Although readers don't know the ending of this spring's Superman event — as the Man of Steel battles Doomsday in the rebooted New 52 — one outcome is known: Scott Lobdell will leave the Superman title at the story's conclusion.
In April, the New 52 version of the battle between Superman and Doomsday will be kicked off with a crossover between Action Comics, Superman/Wonder Woman and Superman. The hero will no longer be part of the Justice League after Forever Evil — as Lex Luthor joins the team — but he'll be the subject of a crossover event that centers on a revamped version of the villain that defeated him before the reboot.
When Newsarama talked to Charles Soule about the upcoming Doomsday event that runs through several Super-titles, he surprised fans by indicating that Superman might not have died at the hands of Doomsday in the New 52.
So is this a retelling of "Death of Superman?" And does the storyline that Lobdell's writing during the event set anything up for the newly announced upcoming run by Geoff Johns and John Romita Jr., which begins after Lobdell's departure? Newsarama talked to Lobdell to find out.
Newsarama: Scott, does the Doomsday story take you to the end of your run?
Scott Lobdell: Yes, and what a note to end on! I'm honored that I get to participate in the most epic Superman story of the New 52 to date!
Nrama: Since we interviewed Charles last week, a lot of people have been calling this a "retelling" of the "Death of Superman" story. Is that how you'd describe it?
Lobdell: I am sure I speak on behalf of both Charles and Greg when I say that anyone who is expecting a cover band version of the Death Of Superman is going to be sorely disappointed. That story was told nearly 20 years ago. There is zero interest on anyone's part to do a New 52-version of it.
After the finale of Superman: Doomed #1 is read, you'll understand that there is no possible way for us to re-tell that story again.
And also, let me say that working with Greg and Charles has been a thrill because we all three go out of our way to keep each other "honest." If there is something the other two feels is familiar or a point that we don't understand, we think nothing of challenging or questioning one another to make sure this is the most awesome story ever.
We want to make sure that, like "Death of Superman," this is a story they are still talking about 20 years from now!
Nrama: OK, before we get into the details of your Doomsday story, let's talk about the fact that Superman isn't part of the Justice League anymore come April. We've talked to Geoff about the new line-up for the Justice League, and it looks like Lex is considered a hero instead of a Superman villain. What does this mean for Superman and your comic after Forever Evil?
Lobdell: For the most part, he's going to be so busy dealing with the fallout over Doomsday that he's not going to have a lot of time to suss out his feelings about Luthor's new gig.
That said, I'm sure there are going to be opportunities aplenty for other Super-writers to explore that storyline. (That's the good thing about having so many writers detailing the adventures of the Man of Steel — there's something for everyone! Look at Greg's Lana-centric story in Action and Charles "Meet The Parents" story over in Superman/Wonder Woman as examples!)
Nrama: The solicitation for Superman #30 indicates that Superman has his hands full with a couple situations in Smallville and Kandor. What can you tell us about those events that are giving Superman such trouble?
Lobdell: I think a lot of times, comics stories focus exclusively on "X tries to hurt the Super Hero"... and while Superman certainly does have to rise to the occasion in this story, we really wanted to make the threats not so much "bigger" as much as we wanted to have repercussions that impacted on every day people in this story. It isn't enough to have Doomsday try to kill Superman for four issues.
To that end, we'll be seeing a profound impact on the people of Smallville who are going to suffer greatly. In the first four pages of Superman #30, we see how everyday people are affected by Doomsday... and it's tragic.
Nrama: Wow, so this all ties to Doomsday? How much does Doomsday affect what's coming up in your Superman title?
Lobdell: At least initially, it has a very profound effect, as Superman is going to be dealing with his best friend's problem that is — if you can imagine — even more frightening than what he's dealing with with Doomsday.
A few issues ago, Dr. Veritas warned Superman that Lois Lane was transforming "into what? I can't say." We're about to see for ourselves what she was referring to — and it is startling. (I just saw the penciled cover for Superman #30 — it's all kinds of brrrr!)
Nrama: There are several Super-books dealing with Doomsday this spring — each, presumably, looking at his appearance from a different angle (since Charles told us he's looking at how this affects Clark's relationship with Diana). How would you describe the approach you're taking in Superman?
Lobdell: Like I say, I'm trying to focus on the human cost and less about the super human stakes. Like a lot of people, I've read a lot of crossovers and events in the last few years that focus on big bigger biggest with a Night of a Thousand Stars line-up. This story — as epic as it is — is about pulling the camera tight in close-up on the characters involved.
Nrama: Does the story set up anything for Geoff's run?
Lobdell: As I do not have a set of keys to the "Tome Of Geoff," I am not sure about what he'll be doing or how much of the recent events in Clark and Superman's life will be reflected in the book after I depart.
But... seeing as he is Geoff Johns, I am sure it's going to be awesome no matter what direction he takes!
Nrama: I know you said this isn't a retelling of the "Death of Superman," but you guys are getting the chance to show what this revamped version of Doomsday does to Superman in the New 52. Before I switch gears to talk about the end of your run on Superman, is there anything you can hint about what's coming in this Doomsday event?
Lobdell: I've been reading for years people dismissing Superman as too powerful — as if the solution for that is to de-power him or make him less powerful. But I think Superman: Doomed is the perfect example that the best way to challenge Superman is to upgrade the threat against him and make him have to work much harder to succeed. That's what's going to happen here...
Nrama: It seems odd not having you around in Superman or Superboy's life, since both characters were so influenced by you as a writer since the New 52 began. Is there any chance you'll still be involved in the Superman group?
Lobdell: Life is always rife with possibilities, Vaneta! (I am pitching a series that tells the untold tale of Jor-El's discovery of the Phantom Zone and how it led to the adventure which prompted Lara to propose to him. And I'm also pitching a series where Mr. Mxyzptlk's kingdom in the 5th dimension is overrun and the only way to protect his daughter is to summon the one creature in the universe that he can depend on to protect her from his myriad of enemies... Krypto!) I think the Super-verse is big enough that they can use someone in the trenches exploring and developing some outré ideas.
Nrama: OK, so we know you're pitching DC anyway. But since we found out that you're leaving Teen Titans in April, and now find out you're leaving Superman this summer, it looks like you're not writing anything for DC — or at least not anything we know about. Does this mean you're totally leaving DC?
Lobdell: What's that old saying about wild horses? Rest assured, I have no plans of leaving DC to the tender mercies of its competitors. Check this space for future announcements.
Nrama: Then to finish up, is there anything you want to say to fans about the announcement that you're leaving Superman?
Lobdell: First and foremost, I want to thank my partner in crime, Kenneth Rocafort! Is he amazing, or what? And a great guy.
Secondly, I have to say... if I'm going to be leaving Superman to make way for a new creative team, I'm glad and kind of honored that it's going to be two of the biggest guns in industry! Geoff Johns and John Romita Jr.?! As a fan I can't be any more excited than I am to pick up a copy of Superman #32.