DC kicked off its programming at the New York Comic Con with Superman: Building a Better World panel. Panelists for the discussion of all things Kryptonian included Greg Rucka (Action Comics), Geoff Johns (Action Comics, Superman: Secret Origin), Superman group Editor Matt Idelson, DC Senior Story Editor Ian Sattler, Supergirl artist Jamal Igle, Supergirl writer Sterling Gates and Superman writer James Robinson.
And for celebrity watchers, Anthrax’s Scott Ian was seen in the audience (and huddling prior to the panel with Sattler).
After a brief delay due to sound issues, Sattler kicked off the panel, handling the introductions of the panelists, and then kicking off a selection of slides highlighting the Superman titles coming up.
The slides began with Superman: World of New Krypton #1, with Rucka noting that the cover to #4 is “better because it has a Green Lantern on it.”
“Superman moves - kinda - to New Krypton,” Rucka said when asked to described the book. “There are Kryptonians there, some of who he doesn’t get along with. One of them is named Non and one is named Zod.”
Rucka continued, saying that he and Robinson have spent the better part of the week breaking down the series, saying that the story takes Superman on an extraordinary character journey in a way and a place that’s been a long time coming.
Robinson added that, within the main Superman titles, Superman will be off planet for a year, but World of New Krypton is the driving book of the Superman titles in many ways. Events in New Krypton will affect not only Supergirl, but also Nightwing and Flamebird in Metropolis (in Action Comics) and other books, Robinson said.
Moving to a slide of an upcoming issue of Superman showing The Guardian, Robinson said that while Superman is off planet, it will take more than one hero to protect Metropolis, and listed Mon-el, Steel, Zatara, and Black Lightning as some of the other protectors that readers will see. Describing Mon-el as a “goofy good guy,” Robinson said that his arc will be somewhat tragic as his clock ticks down on his time on earth; while the Guardian’s overarching arc will be about him trying to find his humanity.
Moving on to an upcoming cover of Action Comics showing a woman with glowing red eyes, Rucka said simply, “That’s Ursa – she’s not right in the head. She has issues. And She explores these issues through violence. A lot of violence. “
“Can she fight Black Adam?” Johns asked.
“I hadn’t thought of that,” Rucka answered back. “I like that idea. We’ll get there in the end.”
Continuing to talk about the heroes taking Superman’s place in Action Comics, Rucka assured readers that Flamebird and Nightwing are very cool in the series, and suggested readers who may be planning on not picking the series up due to the lack of Superman “ust read a little bit” before making their final decision.
Sattler then asked members of the audience to raise their hands if they were nervous about the coming changes to Action and Superman, and the lack of the main character.
Among the few hands that were raised, one fan said that he was nervous about the coming storyline because the idea had been explored before, and that, if he wanted to read about other characters, he wouldn’t buy Action or Superman, he’d buy another book.
Acknowledging the fan’s concerns, Rucka said that while the coming story may mine elements of, and stories that were told before with Superman, it does it in a new way, allowing the character to reach a new place in a satisfying way.
Continuing to talk about what will be happening in the Superman books without Superman, Rucka said that Lois will be appearing in a crucial role in Action, while Robinson’s handling of Jimmy in Superman will be very important as well. Reminded by Johns, Robinson added that threads that he began back with the Atlas story, and going back to the General Zod story will start to come together.
Speaking to the large-scale nature of the Superman story, Rucka said, “I was made aware of the Superman story over two years ago, and this is the midway point.” Robinson added that he and Johns agree that Rucka has created as book that neither of them could write in Action.
Moving on to Supergirl, Gates said that the “Who is Superwoman” arc will end with #41, and then the series will move on to tell more stories with Supergirl’s mother, and explore more of New Krypton. Gates added that Supergirl’s “Linda Lang” secret identity will continue in the series as well.
Upcoming Action artist Eddy Barrows arrived late to the panel, those his arrival brought accolades from Rucka, who said that “You guys ain’t seen nothing yet” when it comes to his art.
Next up was a slide of Adventure Comics, which Johns said that he will be launching in June with Francis Manapul. The cover, Johns noted, shows two shadows “One’s good and one’s bad,” Johns said. The cover also shows Starman, and Johns said that this is the series that spins out of Legion of 3 Worlds. Robinson pointed out that the cover is fully representative of the interior artwork.
Following the slides, Johns said that Superman: Secret Origin is due out in summer, and will focus on the stories of Superboy, Bizarro, Clark Kent, Lex Luthor, the Parasite and the Legion, among others.
The slides over, the panel moved on to the Q&A.
