Baltimore Comic Con '08: Superman Panel

The Superman panel Saturday at the Baltimore Comic Con took place in a very hot room before a crowd of fans who were fanning themselves, but putting up with the heat so they could hear:

Matt Idelson, Superman books editor

Sterling Gates, Supergirl writer

James Robinson, Superman writer

Geoff Johns, Action Comics writer

Jamal Igle, artist on Supergirl

Idelson said that October is going to be a huge month for the Superman books. "Probably our biggest month in a long time," he said.

The first issue of Supergirl by the new creative team of Gates and Igle comes out Wednesday and features a media blitz by Cat Grant in a story called, "Why the World Doesn't Need Supergirl."

Robinson said Gates is doing a lot for the Supergirl series, including giving Supergirl a rogues gallery. He said Gates' writing is fantastic and Igle's artwork is fantastic. "I think they're going to be one of the greatest combinations that DC has seen for a long time."

There will be a Jimmy Olsen special by James Robinson coming up, Idelson said. "This is our attempt to turn Jimmy into a vibrant young man of 22," Robinson said. "This is going to be the beginning of him as an investigative reporter. He'll go out in search of answers in different places in a story including the Guardian.

Johns will finish up the Brainiac story in Action Comics and it will continue into the New Krypton Special. All the Superman-related books will have the triangles on the front. "Each one of our books will deal with the bigger story but also threads that our characters deal with," Johns said.

Igle said in Action Comics #869, Supergirl's parents are alive, and Igle will flesh out the story. Gates said Supergirl #35 will explain everything that's happened up to this point with Supergirl and how that fits with the discovery of her parents.

The Guardian will be in a special, and Robinson explained that Jimmy Olsen will find out all kinds of horrible secrets about his past as he's refolded back into the Superman Universe. Idelson added that it will fit into the New Krypton story.

The crossover will spiral the books into different directions, Idelson said. And Action Comics is going to take a really different direction, although Johns said he couldn't talk about it now.

The panel was then opened up to questions:

- Will this be related to the Guardian in Seven Soldiers? Robinson: Not at first. It won't be dealt with for awhile. The Guardian has a daughter now, and when you see what we have planned for him it makes perfect sense.

- Will he have a relationship with Red Arrow, his nephew? Robinson: Probably not for now.

- Conduit coming back? Johns: He's dead. I've never really understood that character much, so I haven't thought about it.

- Retelling of Superman's origin? Idelson: We've resisted doing that, but we're starting to wilt to that. Johns: There's a reason we haven't yet. Keep reading.

- Why is Supergirl the way she is? Gates: Supergirl #35.

- Linda Danvers? Gates: She's in Reign in Hell right now.

- Did you plan New Krypton together? Johns: It came out of the Brainiac story, but then we expanded into more. Robinson made it more Kryptonians than Johns originally intended. The idea is to show just how special Superman is.

- What happens in Action Comics #870? Johns: It's a very difficult issue for Superman.

- Will Gary Frank be on the series for awhile? Johns: Gary and I have plans for awhile.

- What was it that drew Robinson to Superman? Robinson: The chance to work with Geoff. It seems very daunting at first to write Superman, but Johns painted "such a rosy picture of us frolicking through the tulips with all these ideas.... and we've come up with this fun adventure."

- Are there any villains Johns wants to work with? Parasite and Metallo, who I'll be delving into next year.

- Is there a good reason the Kryptonians settle on earth? Johns: Yes.

- Is Chris Kent going to return? Johns: We've got plans for him down the line.

- What happened to Steel? Any plans for him in the Superman books? Robinson: There are plans to use him. We're waiting for the right time to introduce him. We're trying to give Metropolis a real identity and history. John Henry Irons will be a part of that, and how he's the antithesis of the science of Luthor.

- Is the Eradicator coming back? Johns: Nothing yet.

- Are there plans to follow up on what Kurt Busiek did? Robinson: I think Busiek has plans for a lot of that stuff. Idelson: He's writing Superman in Trinity.

- What would a person do if they went to Metropolis? Johns: I'd go look at the Superboy statue and get all teary eyed. Then I'd go to the Daily Planet and try to expose Clark Kent's identity. I'd go to the Lexcorp building and take Jimmy Olsen along so I can get pictures of it all. And call all my friends and say, "I'm in Metropolis!" Gates: "I'd go to the Ace of Clubs and just get wasted."

- Explanation of Power Girl's powers? Johns: It's in JSA.

- Lana Lang? Johns: She'll play a big role in Superman's world.

- Superhorse comic? Idelson said to check out the Cosmic Adventures of Supergirl in Eighth Grade.

