Greg Pak has introduced a new version of the Ultra-Humanite — and it doesn't look like the Superman villain of old.
Pak has confirmed to Newsarama that the giant, tentacled, clawed villain revealed on the final page of December's Action Comics #37 is the New 52's version of the Ultra-Humanite, who was the first supervillain faced by Superman during the character's debut issues in the Golden Age of comics.
Pak, who's also currently introducing "Superman's Joker" in Batman/Superman, is working on Action Comics with artist Aaron Kuder, who began working on the title with Pak last year.
The title is in the midst of a storyline titled "Horrorville," and readers just got their first look at the creature who is apparently behind many of the strange occurrences in Smallville. The residents of Clark's hometown appear to be under some type of spell or mind-control, as well as a huge cloud that's overtaken Smallville, when Superman discovers a monstrous creature that has Hiro in his grasp.
After future solicitations teased the appearance of the Ultra-humanite, Newsarama talked to Pak to ask about this new monster, whether that's a human being within the villain, and what's coming up in Action Comics.
Newsarama: Greg, before we talk about what's going on right now in Action Comics I have to ask about the mention of "the Ultra-Humanite" in a future solicitation. Putting two and two together here… is the monster at the end of issue #37 a new version of the Ultra-Humanite?
Greg Pak: I'm just gonna say it: yes. And it's awesome. Aaron Kuder has done a tremendous job with the design.
Nrama: It looks like the monster is actually an extension of a human being. Is that a correct assessment of the art? What can you tell us about this horrific, tentacled, clawed, yet (apparently) human-attached villain and how you came up with him?
Pak: I can confirm that there's a thing attached to a human-like thing. But exactly who is what and who's in control remains to be revealed. Keep on reading Action Comics for more!
Nrama: What's the story behind the villain's design? As Hiro said in this issue, "pretty awesome."
Pak: The look of the thing was a collaborative effort between me, artist Aaron Kuder, and editor Eddie Berganza.
Whenever we're introducing a new character or monster or villain, we go through a few stages to figure out a way to do something fresh and visually exciting. I think Aaron may have been the first to come up with the little-creature-attached-to-the-back-of-a-big-creature look, and it freaked us all out, so we knew we were probably on to something good.
Nrama: There's such a visual variety in this month's issue, from the flashback to Clark and Lana's childhood to this horrible-looking monster. How is Aaron's art impacting the story, especially with this horror-tinged tale you're telling?
Pak: Oh, it's all about Aaron. I do my best to write stories with my artists in mind. And I knew beyond a doubt that Aaron would go nuts with a story like "Horrorville."
Aaron's endlessly inventive when it comes to monsters — he's one of the best monster artists in the business, making each new creature feel completely fresh and new and real, which is a massive accomplishment when you think about how many monsters have been drawn every day since the birth of superhero comics.
Aaron's also incredible when it comes to character and story, and when it comes down to it, horror stories work on us because of the emotional impact the events have on the main characters. We have to feel their dread and understand their horror. Aaron's just the best at dramatizing that emotion in all its subtle and extreme manifestations.
Nrama: How would you describe what's coming up in the next few months of Action Comics before the break for Convergence?
Pak: Existential horror in Smallville as Superman tries to save his hometown from a monstrosity that may have already infiltrated everyone he cares about.
Crazy monster action from the great Aaron Kuder.
More development of Superman's supporting cast, with big turning points for Lana, Steel, and Hiro.
Nrama: You told me in our earlier interview that you're still writing Batman/Superman post-Convergence. Are you continuing to write Action Comics after the Convergence break? Are there plans beyond spring 2015, and will there be significant change in the book?
Pak: Yep, Eddie and I are talking all the time and making big plans.
Nrama: Then is there anything else you want to tell fans about Action Comics?
Pak: I just want to say thanks so much to everyone who's reading and talking about the books. Working on these characters has been ridiculously fun and the fact that you guys are buying them makes it possible for us to continue doing what we do. So thank you, and please do feel free to pre-order everything at your local comics shop!