Writer Gene Luen Yang has confirmed that Hordr_Root, the new Superman villain who forced Clark Kent's identity into the public, is not only the son of a well-known DC character with a "long history" with Superman, but he's working "behind the scenes" with the other villains in current Superman books.
Since June, Lang and artist John Romita Jr. have been telling the story of what led Lois Lane to publish the name of Superman's secret identity, exposing Clark Kent to the judgment of the whole world. Other Superman titles — like Action Comics, Batman/Superman and Superman/Wonder Woman — have been showing what happened after the identity was revealed.
Beginning in October, all the Superman titles will be set in the present-day. And according to Yang, they'll tie together in ways that still aren't revealed — all leading to "something big that will involve all the books."
One big clue? In this week's Superman #44, Hordr_Root revealed information about his ties to his "father," a character that Yang said has a "long history with Superman." Newsarama talked to Yang about Lois Lane's decision to "out" Superman, this week's reveal about Hordr_Root, and what's coming up next as artist Howard Porter fills in for Romita during "Justice."
Newsarama: Gene, I think Superman #43 was a relief for a lot of Superman fans, because it revealed the Lois Lane only revealed Clark's secret identity to save his life — not just because she was a…a…
Gene Luen Yang: Hardcore reporter?
Nrama: Yeah, that's what I was going to say.
Yang: [Laughs] Yeah. Yeah, we had a lot of discussions about that. I think temptation has to be there for her, but ultimately it isn't who she is, to do something like that.
Nrama: It was interesting, too, that you were able to kind of expose how Lois feels about Clark through this story. I was wondering, though, did she feel as strongly about Clark before she started to figure out that he was Superman?
Yang: That's a topic for debate. I think there is always romantic tension between Lois Lane and Clark Kent. In the current DC Universe, they haven't really dated or anything — they've always been with other people. But, you know, there are people in your life where there's a little bit of something, right? Even if you've never acted on it, it's still there. I think that's who they are to each other right now.
Nrama: This week's issue has a reveal at the end about Hordr_Root — I assume this plays into what's coming up in Superman?
Yang: Absolutely. You mean the reveal where Hordr talks about his dad?
Nrama: Yes. And that's still a mystery, right? We're not supposed to figure out who dad is from those clues?
Yang: No, you're not. You're not supposed to be able to figure out who dad is.
Hordr_Root himself is a new character. We wanted him to embody something that's very modern. As we've described him before, he's this evil Mark Zuckerberg character. He embodies this idea that, in the modern world, secrets are very difficult to keep. Information is free-flowing. And he challenges this traditional Superman and superhero idea of a secret identity.
But at the same time, we want to tie him into the DC Universe in a stronger way. And that connection is that his dad is a character who's been in the DC Universe for a long time and has a long history with Superman. And we'll reveal who that is later.
Nrama: The solicitations for the next few issues don't give away much about what's coming up. Does it still tie into Hordr? Your part of "Justice?"
Yang: Hordr will be a presence. Absolutely a presence. But there are a couple of things I want to explore.
First is that Superman makes a threat at the end of this issue that is very un-Superman-like. He does this "eye for an eye" threat. I've heard it argued before that Superman is only good because he's strong. He can afford these ideals because nothing can truly threaten him, because he's the strongest being on Earth.
We're going to explore the tie between his goodness and his strength.
Second, I want to look at Superman as modern American mythology. So he's actually going to be coming into contact with some other mythological characters, other mythological figures. So we'll see modern American myth interacting with much more ancient myth in the next arc.
Nrama: We also just found out that you're working with Howard Porter in upcoming issues.
Yang: Yeah, Howard is going to come on with the "Justice" arc. So John Romita Jr. is taking a break after #44. Starting with #45 — #45, #46 and #47, that whole arc — will all be Howard Porter.
I'm a huge fan of both of these guys. I was a fan of John Romita Jr. growing up when he was working on X-Men. I used to go to local conventions to get his autograph.
And then Howard — I first because aware of his work when he was doing JLA with Grant Morrison. He did an iconic run with Grant. I just deeply admire his art. I think it's really dynamic. I think he is especially good at designing characters.
He did all these different costume designs for Justice League 3000 and they're really amazing.
So we're giving him a chance to shine with this on Superman as well.
Nrama: There's a mention in December's solicitation of "Composite Superman foes." Can you reveal anything about that?
Yang: Yeah, I don't want to give too much away. But it'll definitely be…. like, we want to pit Superman against his own strength and see how that goes.
Nrama: But this is still a de-powered Superman, right? Is that true going forward for awhile?
Yang: For "Justice" at least, we're exploring the new Superman — his new reality. We backed up his power set, what he had at the very beginning, in the 1940's. He couldn't fly; he could only leap. He couldn't shoot heat vision out of his eyes. He didn't have X-ray vision. He didn't have super-hearing. We're basically backing him up to that.
And that's why Aaron Kuder and John Romita Jr. came up with his new suit where we use the whole Fleischer-esque background, as kind of a nod to an era where he had the same power set that he has now.
Nrama: He's described as a "broken" Superman in one of the solicitations. Would you call him that now, as you head into the "Justice" storyline?
Yang: Well, he's definitely broken in some ways. He's not used to operating in the way that he's being forced to operate. He's always been used to being the strongest guy around. And now he's going to have to learn to live in the world where he's not the strongest way around.
So he's broken in some ways.
In other ways, I think — the way I see Superman is he never gives up, and he always puts the people around him first. So as long as he's doing those things, at a very fundamental, elemental level, he's not broken.
Nrama: And in other books, where Superman is so drained of energy and power — much of that is because of what the Quarmers did to him in this story, correct?
Yang: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely.
All of the Superman issues are now dealing with this de-powered, exposed Superman. He's been de-powered from them stealing his power. And we're not sure why. We're not sure what they're using it for.
That's what the other books are about right now. That's what the next arc is going to be about as well.
All of the Superman books are going to be doing an arc called "Justice."
Nrama: So all the different Superman issues are in the same place beginning in October for "Justice?"
Yang: They're all in the same place. For the last four issues of each of the books, Superman has been lagging behind in terms of time, so the other books have jumped ahead.
Now Superman has caught up.
They will be interlocking but independent stories. You can just read one title if you want, or you can read them all to get the whole picture.
Then we'll start pulling things together. They'll be tying more and more closely together as we go.
We're building to something big that will involve all the books.
It'll be tied into Hordr's dad as well — Hordr's dad's reveal — it will all be tied in together.
Nrama: So the shadow creatures we've been seeing elsewhere too — that all ties into Horder's dad?
Yang: Yeah. Absolutely. The shadow creatures, Angle Man in Superman/Wonder Woman — it all ties together.
Nrama: Are you saying there's going to be a Superman event where we find out who Hordr's dad is, and all the books come together?
Yang: Well, you'll have to keep reading.
I will say that we'll give you more information about Hordr's dad in the next arc.
Nrama: OK, because the villain at the end of Superman #44 looks tied to the shadow creatures.
Yang: They're all allies, working behind the scenes.
All the villains in all the books are allies working behind the scenes.
And we're going to show their evil, nefarious plot.