Now that Superboy has been flying around the New 52 for almost two years, writer Justin Jordan thinks it's time for him to decide what kind of person and hero he's going to be.
And apparently, mysterious character Jocelyn Lure, a science cop from the 31st Century, has something to do with it.
Jordan, who's best known for his hit series The Legend of Luthor Strode and the just-canceled Team 7, took over Superboy with issue #20, which was released last week. He introduced some new concepts for the character, but perhaps the most striking was the inclusion of Dr. Psycho, Jocelyn Lure and, of course, Krypto the superdog.
Although the main battle in Superboy #20 involved the villains Dreadnought and Psiphon, the key moment in the story came when Superboy agreed to hunt down the organization known as H.I.V.E. And in order to find and beat them, he's decided to team up with a newfound comrade, Dr. Psycho,
But concurrently, the character known only as Jocelyn Lure takes notice of Superboy. In her original appearance in Teen Titans, Jocelyn Lure was shown to be a present-day scientist who came from the future — more specifically, from the 31st Century.
What does it mean for Superboy's future? Is he a good guy now that he's fought alongside Superman? Or will Dr. Psycho turn him to the dark side? And what does Jocelyn Lure have to do with this? Newsarama asked Justin Jordan to find out what's next in the series.
Newsarama: Justin, I'm going to ask for some specifics right up front, because you've been telling people (including me a few months ago) that you're taking the Superboy book in a new direction. We saw the first issue, which was pretty action-packed. But as you move forward with this storyline, what does "new direction" mean?
Justin Jordan: Less Harvest and H’El for one thing. [Laughs.]
Nrama: Yeah, we've seen quite a bit of them since the series began. But how does their absence affect a change in direction?
Jordan: Superboy has kind of been tied up in a lot of people making decisions for him, and in this run we’re getting him to start deciding what he is going to do. So we’re going to watch as Superboy figures out what kind of person and hero he’s going to be.
Nrama: So is this almost like a new series now? Is that how you're approaching it?
Jordan: A bit. I mean, we’re not ignoring the stuff that can before, nor are we retconning it. But if I’m doing my job right, you should be able to pop into issue #20 without having read the run and still be able to hit the ground running.
Nrama: The last time we talked, you were still kind of sketching out your ideas for Superboy, and you mentioned that you wanted to explore the "nature of superheroics." Now that you've started your run on the book, how would you describe the themes you're exploring?
Jordan: That’s still true. Superboy has a…well…alien perspective. He was raised, essentially, in a fake reality and had a lot of information just poured into his head. That’s not the same as actually experiencing it, and the VR world he experienced was….incomplete.
So there’s a chance to show how and why he decides to do the things he does. Does he need a secret identity? Should be wait for villains to attack or find them before he can? Should he kill people?
We’ll look at why he does things the way he does them, and see how that changes based on experience. The first few issues are thematically about manipulation and how to get free of it.
Nrama: The Superboy we first met was very divided from the world, but he's now a character that has befriended Superman and fought next to the Justice League. How will that be reflected in the character you're writing?
Jordan: He’s still learning about the world. There’s stuff he knows or thinks he knows, but at the same time, knowing isn’t quite the same as experiencing it. But his relationships with the other characters has moved him away from his feeling inhuman, and we’ll be keeping that going.
Nrama: As you started your run, we saw Superboy considering turning himself into the police. He was sidetracked from that, however. So how would you describe Superboy as a character now? Who is he, and what's his mindset now that we're meeting him in your run?
Jordan: Confused but confident. Which is a great combo: he’s not sure what he needs to do, but he’s sure he’s going to do it. But the first few issues are about him becoming more settled in who he is or, at least, deciding who he wants to be.
Nrama: We've been shown that Krypto is showing up in future issues, and we met him briefly at the beginning of issue #20. How does he tie into the approach you're taking?
Jordan: Every boy needs a dog. But really, he’s just another way Superboy is developing more empathy and become more involved with others. Plus, who doesn’t want a giant alien wolf dog thinger for a pet?
Nrama: I've got to be honest with you... the upcoming covers look dark. But issue #20's cover looked dark, and the inside story wasn't dark at all.
Jordan: That cover does look dark, doesn’t it? But the storyline isn’t too dark. I guess? Bear in mind, I did get into comics with a book where almost everyone in the book died horribly, so my idea of dark might be somewhat different.
There is, in fact, some dark stuff going on there, and we do hit some dark places, but tonally it’s not grim and gritty. Think more Buffy than The Walking Dead.
Nrama: How long is this first storyline? And what's the basic premise of the story?
Jordan: The basic idea is that Superboy learns about H.I.V.E., an organization that, while totally evil, has largely managed to keep themselves invisible, and he decides to start taking them apart. So he’s not waiting for them, he’s going after them.
