Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, and Doug Mahnke might be taking a couple issues of Superman to honor Darwyn Cooke, but that doesn't mean the story will be on hold as the Man of Steel and his son, Jonathan Kent, travel to the New Frontier version of Dinosaur Island.
The story kicks off in October 5's Superman #8, as the "Rebirth" Clark Kent and his son - and their dog Krypto, of course - are unexpectedly transported to a mysterious island that has remnants of a great battle. The arc, titled "Return to Dinosaur Island," delves the aftermath of the action in New Frontier, but also features the father-son team fighting dinosaurs themselves. .
Tomasi and Gleason have been co-writing Superman since the "Rebirth" relaunch in June, showing how the post-Crisis Clark Kent has become this world's Superman, while trying to simultaneously protect his wife Lois Laneand educate his newly-superpowered son Jonathan Kent. While Gleason illustrates for the series, the two writers have also been working with other artists, including Doug Mahnke, who is drawing the "Return to Dinosaur Island" issues.
Tomasi and Gleason talked with Newsarama about the series, how they're paying homage to Darwyn Cooke and what readers can expect when — in November's issue #10 — Clark and Jon Kent come up against Bruce and Damian Wayne.
Newsarama: Pat and Pete, can we just say right up front what version of Dinosaur Island you're featuring in this book?
Peter Tomasi: It's the New Frontier Dinosaur Island.
Nrama: It's such a great way to pay homage to that book and the work of Darwyn Cooke. But because Superman and Jon are both transported there, it's also furthering their relationship. Which is one of your goals in this book, right?
Tomasi: Yeah, absolutely. It does both in more ways than one. It's developing the father-son relationship and how they interact on that island by the things that happen to them on it.
But at the same time, it is an integral part of the puzzle - the plot of the story that's moving forward in Superman
So this is a very key piece to all the stuff that's coming up.
Pat Gleason: When Pete and I were breaking the story, it was really amazing how all these pieces fell into place and worked out, as Pete said, as part of our bigger story, and also to be a tribute to Darwyn.
It all came together pretty organically. We weren't trying to "fit" anything in just to do a tribute or just to do our story. It all just seemed to work out serendipitously. And we couldn't be happier with it.
Nrama: I can imagine what New Frontier meant to you guys as creators, so was it a little daunting to approach the work?
Tomasi: I wouldn't say it was daunting. It was more like... you know, having known Darwyn a little and working with him back when I was an editor, I just kept imagining what Darwyn would say when he read it. Or what his call would be when he'd see it.
So I don't know, it just felt right. It felt like the right time to do it. We wanted to tip our hat to Darwyn. And it came together, like Pat said, really organically.
And reading New Frontier when it first came out, it had everything I love in a comic. I mean, obviously it had that hopeful angle, it had all that great interpersonal stuff, and then it opens with the amazing section with the Losers on Dinosaur Island. And that was a great hook for a war comic aficionado like me.
I read that book - it was coming in to the office. I saw pages when they were coming in as editor Mark Chiarello was getting them in from Darwyn. And I was just like, oh my God, I can't wait for this thing to be done already. .
Gleason: Yeah, it was great to play in Darwyn's playground a little bit, and put Superman and Jon into a situation as the reader would be - they're really serving as the readers' eyes into this world that was created by Darwyn. It was really cool to be able to do that.
Nrama: Let's talk about the overarching story. The three of us talked a lot in the past about what you were able to do with Batman and Robin, particularly the evolution of Damian Wayne. And there are similarities here - you've even got a boy and a dog again - but are these characters also evolving? .
Gleason: We're coming from the same spot. Pete and I have this history, doing Batman and Robin together. But the opportunity to do Superman was letting us flex different muscles.
But going into it, we just thought, you know, Superman is for everybody. This book can be for everybody. We wanted to really bring the audience in to Superman books, and really show people what this book could be, with our own flavor and in our own way.
There are definitely hints of things in the background.
Nrama: Hints of things to come?
Tomasi: Yeah. Just as in Batman and Robin's story, from the very first issue, right to issue #40, all those issues later, there were all these little pieces of - anybody reading the series could see they were all placed in there and all had some kind of ripple effect or were touched upon even almost five years later.
It's the same thing with Superman.
But the main difference, of course, between Batman and Robin and Superman having a son stems from the difference between Damian and Jon. The core DNA of each of those kids flavors the drama and the series in an incredibly different way.
So those two characters, those two kids, dictate a different way to write the story, which is great. We didn't want to repeat ourselves. This allowed us to stretch out in a different way.
Having been in the Batman universe and the Superman universe now, those are just two different beasts. And it's fun to play in a different one like that, with a general broad stroke that's similar - a father-son. And then we have Lois in the mix, so having a mother, father and a son is so much different than just Bruce and Damian. And Alfred of course…
But it allows us to, like Pat said, flex these different muscles and really go down different story roads.
Gleason: Yeah, the kids are different, but I think too, when we're writing Jon — Jon is also shining that light on Superman that people haven't seen before. It really brings this different feel to Superman, yet he's still familiar.
We see this dad who's not perfect.
Nrama: To me, having Jon there makes Superman more humorous.
Gleason: We love humor!
Tomasi: Yeah. And it's not just one-liners or whatever. All the humor and levity is coming straight from the heart of the characters.
That's the kind of stuff, when other writers do it, I love when humor comes out from that place and not just somebody trying to be funny, or write a funny line or a funny bit. This is all coming from character.
Gleason: Issue #7, when we write that, it stemmed from a joke, just a set-up joke. That Superman couldn't stop being Superman for one day. And that Lois, still loving him, would call him on it at the end, saying "I knew it!" And doing that kind of comic book is just great. It was really nice. And I think fans really respond to that.
I mean, you've also got to have drama and action. But we want to have a really well-rounded book and be able to go anywhere we want.
Nrama: This setting of Hamilton County is pretty important to the book, isn't it? With the fair and everything, are you trying to create a new Smallville?
Gleason: Absolutely. Midwest kid growing up - that's Superman. That's where he came from.
We didn't want to go to Smallville. This is something new, something different. But at its roots, it's something similar. And there's enough room for surprises. There's enough room for new supporting cast. And we really like that aspect, to start out this book it just seemed right.
Nrama: We talked about Bruce and Damian, and you've got them coming up in issue #10. What does that bring to Superman?
Gleason: I just finished drawing issue #10. There's a few surprises in there too that are beyond the solicits, especially for fans that picked up Robin: Son of Batman.
Those characters are so near and dear to Pete and I.
Tomasi: The art for issue #10 is amazing. And you know, this book, this series - we're really lucky. Pat's killing it, obviously, on all the stuff that he's doing. And Doug Mahnke on the Dinosaur Island issues. It's just great stuff. And Jorge Jimenez on issue #7.
It's great that we can come up with story like this, Pat and I, and then have it illustrated by awesome talent too. Everything's firing on all cylinders right now.
Gleason: And DC's been behind it too, editorially. Group Editor Eddie Berganza and Andrew Marino, assistant editor. We're really lucky to be able to work with people that enjoy what we're doing and let us carve our own path here. And do some new kind of stuff.