- Any plans for Conner to come back at all? Johns: He's one of my favorite characters. "But .... Black Lanterns," he said with a smile.

- Any reappearance of old Superman villains? Johns: A lot of Superman villains will be showing up in New Krypton.

- How will you address all the bottles on Brainiac's ship? Johns: That's party of the story.

- Any plans to tie Green Lantern and Superman stories together? Johns: There will be a little bit of a tie in.

- Why no big deal about the 75th anniversary of Superman? Idelson: Why date the character? We have a good reason to do a double-size issue because of the story, not just because it's an anniversary.

- What is Lana Lang doing? And are there any plans for Supergirl to have a boyfriend?

Gates: Lana will be in Supergirl, and she'll take a mentor role. She's going to play a huge part in Supergirl.

Johns: Lana will be a main character in the Superman universe. Gates: As for relationships, keep reading.

- What's up with Lexcorp now that Lana's gone? Johns: Keep reading.

- How do you keep Superman fresh? Johns: I think he's one of the most relatable characters in comics. He was embraced by this planet and grew up to love it and now he's just trying to return the favor.

Robinson: I see Superman as the epitome of the American dream because he came to America and was able to make it here even as a foreigner.

Igle: To me, he's the representation of the idea that if you're good, you can be Superman too. He was raised to be taught that the best thing you can do is help out the least of us, but not look down on them.

Johns said this is one of the reasons they're telling the story of New Krypton. One of the scenes in New Krypton is there are two Kryptonians walking down the street and they hear a screech because there's a car wreck, and people are running up to them and saying, "Can you help?" And they just fly away because they don't understand why those people would need help. It's up to Superman to show them why you help people.

- Who's showing up in New Krypton? Johns: Creature Commandos, the Titans, Agent Liberty, the JSA, Wonder Woman -- a lot of people are curious what's going on and talk to Superman about it.

- What's it like to deal with a character who is such an icon? Johns: You know what he's always going to try to do. He'll make a mistake, but Superman is always Superman.

Robinson: Geoff showed me how easy it is to write the character and how fun it can be.

- With the New Krypton storyline is he particularly faster or stronger than other Kryptonians? Johns: He's more experienced with his powers. There were 600 soldiers who worked under General Zod in Kandor at the time it was taken, so that plays a part in the story.

- Is Clark the secret identity or is Superman? Robinson: That's the difference between Batman and Superman. Bruce Wayne is the secret identity. With Superman, he's a Kansas City farmboy in his head first.

- Is Lex Luthor sad that Kon-El is dead? Johns: He has some sorrow about Kon-El, but he was more like someone he could manipulate.

- Can you explain who are the various Supergirls?

Robinson: There's no point in dealing with the past.

Gates: In Supergirl #35, we're telling a Supergirl Secret Origin.

Johns: Anyone who wants to know who Supergirl is can look at that issue. We're not going to reference the other Supergirls. We won't talk about Linda Danvers because she's not important to THIS Supergirl.

- Will Supergirl have a secret identity? Gates [smiling]: Hmmm... That's a good idea.

- How do you interact with the storyline when you draw Supergirl? Igle [joking]: There's a lot of cursing involved.

Gates: The first thing he said to me after reading a script was he called me and said, "What the hell is wrong with you?"

Igle: I'm a big believer in letting people do their jobs. But Gates is making Supergirl not only a likable character but a sympathetic character. I feel like I need to step up my game because of the writing Sterling's doing.

Gates: And Jamal really has stepped up his game. He's doing the work of his career.

"You're going to pick up Supergirl #34, and it's not going to look like any Supergirl issue you've ever seen," Igle said.

- Is Lex Luthor going to be okay with all these Kryptonians? Johns: He's in jail right now. But he wants to get out and deal with the Kryptonians. He's a main character in this story and in Superman books period.

- If you haven't read earlier issues of Supergirl, will you understand issue #34? Gates: Yes. Johns: All you need to know is she's Superman's cousin.

- Will Mon-El be part of the storyline? Johns: We have plans for Mon-El.

- Will Superboy Prime have anything to do with the Superman New Krypton story? Johns: If you read Legion of 3 Worlds, you should see what happens to him there. "I actually think Superboy Prime will be looked upon as one of the greatest villains of the 21st Century."

- So.... Superboy Prime won't be redeemed? John: "Until he's redeemed.... wink!"

At this point, Johns called out to his Uncle Roger in the back of the audience. He explained that he's into comics because of his uncle having comics in the attic. The audience applauded loudly for the uncle.

- Is there a Superman webcomic? Idelson: That's a different department.

Johns: But you can buy our comics on the stands!

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