Look! Up in the sky! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No — it’s… a live-blog of DC’s Superman Panel live and direct from New York Comic Con 2022! (Who knew that live-blogs even had wings? Or, for that matter, that they had physical form at all?)
Fresh from having liberating Warworld, Clark Kent is back in Metropolis — a city that’s been kept safe in his absence by his son, Jon; but just what is the world going to do with two Supermen? For that matter, what is DC planning to do with two Supermen? Panelists Dan Jurgens, Joshua Williamson, Mark Russell, and Phillip Kennedy Johnson have the answers, but it’s up to moderator Alex Segura to make sure that they’re going to share anything, and that might not be the easiest task. After all, these are panelists of steel…!
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Our live coverage of this event has finished.
We're here in place for the Superman panel. It's a busy, busy room. We're at capacity, because everyone loves the Man of Steel.
The room is literally buzzing with excited chatter; this might be the most excited crowd I've seen at a panel so far this show.
The panel has started, to much applause as moderator Alex Segura, Josh Williamson, Mark Russell, and Philip Kennedy Johnson come on stage. Segura launches right into things by saying that this year marks the 30th anniversary of the Death of Superman. On cue, Dan Jurgens enters the room! Wild applause.
Segura promises that the panel is "chock full" of news. Stay tuned, readers.
Segura starts his "warm-up questions" with a simple one: What is it about Superman that makes him compelling. Russell says that it's his optimism. "He's got no reason to really think good of us as humans, but he still does." He calls Superman "the ultimate thought experiment: How do we get to there?"
"It's hard to sum up what makes Superman special? He is the best of us," says Johnson. "He's the living antithesis to the cliche that power corrupts." All of us need to have Superman's compassion.
Williamson says he thinks about his ability to help people. "The fact that he brings out the best of all of us, on a meta level, to think about what would Superman do?" It's very powerful to have someone like Superman around as an inspiration "is something very powerful," he adds, saying that thinking about the character "always makes me smile. He brings out the best in all of us."
Jurgens says that Superman's upbringing is what makes him so kind. "He is the best in humanity. He sees the best in us, he sees what all of us can be."
Segura asks who are Superman's most compelling villains. "For me, it will always be Lex Luthor. I love Lex Luthor. I love how much he's this egomaniac jerk," says Williamson.
"There's a world in which they should have been friends," Williamson says of Superman and Lex, while admitting that he also just really loves writing jerks.
"Now I got to say somebody different, I guess," Johnson jokes, saying that he loves Lex Luthor's love of real estate schemes from the 1970s Superman movie. "I really liked the potential for Mongul, honestly," he goes on. "I wanted to see Warworld not just as a big metal ball with guns sticking out... I wanted to see it as a place where the last survivors of all the worlds that Warworld had conquered lived as slaves." He references that Superman was originally described as a "champion of the oppressed," and how the Warworld Saga places him firmly in that role.
Mark Russell says that Perry White is Superman's worst villain, because he gets to yell at Superman without knowing that he's Superman. Perry validates the needs for a secret identity, because it creates a situation where people can tell Clark the truth, unafraid of what might happen.
"It's hard not to like Mr. Mxyzpltk," says Jurgens, basically daring people to point out that I probably spelled it wrong. (Sorry.) He also admits a fondness for Doomsday, who he created. "Go figure," he jokes.
Is there a particular fan moment the creators remember about Superman? Williamson says that he remembers waiting in line for Superman #75. "I waited in line with my dad, so for me, that's a very big one for me." Johnson remembers the first Superman movie. "The tagline was, you'll believe a man could fly. I can't capture how true that was back then."
"I know that younger fans connect with the Man of Steel [movies], and that's great," Johnson says, but talks about how much the first movie really impacted him. "Just on a fundamental level, to hear the Jor-El opening, and then," and now he's singing the John Williams theme. There's no way I can type that up appropriately. "That movie shaped my entire life," he says.
"I can't imagine a person, real or imagined, that changed my life more than Superman," says Johnson.
Mark Russell's first connection with Superman was when his mom bought him a Superman hairbrush. "Even at four years old, I was blown away. How famous did you have to be to be on a hairbrush?"
"The first comic I ever bought with my own money was a Superman comic book," Jurgens says. "There were always all these covers that played off the visualization of Superman and Clark Kent facing off against each other." He was fascinated by the relationship between Superman and Clark Kent, which he thinks even today is unique. "That really attracted me somehow. It made Superman different from the other heroes. Batman had a mask, Green Lantern had a mask."
Now we're talking about Mark Russell and Mike and Laura Allred's (amazing) Superman: Space Age mini. "I think Mike Allred is who I envison as the perfect artist for Superman," Russell says, adding that Allred's clean lines are the exact translation of Superman's optimism. "The best thing I could do was get out of his way."
We're looking at preview art from #3, which features some 1980s versions of characters: there's Swamp Thing, John Stewart as Green Lantern, and more.
"There's a line in the story that sort of encapsulates it, where Superman is talking to Lois and he says hope is a lie that we hope to come true," Russell says, talking about the intent behind the series. Can we see in ourselves what Superman sees in us? "That's what ultimately is going to change the world."
In #3, the threat of the Anti-Monitor comes to Earth, and the heroes have to face off against him even though there's almost no way that they can succeed. The issue is out in February.
Now we're on Kal-El Returns, which Johnson says is a bridge between The Warworld Saga and Superman: Son of Kal-El "and what's to come." Superman is now recognized as the leader of Warworld, and he's returning to Earth with Warworld in tow. "There are some things we need to wrap up with The Warworld Saga, but at the same time, Superman is home." What's coming will tie the Superman books to Jack Kirby's Fourth World mythology, he teases.
