After Supergirl Kara Zor-El recovers from the events of November's Krypton Returns crossover, the character will be handled by a new creative team beginning in December, as Tony Bedard and Yildiray Cinar take over the book.
Supergirl's character was rebooted with the New 52 launch in September 2011, and much of the time since then, she's been trying to find her place on Earth. Because the character was already a teenager when she landed in the New 52, she was raised on Krypton and doesn't yet feel the same affinity for humans and motivation toward heroism as her cousin, Superman.
Bedard is coming to Supergirl after helping launch the New 52 in the Green Lantern universe, as well as working on Blue Beetle. He's also playing a huge role in this month's "Villains" event for DC, writing books about Brainiac, Black Manta and Ocean Master.
Now the writer turns his attention to Kara Zor-El, taking over after she deals with the return of Krypton in a crossover — and a confrontation with her former sort-of-boyfriend H'El. What comes next for Kara? And is she starting to become more of a true hero? Newsarama talked to Bedard to find out more about his plans for Supergirl.
Newsarama: Tony, as a writer, what do you think is the most compelling thing about writing Supergirl?
Tony Bedard: As a creator, any time you take on a character with that big "S" on their chest, you've wandered onto holy ground. Superman is the superhero, the one from which all others descend. So it's both thrilling and a little intimidating to handle one of the Superman family characters, and I've never been more committed to doing a character justice. I guess the trick is not to let my reverence for Kara keep me from taking chances with her. I want to be true to her roots and yet surprise readers every month by showing what makes Kara Zor-El unique in the Superman universe.
Nrama: A lot of your fans will remember that you've written Supergirl before (although it was a different version of Kara). What is it about Supergirl as a character that's appealing to you as a writer (making you want to take another shot at writing her)?
Bedard: Well, despite her pedigree, Supergirl remains a bit of an untapped character. She's mostly been defined by her relation to Superman, and I want to do everything I can to make her special in her own right. If she can emerge from Superman's shadow the way Nightwing did from Batman, that would be the ultimate success. But first let's just get her back to Earth and remind everyone how much there is to love about the Girl of Steel.
Nrama: What makes this Kara distinct from the last time you wrote Kara (pre-New 52)?
Bedard: In the New 52, Kara is much more of an outsider. I mean, she couldn't even speak English for the first year of her series! She's even wary of her cousin, Superman, and not exactly on board with his values or his commitment to use his powers in the service of humankind. A lot of the stuff you assume about someone wearing that emblem on their chest doesn't yet apply to Kara. She's more of a lost teenager — a stranger in a strange land — than a symbol of Truth, Justice and the American Way. I'd like for her to eventually find her own reasons why she should embody a higher standard, but she's not there yet and we're going to have fun with her inner journey.
Nrama: Over the last two years, we've been seeing Kara figure out what her role is on Earth. Is she still figuring that out as you take over? Where's her head when you start your first story?
Bedard: I pick up Supergirl just as she's returning to Earth from the events of "Krypton Returns" that will run through the Super-books this Fall. I'm not going to spoil anything that happens there except to say that Supergirl plays a big part in that event and the experience is emotionally wrenching. And if you've been reading Supergirl from the start you know that Kara's life was already one heartbreak after another since she got here. So she shows back up on Earth on the brink of breaking down and her only friend, Siobhan (aka Silver Banshee) is still mad at the lousy way Kara ran out on her a few issues ago. Kara will end up seeking the counsel of a major new player in the Superman Universe and her clash with Lobo will push all her buttons.
Nrama: Are there any areas that are going to get a focus once you take over Supergirl? Which concepts/characters/corners in Kara's world are you hoping to give the spotlight?
Bedard: I think it's natural for a sixteen year-old, even an alien sixteen year-old, to have her share of angst and uncertainty, but I don't want her to be Super-mope. I'd rather remind folks why she is likable and not have her come across as whiny or bitter. We need to see an upside for Supergirl, and her friendship with Siobhan is one good way to get there. Yeah, they still have to patch things up after Supergirl basically ran off to go die in space, but Siobhan is a real human connection for Kara — a way to feel like she does have a place on Earth and someone to care for. I'm not saying that Kara's life is suddenly going to be a cakewalk, but making Kara likable and building up her rogues gallery are the two big missions I'm focusing on at the moment.
Nrama: What are you hoping to bring to Supergirl's rogues gallery?