Asked if readers will need to get World of New Krypton to understand the throughline of the Superman titles, Johns said that you can still just buy what you like, and hopefully you’ll try the books and find that they’re all worth buying, but the flavor of the characters will remain consistent throughout the titles. “If you read them all you get the full picture, but any one of them is a nice look out the window,” Rucka added.
Speaking about their working style on New Krypton, Rucka said that Robinson was the one that came up with the terra-forming of the new world – something which was a slip and not meant to be said at the panel, but indicating that the whole of New Krypton will be inhabited by Kryptonians.
Asked about his larger story concerning Krypto that he began with his run on Superman, Robinson said that the goal of the arc is headed towards him being the “best boy, ever.”
Asked about the tease of the idea of a sibling to Lex Luthor, Johns said to continue reading Legion of 3 Worlds.
Asked if readers will see Supergirl interacting with heroes of her own age, Gates and Igle said that there will be more coming up, but she has a lot of things going on. The same audience member then thanked them for hints about Conner Kent returning (as seen in this week’s Adventure Comics #0), and said that he hoped to return next year to thank them for a full return of the character.
Johns: “If you like Black Lanterns, you’ll be happy.”
Asked if the Newsboy Legion will return, Robinson said that readers of Superman will see them again, and their story will tie in with the Guardian’s clone “daughter.”
Will we see Chris Kent back anytime soon? Johns: “I hope so.”
Asked if there are plans for older Kryptonian characters such as – Tor-am, Dev-Em, Jax-ur, and Ak-var– Rucka, who completed the list of Kryptonians with Johns said, “Oh yeah. You notice how we have those names on the tips of our tongues?” Rucka asked. “Like we might be talking about them a lot?”
Are people wondering where Clark Kent is while Superman is on New Krypton? Robinson: “There will be a logical explanation – it will be explained.”
“He and Bruce Wayne are in Hawaii,” Johns quipped.
Asked again about Chris Kent, John s said that the hunt by Zod for Chris will be seen in New Krypton.
Will there be changes in Superman’s supporting cast as well? Asked a fan. The writers said that the Daily Planet staffers will continue to appear in the books, and play important roles. Rucka said that he had already claimed Lois for Action Comics, Gates said he claimed Cat Grant for Supergirl, “And I love Jimmy Olsen,” Robinson said.
“I claim Steve Lombard then,” Johns said.
Idelson: “Then who has RonTroupe?”
Johns: “I have him too.”
Igle: “Aw, can’t you give Ron to the only brother on the panel?!?”
There are more plans for other specials down the road a la Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen by Robinson.
When find out the mystery of Sam Lane? “It’s going to happen this year,” Rucka said.
“It will most likely be a Wednesday,” Sattler added.
Adventure Comics will be set in both present day and the Legion’s time, according to Johns. “And maybe a third time,” the writer added.
Asked about the line in Last Son – Zod mentioning that there is something worse than him in the Phantom Zone., the writers said that the topic was something they had just discussed the previous night at dinner. “We can’t tell you,” Rucka said to persistent questioning, saying that, “it’s something that Zod is nervous about. Until he had his keister handed to him by Superman in Last Son, he’d only had one other defeat in his life, and that was to Brainiac, but he’s not afraid of Brainiac. He’s afraid of this thing.”
Rucka said that there will be a period of culture shock in New Krypton as Superman learns the way of Krypton from real, living Kryptonians. Robinson pointed out that for Superman, his experience with Krypton has been one akin to seeing the tour guides of the planet and its culture – depictions of Krypton’s finest and highest achievements. The reality, Robinson said, is different than what he knew.
There will be other animals on New Krypton, Johns said in response to a question, adding that Dan DiDio’s personal request was a thought beast.
Asked about the triangle numbering, Idelson said that the numbers will remain, but will be reset at some point, as to not make them too intimidating, but that hasn’t been determined yet.
Asked if Superman will have to make a choice between New Krypton and earth, Rucka said that he feels that’s kind of a false question for Superman. “If there’s a third way, Superman will find it. I think it will be an interesting question for Supergirl, though,” Rucka said with Gates agreeing.
Asked why the writers wanted to bring Zod, Ursa and Non back, Johns said that the characters are more popular than Brainiac with fans, and known by a much larger audience, so the question then becomes, why not use them?
Likewise, when asked about using the crystalline structure for both Kryptonians architecture and the Fortress of Solitude, Igle said, “The crystal stuff is timeless, that’s why that approach works so well.”
Asked about the format of Adventure Comics, Johns said that there will be a lead in the series, but many characters will appear in the series as well.More New York Comic Con 2009 Coverage: NYCC '09 Video Page