SDCC: Superman’s Rebirth Panel



What’s old is new again, as fans were re-introduced to the pre-New 52Superman as the one true Man of Steel in the post-Rebirth DC Universe. Butadding a new dimension to his never-ending battle is his Clark’s young son JonKent, who is now growing into his powers. Oh, and Lex Luthor is now a super manin his own right. DC Comics has brought together Gene Yang, Pat Gleason, DanJurgens, Tyler Kirkham, Peter Tomasi, and moderator Hank Kanalz at Comic-ConInternational in San Diego to discuss the goings-on around Metropolis and what’scoming next.

The panel kicked off by Gene Yang talking about "New Super-Man."Jim Lee and Dan DiDio came up with the concept, "and when they brought itto me I said, hell no, I don’t want to do that," Yang said, noting he didnot have first-hand experience of living in China. But the character"started speaking to me" and he accepted the gig.

The book was originally called "The Super-Man," but Yang noted thatthe Chinese language does not have "the."

Kenan Kong’s name comes from Chinese words for "overcome" and"south," Yang said. "Even though Shanghai is not in southernChina, people in Beijing refer to folks who live in Shanghai as‘southerners.’"

Dr. Omen is "a Chinese version of Amanda Waller," who works for theMinistry of Self Reliance that gives Kenan his powers, Yang said.

Super-Man China
Super-Man China

"Superman is supposed to be about Truth, Justice, and the American Way— what does that mean in China?" Yang said. "That’s a culturallandmine." But Yang will be searching for ways to have Kenan experience anarc, like Clark Kent or the monkey king epic (which inspired "Dragon BallZ"), to embody Chinese-ness in the way Superman does for America.

Yang compared the Chinese versions of American superheroes to the country’s"state approved religions" in real life — "they found theycouldn’t suppress religion, so they made state-sponsored versions." Forsuperheroes, "they were really into American superheroes, and since theycouldn’t suppress them, they created state-approved versions."

"New Super-Man" #4 will see Kenan fighting an analog to the FreedomFighters, "a pro-democracy group of supervillains — yeah, we just went forit."

Since Yang will have to leave the panel early, Kanalz took fan questions forhim briefly. A woman said she enjoyed the first issue of "NewSuper-Man," but "my only criticism is the size of the dumplings, theywere a little too big."

Asked about the Great Ten characters, Yang said, "August gGeneral inIron shows up in #3."

As Yang departed the stage, attention turned to Kirkham and Jurgens’"Action Comics." Kirkham noted that, though his design for Doomsday isbased on Jurgens’ original, the character evolves, leading to a changing visualpresence.

Jurgens compared the dual artists/double shipping situation to movies notbeing shot in order. "That means that, yes, sometimes you have to go backand make corrections" if certain elements don’t line up, as Kirkhamconfessed he had to do for the plaid on Clark Kent’s shirt.

Doomsday’s ability to hone in on Kryptonians will cause trouble forSuper-family. "He’s located another Kryptonian on Earth," Jurgenssaid, "and that is actually Jon." The fight comes to the farm, placingSuperman’s wife and son in danger.

Tomasi said he looked to "what everybody loves about Superman" towrite the eponymous ongoing.

"Having Jon in the story is a great way to view Superman," Gleasonsaid. "It’s a way to have Superman come back and appear trustworthy."

"We both really love writing the character based stuff," Tomasisaid of himself and Jurgens, who set up the family dynamic in the "Lois andClark" miniseries that preceded "Rebirth."

"One of the great things about having a book coming out twice a month,you can explore corners you might not be able to in a monthly book,"Jurgens said, as having "forty pages a month to play with" allows formore detours.

A fan asked what the Time Masters have been up to since"Convergence." "It’s on my list of things to get to," hesaid. "The good thing about two books a month is you can get through a lotof material really quick."

Using Doomsday in Superman’s new circumstances "allows us to say newthings" about who Superman is today, Jurgens said, since everyone knows theoriginal story.

"There’s a lot of cool stuff coming up for Lois," Tomasi said,particularly something in "Superman" #5.

Action Comics 958
Action Comics 958

"Without ‘Action Comics’ #1. we wouldn’t have the industry we haveindustry today," Jurgens said, "and we know that because that’s whereSuperman debuted. But that’s also where Lois debuted, and I take that veryseriously." Both "Action" and "Superman" will examinewhat it means for a character in her unique situation to be a mother.

Kirkham noted that, as Jon watches Superman fight Doomsday on TV, "Loisknows how this could end."

Tomasi said there are no plans at present to have Jon join the Teen Titans.

A fan’s perceptive questioning led the panelists to reveal that"Superwoman" #1 addresses the fates of the multiple Lois Lanes as wellas Lana Lang.

Asked about Lex’s future as a hero or villain, Jurgens noted there’s a wealthof material to work with. "What’s fun about Lex is he is so complex, and Ithink there are many more angles to be explored," Jurgens said. "Hewants to do the right thing, but when the chips are down, will he followthrough. We also know he’s a murderer, and I really feel you can’t atone forthat until you stand up and say, I am a murderer."

Asked about the complications inherent in the old-new Superman from a newreader standpoint. "You just have to let go sometimes and go along with itas a reader, get immersed in the story and trust the creators," Tomasisaid. "You can’t let it feed your reading all the time. … I’ve never beenone to get too bogged down in continuity, I just let the current creative teamstell their story."

On the topic of the restored Lois and Clark marriage, Jurgens noted that Loisand Superman had been connected since "Action" #1, but with the New52, "not only were they not married, but they didn’t even have thatconnection." When he wrote several issues early in the New 52 run, Jurgenssaid "I felt that absence, I think we all felt it."

Will the Legion be showing up? Tomasi: "No comment." Kanalz addedthat there have been hints in recent issues. by Shaun Manning