Since taking over as writer of Superman, Scott Lobdell has introduced new concepts and ideas while also helping orchestrate the first major crossover for the New 52 Super-books.
Halfway into the "H'el on Earth" crossover, this month's Superman #16 will feature the Justice League attacking Supergirl in the Fortress of Solitude, working with Superman and Superboy to thwart a villainous plot to destroy the Earth and restore Krypton.
Lobdell has been one of the more prolific writers at DC since last year's reboot, launching Superboy, Red Hood and the Outlaws and Teen Titans. In September, he became the writer on Superman, a title that had already gone through two creative teams in a year.
Working with Kenneth Rocafort on art, Lobdell has already expanded the Superman supporting cast while also making some changes, like the much-publicized moment when Clark Kent quit the Daily Planet.
Lobdell has also invented H'el, a new villain who allegedly hails from Krypton and has confronted all the Super-characters, with varying results.
Newsarama talked with Lobdell about the crossover, asking him why the relationships between Supergirl, Superboy and Superman are so interesting, and when we'll find out more about the apparent time travel seen in all the #0 issues of the Super-books.
Newsarama: Scott, the crossover has provided an opportunity for readers to really see a contrast between the three Super-characters in the New 52. Do you think that's been one of the benefits of doing a crossover, is really distinguishing these characters from each other and showing different facets of their personality as they bump up against each other?Scott Lobdell: Well, you know, along those same lines but in a bigger way, we have been using the Justice League in the coming up issues of the crossover. And often, one of us will write something about how Supergirl admires Wonder Woman or something like that, and then we have to reel it back and go, wait, you know what? Supergirl's never met Wonder Woman. She's never heard of Wonder Woman. This is her first meeting with her.
So we're really looking at all the relationships between all the characters through a completely new lens, which makes it a lot of fun.I think that Clark can traditionally be a lonely guy, because he's on Kryptonian on a planet full of almost 7 billion humans. What's sad is his cousin finally arrives on Earth, and suddenly, he finds he has much more in common with these 7 billion people he's been with on Earth than he has with his own kin. She spent her entire life on Krypton and he spent maybe, mmm... six months on the planet.
So he can fill his fortress of solitude with as many Kryptonian knickknacks and missing cities as he can find, but at the end of the day, he has no idea what it's like to feel Kryptonian grass under his feet, or to interact with other Kryptonians. H'el even comments that he speaks with an accent, which I'm assuming is from his Smallville roots.
So yes, it's been fun to look at the characters from new perspectives.
Another example is Superboy. In the last iteration of Superboy, he very much wanted to follow in Superman's footsteps. At one point he was even living in Smallville and sleeping in Clark's old bed and calling his mother mom. So heading into this story, there have been conversations where someone initially said, "Well, he's going to respect the 'S' on Superman's chest and think that's a lot to live up to." And then it's like, well, actually, no... he's not going to have any of that. As far as he's concerned, that 'S' belongs to him as much as it belongs to this other guy who's running around at the same time calling himself Superman.
So it's just been a lot of fun to not throw Superboy in a situation where he's like, "I have to help save the world," because frankly, in a war between Earth and Krypton, you have to wonder where Superboy's allegiance would be anyway. He doesn't feel himself of either world right now. He's not as invested in Earth as Superman is, and he's certainly not as invested in Krypton as Kara is.
Nrama: We just got to see you write Lex Luthor this week, and it's implied that there's an unknown history between the two characters. What was the thought behind including him in the mix?
Lobdell: I think it's interesting because part of the story is Superboy encountering this guy for the very first time, but it's also, really, our first time encountering Lex as a full-blown villain, because the last time we saw him was five years ago in Action Comics. And at the time he was science consultant to Colonel Lane. But now, we see that time has passed and there have been some encounters between Superman and Lex.
I thought it was interesting to allow readers to read between the lines as to what that relationship was.I think that over the years, Lex has been portrayed as being motivated by insecurities. It started out way back when he was angry that Superman made him lose his hair. And in recent incarnations, he's been a guy who was jealous of Superman's status as the world's most famous man. This Lex who wants to be president and wants to compete with Superman for the title of most popular person? I don't really find that very compelling. I don't have any interest in that version of Lex Luthor. I like Lex as a very, very dangerous guy.
While we meet him in prison and it's a prison unlike any you've ever seen, I don't believe for a second that Lex is there for any other reason than Lex wants to be there. So clearly, he's working on something, otherwise he wouldn't be there.
But having said that, I think a guy who has the mind of Lex Luthor — whether he's in a prison or he's in a Taco Bell or he's on Mars — when you have a mind like Lex, it doesn't matter much if you're in "jail" or in "prison." So I think he'll be there until the time he decides he's not going to be, and then he'll be somewhere else.