The "how long" is a trickier question, as there isn’t necessarily a clear dividing point between this storyline and the next one. But around five issues before we start dealing with the fallout of those five issues.
Nrama: You've got Dr. Psycho teaming up with Superboy. He's traditionally seen as a Wonder Woman villain. Why does Dr. Psycho make sense in Superboy?
Jordan: He’s very much Superboy’s opposite number. While they both have psychic powers, Psycho’s are strictly non-physical as opposed to Superboy’s telekinesis. Psycho is short and…less than handsome, where Superboy is pretty dreamy. And maybe most importantly, Psycho is about as world weary and cynical as it is possible to get, whereas virtually everything is new for Superboy. So it works out pretty well to bounce them off of each other.
Nrama: What can you tell us about the character of Dr. Psycho how you're writing him and the role he plays?
Jordan: He’s smart, cynical and not quite a traditional villain. And him and Superboy have a common enemy. And you know what they say about the enemy of my enemy….
Nrama: You used Dreadnought and Psiphon in the first issue, but Superboy handled them pretty soundly.
Jordan: Yeah, I liked them from the Byrne run.
Nrama: Issue #23's solicitation, which was just released, said that we'll meet a new villain for Superboy. It sounds like you've got a few villains coming up?
Jordan: Yeah, lots of villains about.
Nrama: New ones? Or old ones?
Jordan: [Next,] there's a newish villain based on an old one from DC comics. And then some new ones!
Nrama: Let's talk about that cliffhanger from issue #20. You showed Jocelyn Lure, a character we saw in Teen Titans whose story has already been colliding with Kid Flash. How big of a role does Jocelyn Lure play in your series, and can you tell us anything about her?
Jordan: Jocelyn's story is going to dovetail into Superboy's shortly. But circumstances have made it so that she's having a hard time actually contacting Superboy. For one thing, all her tech seems to be disappearing. We'll be fleshing out just where Jocelyn comes from and what she's doing a little while down the road.
Nrama: OK, I need to switch gears a little from your current storyline and talk about what we saw in Issue #19 about Superboy's origin. That issue revealed that Superboy is part Clark, part Lois and part Jon Kent, this "Superman's child from the future." What role does his DNA make-up play in the comic over the next few months?
Jordan: Very little. I mean, that’s where he gets his powers from, obviously, and this particular bit of knowledge is part of the plan Psycho has for him, but the thread isn’t one we’re focusing on. Superboy is a lot more interested in where is going rather than where he came from.
Nrama: The Superboy before the New 52 relaunch had Lex Luthor DNA. What makes him distinctly different now that he's part Lois instead?
Jordan: Less male pattern baldness?
That’s actually a good question, and one that will probably get explored down the road. This basically harkens back to the nature versus nurture question, and what parts of a person’s personality are heritable. Is Luthor’s evil part of him, or is he a result of how he was raised. Likewise, what parts of Lois are built into her DNA and which are from experience?
And I don’t know. But it’s worth looking at.
Nrama: The Superboy title has been very involved in the Superman universe recently, and it's clear Superboy has a level of respect for Clark. How will the two be interacting in your run?
Jordan: Not at all, at first. But Superman casts a long shadow. I don’t just mean that in the meta, reader related sense. Superboy, to my mind, is trying to base his own ideas of what it means to be a hero on Superman. His giving back the bank money he stole and trying to turn himself into the police are, I think, what he thinks that Superman would do.
At the same time, he’s not Superman. He will never be Superman, and at least part of his journey is figuring which parts of Superman’s ideal he wants to become and which he doesn’t. Which, I think, is sort of something all teenagers do with their parents, although Superboy doesn’t consciously look at Superman as a father figure.
Nrama: We saw some prophesies during the "H'El on Earth" event, where the Herald and Oracle said some things about "five anomalies" and Superboy shaping multiple "worlds." Are you aware of what those comments referred to? And are you dealing with that at all in Superboy?
Jordan: I am aware, but there’s not much I can say about them. But that thread will come up again.
Nrama: How much involvement will Superboy have in "Trinity War?"
Jordan: Can’t say.
Nrama: How would you describe Superboy's story as we head into the rest of 2013?
Jordan: He’s going to be dealing with a bunch of things he’s never dealt with before, and that’s going to force him to consciously have to decide who he is and what he wants. Which he hasn’t done yet.
Also, cool villains and Krypto. Krypto is cool. Possibly "kool" [with a k].
Nrama: Yeah, I think Krypto counts as "kool." Then to finish up, is there anything else you want to tell fans about what's coming up in Superboy?
Jordan: It’s by far the most fun I’ve had working on a book that’s not Luther Strode, and I hope the book is as much fun for readers as it is for me.