Now that the "Who is Superwoman?" storyline has ended (Newsarama note: SPOILERS AHOY for that story), the Supergirl title by writer Sterling Gates and artist Jamal Igle is heading into a couple of crossovers that will bring the character closer to the rest of the Superman universe and events in New Krypton.
"Superwoman’s story isn't over, though" Gates told Newsarama. "The mystery was her identity, which is why the story was called ‘Who is Superwoman?’ But there are a lot of things about Superwoman that haven't been revealed or fully explained, and you'll be seeing those elements play into upcoming events in Supergirl, both in the Annual and the ongoing title.
"I always set out to build Supergirl’s rogues gallery and really build up some cool villains for her. First on the list was Superwoman, and given her relationship to the El family, she had a very important role,” Gates said. "And it sure looks a lot like she’s dead right now, but there’s more fallout coming from that story. More than people realize.”
Part of that fallout is related to General Lane, since Superwoman was revealed to be his daughter. "At the end of the day, she's Lois Lane's sister, and she's General Lane's daughter. If she's killed doing her duty to her father, and if Supergirl is – indirectly, I might add – responsible for that death, it puts a giant target on Supergirl’s head. And behind that scope is General Lane. He's gone from seeing Supergirl as a Kryptonian nuisance to gunning for her big time, and you'll see that throughout the fall and into the winter," Gates said.
Another mystery in the title is the illness of Lana Lang, who has been functioning as Supergirl's friend and confidant.
"Lana and Kara are developing a very close friendship," Gates said. "For a long time, Kara didn't have anyone to lean on. She didn’t have any long-lasting friendships, really, and the people she was choosing to confide in weren’t necessarily the best for her. So I wanted her to connect with someone who was very grounded and yet still connected to the Superman mythos. Someone who could guide Kara through some of life’s pitfalls using their own experiences. And that person ended up being Lana Lang. I think it’s a good match for the two of them, really. Lana needed a place in the DC Universe, and Kara’s been actively looking for a place in the DC Universe, and they found each other. I love writing scenes with them together. I mean, it would be just horrible for Kara if something bad were to happen to Lana."
Gates said Lana's "harboring a pretty terrible secret that's going to be playing out soon within Supergirl, right around Issue #50, which isn't that far from now. And you might ask, ‘What could possibly be so terrible that she’d hide it from Supergirl?’ People should be pretty surprised when they find out.”
As Supergirl's story shows up in some special issues and crossovers, Newsarama sat down with Gates to outline all the issues that are coming up for Supergirl fans:
Superman Secret Files 2009
The newest Superman Secret Files, which is to be released August 12, will be 54 pages of profiles and stories highlighting characters that will play parts in the upcoming storylines throughout the Superman universe.
“There’s a great story James wrote featuring Jonathan Kent (who is secretly Mon-El. Shhh, don’t tell anybody) and Billie Harper,” Gates said. "It focuses on their new partnership – they were assigned to be partners in this past week’s Superman #690 – as well as portraying how strange and difficult it is to be a plainclothes Science Police officer.
"Then Greg and I wrote a story called ‘Blood Sisters’ that explores Supergirl's relationship with Thara Ak-Var, who is Flamebird over in Action Comics. We’ve referenced the fact that they were childhood friends several times, and now we’re going to see what their friendship was like as the pair of them explore a very dangerous part of Old Krypton together,” Gates continued. "Greg also wrote an excellent story from Ursa’s point of view that has one of the most – no, two of the most shocking panels I’ve seen in a Superman book in a long time. Ursa fans will be very happy, I think.”
The issue will have "tons of gorgeous profiles, all drawn by the regular Superman Universe artists," Gates said, as well as maps of New Krypton and Metropolis as rendered by Pete Woods.
"Those maps? Maaaaaaan. They're amazing. Pete Woods is an incredible designer. He’s designed so much cool stuff for Superman: World of New Krypton," Gates said. "For example, I have a full-scale map of Kandor on my computer that Pete created in Google Sketch-Up. Completely three-dimensional and fully rendered. You can change the angle and the views and zoom in and zoom out. Essentially, you can move the camera around so that it looks like you're standing in the streets of Kandor, or you can place it high in the air as if you were flying and looking down at the city. I don’t understand how Pete’s brain creates that kind of thing, but I’m more than happy that it does!”
Beginning this week, all of the Superman books will be part of a four-part crossover called "Codename: Patriot," a title that indicates intrigue and suspense.
“Adventure Comics editor Liz Gehrlein came up with the title when we were initially talking about this crossover on one of our conference calls," Gates said. "She threw it out there, and it helped solidify everything we’d been talking about for the story. And yes, there is a rationale behind the title, and by the end of the crossover, you'll know what it means.”
The crossover begins in Superman: World of New Krypton #6, which goes on sale on August 5, then continues in Action Comics #880, Supergirl #44, and Superman #691.
"The story Codename: Patriot represents the start of the next phase of General Lane's plan," Gates explained. "Mon-El has a huge role. You'll see Reactron and Metallo. And you’ll see a little more about Mirabai, the magical character that's been running around in Action Comics the last few months. It's really just a big, crazy Superman story."
The writer explained that much of the intrigue involves the attack made on General Zod at the end of World of New Krypton #5. "General Zod was shot, and the ramifications of that event will start to really play out across Codename: Patriot, but they’ll also continue to echo through the books for a long time afterwards," he said.
Gates said one of the central action scenes in Supergirl #44 will feature a huge battle within the halls of General Lane's Project 7734.
"I got pages back from Jamal for my part of Codename Patriot, which is Part #3, and I freaked. Just freaked. Jamal drew one of the coolest fights I’ve ever seen him draw. That guy’s just a genius, I think. A fine artist through and through," he said. "It's essentially a very big brawl in a very tiny hallway. Think of the hallway sequence from Oldboy, only this time, it stars Atlas.”
