Louise Simonson is getting to return to Steel, the character she co-created in 1993 — and she's bringing along some young heroes from WildStorm's Gen-13 for the story.
Convergence: Superman — The Man of Steel focuses on John Henry Irons, as he fights to save the domed city of Metropolis, ripped from its own timeline and now invaded by heroes from yet another domed city — the premise of DC's April/May Convergence event.
On the two-issue mini-series, Simonson is reuniting with artist June Brigman, with whom she co-created the superhero team Power Pack. With Man of Steel they'll be working with young heroes again — this time Gen-13 and Steel's niece Natasha and nephew Jemahl.
Newsarama talked with Simonson to find out more about what happens when Steel meets Gen-13, and what readers can expect from Convergence: Superman — The Man of Steel.
Newsarama: Louise, how did you get involved with the Convergence event? Louise Simonson: I got a conference call from Dan DiDio and a number of other DC editors asking if I’d like to write a Steel two-issue story as part of an event.
Writing Steel again was tempting, and when I found out Marie Javins was to be the editor, I instantly agreed.
I was told that I could crossover with one of the Wildstorm books from that era, and, of course, I chose Gen-13, which was my favorite. Nrama: What appealed to you about returning to these characters in a story set in this era? Simonson: I loved how the Death and Return of Superman storyline turned out and Steel, and his niece Natasha and nephew Jemahl, were created during that era.
And it was great to be able to include Bibbo and Professor Hamilton, too. It was a time of character driven high drama, as well as non-stop action. What’s not to love? Nrama: Once you learned the overall idea behind Convergence, what did you think of the event? Simonson: Actually, I don’t know a lot about the event as a whole, beyond its basic premise. I’ve been told what I need to know to complete my assignment, and I’ve seen a few pages of art completed by other teams, but that’s it.
I know it’s huge and sprawling and the fates of a number of cities and timelines are at stake. And I know that editor Marie Javins is working very hard to make it the best it can be. And several new books will spin out of it.
I guess I’ll find out more, like everyone else, when the comics come out. Nrama: What's this Steel like as you're writing him? How old is he, what experiences has he had, etc? Simonson: John Henry Irons had very recently returned to Washington, DC, after the return of Superman, rejoined his family, and was acting as the super-hero Steel there. He took his niece and nephew to Metropolis to show them the city and was there when the Dome slammed down. Steel, of course, feels responsible for their safety but also feels duty bound to protect the citizens of Metropolis as Steel.
One year later, as Convergence begins, he and the kids are renting a floor in Professor Hamilton’s building, and, with Superman gone, he’s acting as Steel, trying to keep peace in the city. He’s also caring for his niece and nephew and, when he has time, he’s helping Professor Hamilton figure out what the Dome is and how to deal with it. Every time he turns around, there’s something else competing for his attention. He’s over-worked, exhausted, and is hardly sleeping. Nrama: As you mentioned, you're also working with the Gen-13 kids. Who's part of the group, and what's their status as we pick up their story? Simonson: Gen-13 has been pulled from pretty early in their run so they’re not yet as experienced as they will become.
Fairchild, Grunge, Burnout, Rainmaker, and Freefall have been trapped under a dome in La Jolla for a year. They’ve been hanging out together but they’re feeling a bit bored and they’re out of practice.
Nrama: How do they meet Steel?
Simonson: They're teleported into Metropolis from their own Dome, which surrounds La Jolla. Gen-13 and Steel have been ordered to fight each other.
When they’re teleported suddenly to Metropolis, they’re overexcited and a bit confused. They act impulsivily…to their almost immediate regret.
Gen-13 can’t believe their foe is an “old dude” in armor. But insuring La Jolla’s continued existence is more difficult than Gen-13 thought when they find themselves fighting an armored Natasha and Jemahl and…unexpectedly…the Parasite!
Professor Hamilton begins to understand, and even use, the mystery of the Dome, and his discovery alters the balance of power and changes Steel forever.
Nrama: You mentioned that Gen-13 was a favorite of yours, and of course you co-created Steel. What are your fondest memories of these characters in the past? What did you like about them when they were around during this time period you're tapping into? Nrama: I loved having the opportunity to create Steel as the heart and soul of Superman during the Death of Superman storyline. And, when Superman returned and John Henry went back to Washington, it was great to meet his family and see where he’d come from.
Everyone loves the ex-boxer Bibbo, proud owner of the Ace O’ Clubs bar, who loves “Sooperman.” He’s a great character — tough-as-nails and good-hearted as they come. I loved writing him especially in Funeral for a Friend.
One of his friends is Professor Emil Hamilton, a “mad-genius” rogue scientist and good guy to have in your corner. I really like his and Bibbo’s unlikely friendship and their interactions during the Doomsday fight and after the Death of Superman. Nrama: It's great to see you revive some of these characters, but I know you've been busy lately. What have you been working on? Simonson: Super Secret Crisis War for IDW has just been released as a graphic novel and is on sale now. I just finished a Superman novel for kids for Capstone Publishing. Currently, I’m writing several kids picture books for a few different publishers, but book publishing works pretty far ahead and they won’t be out for a while yet. Nrama: Getting back to Convergence, you're working with June Brigman and Roy Richardson. What's the art like on these two issues? Simonson: I love seeing penciler June Brigman’s and inker Roy Richardson’s interpretation of Steel, Bibbo, and Professor Hamilton, but I especially love seeing what June does with the kids. There are a lot of teenagers in our arc — the five Gen-13 members as well as Natasha and Jemahl.
June and I created Power Pack together and, as everyone knows, she excels at drawing pre-teens, but she’s equally great at drawing teenagers. The story is action-packed and June’s art gives the story a lot of visual excitement.