Superman: Kal-El Returns is coming out November 29, with contributions from Mark Waid, Marv Wolfman, and moderator on this panel himself, Alex Segura. "Once you get to the end [of my story] that fills in a piece of the puzzle that pulls everything together," says Segura. Williamson reveals more, because it's Williamson: the end of Kal-El Returns ties into Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Johnson is now talking about Action Comics #1050. "If there's a theme about the arc that's about to come, it's Super Family. People have been missing Lois, they've been missing Connor... I love all those characters, but the story we were doing on Warworld was doing its own thing," he says. "Action #1050 is when we pivot to the new thing, which is the Super Family."
"When Superman comes home from Warworld, he's stuck quickly by how things have gotten worse on Earth," Johnson says. "He's starting to worry, so he decides that it's time for the Super Family to take a more active role and show what humanity can be." The Irons family -- John Henry Irons, Natasha Irons -- will be playing a "huge role" in the book moving forward, he reveals.
Josh Williamson has taken over. "I know I just killed Superman in Justice League, but you know they were coming back," he says, to laughs from the audience. He goes on talking about his love for the original 1990s Death of Superman storyline, which introduced new characters to the Superman mythology. "After Dark Crisis, I knew we were getting into the dawn. I wanted DC next year to go into a brighter future. There was only one character I could work on to guide us into that brighter future." Williamson is writing a new Superman series launching in February, with art from Jamal Campbell. "We're going to be doing big, fun Superman stories."
"Action #1050 is the first comic to take place after Dark Crisis," Williamson reveals, and it will feature a huge showdown between Lex Luthor and Superman, and it will impact the Superman books in 2023, but the rest of the DCU instead. It'll end with Lex Luthor in jail, but that's not as if that's going to stop him causing trouble.
"There's a moment in #1 where Superman is fighting Live Wire, and it's not about punching, it's about saving people. But Lex is watching, and he's saying, 'heat vision to the face. Punch her. Grab her,' and Superman is just, 'I'm not going to do that,'" Williamson says. The new series builds off Lex Luthor realizing that the world needs a Superman, but maybe it should be *his* Superman.
We're seeing character designs for new characters. "I've always been curious about what Metropolis is like at night," and there will be the introduction of a night-time superhero for the city. There's also going to be a new head of police in Metropolis. The audience is thrilled about everything that Williamson is saying.
Jamal Campnell is going to be doing the first arc, but he'll alternate with Nick Dragotta on arcs. Dragotta is drawing Williamson's story for Action Comics #1050, too.
Williamson's Action #1050 story has Lex Luthor building his own Jimmy Olsen signal watch, "but it sounds awful," he jokes.
Williamson is saying that he's a big fan of what Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Tom Taylor have been doing already on the series. The three of them love the 1990s "triangle era" of Superman, when the books interrelated. "I loved that they all felt like one series," Johnson says. "Tom and Josh and I talk everyday about what's coming, what's happening."
Johnson says that he loved rehabilitating Mongul, who's been seen as one-dimensional. "I want to do that to more of the rogues gallery," he says, promising that we're going to see a new take on Mentallo. We're also going to get a return for New Super-Man from the Gene Yang.
Action #1050 is the start of a format change for the series; moving forward, we'll get three stories every month -- one by Johnson, a Power Girl series by Leah Williams and Marguerite Sauvage, and a new Lois and Clark series by Dan Jurgens and Lee Weeks. The audience response is VERY EXCITED. People are happy about this.
Jurgens and Weeks' story will be a flashback to young Jon Kent being raised by Lois and Clark on the farm in Smallville, and is a sequel to the Superman: Lois & Clark mini from 2016. It'll spin out of the 30th anniversary of the Death of Superman special, and then move into an all-new serial starting in Action #1051.
Rafa Sandoval will be the new ongoing artist on Johnson's stories as of Action Comics #1051. "I've been telling people, I'm incredibly jealous you get to work with Rafa," says Williamson, noting that he worked with him on Justice League #75.
Jurgens is talking about the 30th anniversary special, which will feature contributions from the entire 1992 Superman creative team, including Brett Breeding, Roger Stern, Louise Simonson, Jerry Ordway, Jon Bodganove, and Tom Grummett. "It was a lot of fun," he says.
Jurgens and Breeding will tell a story about a young Jon Kent discovering that his dad actually died and came back to life before he was born -- something that he'd never known had happened.
"You'll see some of those same sensibilities coming back in some of these stories," Jurgens says about the special. "I think this will bring back some fond memories, but if you weren't there at the time, I think there's new stuff moving forward."
Segura is telling the crowd that Superman: Son of Kal-El is ending with #18, teeing up a video message from writer Tom Taylor, who's announcing that Jon will move over onto a new title: Adventures of Superman: Jon Kent. In the new book, Jon will battle Ultraman, which prompted an actual "Oh NO" from the crowd. It'll also include an appearance from Val-Zod, the Superman of Earth-2.
"His pitch for that book is amazing. When he first told us, I was just, 'holy shit, dude,'" says Williamson. Adventures of Superman: Jon Kent will run six issues, launching in early 2023.
Asked what's coming up beyond Superman, Williamson and Johnson both tease new stuff coming up from DC that they can't talk about just yet. Johnson has something tying in with Lazarus Planet, he was willing to admit, but goes no further.
Jurgens is talking about a drawing a book called Dark Crisis: Big Bang, written by Mark Waid. Williamson says that it actually shows the fight between Barry Allen and the Anti-Monitor.
And with that, the panel is over! There's a lot coming up for the Super Family in the next year, and I would be remiss if I didn't let you know that we have interviews coming up with a lot of the writers on this panel coming up, exploring more about a lot more about what's been announced here. As always, thanks for reading along!