The contrast between the heroes of Metropolis and Gotham City has been the driving force behind Superman/Batman since it was launched in 2003.
But now an up-and-coming writer for DC Comics is looking at a version of that team-up that has a completely different dynamic.
Supergirl and Damian Wayne. Let the sparks fly.
Superman/Batman #77 by writer Joshua Williamson puts the teenage Supergirl together with the talented but rather exasperating new Robin, Damian Wayne. Featuring art by Alé Garza, the issue shows the two heroes facing off against a threat that ties into Blackest Night.
When the issue showed up in October's solicitations, Superman/Batman #77 immediately caught the imagination of comics fans, who guessed at how the pair might interact. After all, they didn't get along so well during their brief encounter in Sterling Gates' World's Finest mini-series.
The issue also briefly returns the modern Supergirl to the title that spawned the character, way back when Jeph Loeb and Michael Turner introduced her in Superman/Batman #8.
Newsarama talked with Williamson to find out more about the issue and what brought this newcomer to Superman/Batman.
Newsarama: Josh, how did the opportunity to write Superman/Batman come about?
Joshua Williamson: I worked my butt off on the independent scene, and I’ve been working as a writer in comics for a bit now. Doing books like Necessary Evil, Dear Dracula and Overlook — mixed with me hustling at conventions — eventually got me the attention of a few editors at DC, like Adam Schalgman.
After I did some short stories with Adam on the DC Halloween Special and JLA 80-Page Giant last year, Ian Sattler pulled me aside at a convention and asked me, “What do you want to do? Superman or Batman?” and I said “Both! I want to write the Justice League! If I can’t write Superman and Batman saving the day together, what the (expletive deleted) am I doing here?” This led to me doing some inventory and rewrite work on Superman/Batman. The DC editors and I talk on a pretty regular basis, so eventually, when a spot opened up, I got the call.
Nrama: Tell me about the idea behind the story. Did you come up with the team-up on your own? Or was this something DC wanted you to write about?
Williamson: Supergirl sees a horrible crime and goes to get Batman’s help but finds Damian instead. Damian demands that Supergirl let him help, and away we go with a story of unlikely partners trying to catch a killer.
As to who came up with the idea? It’s kind of a mix of the two. Editor Eddie Berganza and assistant editor Rex Ogle had read an idea of mine for an issue of Superman/Batman and thought, “This would work better as a Supergirl / Damian team-up issue.” So I just ran with that. We worked together to generate a story that we all thought would be appropriate for Supergirl and Damian and for the book.
Nrama: This seems like a story that will have a youthful energy about it. Is that the idea?
Williamson: This is definitely a fun story. Being a Halloween issue, naturally it has a creepy tone to it with a bit of darkness here and there. They even go to a party dressed up in Halloween costumes.
Don’t get me wrong, there will be a few dead bodies, but really it’s the banter between Supergirl and Damian that makes the situation light. The banter is both their ways of dealing with the horror. The constant back and forth between Supergirl and Damian was a blast to write.
Nrama: How do you see their attitudes and personalities right now, and how do they clash?
Williamson: Damian is a little jerk; a headstrong smartass. It’s kind of funny writing Damian… I pretty much just wrote Batman. It’s like the kid is Frank Miller’s Dark Knight. He talks like him and is condescending like him, but because it’s coming out of Damian’s mouth, he comes off as a little brat. If Batman said half the stuff Damian says to Supergirl, no one would say anything.
Damian is a very interesting character and, in my opinion, the crown jewel to come out of Grant Morrison’s epic run on Batman. You know, every person to become Batman has a mission. Bruce is to avenge his parent’s death. Dick’s mission is to live up to Bruce’s standards and to carry on the legacy, and Damian wants to be accepted and become the Batman that Gotham needs. With everything he does as Robin, you can see that.
Supergirl is at turning point in her life. She was feeling really down after the destruction of New Krypton, and is mentally recovering from it. She is just now coming out of her funk. But those scars run deep, and the crime that happens in Metropolis in this issue puts her back there again.
