With last week's War of the Supermen #2, co-writers Sterling Gates and James Robinson showed what happens when the Military Guild of New Krypton suddenly descends upon a manned base on Mars... or technically, unmanned now.
But they also revealed how a little ingenuity from Lex Luthor can change everything.
It's all part of this month's four-part War of the Supermen event, which serves as a culmination of years worth of stories in Action Comics, Superman and Supergirl.
It's all coming fast and hard. Within the first few minutes of the war, New Krypton had been blown to pieces, and now the Sun itself has been turned red to combat the angry Kryptonians who have sworn retaliation.
Last week, Newsarama talked to the writers about the first issue, and now we've caught up with Gates and Robinson to discuss War of the Supermen #2 and what comes next.
Newsarama: This war is moving amazingly fast, with huge developments in every issue. How has it been challenging to write a story this way? Are there pluses to having this quicker pace?
Sterling Gates: Writing a weekly series was a massive challenge. James and I had a hint of what it would be like with Last Stand of New Krypton, but it wasn’t exactly like this. By making it a four-issue limited series, it forced us to really look at what was important to the story, as well as plan for how a war would be fought so quickly over so many battlefields and different types of terrain.
Luckily, I had a great co-writer in James, so it was never overwhelming.
James Robinson: I’d like to add that I have an even bigger respect for the writers who worked on DC’s 52. A weekly series is not easy to produce.
Gates: We also had a lot of help from our two wonderful editors, Matt Idelson and Wil Moss. Those guys kept us organized and on point through the entire weekly process, and we can’t thank them loudly enough.
As for the pluses, hopefully between the four issues coming out weekly and the crazy cliffhangers we’ve written, readers have a very good reason to go to the comic store every week!
Nrama: Sterling, you mentioned last week that you wrote the scene where Alura died. Are you and James dividing the issues up by scenes? Explain how the co-writing on this has worked.
Gates: We plotted the issues together and then divided up pages evenly. That way, we both wrote about half of every issue. It varies slightly issue to issue because of the different page counts or whatever, but writing the series that way allowed us to play to our strengths and write the scenes we wanted.
For example, I wanted to write the Alura-Reactron-Supergirl scene in issue one. I’d put a lot of time into developing that triangle, and I knew what I wanted Alura’s final act to be.
Nrama: In #2, Steel, Superboy, Guardian, Flamebird, Nightwing and Jimmy are poised to rescue Natasha Irons. What is the significance of Mt. Rushmore? And was that Superboy line a nod to a story of the past?
Gates: Mt. Rushmore being a 7734 base was a seed that Geoff planted way back in the first “New Krypton” story, in Action Comics #873. Superwoman was seen flying towards the monument just before killing Agent Liberty.
Long time DC Comics fans might remember that Mt. Rushmore housed the secret headquarters for the All-Purpose Enforcement Squad. We included Superboy’s reference to it as an Easter Egg for Young Justice fans.
Nrama: In this issue, there were a couple tricky maneuvers by the generals on opposing sides (nice "general" juxtaposition, by the way). Zod used Mars as a distraction, right? And Lane pulled the Luthor rocket out right when Kryptonians were most exposed?
Gates: Zod targeted a military strike on Mars to help eliminate Lane’s counter-forces. While that distracted Lane, Zod sent forces towards Earth.
Lane realized the Kryptonians that weren’t killed by the Reactron bomb were going to be a problem, so he pulled out another doomsday weapon that he had up his sleeve: Luthor’s red sun rocket (something else planted in ‘New Krypton,” courtesy of Geoff Johns. Luthor’s designing it on his prison cell walls in Superman: New Krypton Special #1!).
Nrama: How did that rocket function? It was linked to the god Rao? And was that a Boom Tube? Can you explain a little?
Gates: Basically, Lex Luthor’s advanced science corrupted the body of a Kryptonian god, Rao (from Greg Rucka and Eric Trautmann’s Action Comics run!), and created a red sun bomb from it.
Luthor’s science, when he’s got the right kind of resources (and the cadaver of a Kryptonian god to play with), can be pretty damn devastating.
Robinson: To get the rocket to the sun quickly, Luthor utilized Time Pool technology — which General Lane stole just prior to Superman: The Coming of Atlas — and teleported the rocket across space, much like a Boom Tube.
Gates: And I do want to point out that Luthor knows changing the sun permanently into a red giant would profoundly affect human life — not to mention the solar system.
As for what happens next with that red sun, you’ll have to keep reading to find out!
Nrama: What can you tell us about what comes next for the Lane family and the heroes on Earth who are rescuing Natasha?
Gates: The Lane family gets some moments in issue three as fallout of the red sun bomb comes to light. Our Earth SuperFamily members will have to rescue Natasha and then use her intel to get to General Lane.
Will they make it in time to stop this war from going any further?
Nrama: At this point, it seems that General Lane and Lex Luthor have taken down the Kryptonians with that red sun, but with Superman and Supergirl involved, it's easy to imagine they'll get out of this mess. Anything you can tell us about what's next in the battle?
Gates: Next issue: the Battle for Earth! Flamebird and Nightwing, a dynamic duo! Red Shard’s day in the red sun! The Newsboy Legion returns! G.I. Robot is G.I. Awesome! The Sword of Frankenstein! Ursa’s answer to the Sphinx’s riddle!
And in the middle of all of that, just who will save Metropolis?! The War of the Supermen marches on!