According to new Supergirl writer Tony Bedard, Kara is going to evolve from an angry, resentful Kryptonian teenager into a grown-up, heroic woman of Earth…
But first she's got to get over all that whiny, teenager rage.
In the DC Universe, the words "anger" and "rage" mean one thing — Red Lanterns. And just when the Red Lanterns are taking over from the Green as the protectors of Sector 2814 (which includes Earth), Supergirl is getting a Red Lantern ring.
As a result, readers will get to read about Supergirl's adventures in Red Lanterns by Charles Soule, as well as the Supergirl storyline, "Red Daughter of Krypton."
Newsarama talked to Soule and Bedard to find out more about what readers can expect from the surprising mash-up between their two titles.
Newsarama: Tony, we talked a couple months ago about your plans for Supergirl, but now that we've read your first issue, it's clear that you're utilizing the emotional roller coaster that Kara has been on, yet pointing her in a new direction. Is that how you'd describe it?
Tony Bedard: I know where I'd like the character to be, but I'm trying to get her there in a way that respects the previous issues and isn't unrealistically abrupt.
What it boils down to is that Kara's life has been one disaster after another since arriving on Earth. As she reacts to this the way any teenager would, she can come across as angry, mopey or whiny. I want her to be a positive, likable character who embraces the responsibilities that come with her newfound power. So I'm trying to use this encounter with Lobo and her moment in the Red Lantern Corps as a pivot point to work through her anger/resentment and emerge as the Supergirl we'd all like to see.
Nrama: Before we get to the Red Lanterns, I'd like to follow up on Lobo's appearance in Supergirl #26. At the end of the issue, it looked like Lobo was dead. But Lobo being Lobo (albeit a new version of him), he tends to come back to life. Without completely spoiling the next issue, is there more to the ending of #26 than Kara realizes?
Bedard: Of course there is! Lobo wants to get inside The Block to learn from Dr. Veritas where he can find the "other" Lobo — the one he claims stole his name. Supergirl has unwittingly given him a ticket inside, and the Block is about to find out there's nothing more dangerous than a dead Czarnian.
I won't spoil all the fun, but I do want to mention that one of our priorities in Supergirl right now is to build up Kara's supporting cast and rogues gallery. Getting Lobo, Shay Veritas and the Block in on the action is part of our effort to expand Kara's world. And there's more to be mined with The Block and its commander Dr. Veritas. Internally, we sometimes refer to Veritas as the "New 52 Professor Hamilton."
I think it's a good way to look at role in the Superman Universe, though I think Shay has even greater potential as a character.
Nrama: OK, let's discuss the idea of Supergirl as a Red Lantern. How does her current encounter with Lobo and Dr. Veritas play into the beginning of "Red Daughter of Krypton?" Is she ticked off when she finishes this adventure?
Bedard: Yeah, the fight with Lobo leads straight into the Red Lantern storyline. Without giving away too much, this new Lobo is one wily dude. Where the old Lobo was a bull in a china shop, this Lobo relies more on cunning and an array of really cool tools. He's still super-strong and able to take grievous damage, but he's closer to the original, early Lobo appearances where the Last Czarnian was just as likely to prevail through wits and willpower.
Anyhow, Lobo quickly realizes that going toe-to-toe with a Kryptonian is a losing proposition, but that Kara's vulnerabilities are in her head. So he does everything he can to push her buttons, to make her so irrationally angry that she can't fight effectively. Unfortunately, this uncorks a volcano of rage in her that acts like a magnet to one of the new red power rings Atrocitus created back in Red Lanterns #21.
Nrama: Charles, how does the addition of Supergirl to the team make sense with the mission of the Red Lanterns, now that they're in charge of Sector 2814?
Charles Soule: Well, one thing to remember about Red Lanterns is that the Reds themselves don’t choose new recruits. The rings pick them, based on the criteria of looking for people capable of great rage. So, the Red Lanterns (I hesitate to call them a Corps, since that isn’t really how they see themselves) didn’t have anything to do with Supergirl joining the team, and the fact that she hangs out on Earth isn’t really related either. Supergirl attracts a ring because she has some unresolved anger issues — to put it in as therapy-centered terms as I possibly can.