I think people forget that she learned a lot from Batman during the first issues of her appearance in Superman/Batman. She is already a detective in her own right, but because of everything that has happened in World of Krypton, she has a certain level of doubt that is settling in. When she sees something so horrible, an evil human crime that happened right under her nose, she goes to find Dick Grayson for help. She has built this friendship with him in James Robinson’s JLA, so she thinks if anything he can help her or be someone to talk to. Reluctantly, Damian ends up being that person.
At the beginning of the story, Damian and Supergirl definitely don’t get along. The last time they saw each other was during Sterling Gates awesome World’s Finest series where Supergirl was holding Damian up by his collar and yelling at him for calling Batgirl fat. That wasn’t forgotten by Damian… or Supergirl.
Remember when Superman and Batman first met? Batman treated Superman like an outsider, not just to Gotham, but to Earth. There was a level of mistrust at first and caution on Bruce’s part. With Supergirl and Damian, they both feel that way. They don’t really trust each other, but have to work together.
Readers will have to read the issue to see if they get along by the end or not.
Nrama; What can you tell us about the threat they face together in this issue?
Williamson: It’s a familiar one to both Supergirl and Damian. It’s a mystery, so I can’t say much without giving it away. But I will say it ties into Blackest Night and World of Krypton.
Someone wants revenge from something that happened in Blackest Night and is building “the long con” with some new tricks to get it…
I’ve probably said too much already.
Nrama: Does the story end up in both Gotham and Metropolis?
Williamson: For the most part it stays in Metropolis, where the crime occurs. Supergirl goes to Gotham looking for Batman or Red Robin but finds Damian. She bails him out of a jam, which Damian thinks he didn’t need the help. So Damian is pretty annoyed with her. In the back of his head I think he feels he owes Supergirl a favor and wants to return it as quickly as possible. This pretty much sets the tone for their relationship the rest of the issue.
Nrama: Do you think this type of story plays to your strengths as a writer?
Williamson: For sure. This is exactly the kind of thing I like to write. Two characters at odds put into a situation they are not normally comfortable in. It’s got superhero action, a mystery, clever characters, and some really cool cues to continuity. Those are all things that I know I’m good at.
DC knows me from writing kids with attitude from Necessary Evil, so it wasn’t that much of a stretch to write Damian or Supergirl. When I started to write the plot, I started just writing dialogue of Damian and Supergirl talking. I have whole scenes of them bitching at each other that never made it into the script. It was so much fun. It just flowed. By the end of it all, Damian and Supergirl became two of my favorite characters to write.
At the end of the day, I’m a DC nerd and I like writing characters with flaws. These two characters are for sure flawed.
The thing I love most about the DC universe is the relationships between their characters. It’s what drove me to Superman/Batman in the first place. Bruce and Clark. Hal and Ollie. Wally and Dick. Diana and Bruce.
And now… Kara and Damian. They’re a great odd couple and really fun to write together.
Nrama: Is there a chance of true love between these two? After all, one of these characters thinks he's invincible and the other pretty much is. It's almost a match made in heaven...
Williamson: Hahaha. No.
Well… you never know. I always thought Ravager was more Damian’s speed, but Supergirl has qualities that Damian might eventually come to admire.
Some might mistake their witty banter for flirting but really it’s all distrust and awkward. Sometimes those kind of relationships lead to something romantic but I don’t think Supergirl would ever forgive herself if she let it come to that. Also the age difference is huge.
Nrama: Why do you think Ale Garza's art fits with this story?
Williamson: Alé loves to draw Supergirl and Robin, so this story was perfect for him. Looking at Alé’s past work you can see he is great drawing the younger DC characters. His art has a certain energy to it that really sings with Damian and Supergirl in action.
Personally I’ve been a fan of Alé’s since Wildstorm’s Ball and Chain and EVE Protomecha. Seeing Alé draw this story has been awesome. He has really transformed this script into something special. Alé’s been knocking these pages out of the park. I’d love to work with Alé again.
Nrama: Anything else you want to communicate with fans about Superman/Batman #77?
Williamson: If you’ve been wanting the Superman/Batman series to step back into modern continuity, this issue is for you. It takes place now and touches on a lot that has happened and is happening in the modern DCU.
I’m very proud of how this issue turned out and if people are looking for a great mystery thrill ride starring the odd couple of Supergirl and Damian. This is it. Hopefully if enough people like it I can do more starring the two of them.Pumpkin!