The Rebirth of Superman (Part 2)Eddie Barganza on taking the character in a new direction.
Author: Edward Gross
As discussed on FANDOM last week, DC`s four primary Superman titles went through a bit of an evolution beginning with SUPERMAN #151, with new creative teams writing and drawing the books, a new editor--in the form of Eddie Berganza--overseeing the Man of Steel`s adventures, and fans responding with enthusiasm and a boost in sales.
Brought in to take on the writing reigns of SUPERMAN was Jeph Loeb, who had previously written the character in a mini-series called SUPERMAN: MAN FOR ALL SEASONS. "That was a cool mini that just dealt with Superman growing up in Smallville and took him to the point where he came to Metropolis," says Berganza. "It was quaint, and it had a lot of heart that I think Superman needs. He's all-powerful but the thing that gives him some vulnerability is that he is so human. The only way I think you can really hurt him is to use that, because when someone gets hurt, he gets hurt. Jeph and I are constantly referencing the first movie or the TV show. He'll always sneak in a line and I'll say, 'Jeph, I saw the movie, too.' In one issue he even had Superman ducking from a gun, because on the old TV show bullets would bounce off of him, but he would duck the gun when they threw it at him. So we've tried to include a lot of that classic, fun stuff.
"With Ed McGuinness as artist," he continues. "we've also gone to more of a Manga look. Ed's one of these new guys that's definitely influenced by Japanese art and moving more toward that to give it a more youthful aspect so it can compete with what else is going on in the comics industry. We also played more with the colors. Being on the computer we can add more textures and such, modernizing the whole thing."
Joe Kelly is the writer behind ACTION COMICS--essentially the Superman team-up book. Kelly is probably best known for his work at Marvel, which included DEADPOOL and THE X-MEN. "Joe's added a little more humor to the character," Berganza explains, adding that ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN'S J.M. DeMatteis is a writer who has a background in stories that are humorous and others that are serious and heartfelt. "We're all focusing on the fact that the love Superman and Lois Lane have will outlast anything. In fact, as just a fill-in job, JM wrote a story in which Lois went to Hell and Superman had to descend into it and rescue her soul. It's the classic romance material--an ORPHEUS DESCENDING kind of thing.
"Everybody picks on me because I'm a big STAR WARS fan," he continues, "but I enjoy using all of that Joseph Campbell stuff as a model. We use the whole hero's journey just to explore where Superman is going. In MAN OF STEEL, which is written by Mark Schultz, we've gotten into this Zen training for Superman that's Kryptonian. It allows him to tap his mental powers and has allowed him to go off into another plane of existence, one that is very MATRIX-like. It's pretty different from what's been tried before."
Last week, Berganza discussed some of the differences between the current stable of writer's take on Superman and their predecessors. This week, he's got a couple of more.
"We're really trying to strengthen the relationship between Superman and Lois," he points out. "People were saying, 'Why did you marry them?' because they always seemed to be fighting. Well, now they're getting along better. They're a youthful couple. They're nopt your father and mother. That was the next problem we had to deal with when I came in. The challenge became, 'How are we going to write this marriage?' We realized that it's still their first year of marriage in comic book time, and there's still a lot of energy and a lot of wildness going on, and they're still people with interesting lives. So what would that add to it? Of course, we also replaced Lois for a while with a villain that took her place, who made things pretty interesting. The fans were outraged because it seemed we were making Lois real bitchy. They figured we were going to divorce them. We left a lot of clues, but everybody thought that the new team would come in and shake things up by making Lois evil. That was cool.
"Also," he adds, "one of the things that bothered me a lot was that Metropolis looked like a bad version of New York, so when I came on we brought in Brainiac; only this time he was like the 13th version of the guy and he had come from the future. On New Year's Eve we were expecting the Y2K virus, but what we said in Metropolis and the DC Universe is that the virus was actually this villain from the future. So when he downloaded himself, he upgraded the city to contain him and the city basically became the city of tomorrow. So you have three-mile high buildings; you have monorails, flying cars in the city, and robots that fix things every time they break down. The city got extremely upgraded."
