Having just recently taken the reins on DC Comics' "Superman", Scott Lobdell has already made significant changes to Clark Kent's mythos. At the 2012 Long Beach Comic & Horror Con, Lobdell expanded on his upcoming "Superman" work and the new, radical direction for Kent. He also revealed what's in store for Jason Todd in the "Red Hood and the Outlaws" tie-in stories for the Batman family crossover event, "Death of the Family," and gave some details on where "Teen Titans" is headed after its tie-in issues conclude.
Lobdell was candid throughout the entire panel, fielding questions from fans and even moderating debates between people in the crowd over the topics discussed. Most notably, the subject of Superman and Wonder Woman's relationship, which began in "Justice League" #12, sparked heated conversations between audience members.
The biggest exchange began when a woman in the crowd made the comment that the relationship between the leading Justice League members "feels like a fan story." A cosplayer dressed as Superman quickly replied, "It's natural!" Lobdell let the two converse and they both settled on agreeing to disagree, hugging out their differences. This set the tempo and mood for the rest of the panel, a lively venue where fans peppered Lobdell with their questions and opinions.
Weighing in with his thoughts on Superman and Wonder Woman's relationship Lobdell said, "I don't think I would ever forget a kiss from Superman, no matter the circumstances. It must be very hard to be Clark -- to have best friends and this whole section of your life you're not able to talk about. Imagine being best friends with someone and you can't tell them anything you did that day -- any of the exploits and situations." Lobdell pointed out Wonder Woman is a perfect sounding board for Superman. "The relationship between Superman and Wonder Woman I want to explore going forward.
"Wonder Woman falls in love with Superman and she's like, 'Hey lets go out,' and he's like, 'Errmmm...,' and she says in disbelief, 'Dude, you're hot and you're a mild mannered guy.'" So what happens if the two break up, a fan asked Lobdell.
"It would make for an interesting story," shouted another fan. Lobdell stated if it ever came to that, both Wonder Woman and Superman would handle the situation like adults, as would the other Justice League members. "Aquaman wouldn't go, 'Alright Superman, you're not allowed to be in the water any more because you hurt Wonder Woman,'" he joked. Kidding aside, Lobdell added, "Lois Lane will still play a huge part in Clark's life."
Pulling the focus tighter on Superman, Lobdell stated, "[T]he New 52 gave us fresh chances. In 'Superman' #13 when Clark quits the Daily Planet, you could have started the New 52 in that moment. I would hate for in two years if people are like, 'Oh, I liked the New 52 when it came out, but now it's more of the same thing.'"
Lobdell isn't a fan of consistently wiping the continuity slate clean, but understands it's part of the business. "I used to write a book at Marvel for a number of years, and when you're on a book with such a long continuity, it's hard because people are resistant to changes," he said. "I say 'people' and I mean readers and editorial -- but in the New 52, you can do whatever. There are groups of people who want things to stay how they are, but I want the characters to feel like they're constantly in motion. If I left 'Teen Titans' at #50 and someone came on at #51, and 'Dick Grayson just woke up from a dream and everything was the same as it was,' that'd be... Anything can be retconned out of existence. Even you."
Lobdell's first few issues of "Superman" have been met with mixed fan reactions, but the writer stated he received "no push back at all from DC" when he initially pitched his story. "When I wanted to take on 'Superman,' I wrote a 25-page proposal, and as I wrote it, I was thinking --," the writer's words were cut short as all the microphones in front of him comedically toppled over, much to the delight of the crowd. This happened multiple times in a row and everyone in attendance, including Lobdell, had to regain their composure before continuing. "I wrote a bunch of things in there I thought Superman should be like," he said once the technical difficulties were worked through. "I thought, if DC wants it, alright! And if not, I don't get the job and that's that. I thought they'd say, 'You can write 'Superman,' but you can't do this, this, that and this,' and I'd be like, 'Errmmm…' But I received a text saying "OK," you'll start right away.
"In the next year, you'll see new things with Superman, Lois, Jimmy, Lex and Krypto -- actually, you won't see Krypto. I was just seeing if you were paying attention. And yes, there's more going on with Wonder Woman as well."
Asked if Superman's "Clark Kent" identity remains relevant now that Clark has quit the Daily Planet, Lobdell replied, "As a reporter, you tell the truth. By this token, Clark lived in hypocrisy by writing about himself, claiming Superman is 'some other guy,' so I had to get rid of it. I'd like to think Clark is not defined by Lois. Ma and Pa Kent are dead in the New 52, and he's about 27, so it's been five years since he became Superman. But in these first five years of his New 52 life, he was really Clark Kent. Even when he's Superman, he's still Clark Kent -- he just doesn't have glasses and people call him 'Superman.' I can tell you without giving anything away -- actually, spoiler alert! -- in one of Clark's first blogging stories, he's revealing to the world the fact the U.S. Government has been forcing supervillains to work for them under threat of death. Clark's going to crack open the whole Suicide Squad story through his website. So even though Clark is not working for the Planet, he's still a reporter moving forward."
