City Life: Chuck Austen Investigates the Secret Life of Cities in 'Superman: Metropolis'

Fri, October 4th, 2002 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Beau Yarbrough, Columnist

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In our world -- what DC

Comics once called Earth-Prime before they then gave us Hypertime --

the Y2K threat is nothing but a memory of a disaster that wasn't. But in

the DC Universe, Chuck Austen is going to spend a year reminding readers

that Y2K was big trouble for the Man of Steel in "Superman: Metropolis."

"It's a story about the city, the Tech, and the boy in the middle,"

Austen told CBR News on Wednesday. "We'll see Metropolis through the eyes,

primarily, of Jimmy Olsen, The Daily Planet's resident, young,


In 1999's "Superman Y2K" special and story arc in the regular Superman

comics, the advanced Brainiac 13 transformed Metropolis into, quite

literally, the City of Tomorrow. But while the residents of Metropolis have

gotten used to their Jetsons-style hometown, they shouldn't take Brainiac

13's computer virus -- which they call the Tech -- for granted.

"The Tech has been a fixture of Metropolis and the lives of the people

who live there ever since it showed up in Y2K and was left behind by

Brainiac. It turned Metropolis into something otherworldly and futuristic,

and made Lex Luthor an ungodly wealthy man. But what actually is it? And

why does it do what it does if Brainiac is no longer inside? Or is

Brainiac really no longer inside?

"As the Tech begins to assert itself as an independent entity,

influencing the city and its people, these are questions Jimmy and Superman

want, and need, to have answered."

While Y2K was a convenient excuse to remodel Metropolis to more closely

resemble the futuristic skyline seen in the then-current Superman animated

cartoon, as a long term story element, it wasn't one that most reader were

clamoring to have more follow-up on. Of course, it just takes the right one

Superman reader.

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Such as editor "Eddie Berganza," Austen laughed. "He came to me with

this idea, and a hook that would make it cool and more interesting for me

to write than your average Superman comic and I thought it was brilliant

and couldn't wait to give it a try.

"Basically, it was just something fun that Eddie thought of, I got

excited about, and we decided to run with it and see what we could make

happen. It quickly grew into something very fun and cool, and not the least

what anyone would expect."

Despite the title, Superman isn't the star of the comic, Jimmy Olsen is.

And, in fact, the Man of Steel won't be appearing in every issue. Other

high profile superheroes may make an appearance in the book -- Austen

expressed interest in seeing Wonder Woman, the Flash or Green Lantern --

but nothing has been finalized.

"The main character is going to be the Tech. What it is and why it

begins, rather suddenly, doing these very strange things, and how it goes

about developing a relationship with Jimmy.

"Other than that, we're going to have other members of the Metropolis

press corps floating around, and that means some fun guest starring roles

that will fit perfectly well in with the theme of the book.

"I'm also introducing a female photographer, some professional

competition for Jimmy and a potential love interest, a woman who was a

global news correspondent and has given up her more high profile job and

come to Metropolis because she's fascinated with the Tech and what it does."

As for whether Brainiac 13 will be appearing in the series at all,

Austen isn't telling.

Art on the series is by Danijel Zezelj.

Outside DC, Austen has a full schedule, over at DC's crosstown rivals,

Marvel Comics.

"I'll continue writing the ['Uncanny X-Men'] for as long as they'll have

me, I'm working on a new War Machine project, and I'll be continuing the

'Call of Duty' as a regular series. I've got a pretty full schedule."

CBR News