Undoubtedly the biggest difference between the previous regime and this
one is that the fact that for nearly ten years the Superman titles were tied together story-wise. Berganza has strived for independence for the titles, although the summer months will be filled with the four-part SUPERMAN: ARKHAM and SUPERMAN: EMPEROR, in which reality has been turned upside down. Superman is a prisoner at Arkham Asylum. He escapes every single night, and by each morning's dawn, he's returned to the asylum by earth's greatest hero, Bizarro. Sensing that something isn't right about this reality, Superman tries to discover the truth, but finds it nearly impossible to discover who's pulling the reality distorting strings of this scenario. In between, there's an opportunity to introduce a variety of new (albeit temporary) characters into the DC Universe.
"There are a lot of new characters that we created who are at the Justice League headquarters on the moon," Berganza notes. "There's one called Scorch, and she's this Devil-looking woman with a tail and all. There's a guy named Bounty, who some people might say is our way of doing an older Superman villain named Terra-Man. Bounty is a character in that fashion. He rides a mechanical horse that's really nasty-looking--again, going with the Manga and tech stuff--and he fires bullets that trace on you. He decides if they're actually going to hit you or not, and what they're going to do to you. So they can actually penetrate Superman because they're psionic; they're working on a mental level rather than a physical level.
"We even gets versions of Poison Ivy and The Riddler," he adds, "who are very different from the people we're used to. The funny thing about the Riddler is that his real name is Edward Nigma, so he's Enigma. I don't know why he chose Riddler, but in this world he is known as Enigma and he's basically like Batman. Poison Ivy is more of a Swamp Thing-like creature."
After the summer event, he promises, the titles will become completely disconnected from each other again. "Following this whole event," Berganza explains, "the writers are able to develop the things they want to develop. That's important, because I think the fans are turning on to the books because they're more accessible. In a certain respect you're getting a lot of Superman. We're staying away from all the history, because it can get overwhelming. The guy has way too much history! I'm trying to make him as reader friendly as possible by keeping the adventure level very high and the tone fast-paced. Plus, the talent involved is all very different, so you don't feel like you're reading the same book week after week. For the summer months we're taking a chance by doing two months of this storyline. It's going to be really big, and after that we kind of reward everybody by staying away from each other.
"The great thing," he closes, "is that each writer has a role to fill. Jeph Loeb is the heart, and he's very much into the nostalgia, putting new twists to it. Mark DeMatteis brings the soul and some of the metaphysical stuff to it. Mark Schultz--who we defer to as our science guy--explains how it all works scientifically. And Joe Kelly will always be there for the gratuitous joke. It's a nice balance, I think, and that is keeping it fresh. I think there are going to be a lot of surprises coming. There's still a lot to explore with this guy."
IntroductionThe Superman Homepage has had the pleasure of interviewing various Superman Comic Book creative people about their work.
Question and Answer Interviews:
- Interview with Sterling Gates about the 'Adventures of Supergirl' digital-first comic book series (January 2016)
- Interview with J. Michael Straczynski about Superman: Earth One - Vol. 3 - Writer J. Michael Straczynski talks to us about the third volume in the Superman: Earth One graphic novel series (February 2015)
- Interview with Jim Krueger - Writer Jim Krueger talks to us about his The Dark Lantern story in the Adventures of Superman comic book title (November 2013)
- Smallville: Season 11 Interview with Bryan Q. Miller - Writer Bryan Q. Miller talks to us about his work on the Smallville: Season 11 comic book title (October 2012)
- Supergirl Interview with Mahmud Asrar - Artist Mahmud Asrar talks to us about his work on the monthly Supergirl comic book title (July 2012)
- Superman/Batman Interview with Joshua Hale Fialkov - Joshua Hale Fialkov answers our questions about The Secret 3-part story in Superman/Batman #85-87 (July 2011)
- Supergirl Interview with Sterling Gates - Sterling Gates answers our questions about where Supergirl is headed post War of the Supermen (June 2010)
- Supergirl Interview with Sterling Gates & Jamal Igle - Adam Dechanel chats with the Supergirl comic book team about the Maid of Might (March 2010)
