When DC Comics relaunched their entire Universe as part of the New 52 in 2011, readers were treated to brand new and revamped versions of many of their favorite characters. Three years later, DC and writer Tony Beard are going back to re-examine the New 52 origins of Kara Zor-El, better known as Supergirl, and other superheroes in "Secret Origins," a new anthology series taking its cues from a classic DC title.
Looking at the pasts and origins of various heroes, the original "Secret Origins" series was released in 1961 and similarly dove into the untold stories of DC's popular heroes for fifty issues. This time around Bedard is working with artist Paulo Siqueira to tell a story of Kara's New 52 past, and the first issue of the new "Secret Origins" also features a Superman story and a Dick Grayson Robin story by writers Greg Pak and Kyle Higgins, respectively.
Speaking with CBR in advance of the first issue's debut in April, Bedard dove into his Supergirl story, how it ties into her current Red Lantern status and why Kara's "Secret Origins" should matter to fans.
CBR News: The first issue solicit for "Secret Origins" lists you writing alongside Kyle Higgins and Greg Pak. On the most basic level, how will the series work? Will it be an anthology with many stories per issue, or are the three of you working together to weave one larger tale?
Tony Bedard: "Secret Origins" is an anthology with separate stories. This is a pretty straightforward origins series, but now that we're a couple years into the New 52 Era, I think that's exactly what's called for. We have a lot of new readers learning the ropes of the DC Universe, and we have a lot of longtime readers who want to know what's in-continuity now and what's changed. "Secret Origins" will give you all the basics of your favorite characters as they stand today, plus I think you'll get a sense of what the character priorities are now -- what's the unique flavor of a series or character you might not have tried yet.
So is your Supergirl story going to be a one-and-done tale, or will it stretch out over multiple issues of "Secret Origins?"
I'm doing one twelve-page story that shows us Kara Zor-El as she was before Krypton exploded and how she is now a stranger in a strange land on planet Earth. We'll hit all the basics: her powers, how they work, where she got her costume, etc., but we'll also hit on some really core character stuff that stems from Kara's parents, her family, and especially her mother, Alura. I think there's stuff in these twelve pages that could pay off for years in the monthly "Supergirl" title.
For you as a writer, what was the most challenging aspect of telling a story about Kara's history in the span of twelve pages?
For me, the limited page count was less trouble than trying to put a fresh spin on it. At heart, I think "Secret Origins" is about getting new readers up to speed, so we definitely need to hit all the basics of the character. But I also want this to be an eye-opener for longtime readers. The other challenge is not making the story just a checklist of powers and plot points. It needs to be conveyed with real interactions and moments that reveal who a character really is. I tried to show in my story that even before leaving Krypton, Kara had a capacity for bravery and selflessness, plus a sense of her duty to her family and legacy. I hope that all comes across to the readers.
In the last couple of months there's been a lot of buzz around Kara due to the fact she's now figuring into the Red Lantern universe. Did the timing of Kara turning over a new leaf with the Red Lanterns inspire you to go back to her beginnings and include her in "Secret Origins?"
Who gets scheduled in a given issue of "Secret Origins" is really up to the Editorial Department at DC, but I think the fact that they included Supergirl in this opening issue is a reflection of the momentous stuff that's happening in her title. Her current confrontation with the new Lobo and her upcoming stint with the Red Lantern Corps are all part of a big shift for the character. I want her to come out more motivated than ever to act the role of Supergirl, to put her power to some good use. There's even more big stuff coming down the pike for Supergirl and now is a great time to jump aboard.
Readers have essentially seen part of Kara's New 52 "origin" as her series began with her crashing to Earth. Will this story take place before that, on Krypton?
Yeah, we start out on Krypton and get a better sense of what Kara was training for and "the Trials," Krypton's societal coming-of-age tests. We'll end on Earth, contrasting her current situation with how and where she grew up, but the thing tying it all together is a clearer sense of what her family expected of her and the example set by her mother Alura and aunt Lara. The bar was set high in the House of El, and Kara has a lot to live up to.
Along those lines, what can you tell us about your story? What makes this secret origin stand out from the glimpses of Kara's past we've seen so far in the New 52?
I think the big difference, my "eureka moment" while writing this story, was the thought that maybe the women wore the pants in the Jor-El and Zor-El households. Lara and Alura have often gotten glossed over in Superman and Supergirl origins. I want to make Kara's Kryptonian roots essential to who she is and what drives her to be Supergirl. I mean, Superman is who he is because of the values taught him by the Kents. I think Supergirl is a stronger character if she isn't simply following in Superman's footsteps, embracing his Kansas values. That just makes her a subset of Superman instead of her own person. This "Secret Origins" story sets the groundwork for Kara to stand on her own terms.
In that same vein, should readers expect to see familiar foes and allies populating your "Secret Origins" story, or are you interested in creating brand new characters?
With only twelve pages, it's hard to cover the bases and also work in enemies, so we'll keep the focus squarely on Kara.
Will the events in "Secret Origins" play a part in your ongoing "Supergirl" series, or impact the events of the "Red Daughter Of Krypton" story arc?
I'm writing the "Secret Origins" story so it stands alone for new readers to enjoy, but the House of El stuff will definitely figure into the "Red Daughter of Krypton" arc. In fact, when Red Lantern Supergirl gets her memories restored by the Blood Ocean of Ysmault (Red Lanterns HQ) her familial obligations come back with a vengeance. It's a great opportunity for Kara to reassess what she's doing and what she wants to do with the power she's been given. I don't want her to come off like a victim tossed into an alien society where she has no hope of fitting in. I want her to struggle with the challenge of being on Earth, but with a proactive determination that she can carve out her own place here.
Who is the artist you're working with for Kara's story?
The fabulous Paulo Siqueira is drawing Kara's origin. I worked with him before on a Black Canary miniseries and he is unbelievable. He's particularly adept at drawing young women in a way that's beautiful without ever seeming crass. And that's the trick with Supergirl. She should be amazingly attractive but at the same time chaste and innocent. Paulo is going to knock it out of the park.
You're getting to write the New 52 Kara and take a look at her family in "Secret Origins," but is there a pre-New 52 story or take on her origins that you really love, or influenced the way you look at her as a Supergirl fan?
Surprisingly, there's not a particular story I can point to. Oh, there have been so great Supergirl stories over the years, but I never really followed the Peter David run, and while the Jeph Loeb/Michael Turner run was a big success, I didn't care for how sexualized her look was at the time. So my take on Supergirl has more to do with her general connection to the Superman family and what it's like to try to forge your own identity when you're 15.
Finally, aside from Supergirl, are there any other characters you've written before that you'd like to tackle for "Secret Origins?"
Oh, I'd love to take on Blue Beetle or Kyle Rayner, but I think one thing they're trying to do is to let the writer currently shepherding a character to do the Secret Origin story. So for now I'm just proud to bring Supergirl's origin to new readers.
"Secret Origins" #1 hits stands April #23.