Bedard: The great heroes like Batman, Superman, the Flash and Spider-Man are all as defined by their villains as they are by themselves. You have villains that are thematic opposites of some heroes (like the Joker) and you also have villains that are twisted reflections of certain heroes (like Bane or Ra's al Ghul). I want some villains that illuminate Supergirl that way and "belong" to her alone. She'll also have more established villains that have specific beefs with her. We've seen that Supergirl has natural enemies like Brainiac and Cyborg Superman who are connected to her origins. With a mix of heavy hitters and cool new rivals, we can really elevate her stature in the DCU.
Nrama: As long as we're on the subject of rogues, it looks like the first rogue to go up against Supergirl is Lobo. What can you tell us about Lobo as you're writing him, and what's it like when he mixes with Supergirl?
Bedard: To begin with, I'm a longtime Lobo fan. I first came to love him in Justice League International back in the '80s, then in L.E.G.I.O.N. '89. He was a fun character, but played fairly straight — scary, edgy, and unstoppable. Then the Giffen/Grant/Bisley Lobo's Back series sent him way over the top and ten years later as I was editing Alan Grant's Lobo monthly the character was played for farce. A few years ago, I even got to write the Main Man in my R.E.B.E.L.S. series that was really a L.E.G.I.O.N. revival.
I say all this to underscore that I've seen Lobo's look and tone change several times over the years, and I'm almost amused by the backlash that greeted the new Lobo's announcement. Now that folks have had a chance to read Marguerite Bennet's Lobo issue, I hope they've seen the less farcical, more intense Lobo is a pretty effective character. I feel like he's dangerous again. And I know he has a cool new backstory that will play out over time. If anything, he's more like the early days of Wolverine, when part of the character's appeal was the sense of mystery.
So in Supergirl, we'll tease a few new things about Lobo and see that he is super-intense, focused, cunning, and unpredictable. I still feel like I'm writing the real Lobo, I'm just not going for the cheap laughs — the crass, loutish stuff. Not that I hated that stuff, but it's okay to change. I love the campy, wink-and-a-nod Roger Moore Bond films. I also love the more serious, stripped-down Daniel Craig Bond. This Lobo is more of the Daniel Craig approach, if that makes any sense.
At the end of the day, though, this is not a story about Lobo. It's Supergirl's book and it's her story. Lobo is there as a sort of dark reflection of her. They're both super-powerful loners left over from dead planets. Lobo has channeled his power and rage into becoming the most dangerous bounty-hunter/assassin in the galaxy. Supergirl's still trying to figure out what to do with her power and her lot in life. Tangling with Lobo will show her one path she might go down. It's really a cautionary tale for her, and she'll come away knowing that she could easily end up like him if she doesn't get her act together.
Nrama: Yildiray Cinar has been impressing fans with his work on other titles, but his work has a different look than the one we've been seeing on Supergirl lately. What do you think he'll bring to the title visually as you guys take over?
Bedard: I haven't had a chance to work with Yildiray before, but I've certainly noticed his rise in the industry and his outstanding work on Legion of Super-Heroes and Firestorm. He draws beautiful women, knows how to tell a story and packs his figures with dynamic energy. So basically, I expect him to continue making Supergirl just as beautiful as it was with Mahmud Asrar drawing it, which is high praise indeed. I'm gonna have to raise my game to match what Yildiray brings to the mix. But one of the joys of this industry is figuring out your partner's strengths and playing to them. It's good to know I'm stepping onto this book with a creator as strong as Yildiray.
Nrama: Any other goals you have for the Supergirl title that you want to tell fans as they look forward to your run?
Bedard: It's still early days and I'm talking through the possibilities with my editor Rickey Purdin, but we have some very cool ideas for who to pit Supergirl against down the line — stuff you wouldn't expect and villains that say a lot about who Supergirl is and who she isn't. Who knows, maybe she'll even find someone to date who isn't trying to destroy the planet behind her back? Plus, there's the all mani-pedi issue. Just kidding about that last one.
The truth is that over my career I've had my brightest spots doing either cosmic stuff (Negation, Exiles, R.E.B.E.L.S., Green Lantern, Green Lantern: New Guardians) or books with young female protagonists (Route 666, Rogue, Birds Of Prey). Supergirl gives me a chance to combine the two and I couldn't be happier about that.