We've gotten glimpses of how smart Lex is because we've seen his master plans after they come to completion, but [for those who haven't read issue #15 yet], there's a two-page spread where we finally get a glimpse into the scientific genius and madness that defines Lex Luthor.
Nrama: We saw the Justice League show up in issue #15. What can you tell us about how these characters interact with the Super-characters?
Lobdell: There's a fight coming up between Flash and Supergirl, and when it was originally being written, one of the initial thoughts was, well, Flash is a member of the Justice League, so Kara would have to think twice about going up against these powerful heroes. But again, that's just not true with these characters. As far as I can tell, Kara has been on Earth for about three weeks and hasn't met the Justice League. And she sees them as a bunch of people in costumes with kind of limited superpowers. As far as she's concerned, a group of people trying to express authority over her when she's trying to get Krypton back on its feet, she would have no personal regard or even respect for the Justice League.
Part of the glory of the New 52 is that we get to tell stories where this isn't the 300th time where Supergirl has met the Justice League, or all the pressure on Superboy to conduct himself in a way that would make Batman or Wonder Woman happy with his performance doesn't exist. These are just other superpowered people to these characters, which I think really gets to what we talked about earlier — these relationships that defines them and really allows us to give a fresh version of these encounters.
Nrama: And since you're writing Superman, I noticed you've been adopting the idea that he has feelings for Wonder Woman. Does that come into play during this story?
Lobdell: When Wonder Woman first shows up on panel, we referenced their relationship. But the truth is, like a boyfriend and girlfriend working on the same fire truck racing to a four-alarm fire, there's really not time for hand-holding or kissing or any of that.
So while they are very much in a relationship, none of that is going to be shown in the issues of Superman. They're just frankly going to be way too busy.
And that's part of the fun of the crossover — and I'm going to say this out loud and then be embarrassed because it'll probably turn out not to be right — but I'm pretty certain that the entire crossover probably takes place over the course of an hour and a half after the Justice League shows up. So there's not going to be time for that.
But rest assured that the same relationship that is in Justice League is also in Superman.
Nrama: We finally got an answer in the last issue of Superboy about why he's walking around with Superman's costume. But in Superman #0 and Supergirl #0 and Superboy #0, the three members of the Super-family were on Krypton in the past. Now that we've got H'el wanting to cause time travel, are we seeing a glimpse of why that happened in those #0 issues? Are they tied to this time travel H'el is trying to cause?
Lobdell: There was a classic story, years ago, from another company... I can't remember the name of the company... but the story was called "The Days of Future Past" where they kind of hinted at a future that we would really never be able to see.
What I like about this "H'el" storyline that started in the #0's is that I can tell you it is going to take about a year to tell the story in its entirety. But it won't be a year straight through. The "H'el on Earth" ends with issue #17 of Superman, and while the ramifications linger for all the characters, that crossover very much ends there. But the overall story is going to be told over the course of the next year and a half. And so all the scenes that we saw in the #0's are very much the result of H'el's misguided machinations in "H'el on Earth."But the good thing is that there is a payoff coming around issue... I'm guessing it will be #23, #24 or #25, somewhere around there. But we will be seeing the three Supers operating in Krypton's past just as we alluded to in the #0's issues.
So everybody that enjoyed that story, stick around, because we're definitely going to be paying it off.
Nrama: You mentioned the end of the crossover, and I know with issue #18, you're kind of bringing Clark back to Metropolis to address some of the things going on with his life there. You've given readers some food for thought about how the "H'el" storyline might have ramifications in late 2013, but what else gets the focus in 2013?
Lobdell: I will tell you that traditionally, the Fortress of Solitude has worked out so well for Superman because no one knew about it. When the entire world, and even more, Earth's entire solar system gets affected because of the actions of H'el at the fortress of solitude, I can tell you that it's going to severely impact on Superman's life, at least short-term. Essentially the entire world knows that he now has this little frozen fortress at the top of the world where he keeps all manor of alien life forms and weapons and technology that a lot of people on Earth would really like to get their hands on.
So I think that in and of itself is going to have a huge impact on Superman's life.
I can tell you that Clark is going to be going to Lois' housewarming party in an effort to make up for some of the hurt feelings that we've seen so far. And it's not going to go well, but through no fault of Clark's. And no fault of Lois' either. It's just that these things happen when you're a superhero and you're trying to have a personal life at the same time.
And finally, Jimmy is going to get the worst news and the best news that he can possibly imagine. And it's going to get him up off that couch.
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