SUPERGIRL Writers: Kara May Be Alien, But Still a REAL GIRL
Green & Johnson Bring SUPERGIRL to Earth
But in the first two issues of Supergirl, writers Michael Green and Mike Johnson have revealed that the new Kara Zor-El actually has a deep love for her family and a compassionate nature.
She just doesn't know where she is. Or how she got here. Or why she's wearing the "S" uniform. And neither do readers.
According to Green and Johnson, those mysteries will be revealed in coming issues of Supergirl, which features critically acclaimed art by Mahmud Asrar. And as Supergirl tries to figure out who she's supposed to be on this new planet, the two hope to build her supporting cast and rogues gallery as they reveal secrets about the new status of Krypton and Earth's Kryptonians.
As this week sees the release of Supergirl #3, Newsarama talked to Green and Johnson to find out more about this mysterious girl and what's coming up in the comic.
Newsarama: Let's talk about Supergirl as a character. We've not met her. I think a lot of people had the perception that she was going to be this unfeeling alien, but there's obviously a lot of compassion in this girl, as we saw her love for her family and her concern for the people she thought were hurt in the Great Wall of China. Now that we've seen a bit of that and you're getting further into the series, who is Supergirl? How would you describe her?
Michael Green: We really just wanted her to be a real girl — somebody with relatable feelings, plausible feelings, and plausible reactions to an incredibly set of circumstances.
What would you do if you were a 16-year-old girl who expected to have the SAT's tomorrow, but instead woke up on an alien planet and had the powers of a god.
Mike Johnson: And when we've said in the past that we want her to be alien, that's really going to come across more as the series progresses and we see how she interacts with Earth. We've jumped in very quickly with her hectic arrival, but fundamentally, between Kryptonians and Earthlings, there is a common morality and common ethic. So yes, she is an alien, yet she's a very relatable girl.
Green: We're a new species to her. And it's not just that — it's a whole new family. She expected that she had her life set for her, with set friends, set goals. She was in school. And then suddenly she comes here and finds out all that's gone.
The next part of the alien experience is, once she's made the commitment that this is her new home and she's stuck here (which you'll see in upcoming issues), she has to figure out what her relationship to these people is going to be. Will she be a loner? Will she have friends? Will she trust people? Will she let that guy in the blue suit be her family? Those aren't just assumptions. She's got to figure that out, because right now, she doesn't know how to feel about anyone.
Johnson: And the alien part of it will be a bit more evident in future issues as we see her interactions with Earth. Starting with issue #5, and then spilling into issues #6 and #7, you'll really sense how she is an alien. You'll see more of Krypton. You'll see more secrets of her background on Krypton. So there's a lot of good stuff coming up.
Nrama: We've just seen in solicitations for February that Supergirl is guest starring in both Superboy and Superman that month. Are you coordinating these appearances with the other Super-office writers, and do they make sense with the story you're doing in Supergirl?
Johnson: While we are not deeply involved in the other books' stories, we make sure that when Supergirl shows up nothing will happen that contradicts what's going on in her main book, and that her "voice" is consistent with the character as she appears in her own title. It's a big happy Super-family.
Nrama: It seems like you guys are establishing a lot in this series about Kryptonian powers and how they work on Earth in this new DC universe. But to clarify why Supergirl was able to pound on Superman, was Kal-El holding back during this fight?
Green: Probably. He wasn't looking to win that fight. He was looking to relay information. He's a guy who can take a punch, so he let her land some.
Nrama: She also had those powers immediately, where Superman's powers evolved over time. Does that have something to do with puberty?
Green: It may have, but we're going to say hang on for that. There's a story behind her powers and how they got to be where they are. But people are asking the right questions. There's going to be a good reason for how her powers are evolved.
Nrama: Was the red crystal actually Kryptonite? Or was that some kind of knowledge crystal?
Johnson: It's not Kryptonite. You'll find out exactly what it is in issue #3, and then even more in issue #5, where you'll find out what the point of that crystal is.
Nrama: It sounds like issue #5 is going to have a lot of answers. Will we find out what got her into the pod?
Johnson: The answers to that question and more start coming in issue #5. But we don't want to explain everything all at once, most importantly because she's not going to get all the answers at once. And we never want to get ahead of her. We want to stay in her point of view.
With issue #5, she'll begin finding out some of the answers. But the events that led to her coming to Earth are immense and complicated, and they'll play out over the course of the series. But you'll start getting substantive answers very soon.
Nrama: There was a comment in issue #1 about why she was wearing the outfit with the "S" on the front. Is that more exposed soon as well?
Green: We're going to get there. The comment was inserted to set up what that thing means to her, and what that uniform really is. That it isn't just that Kryptonians wear superhero costumes because they expect to land on Earth and fight crime. But rather it has its own meanings.
For her, it was a uniform she was hoping to earn the right to wear one day. She hadn't gotten there yet, and all of the sudden she wakes up wearing it. So that's part of the mystery.
Johnson: And that's really setting up her character as a whole, being seen as and feeling the responsibility of being a hero before she even feels like a hero. She's suddenly in this uniform that she thought she was going to have to earn by passing what we cryptically call the Final Trials back on Krypton. And suddenly she wakes up and she's wearing it.
It's a little bit like if you were suddenly woke up wearing your graduation robe when you were a freshman. You'd think, wait... I missed out on a huge part of my life.
Nrama: The villain who got the red crystal is someone that resembles Lex Luthor. But future solicitations indicate there's a "new villain" she meets. Is the "new" villain actually someone we would recognize? Maybe a revamp?
