Writers Wage the WAR OF THE SUPERMEN

[SPOILER ALERT: This article contains details of the story in War of the Supermen #1]

Last week, War of the Supermen #1 revealed what happens when 100,000 Kryptonians go to war with Earth.

And it wasn't pretty.

The first issue in this month's four-part War of the Supermen event featured a surprising explosion and death that turned the story in a new direction. The shocking destruction was devastating to both Superman and Supergirl, while also bolstering the anti-human sentiments of Zod and his military guild, who are heading to Earth.

Over two years in the making, the story that's been brewing in the Superman titles has escalated tensions between Earth and New Krypton to a fever pitch. Now, the story is culminating in a decisive battle that DC is touting as a "100-minute war."

Newsarama talked with writers Sterling Gates and James Robinson, the co-writers on War of the Supermen about what happened, and what comes next.

Newsarama: You guys had four issues to resolve this storyline. It's surprising that New Krypton got taken out in the very first issue. How was the decision made to start with this major event?

Sterling Gates: The destruction of New Krypton was always the plan. Always.

As James and I started discussing the War of the Supermen more and more as the time drew near, we decided placing the event at the start of the story allowed us to make it as big a surprise as possible, as well as present a very good case for either side of the battle lines.

I’ve heard from people who are really upset that New Krypton was destroyed, that a planet with such potential was blown up, its inhabitants killed. I agree; it’s a traumatizing and polarizing event.

But that’s what we’re saying with it: Death and destruction don’t care about potential.

At no point in history has a nuclear bomb not destroyed a city because it had potential. No Kryptonian’s pleas could’ve stopped that wave of destruction. That’s what makes war such a damn tragedy to me, and what makes all of New Krypton a tragedy: the immense loss of life because of the decisions of a few hateful men.

James Robinson: Yeah, war is hell. It was a sad moment, however, seeing all that thought and work that went into the year of World of New Krypton get blown to Hell.

Nrama: How did Kara survive that blast? Did it have to do with that gold burst that preceded the explosion?

Gates: Well, readers of Supergirl are familiar with Reactron and his Gold-K powers. He’s essentially a living nuclear reactor, now powered by Gold Kryptonite. During “Last Stand of New Krypton,” General Lane sent a spy (in this case, a robotic Lex Luthor) into Kandor to super-charge Reactron, making him, essentially, a gold-K-powered nuclear bomb.

When the device in Reactron switched on, Alura’s computers registered its presence and what it was doing. Alura shoved Kara into a radiation-shielded chamber, which protected Kara from the Gold-K-infused blast that killed the Kryptonians and destroyed the planet. Basically, everyone else on New Krypton had their powers taken away by the blast. Kara didn’t, so she survived.

Robinson:  That was Sterling’s idea.  Very inventive.

Gates: Well, not entirely my idea. To give credit where it’s due, it was Dan DiDio’s idea to make Reactron the doomsday bomb. I thought it was a great idea, and really tied the Supergirl stuff off in a nice bow.

Nrama: Sterling, after all the work you've done on Alura's relationship with Kara, was it tough to write that character's death?

Gates: Wow, was it that obvious I wrote that scene? [laughs]

That scene was a monster. It’s not easy to write the destruction of a race, nor is it easy to write the death of a person, especially someone you enjoy as much as I enjoy Alura. What also made that scene hard was trying to address everything I wanted to between Alura and Kara, but doing it in a very limited space.

I would’ve loved to make that scene much, much longer and wring as much emotion out of it as I could, but it was important to keep it concise, especially for new readers that came on-board the story with the zero issue.

So, yeah, it was tough.

Robinson: Again, all Sterling. I really liked that scene.

Nrama: Do you think this act redeems Alura in Kara's eyes? Or are there going to be some unresolved issues going forward for Supergirl?

Gates: There’s a slight element of redemption for Alura, but she still did a lot of heinous stuff leading up to this war. In fact, you could make the argument that it’s because of her this war started in the first place.