So, SG on the team doesn’t make sense from a 2814-perspective, it makes sense because she’s capable of attracting a ring, and there’s a good story to be told. That’s all it takes!
Nrama: So if the Reds don't "choose" the rings, than that means Guy's not recruiting new members and handing out new rings?
Soule: No, Guy doesn’t even realize this is happening. That said, the answer to the “why” of all this was seeded almost a year ago (or it’ll be that long by the time the issue hits), and it all makes sense with the larger picture of what’s happening in the book.
Nrama: Tony, there's been a lot of reaction to the news that Supergirl is going to be a blood-spewing, hate-filled Red Lantern. She's been portrayed as a teen who just wants to do the right thing. Is there going to be a huge change to her personality when "Red Daughter of Krypton" begins in Supergirl?
Bedard: I view it as a chance for her to grow. She has a lot of good reason to be angry, and she desperately wants a place to belong. For a moment she'll feel like the Red Lantern Corps is actually a good fit for her. But what she'll come to realize is that Rage and Revenge only take you so far. She's better than that. Along the way, we'll introduce another new villain with unexpected ties to her roots. I know it's easy to see this Red Lantern thing as making Kara even less likable, but I see it as a great opportunity to deal directly with her anger and have her emerge as someone worthy of the "S" on her chest.
Nrama: With Supergirl possessing Kryptonian abilities, will the red ring react differently to her?
Bedard: Yes it will, starting with some of the characteristic Red Lantern attributes. She'll have her own version of that Napalm-blood spewing thing. She'll hold her own against her rather unsavory teammates. And she'll find that some of the other Red Lantern rules and limitations don't apply to her. But you'll have to check it out to see what I mean.
Nrama: Charles, you're also utilizing Superman in the March issue— further making good on your promise to me last month that the Red Lanterns would encounter Earth heroes. What does Superman think of this situation?
Soule: In the New 52, Superman and Supergirl aren’t incredibly close. Nevertheless, Superman still feels very responsible for Kara, as she is his cousin, and one of the few surviving Kryptonians. I don’t want to spoil too much of the story, but Superman doesn’t know much about the way Red Lanterns work, and the little he does know comes from Hal Jordan. Which means, in other words, that pretty much everything he knows is bad. As far as he’s concerned, Guy and the other Reds have turned his poor, innocent cousin into some sort of slavering rage monster. Not a great place for Guy and the Reds to be, if you ask me.
Nrama: How has it been working with Tony on the story, and working with Supergirl as a character?
Soule: Tony’s awesome – I’ve been a fan of his for a long time. His Exiles work for Marvel is one of the main things I’d single out, but I’ve liked a lot of his work. So, it’s great to be able to talk story with him – we’ve had a number of discussions and conferences with respect to how to break the story between Supergirl proper and Red Lanterns. It’ll work out nicely – we each get fun beats to play.
As far as Supergirl herself, well, she’s an icon, isn’t she? This story is about putting her through a pretty significant character arc that will end up with her in a solid place for stories going forward. I realize having Supergirl as a Red Lantern is a bit unexpected, but isn’t that part of the fun of comics? Anything can happen.
Nrama: Then to finish up, Tony, how would you describe the road ahead for Supergirl in 2014, particularly after her experience being a Red Lantern?
Bedard: When I pitched my Supergirl outline to the editorial department, I described Kara's character arc as going "from angry, whiny teen to self-possessed hero." I don't mean that as a knock against anyone else's stories, but as a declaration of my intention to make Supergirl someone to look up to and someone you'll look forward to spending time with every month. And not because she's trying to live up to Cousin Kal, but because she is awesome all on her own.
New villains, stronger supporting cast, and a new outlook. That's where Kara Zor-El is headed, and she's going to pass through the crucible to get there. It's what this character deserves and I hope everyone reading this will come along for the ride.