline that introduces her to comics audiences while also taking lead character Kara Zor-El on a whole new journey.
With November's issue, Supergirl's going to enroll at Crucible Academy, a "super school" that trains beings of cosmic importance. Readers will meet the kick-ass Crucible staff, and Kara will have what Perkins calls a "scoobiegang" at Crucible, including Captain Comet (now just "Comet") and Maxima, as well as a new character called Tsavo, a super-werecat with his own agenda.
Newsarama: Kate, how did you get interesting in writing for DC?
K. Perkins: Call me Perkins. We're friends now.
I've always been a fan of DC and comics in general. I love the medium and am thrilled this is my next step in writing. I gravitate toward characters that have oceans of complexity underneath powerful exteriors, so DC is a pretty natural place to end up, isn't it?
Nrama: Yep! What interests you about writing Supergirl?
Perkins: I really love Kara. There's nothing more exciting to me than writing for a character who is smart, tough, strong-willed, and curious, but is also deeply flawed (and often unapologetic about it).
Also, who doesn't love a girl who kicks a little ass?
Nrama: True, but Supergirl has gone through a pretty big evolution since she first landed on Earth when the New 52 started. How would you describe Supergirl right now? What's she like?
Perkins: Like in everyone's personal journey, Kara's on a quest to discover who she is. She has been for awhile. Where Mike and I pick up the story, Kara's just come off her tour with the Red Lanterns (that didn't work out so well), people close to her are suddenly gone or unavailable, and she has a "Now what?" moment.
I would say she's really embracing that moment of flux and is moving forward on a self-started path of discovery.
Nrama: With this mysterious Crucible Academy story, which enrolls "beings of cosmic importance," what elements of Supergirl are you exploring? How does this situation challenge or pose a threat to her?
Perkins: I'm a 'think first, act second' kind of person. Kara, on the other hand, is not — and I love that. Being in a 'school' environment, Kara's instincts and thought processes are going to be challenged, which will put her in a place of vulnerability. In that vulnerability, she's also learning her limits, which can be a very good — or very scary — thing to confront.
Nrama: Why did you think this challenge in particular made sense for Supergirl at this point?
Perkins: From my point of view, Kara was kind of grabbing at straws before Crucible Academy. She was trying to find out who she is and where she fits in the universe through other characters. I think she's back at a new kind of zero now.
She fully realizes her life on Krypton is gone and understands that mourning won't do her any good any longer. So, she starts anew on Earth by her own choice. Making that step is an incredibly hard thing to do for anyone, especially for someone who has to count largely on herself.
And though she make strides on Earth, she chooses to remain at Crucible because she sees the value of being there.
But that in no way implies that there aren't complications...
Nrama: And thus the story starts. OK, but the solicitation for your first issue mentions Superboy is part of this story. How does that happen, and how do the two characters interact?
Perkins: Superboy's arc has me really stoked. I'm grateful for the room [Editor] Eddie [Berganza] and the rest editorial team have given Mike and I to do something deeper with him. I wish I could tell you more about his role and how he and Supergirl interact, but it would ruin the surprise!
Nrama: Are we going to see Captain Comet again in Supergirl's life. And what new or returning DC characters will show up in Supergirl?
Perkins: We have a great mix of new and returning characters (as you can probably tell from issue #36's cover by the brilliant and talented Emanuela Lupacchino).
Captain Comet — now just Comet — is back, as well as Maxima (both, of course, slightly reimagined). They're part of our galactic version of Kara's scoobiegang at Crucible.
A new character in Kara's scoobies is Tsavo, an impassioned, driven super-werecat with his own agenda (maybe a nod to a certain meow in Kara's past?). He and Kara form a special relationship over the similar ways they see the world/universe.
Also introduced is Crucible's staff — Lys Amata, a shifter, Preceptor of Crucible Academy, and overall badass woman, and Korstus, Crucible's Vice Preceptor and voice of reason and morality.
It's a fun, complex cast to write for as no one is who they appear to be.
Nrama: I'm sure you've heard that a Supergirl TV show has gotten a series commitment from CBS. What are you hopes for the TV show?
Perkins: I have! That's really cool. Hopefully this will open up a whole new audience to Supergirl and drive people to her origin — comics!
I hope the show stays true to who Kara is and honors her as an intelligent, strong young woman.
Kara isn't defined by the characters or the relationships in her story; she drives her own narrative.
Sometimes it's really easy to let these characters who are in flux or in the midst of their journeys get passive and make choices that aren't true to their objectives.
And I don't want to see any more strong female characters in media get passive or make bad choices because of a romantic relationship or because their journey gets "too difficult". No one has time for that any longer. I certainly don't. That broken record has played too much and too often.
I have high hopes that the creators and writers of the Supergirl TV show will do Kara justice. I'm excited to see what comes of it!
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans about what's coming up for Supergirl?
Perkins: Mike and I are having a blast writing this arc. We are challenging a lot of things and are pushing Kara (and the whole cast!) to make bold choices. Also, we just really want to go to super school ourselves. Pick up issue #36 in November and let us know what you think!