When Action Comics gets a new ongoing creative team in November, the story will kick off with a flashback issue that introduces a major character from Clark Kent's past.
The Action Comics #25 tie-in to Batman: Zero Year comes as Greg Pak takes over as series writer, with Aaron Kuder on art. The addition of Pak comes on the heels of the writer's launch of DC's new Batman/Superman title.
This month, Pak is giving readers a taste of his plans for Action and Batman/Superman as he writes three Villains Month issues that tie into New 52 Superman's story. Last week's Darkseid issue got fans talking as the final page revealed that a major Earth 2 character might not be dead after all. It was a shocking ending for an issue focusing on a character that looks to play an important role in upcoming DCU stories. This week sees the release of Pak's Villains Month issue about Zod, then later this month comes Doomsday.
Newsarama talked to Pak about his plans for Action Comics, how the Villains Month issues tie into his plans for both his ongoings, and what readers can expect from Clark Kent being part of Zero Year.
Newsarama: Greg, you're starting your run on Action Comics by going back into the past for a "Zero Year" tie-in. Is this just a one-shot side-story, or does this truly kick off the direction you're taking the book?
Greg Pak: Both! It's a story set in the past that stands alone with its own, self-contained beginning, middle and end. But it lays out some of the key themes we're playing with and it re-introduces one of our key supporting characters. It's been a huge amount of fun to work on.
I'm loving the opportunity to kick off our run on the book with this story set so early in Clark's life. Just a great chance to explore the character and set up some fun things.
Nrama: At what point in Clark's history does the Zero Year tie-in take place? What's Clark like at this point, not only in relation to being Superman, but also in his personal history?
Pak: The story takes place just before the events of Morrison's Action #1. So Clark's young, new to Metropolis, new to superhero-ing. Much as in my first Batman/Superman storyline, he's young and raw and cocky. But we'll get a peek at the vulnerable side of him, too, and explore what's really going on under the skin.
Nrama: You've said before that, during your Action Comics run, readers will learn about Superman's "greatest secret." Does that start with the Zero Year issue?
Pak: That begins with Action #26. Get ready for a pretty insane page 20.
Nrama: We'll talk about that in a moment. But getting back to this Zero Year issue, what brings Clark to Gotham City? And does he encounter Batman?
Pak: The biggest crisis to hit the country since he started as Superman is about to hit Gotham, so he figures that's where he belongs. Regarding the second question, I can say nothing for fear of spoilers.
Nrama; Who else is part of the story? And what appealed to you about focusing on that character relationship with Clark?
Pak: It's a major character from Clark's past. And by bringing in this character, we're getting a great way to explore some key aspects of what makes Clark tick -- and create some pretty great challenges for him moving forward.
Nrama: You're being very cryptic about this "major character."
Pak: I can't reveal exactly who it is just yet.
Nrama: Just a teensy hint?
Pak: I'll just say it's intriguing how many people from Clark's history have the initials "L.L."
Nrama: Ah, good hint. Does this tie into what you're doing in Batman/Superman, since we saw a younger Clark and younger Bruce in that comic?
Pak: It doesn't directly tie in plot-wise, but it's building on some of the same character threads.
Nrama: OK, now let's talk about what comes after the Zero Year issue. We just saw the solicitation this week for Action Comics #26, which has Superman fighting an alien menace. This is back in present day, right?
Pak: Yes, we'll move up to present day in issue #26 — and we're opening up a whole new world of possibilities with the story. Big action, big characters, huge revelations and emotional moments for Clark and his supporting cast every issue.
Nrama: As you've been developing your plans for Action Comics, are there any plans to bring it in line with other Superman-related books? Or is the hope to tell unique stories in Action?
Pak: One of the tremendous things about Superman is that he's got many different aspects to his life and a huge, rich supporting cast. So each of the Superman books can tell its own stories focusing on different and equally important parts of his life. That's a nice bonus for fans, who can get a variety of tones and feels with the different books.
But we are indeed talking about certain elements and stories that may bridge the books in pretty great ways. Stay tuned!
Nrama: Your current Batman/Superman story has been hinting at Darkseid's importance, and last week's Darkseid one-shot told Darkseid's origin story, plus it had a surprise at the end. Since we're talking about Action today, I won't spoil what was on that last page, but does that tie into the story you're telling in Batman/Superman?
Pak: Yep, the Darkseid book is absolutely recommended reading for anyone who's been following Batman/Superman.
The Darkseid book also fills in some of the mysteries regarding Darkseid's interest in our heroes and gives the origin story of Kaiyo the Chaos Bringer, the big villain in Batman/Superman.
Nrama: You're writing this week's Action Comics #23.2: Zod, and then later this month comes Batman/Superman #3.1: Doomsday, which introduces that villain to the New 52. I know you were pretty cryptic about this book the last time we talked, so I'll just ask if either of these Villains Month issues relate to the Forever Evil mini-series? Or are they merely stand-alone stories about each villain?
Pak: More the latter. Although each of these books sets up things that will absolutely pay off in future books.
Nrama: Back to Action Comics: Now that you've had some time to work with Aaron Kuder on Action, what's the collaboration been like? What's your approach as a writer to working with him, and how is it working out?
Pak: Aaron is blowing my mind. Every step of the process has been a blast. I wrote up a very detailed page-by-page outline of our first issue and sent it in to our editor Eddie Berganza, who said, let's just send this over to Aaron like this. And I said sure! So we're going plot-first on this book, and Eddie's been great about encouraging us to talk through everything, which is incredibly intense and fun. True collaboration, every step of the way, and Aaron's totally killing it.
Nrama: What does he bring to the comic's story through his visuals and storytelling?
Pak: Everything. Seriously, let me count the ways... He's drawing a fantastic Clark in issue #25, really bringing out the youth and energy of this very young Superman. He's bringing insane, telling, and sometimes hilarious details to every page that bring everything up to that next level. He's bringing a kind of visual fearlessness... a kind of grace to the layouts that I just love.
You know how sometimes the most powerful thing can be when your hero is actually tiny in the frame? Aaron totally understands that. And he totally knows how to deliver that insane exploding-off-the-page action when turn the page.
And when we get on the phone, we just ramble a bit and he says stuff that just rings all kinds of bells with me and ends up in the script. I knew I wanted to do a very specific something with the L.L. character we've been talking about, and I told Aaron about some of the ideas I had that I wasn't a hundred percent happy with, and he tossed out an idea that just made total sense. Ask me about it again when the issue comes out and I'll be happy to explain. It might seem like a little thing, but it's so specific and grounded and perfect... just the exact kind of thing you need to make fantastical stories resonate in a personal, real way.
So, yeah, thumbs up on Aaron.
Nrama: OK, then, to finish up, is there anything else you want to tell fans about Action Comics:
Pak: If you're intrigued, please pre-order it today with your local comics shop! I'm not even kidding, y'all. If something in comics interests you and you want to support it, that's always the absolute best thing you can do to ensure it thrives. Go to