Alura was the one responsible for sending Kryptonians out into the world to collect Superman’s villains, she was the one responsible for creating New Krypton, she set Zod free and placed him at the head of the military, she was the one that sent Supergirl after Reactron, etc. The list goes on and on.

So, yeah, if you’re Supergirl, I think that leaves you with a couple unresolved issues, regardless of the one major — albeit very heroic — sacrifice Alura made.

But it will be Supergirl working through them and being successful in spite of those issues that makes her a hero to me.

Robinson:  You’ll also see some of this play out in issues of Justice League of America, too, where Supergirl will be a member starting with issue #45.

Nrama: The artwork in this issue had to really carry that last scene between Supergirl and Superman. What did you think when you got Jamal Igle's pencils back?

Robinson: I was blown away. Fantastic work from Jamal. I can’t wait to see what fantastic work he’ll do in the aftermath of this in the Supergirl comic that Sterling and he continue to kick ass on.

Gates: When the layouts came in, James emailed everyone on the team and said that it was like Jamal plucked the images right out of his head and put them down on paper. I bet Jamal blushed. [laughs]

Nrama: The image of Supergirl with the Kryptonian flag was pretty powerful. Toward whom does her rage get directed in upcoming issues of War of the Supermen?

Gates: That question’s answered right at the top of War of the Supermen #2! [Newsarama Note: In stores today, Wednesday May 12!]

Nrama: It's really something to see Superman suffering through the destruction of his homeworld again. What's his state of mind now, heading into Issue #2?

Robinson: Superman’s all about what’s best for people. Yes, he’s in pain over the destruction of New Krypton, but for him it’s all about saving whatever lives on both sides of the war that he can.

Gates: It’s like I said with Supergirl: It’s being a hero in spite of the adversity that makes us admire heroes. And Superman will do what’s right. Always. Even in the face of death and destruction, his first thought is of others.

Nrama: We didn't see General Lane in this issue, but instead saw Lois and Jimmy gathering forces against him. What can you tell us about what comes next for the general and for the Superman character who are currently on Earth?

Gates: Well, as you saw in War #1, the Super-Family characters on Earth will be trying to find Natasha Irons, as she’s got some very, very important pieces of intel in her head.

Lois, however, is going to have to deal with her sister, Lucy…or I guess I should say, Superwoman…

Nrama: Can you describe what Superwoman's smile meant? And is there anything you can tell us about what comes next for her character in particular?

Gates: Oh, but that would be spoiling it, Vaneta! [laughs]

I will say that I love Superwoman, and I hope to keep working with her in the pages of Supergirl. If she survives the war, that is…

Nrama: How has the destruction of New Krypton affected the Military Guild members currently headed toward Earth?

Robinson: They’re definitely not happy.

Gates: At all.

Nrama: Yeah, that's pretty obvious. You know, looking at this issue, it really does only cover about 25 minutes, so the 100-minute label isn't misleading at all. How challenging was that for you as writers, and will that kind of pace be upheld all the way to the end?

Gates: Well, the pace of this whole thing is what makes it fun, what makes it interesting. There’s literally no time to breathe, you’re constantly moving week to week to week, the ante is going up with every page turn. Like we keep saying, this is a ride. A big, Superman-centric ride.

Robinson:  It was fun squeezing so much into four issues. You’ll see in Issue #3 where things get crazy fast.

Nrama: Then to finish up, what can you tell us about what to expect from the coming issues of War of the Supermen?

Gates: A lot of big twists and turns. Heroes being heroic, villains being horrible. Supergirl vs. Superman! The Battle for Mars! The true destiny of Nightwing and Flamebird! The assault on Mount Rushmore! A dog having his day! Big Ben = Big Rubble! “You sank my battleship!”

Nrama: “You sank my battleship!?!?"

Gates: Yep! The War of the Supermen marches on! Hope you guys enjoy the ride.

Stay tuned next week for more from Gates and Robinson on War of the Supermen! #2 is in stores now.


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