As Neal Adams finishes up his six-issue run on The Superman: Coming of the Supermen, he admits that the series was crafted to show the type of Superman and Jack Kirby characters that Adams prefers — but he's also promising a final page in the final issue that will shock readers.
Launched in February, Superman: The Coming of the Supermen has featured Superman interacting with a wide variety of characters, including Darkseid and the New Gods, a young boy and his dog who were befriended by Superman, and a trio of Superman-symbol-wearing Kryptonians from New Krypton.
Adams is also drawing an upcoming Harley's Little Black Book story and the recently announced DC Challenge series featuring Kamandi.
But more on those books later — in the first part of our interview with the legendary artist, Newsarama talked to him about the end of Superman: The Coming of the Supermen.
Newsarama: Neal, there are so many fun things happening in this comic. Was your goal to make it so much fun and so positive, yet have a bit of a message in there?
Neal Adams: You're right. I did put a lot of things in there. First of all, I love Jack Kirby, and I love Jack Kirby's work. And I really don't, between you, me and the fence post, like the idea that people take Jack Kirby characters and change them, because they don't need to be changed.
So I thought, you know, I want to do Jack Kirby, I want to throw as many of Jack Kirby's characters in as I can, and make them Jack Kirby characters — not make them my versions or change costumes or anything else. Everybody looks exactly the way they're supposed to look, exactly the way Jack Kirby did it. Maybe the anatomy is a little bit better, because I'm known for doing that, but it's still Jack Kirby.
So here was my opportunity to do Jack Kirby.
The other thing is, I really haven't done Superman. I did Superman vs. Muhammed Ali decades ago. And people were pretty happy with that. That book went out to the rest of the world and made people think that maybe America was becoming liberal and that we were being very, very broad in our acceptance of Muhammed Ali, when in fact that may not have been the case then but certainly has become quite a bit different now. So it's kind of a pre-cursor to the future.
I think of Superman, during those small moments I get to think of Superman, as being very optimistic, very good and positive. And I don't necessarily think of Batman, for example, that I'm known for doing, as being quite that kind of a character. He is kind of a dark character. He hangs around at night. He is deep and he is dark. And he has deep thoughts.
Superman is not exactly that kind of guy. He is very optimistic, he's very joyful, he's very interesting, he loves things. He falls in love vainly and he loves his parents. His mom is still around — for the most part; I never know when somebody else is doing it, whether his mom and dad are still around.
But he's a daytime character, as opposed to a nighttime character.
So for me, the idea of then pitting Jack Kirby's Darkseid against Superman is exactly what I want to do. I want to show the light against the dark. I want to show the evil against the good. And I want the good to be clear and to be wonderful and to be positive. I am, and I'm sure you are, a good person. We try to be good. We try not to find devious ways to solve problems. And we go straight into it. Sometimes, you know, you get hit in the head because of it. And I guess that's Superman, you know? He's such a good guy that, you know, you just slug him in the head. He just has to go, whoa, what just happened?
But that's still good, you know? Because you want somebody to be like that. So for me, Superman is that kind of a character. And I've had such a good time with it. Of course, I've finished the series. And every issue, for me, is me trying to share that happiness with doing Superman and doing Jack Kirby's characters with the audience that are reading the books.
And I'm hoping they're having a great time, because I'm having a great time.
Nrama: We've talked before about this little boy Rafi, and there are some things adding up for readers about the nature of this boy. Can you talk about him? Because I think it might come across that he's just kind of a throw-away character.
Adams: Yeah, a reader could think I just threw that in there. No, I didn't just throw that in there. That character is significant to the whole story.
And that little puppy of his is significant to the whole story.
Nrama: Interesting. I was suspecting the boy, but didn't really think about the dog. Is the puppy really that significant?
Adams: In some ways, that is the whole story.
I want my audience to go, he's got a kid and a dog? What the hell's going on? That's cute. And you really kind of love that kid.
Well, that's Superman, for me. That's taking Superman and planting him in a world that I want to see Superman in.
Nrama: You've said before that the Supermen from New Krypton are inspired by Gunga Din. What do they bring to the comic? Does it relate to what you were talking about, wanting to see certain characters around Superman?
Adams: Yeah. The Supermen come to replace Superman and take over his job so that he can go back and help them. That's kind of funny. And yes, I was thinking about characters from Gunga Din. These Supermen kind of bounce around.
The last little gesture I have on the last panel, as they're walking to their spaceship and leaving is one of them punching the other guy in the shoulder.
I see that as their relationship. For me, it's a very joyful experience.
Nrama: That seems to sum up a lot of your approach — a joyful experience.
Adams: And you know, maybe people could say, "Yeah, Neal's hung around with Batman so long that he needs some relief and some happiness and some sunshine and some joy, and that's where Superman fits in." I can see people might think that. It's really not the case. I just like the character. And I like the Jack Kirby characters. And I had such a damn good time with the whole thing.
Nrama: As a final question about the series, can you reveal anything about what we'll see in the final issue?
Adams: Well, let me just say this. You're in for some surprises. In the very last panel of the very last page, you're definitely going to be in for a shock, a big shock.
What I do is — and I guess other people do it too — I find things that people kind of leave along the driveway, and I pick them up and put them in my pocket, and I save them. And there are things that happen that happen in science fiction and science fantasy that I see all the time — and we do see it all the time; we see it in Star Trek and Star Wars and all the rest — it seems as though there are two kinds of aliens. There are aliens that look like us: They have fingernails and they blow snot out of their nose and we can probably have sex with them. And then there are other types of aliens that look like rolls of tape or flatirons or some weird thing.
And those of us who are fans of this stuff are amazed by this, that there are these human-like aliens and there are these other things that look like rolls of tape. And the question is, why?
Why is that the case? What is the deal? You could say it's because of our inability to make characters like that. Or maybe there's some deep reason for this happening.
So I've set this story up to solve that problem, to give us the answer to that. And the answer is planted in the story as you go along. That thing about Darkseid's ancestor in Egypt. The story about the little boy. The story about that alien that somehow shows up and seems to always be around. There's something going on there that will be answered in the last panel of the last page.
And when you see that, you'll say, Neal, I want to see the rest of this story. What is going on?
Nrama; And is there going to be the rest of the story? Will there be another chapter to this?
Adams: Well, that's up to DC and the fans. Do they want to see the rest of the story? Will there be more? That's a question I can't answer.