"Atlas is a lot of fun to write. James has established him as a very classic Jack Kirby brawler type. He's this guy who kicks ass and smiles as he's doing it. He punches someone, then punches some more, and then keeps punching. It's just a blast to write him," he said.
While Gates wouldn't say who Atlas is fighting, solicitations for Supergirl #44 indicate there will be plenty of fighting elsewhere in the story between Mon-El, Supergirl, Nightwing and Flamebird.
"There will be some blows exchanged between Mon-El, Supergirl, Nightwing and Flamebird in this story. And then Greg and I will extend that confrontation even further during our crossover, which runs through the September and October issues of Action Comics and Supergirl," Gates said.
The Hunt for Reactron
After the finale of "Codename: Patriot," Supergirl and Action Comics will cross over for "The Hunt for Reactron," a four-part story that sees Flamebird and Supergirl going after the man who killed Kara's father.
"'Hunt for Reactron' is all about Thara and Kara's relationship, and there's going to be a lot of fighting between the two of them. In the Superman Secret Files story, you'll get to see what their relationship was like as children, and in Hunt for Reactron, you'll get to see what their relationship is like now. Look, sometimes friends have huge arguments and fallouts, and their relationships will change. Kara and Thara’s relationship is drastically different now. There's more heat vision and punching," Gates said with a laugh.
“This crossover’s actually been really exciting for me to write, because instead of structuring it as ‘you do your issue, I write my issue,’ Greg and I have been working together on each issue, co-writing every part,” said Gates. “Now I know what James is talking about when he gushes about how great it is working with Greg on Superman: World of New Krypton. Greg’s a fantastic writer, and working with him has just been a dream.”
Gates said Reactron is not only one of Kara's rogues within the pages of Supergirl, particularly since he murdered her father, but Thara also has a vendetta against the villain.
"While Thara lived in the Bottle City of Kandor, Zor-El acted as Thara's father as well. So in some way, Reactron is the murderer of her father, too. Albeit, her surrogate father," Gates said. "And if Supergirl can't defeat Reactron alone, then it's going to take both “daughters of Zor-El” to do it, to bring him to Kryptonian justice. And that's really what this story is about at its core -- the “daughters of Zor-El” searching for a killer.”
“And really, if you look at it on a bigger scale, that one act of killing Zor-El has led to all the trouble that Supergirl -- and Superman, on some levels -- has been going through since his death,” Gates continued. “If he had lived, Alura wouldn't have been put in charge and the New Krypton planet probably never would have been created. Zod might not have been let out, and Superwoman wouldn’t have attacked Supergirl. The death of Zor-El was a huge event not only in the life of Kara and Thara, but also in the scope of the New Krypton story. Reactron’s been the lynchpin for all of it."
Supergirl Annual #1
In September, Supergirl will get her first annual with several stories focusing on the characters that have become important to the series since Gates and Igle took over last year.
One story will focus on Kara's secret identity as "Linda Lang," which Gates said still exists even as she spends more time on New Krypton. "Her secret identity stuff has gotten a little sidetracked because of New Krypton, but she is still Linda Lang when she's on Earth. And you'll see how she's been trying to handle that secret identity in a story we were initially calling ‘Linda Lang: Day One,’ but we’ve since changed the title. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you what we changed it to. It would ruin the surprise.”
Gates said there will also be a story about Lucy Lane's origin that will round out the background of Superwoman, telling the story of how she transformed from Lois Lane's little sister into a costumed weapon for Project 7734.
"You'll see a lot of Lucy Lane's back-story in Supergirl Annual #1, and some -- and I said ‘some’ -- of the questions about Superwoman's origin will be answered there," Gates said. "We won't answer everything. I think it's fun not to know everything about a character all at once. I mean, I was obsessed with Wolverine when I was a kid because his back story was this huge mystery, and it was great to just get little bits and pieces as I kept reading.”
New Triangle Numbering
Beginning with Superman Secret Files 2009, the "triangle" numbering on all the Superman books will start over, which Gates said indicates a new chapter is beginning in the books.
"It's the next phase in our over-arcing Superman story,” Gates said, “and we want to signify that this is the next big act in our two-year-long Superman story.”
Gates said there are a lot of mysteries yet to be revealed, including how 7734 came to be and why. “We’ll get into some of that very, very soon. Sooner than you think. By the end of everything, we’ll have explored 7734 to its fullest, I hope.”
And does the "end of everything" mean there's a big ending to all the New Krypton stories that are running across the Superman universe?
"Oh, did I imply that? Huh. Wonder what I meant there,” Gates laughed. “No, as long as I've been involved in this undertaking, there's always been an end game in mind. It began with New Krypton, or even before that with Geoff Johns’ Brainiac storyarc and James' Atlas story. It started with Geoff and James -- two of the best writers in this industry, hands-down -- talking about this giant Superman plan, and it's ballooned bigger and bigger ever since.
"You could easily draw the parallel between the Green Lantern and the Superman books," he said, "in the way that Geoff has been building toward Blackest Night for years now, we’ve been building toward something in the Superman books.”
As for when or how that end game will take place, Gates would only say that fans will find out soon.
"The goal has always been to tell a huge, epic Superman story,” Gates said. "I think people are starting to notice that there are things which happened months ago that are playing out more than they expected. There is a very large map here, and our editors Matt Idelson, Wil Moss, Liz Gehrlein and Sean Ryan have been just wonderful letting us tell our story.
"And there is still so so so much more to come,” Gates said with a grin. “I can’t wait for people to see what happens to these characters next.”