- Behind the Scenes of the Super Friends - Four part indepth look at the Super Friends comic book title with artists J. Bone and Stewart McKenny (February 2010)
- Interview with Landry Q Walker and Eric Jones - The writer and artist discuss Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade (May 2009)
- Interview with Elliot S! Maggin - Legendary Superman writer and novelist discusses his career (January 2009)
- Interview with J. Bone - Artist discusses Super Friends comic book (November 2008)
- Interview with Mark Bagley (September 2008)
- Interview with J. Torres - Writer discusses Legion of Super Heroes in the 31st Century #18 (September 2008)
- Interview with Jake Black (May 2008)
- Interview with Cary Bates (June 2008)
- Interview with Jack Briglio - Writer discusses Legion of Super Heroes in the 31st Century #14 (May 2008)
- Interview with Ken Pontac - Writer discusses Justice League Unlimited #44 (May 2008)
- Interview with Karl Kerschl (April 2008)
- Interview with J. Torres - Writer discusses Legion of Super Heroes in the 31st Century #13 (April 2008)
- Interview with J. Torres - Writer discusses Legion of Super Heroes in the 31st Century #11 (February 2008)
- Interview with Fabian Nicieza - Writer on Superman comic books (June 2007)
- Interview with Danny Fingeroth - Writer of the book Superman on the Couch (May 2007)
- Interview with Jesse McCann - Writer on the Krypto The Superdog comic books (December 2006)
- Interview with Matt Haley - Artist on the Superman Returns comic book movie adaptation (November 2006)
- Interview with Ethan Van Sciver - Artist on Superman/Batman (September 2006)
- Interview with Mark Verheiden on taking over the writing duties on Superman/Batman (April 2006)
- Interview with Matt Idelson on taking over as Superman group editor (March 2006)
- Interview with Jeph Loeb on Sam and Superman/Batman #26 (February 2006)
- Interview with Roger Stern (December 2005)
- Interview with Marv Wolfman (November 2005)
- Interview with Gail Simone (May 2005)
- Interview with Greg Rucka (April 2005)
- Interview with Brad Meltzer [Identity Crisis] (January 2005)
- Interview with Glenn Whitmore (November 2004)
- Interview with Jeph Loeb (September 2004)
- Interview with Karl Kerschl (September 2004)
- Interview with Ron Garney (September 2004)
- Interview with Greg Rucka and Matthew Clark (May 2004)
- Interview with Ed McGuinness (March 2004)
- Interview with Brad Meltzer [Identity Crisis] (March 2004)
- Interview with Mark Millar [Superman: Red Son] (March 2003)
- Interview with Min S. Ku (September 2001)
- Interview with Jeph Loeb (May 2001)
- Interview with Joe Casey (April 2001)
- Interview with Mike S. Miller (September 2000)
- Interview with Denis Rodier (August 2000)
- Interview with Grant Morrison (December 1999)
- Interview with Mark Millar [Part 2] (November 1999)
- Interview with Mark Millar [Part 1] (April 1999)
- Superman vs. Terminator - A Chat with Fight Promoter Alan Grant. (January 2000)
- Superman: The Dailies (1939-1940) Graphic Novel Review.
- The Rebirth of Superman (Part 1) - Superman is reborn... again.
- The Rebirth of Superman (Part 2) - Eddie Barganza on taking the character in a new direction.
- The Rebirth of Superman (Part 3) - Jeph Loeb discusses writing the Man of Steel.
- Lex Luthor For President - Forget Superman. An updated Luthor's new enemies are Gore and Bush.
- Superman: Last Son of Earth - Steve Gerbern Interview - The writer discusses flip-flopping the Man of Steel's origin. (August 2000)
Krypton Club Interviews:
When Lois & Clark started production in 1993, there was an obvious relationship between the comic book people and the Hollywood people.
A trade paperback Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, was published, with Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher on the cover. It included reprints of comic book stories that were the inspiration for Lois & Clark, helping to define the characters. Comic's included are: The Story of the Century (Man of Steel miniseries #2), Tears for Titano (Superman Annual #1), Metropolis - 900 mi (in SUP #9), The Name Game (SUP #11), Lois Lane (in ACT #600), Headhunter (AOS #445), Homeless for the Holidays (AOS #462), The Limits of Power (AOS #466), and Survival (ACT #665).
A number of comic book writers and artists had roles as extras in the episode I'm Looking Through You (Season one, episode 4). Their presence was immortilized in the Sky Trading Card #34.
Craig Byrne, president of the online Lois & Clark fanclub The Krypton Club, carried out a series of interviews with comic book writers. The interviews are reprinted with permission of the Krypton Club.
- Interview with Roger Stern (June 1995)
- Interview with John Byrne (June 1995)
- Interview with Mike Carlin (July 1995)