New York Comic Con’s DC Comics -- Superman panel began as moderator John Cunningham led the audience in a round of applause for the Superman panelists and creative teams: “Superman Unchained” writer Scott Snyder, “Batman/ Superman” writer Greg Pak, “Superman/Wonder Woman” writer Charles Soule and artist Tony Daniel, artist Aaron Kuder from “Action Comics” and finally “Superman” writer Scott Lobdell.
Cunningham admitted to audience groans that due to technical difficulties they would not be showing slides and would be ending the panel five minutes early, but promised every audience member a Superman cape as a sorry, the PR team passing the capes around the crowd. The audience cheered again as Snyder kicked off the panel by comparing writing Batman and Superman.
“Superman is so emotionally open and so vulnerable...he protects his loved ones from the things he doesn’t want them to know would hurt them,” Snyder said. However, writing Bruce, “He’ll tell you he’s fine and that’s how you know he’s not fine.”
Snyder then said that he felt he was “hitting his stride” with issue #4 and #5 of “Superman Unchained.” The writer then told the room about an upcoming scene with Lex Luthor wondering aloud while making origami figures of the DC Universe heroes how each member will die as Jimmy Olsen watches, unable to stop him.
“In [issue #5] Wraith begins to make his argument as a friend...he says, ‘You pretend to be this human Clark -- wait, he doesn’t now that yet, I’m spoiling it,” Snyder laughed as the room cracked up. The writer then went on to say that in issue #5 Wraith tells Superman that he’ll have to give up pretending to be human as he’ll outlive everyone he cares about, “And then Wraith attacks him in a fun way!” Snyder laughed again.
“The bigger elements of Wraith’s background and the mystery about him is brought to bear in a big way...and Luthor and Jimmy are caught in the middle.”
As Snyder finished the slides began working again and Scotty pointed to the panels of Luthor making origami figures of Superman.
Telling the crowd that he and artist Jim Lee spent a lot of time discussing how Earth governments would develop weapons that could actually kill Superman, or at least wounded. “The lesson he has to learn is every military in the world has developed weapons to stop him,” Snyder continued, adding that Lane and Wraith make the argument to Clark that he has to side with the US government because otherwise everyone in the world will target him.
“Jim’s awesome...he’s magical!” Snyder said as the audience laughed, explaining that Lee was having another kid but, “He’s still drawing his butt off!”
Turning to “Superman/Wonder Woman,” Soule told the room that while Superman and Wonder Woman’s relationship is a large part of the book, “It’s not a make-out book. You can make out with it if you want to?” Soule added as the room cracked up.
Praising Daniel’s artwork in a slide showing Superman and Wonder Woman drifting above a storm cloud, Soule added that the image was symbolic of their relationship. “They have quiet moments here and there but issues one through six are a race...everything comes together in this gigantic way,” Soule said.
The writer also promised that Zod will show up in the title fairly soon. “We can show things about Zod that haven’t been talked about...he’s a creepy, creepy guy,” Soule added with a laugh.
Daniel added that he was having a “blast” drawing the characters and their allies, especially Wonder Woman’s family -- the Greek gods and goddesses.
Comparing Superman meeting Diana’s family to “Meet The Parents” with “more fighting,” Soule said the relationship helped deepen what would otherwise be a straight superhero story. “It feels a little different than your average superhero fight,” Soule added.
Pak then asked who in the crowd was reading “Batman/Superman,” telling the whistling crowd, “I love you!” as most of the audience raised their hands. Pak told the room he was thrilled to be able to tell the story of how Superman and Batman first met and setting them up as rivals. “They bring out elements of each other that each didn’t know they had...in a strange way they’re teaching each other how to be heroes,” Pak said.
Leading a round of applause for DC editor Eddie Berganza, Pak stated that it was Berganza’s idea to bring the heroes to Earth 2, calling it “Brilliant.” Adding that in issue #4, “Everything comes to a head...the chaos shard we have seen we will see it’s full powers unleashed,” Pak said, showing a page of an emaciated Batman and Batman punching Superman. Pak also praised Snyder for his help in talking over the story points.
“Its just Batman winning,” Snyder joked as Pak laughed.
Pak also said that artist Brett Booth will be coming on to give artist Jae Lee a rest, starting with issue #5.
