DC Comics hosted its Superman panel on Friday at the New York Comic Con, featuring Scott Snyder, Charles Soule, Greg Pak, Tony Daniel, Aaron Kuder and Scott Lobdell.
Snyder said that he enjoyed the differences between Superman and Batman. "The fun thing about wiring them both is that physically and psychologically they're so different. Superman is so different and so vulnerable with what he will tell the readers... He's a very honest and open character," Snyder said. "For Bruce, everything is refracted."
Snyder said that there will be a plot device for Superman Unchained #4, which he described as "folding the DC Universe as origami." It's Lex Luthor telling Jimmy Olsen how the main heroes of the DC Universe will die. There's another scene from #5 he describes where Wraith tells Superman he knows his secret identity, but won't tell. "It won't last anyway, so I just want to give you that dignity."
"We're really going to take Superman down," Snyder said of his series, saying that every military in the world has or is developing weapons to stop Superman if he gets in the way.
Snyder said he was proud of the series, particularly with Jim Lee's art. "Jim is a magical person," he said.
He thanked Superman fans for being so welcoming to "a guy for Gotham."
The panel then turned to Superman/Wonder Woman, which just came out this week. Soule said that the comments online are much more interesting now that it's come out. "The tone of the series is a huge, giant-scale superhero story as epic as everything you've ever seen - Doomsday is in the first issue," he said. "The challenge is you have to find enemies for them to fight... It's not a make-out book either. That's not all it is."
"The book came out as what would the relationship be, and how we would portray that in a comic," Soule said. Describing the first page of the first issue, when Superman and Wonder Woman float above a storm, Soule said "the time where they can find a little bit of piece is when they're together."
Daniel said that he was having a blast drawing these two iconic characters. "I get to have my cake and eat it, too."
Soule said that he is looking forward to Superman meeting Wonder Woman's extended family of demigods. "You've seen this before, when someone meets the girl's family for the first time, so there's something different for this tussle."
The panel moved on to Superman/Batman, featuring Greg Pak. "It's been a trip," Pak said. " There are two Batmen and two Supermen." Pak said he was happy to start a story at the beginning with "these very young, raw heroes."
"When they first meet each other, with Batman and Superman having never heard each other, you're going to have Superman seeing a villain in a bat-suit, while Batman is going to see the scariest thing he's ever seen: someone with far more power than any human being should have," Pak said, adding that Superman/Batman is a story about two rivals that will also teach each other to be heroes.
Pak said that editor Eddie Berganza suggested the story move into Earth-2, which had Batman and Superman as best friends and the world's finest team. Pak said Jae Lee is doing beautiful work exploring the characters emotionally. "There will be a big, crazy ending," Pak said. With Issue #5, he added, Brett Booth will jump on the book to give Jae Lee a rest.
For the Superman books proper - Action Comics, Superboy, Supergirl and Supergirl - Scott Lobdell said the characters go back in time to save Krypton. Superman meets his mother for the first time... and under the force of a red sun, she beats the tar out of him. Supergirl meanwhile will team up with clones, as she makes her return to Krypton.
Superboy, meanwhile, will make the ultimate sacrifice to save the world in Issue #25. From Issue #26 on, Superboy will be about the adventures of John Lane Kent, the son of Lois and Clark that the first Superboy was cloned from. That book will be written by Marv Wolfman.
The Parasite will also return to Action Comics, who is trying to take the Brainiac power bequeathed to Lois. Superman makes "the less evil" choice by letting the Parasite drain Lois just enough to take away the Brainiac energies.
Soule said that the writers were collaborating and communicating to make Superman a coherent corner and lynchpin of the DC Universe.
Kuder said that it was an absolute honor to be working on Superman. "He's the superhero of superheroes," he said. "It's constantly goose-bumpy, feeling flattered."
Pak said that Action Comics is a tie-in to the Year Zero arc. Superman is wearing a T-shirt and jeans, feels cocky and thinks he can do anything. "Over the course of this story, he's going to learn about what's happening in Gotham, and he's going to think he can take care of everything. But can he?"
Pak said his arc on Action Comics will deal with the responsibilities of power, and what Superman's limits are. A classic Superman character will return as well, before a jump back to the present in Issue #26.
They then opened the floor up to audience questions. The first question was how do you keep the character pure, as the wholesome boy from Kansas?
Lobdell said that he likes to use whatever metaphors he can instead of villain of the month. "We prefer to tell stories about Superman's place in the world, which changes everyday."
Pak said "Superman, at his core, is about doing the right thing, so we like to give him stories where that's not always clear."
Soule said that his Superman is constantly faced with situations that most people would give up, but always hunkers down and gets it done.
Another fan asked Soule how he writes Superman as a lead versus as a supporting character. For Superman/Wonder Woman, he's a lead, Soule said, whereas in books like Swamp Thing, other characters see Superman in very different ways.
An audience member asked if "their" Superman kills. Snyder said "you'll have to read the book." Snyder said you think Superman knows everything, because he always does the right thing - but watching that struggle is what makes the story interesting and challenging. Murder is "the last thing he'd want to do."
Soule said his Superman is as likely to kill someone as anyone on the room: "For me, it's off the table."
Pak said "to me, that's more interesting to think could Superman make a mistake that would put him im that position?"
How do the writers work together to unite the Superman franchise? "I think we're just bringing our own thing to the books," Pak said. "We agree on a lot of big things, but I disagree on a lot of other things. We each bring our own unique voices."
Another fan asked how Pak and Soule collaborate in terms of fleshing out Superman's relationships with his fellow cast members with the Justice League. "We spend hours and hours together discussing that and other things in the Superman universe," Soule said.
A fan asked by Snyder and Lee started Superman Unchained, as opposed to taking over Action Comics or another Superman books. They wanted another Superman book for the 75th anniversary, Snyder said.
The panel wrapped up with a final question, asking the panel what they felt about Man of Steel as a film and as a Superman story. Lobdell said he enjoyed the Krypton backstory - "I was riveted to that whole new version of Krypton." He said he felt Man of Steel "broke a lot of eggs to make that omelette," and that was a good thing.
Snyder said he loved seeing versions of the character that challenged his take on it - there were things he wouldn't write in his book, but he particularly enjoyed the idea of Lois following the trail of this guardian angel, before Superman even introduced himself to the world.
Pak said he loved all the Smallville moments. "Kevin Costner made me cry like a baby," he said. He also loved Clark discovering his powers and freaking out about it.