Lobdell's plans also include a very real-world method for Clark to maintain an income while being a rogue reporter. "His money comes from international news advertising -- if he believes in the advertising. Don't think for a second his reporting days are behind him. Clark has more freedom now as a blogger than as a reporter working for a great metropolitan newspaper. He doesn't see 'Clark Kent' as a separate identity."
Jimmy Olsen is soon to be known as Clark's ex-roomate according to Lobdell, because "very soon someone else needs that apartment very desperately." After a pause, Lobdell joked, "It's Aquaman." He added, "I don't think Jimmy would tell anyone about Clark's secret identity."
Lobdell also explained the images of Superman's new black suit. "The story takes place on Krypton, and as everyone knows, Superman gets his powers from the yellow sun and Krypton has a red sun. He's going to be wearing the black suit during that time in order for him to maintain any of his 'Supermanness.' In the old days, we used to call these things a mystery and sub plot -- something we'll explain in six issues from now." He mentioned times when editors would tell him to explain things and he ignored them, citing a subplot in "Superman" #14.
"H'el, at one point, takes Superman from Metropolis and they instantly appear somewhere else. Superman's confused because H'el didn't use speed to get there, and as I was writing the story, I decided at the end H'el brings Superman somewhere crazy on page 18. He takes him to the worst place in Metropolis, to the Suicide Slums. Then H'el says, 'I brought you here to the site of your greatest failure. One year from today it will happen.' My editor was like, 'What's that!?, and I said, 'I have no idea, but it's really cool.'" Lobdell admitted his style is "making it up as I move along to keep things fresh and the surprises real. I have no idea what happens month to month, but I like it -- keeps it fresh for me."
Citing another subplot, this time surrounding a reporter who interacted with Lois in "Superboy" #1, Lobdell said he had planned something for the reporter but lost track of it over time. On the subject of Superboy, Lobdell stated the character's relationship with Superman in the New 52 is "different than what it was before. The first thing Superman does in the 'H'el on Earth' storyline is save Superboy's life. This has an impact." He further commented he left nothing behind during his "Superboy" run, having told all the stories he wanted to.
The writer commented his stories have nothing to do with the upcoming "Man of Steel" movie. "There are no edicts based on the movie. The movie is so top secret, I don't even know anything about it."
When asked about his feelings towards Superman renouncing his American citizenship in 2011's "Action Comics" #900, Lobdell remained candid. "I think America is awesome. I'm all about Clark fighting for truth, justice and the American way. When I read that issue, I was taken aback somebody would want to remove his American citizenship. I don't like to comment on things I read on the internet because it really gets me in trouble, but Clark was born in America and raised on a farm in Kansas -- I think he has distinct feelings about his citizenship. He will use his powers throughout the world, but I think Clark Kent at age 27 would feel very grounded at his place of birth."
Shifting focus to his work on "Red Hood and the Outlaws" and "Teen Titans," Lobdell said, "I'm excited about the things coming up in 'Death of the Family.' Usually, things end up exactly the same once an event is over, and while 'Red Hood' will still be close to the same, 'Teen Titans' takes a sharp left turn after 'DotF.' We could all be here in this room next year and you'll say, 'Woah.'"
Lobdell bluntly stated Jason Todd confronts the Joker in "DotF," where he'll "deliver the most severe beat down of the Joker we've seen in the history of comic books."
He teased a Killer Croc and Arsenal scene in "Red Hood" #16, revealing that #17 is an all Bruce Wayne/Jason Todd issue without any Batman or Red Hood appearances. "This issue is going to be the result of things that happen directly out of 'Death of the Family,'" Lobdell said. "You can read that issue and 'Batman Incorporated' #4 and not feel like they existed in two different worlds," he said, referencing a scene in Grant Morrison's "Batman Incorporated," where Jason Todd reveals himself as Wingman to Damian Wayne, Bruce's son.
At one point, Lobdell called up a Solstice cosplayer to join him. Solstice is a character created by writer J.T. Krul in the final storyline of the pre-New 52 "Teen Titans" series, and Lobdell is writing her in his current "Teen Titans" run. He asked the cosplayer, "Did I make you mad by making Solstice all onyxy and stuff?" to which she replied, "A little bit."
"Spoiler alert! We'll be seeing her back in her original form soon," Lobdell said. "Solstice's powers are based on planetary alignment. Did something deliberately happen to her, or does her look have something to do with her powers? Hmmm... maybe that Scott Lobdell's not as mean as we think he is."
To wrap the panel, Lobdell fielded an inquiry about what other DC character's he'd like to write in the future, hinting at a potential "Red Hood and the Outlaws" spinoff series. "I've been a long time Legion of Superheroes fan," he said. "I'd like to think I have a Batman story in me, although he's very dark and I'm not really dark. I'd really like to tell more stories about Starfire and the crew on the U.S.S. Starfire."
Scott Lobdell's "Superman" #13, "Superman Annual" #1 and "Superman" #0 are currently on sale, with "Superman" #14 coming November 2012.