Turning to the “Krypton Returns” event crossing over in “Action Comics,” “Supergirl,” “Superboy,” and “Superman issues #25, Lobdell told the room that the Super family were going back in time to try and prevent the destruction of Krypton. Explaining that Superman will have an acrimonious meeting with his mother and Kara will see both her younger self and He’l, Lobdell also added that Superboy will die at the end of the event, calling it, “The ultimate sacrifice, giving his life in order to stop the universe from falling apart,” and from issue #26 onwards in “Superboy” the story will be about John Lane Kent, the original son of Clark and Lois. Lobdell also said that Supergirl, “Will be leaving the Superman family forever for another whole set of books in the DC Universe,” asking Soule, “Is there anything to add?”
“Now’s not the time!” Soule laughed, Lobdell telling the audience that they should be able to piece together where Supergirl will be showing up next.
Lobdell also promised Parasite will show up in “Action Comics,” who then attacks Lois Lane -- though according to the writer, Superman decides to let Parasite act as a leech on Lois Lane, adding that he was more interested in “flawed” heroes than a Superman who always does the right thing.
“I would tell you the last three pages of Greg’s story if I could,” Lobdell added as the panelists and audience laughed.
“There’s some amazing things coming up,” Soule said. Pak also took the time to plug his and Kuder’s upcoming “Action Comics” run.
“It’s Superman, he’s the superhero of superhero, and I get to draw his mainstay book, it’s amazing,” Kuder said. With their first issue tying into “Zero Year,” Pak told the room readers will see the very young, jeans and t-shirt Superman. “During the course of this story he’s going to become aware of what’s going on in Gotham and he thinks he can take care of everything. We’re going to see if he can,” Pak said, adding thematically they were exploring the limits and responsibilities of power.
“This story also features the return of a classic supporting character,” Pak added, stating that issue “Action Comics” #26 will jump into the present day New 52 DC Universe.
Cunningham then threw the floor open for a truncated fan Q&A, the first fan to the microphone was an older fan celebrating 50 years of being an avid Superman reader and praised the panelists for their work. He then asked about how the panelists approached writing modern Superman.
“I think we’re at a point where we like to use what metaphors we can...it used to be villain of the month but now we’re telling Superman’s place in the world,” Lobdell said.
“Giving him emotional and moral challenges is huge,” Pak said. Soule agreed, adding that Superman is the, “Ideal that we all aspire to.”
A “Swamp Thing” fan asked Soule how he writes Superman in the fringes of the DC Universe versus writing from his point of view. “He casts a very large shadow over the DC Universe and that’s what I did in ‘Swamp Thing,’” Soule said, adding that he found it fun to write how other characters see the Man Of Steel.
The next fan to the microphone told the panelists he didn’t enjoy hoe Superman in the New 52 “kicked and punched first,” and asked if their Superman would ever become a killer. “Once you’re in his head you see he has no idea what to do sometimes...watching that struggle, in ‘Unchained’ that’s an issue being pushed towards him by Wraith and Lane...that’s the last thing he wants to do, that’s the absolute blackest choice,” Snyder told the fan.
“It’s the last thing I would ever consider doing...for me it’s off the table,” Soule said.
“There’s another aspect to that question, which is can Superman make a mistake that leads to that question,” Pak added as Lobdell stated that, “I think Superman has a responsibility to save the world and...if that involves killing someone I think he would.”
The next audience member to the microphone asked Pak and Soule about writing Superman teamed up with the other members of the Trinity. “There’s a roadmap, we know what we’re doing with them,” Soule said, citing a Wednesday meeting with Lobdell and the other Superman book writers about the plans for the line for the next year or so.
The next audience member asked why Lee and Snyder ended up writing another Superman title rather than take over “Action Comics.” Snyder said they had talked about it but they wanted to do another book and weren’t sure how long the title would go on, so they would rather do their own thing in their own title.
The last question came from a fan who wanted to know what the panelists thought of the movie “Man Of Steel” as aSuperman story. The room cracked up as the panelists all hesitated and looked at each other before Lobdell told the fan, “The first half hour of the movie I was riveted to their version of Krypton.”
“I love seeing versions that challenge my own version...there are things I wouldn’t necessarily agree with writing it in my own book but I enjoyed a lot of it,” Snyder said, adding that he loved the idea of following Lois as she tracked down the legend of Superman before he becomes Superman. “Having it be polarizing isn’t a bad thing,” Snyder added.
“Kevin Costner made me weep like a baby,” Pak said as the room laughed.
“The best answer to that question is ‘best Superman movie ever,’” Cunningham joked as the room cracked up again, ending the panel to applause and cheers from the now cape-wearing audience.