Johnson: The villain in issue #3, he's brand new. Oops, I just revealed he's a "he." Well, you'll find out on Wednesday. But he's brand new, and he's a little bit like our Luthor, except we like to think of this villain as more of a 21st Century Luthor.
Even though he has resources similar to Luthor, his motivation and his ultimate goal is a little more profit driven. And you'll be introduced to him in issue #3. And that really comes to a head in issue #4.
And then issue #5 is another new villain. I think there may be some confusion because an early solicitation had her named "Maxima." But this is a new character that we had thought about naming Maxima because we loved the name, even though that character had perished in the previous universe. But we're not using the name Maxima anymore. I don't want to say what she's called now. We'll leave that a secret for now.
Green: And also plays an important role in pushing Kara to make some decisions about how she feels about Earth.
Nrama: It sounds like you're infusing this with a lot of new villains, yet you had talked in earlier conversations with me about a supporting cast. Is that something we're going to see soon? Or is that something that will come later, after she deals with discovering the secrets of her launch from Krypton?
Johnson: We'll definitely build out a supporting cast. We want her to have a love interest. We want her to have friends on Earth. That's going to come over the first year of the book.
But right now, up through issue #7, we're really focused on the craziness of her arrival and trying to figure out why and how she got here.
The supporting cast starts to fill out in an interesting way when we reintroduce Silver Banshee in a really cool way that I don't think anybody's going to be expecting. And Banshee, while we're not forgetting the fact that she is an archenemy of Kara, we're going to see her also play a new role in Kara's life.
Nrama: This book feels like something that would appeal to teens or young girls while still being appealing to adults. There's almost a lesson here as this girl is confronted with change and reacts with confusion and fear. Do you have that in mind as you're writing this?
Green: Somewhat. For us, it was about building her identity and letting her find it as opposed to just landing here and it's all fully formed.
She's not fully formed. And she's having this experience of finding herself amidst these changes, and that's what influences the type of person she becomes.
And that's very much the teen experience. You think you're going to be one kind of person, but life shapes you into another. And things don't work out the way you wanted them to. And things you expected didn't happen. And disappointments come. And you become someone else.
We wanted to paint that experience, and live in that experience. That's why we started by saying we wanted her to feel like real person. By that, we just mean she's reacting to the crazy things that are happening to her in a real way, and letting them shape her, as opposed to just being Supergirl the day she lands here.
Nrama: The book is also infused with a lot of humor, behind the frustration this girl feels. The look on Kal-El's face as she keeps reacting with anger. The way she pokes him in the eyes. But it's within a framework of Kara's hectic arrival on Earth.
Johnson: Yeah, we have a very intense book emotionally, from a plot and character standpoint. But we don't want the book to feel like it just has one tone. Like any great movie or book, there are different tones that come into play. There are lighter moments that come even in the darkest points of the story. That's something we really wanted to do.
Green and I restrain from cracking jokes sometimes, because we do want the emotional impact of what Kara is going through. But we do like to put in little moments of levity because that's what everybody's like. Even in daily life, when you deal with the tough stuff, you will suddenly find yourself laughing at something, even when times are grim.
It's really just about trying to avoid making the book feel one-dimensional, or having one type of tone.
Nrama: When you have moments like how Kara's X-ray vision went through each layer of Kal-El's skin, is that to demonstrate Kryptonian powers to new readers? Or just 'cause it's cool?
Johnson: Both! Definitely! When you've got Mahmud drawing this and Dave McCaig on the color, you can really sell those moments.
One of the great things about the Superman family of books is that we had more of a reboot than a lot of other books, so we're able to take things like Kryptonian powers and Kryptonian culture and put a new spin on them, in the same way that the Star Trek movie reinvented those characters. Or the way The Dark Knight and the Chris Nolan movies reinvented Batman.
So we're able to take a fresh look at the elements that make these characters so iconic.
And we keep younger readers in mind too. Obviously, this isn't for really little kids. But we want it to be something that kids who like Harry Potter or The Hunger Games can read, and that their parents can read too and enjoy. We're trying to reach out to all audiences.
Nrama: You mentioned Mahmud, and he's really done some remarkable work on this book.
Johnson: I know! We're so spoiled. Mahmud has been a real champ at maintaining the level of quality book. It's been a wild start to the New 52, and we really hit the ground running, and he's been amazing. We've had great collaborators too, like Dan Green inking him at the start, and then Bill Reinhold is inking issue #3. And it just looks fantastic. So we've been so lucky with our collaborators.
We've also had great communication with Mahmud, even though he lives in Turkey. Our Turkish is horrible, so we have to rely on how good his English is. Of course, it's not vital that writers and artists speak the same language. But it definitely helps, because the more communication you have with your artist the better. We can explain scenes, and he can throw in ideas about the way the story is told. It's part of the fun of making comics, is the collaboration. And he's just so good at telling a story like this, that is so emotional. He's able to sell those little moments for Kara at the same time her world is exploding.
He's very good at drawing her age, too. That can't be understated. It's not easy to really distinguish between characters beyond just hairstyles and costumes. To draw different ages really well is really important, especially in this book. And Mahmud just nailed it.
Nrama: Then to finish up, guys, can either of you tell us what the "Worldkillers" means?
Johnson: That's a good last question! That word, which popped up very briefly, is a very, very important word coming up over the next few issues.FACEBOOK and TWITTER!