Exclusive Interview with J. Michael Straczynski on "Superman: Earth One - Vol. 3"[Date: February 4, 2015]
By Steve Younis
J. Michael Straczynski participated in an exclusive interview with the Superman Homepage to discuss the third volume in the "Superman: Earth One" graphic novel series.
The Superman Homepage would like to thank JMS for agreeing to do this interview, and for fitting it into his busy schedule.
With SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE on its third volume, we have to ask, is this where you thought the Earth One series would go? Was Volume Three planned and if so have you known since Volume One where Superman would end up?
J. Michael Straczynski: Yeah, this was the plan from the git-go, when we showed the back of someone speaking to the residents of another world about the possibility of destroying Krypton. Sooner or later we had to turn that guy around and let the readers see who it was... so yes, we're right where I'd hoped we would be in the story.
How was writing SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE, Vol. 3 different from writing the previous ones or anything else you wrote in comics?
JMS: That's kind of a big question, but to try and wrestle it to the ground... v3 is the third act of the story we began with v1, so it's consistent with those previous volumes in tone and approach. However, we (and Superman) discover things about his past, and Krypton, that change the character in profound ways. If there's a difference within the books, it's that the first two volumes, despite having stand-alone stories, were a lot about set-up, so v3 is all about payoff, so it moves a lot faster.
In terms of the body of my work, Superman has always been my number one icon, the character who sustained me as a kid in ways no other character ever has or could. You literally cannot go into any room in my house and not see Superman artwork or artifacts somewhere. As a kid who came from nothing and nowhere, with a brutal family life and nothing but limits in front of him, a character who could do anything, who could fly away from his surroundings, and could not be hurt... yeah, that meant everything.
JMS: You can't let that affect the story. I wish Shane hadn't opted out before the end of the story, but Ardian has done a spectacular job, putting his own stamp on the artwork while remaining tonally consistent with the first two volumes. It's a beautiful, beautiful book. So no: no changes to the story, which I think was actually well into the writing process when we found out that Shane had moved on.
Why wasn't Shane involved in this third volume? And did you get to pick his replacement?
JMS: You'll have to ask Shane.
As to the story itself, the Lex Luthor story plays out in a very different way to what many fans might expect. What inspired the choices you made with Lex and his whole situation?
JMS: Making it different and fresh is, of course, a part of the mandate. But that said: I've always been fascinated by Lex, especially coming at him from a Silver Age perspective, which was my introduction to the character. There were stories where he was very sympathetic, when he wasn't just a really, really smart bad guy. There were layers to the guy, and a loneliness that sometimes doesn't come through in later iterations. So I wanted to explore what it would be like to be that person, to always know you're the smartest guy in the room, and the isolation of that... and what happens when a beautiful woman every bit as smart as you are enters the room and you discover that you're not alone any more. That can have a very healing effect on one's darker side... until and unless one loses it, of course...
JMS: The story is, in part, about Clark growing into his role as Superman, and on his own in Metropolis as Clark, so now, three books in, he's had a fair amount of time as both of those things, and yeah, there's a bit of a confidence boost there. He still tends to keep to himself, but it's more choice than reflex, if that makes sense. The flip side, however, is that his growing confidence led him to make a critical mistake when he knocked over the government of Borada in v2. That mistake comes back to haunt him in a big way in v3.
You've made an interesting choice for the "love interest" angle in this book. What do you think will be the reaction from long-time Superman fans?
JMS: Here's the thing: I think affection and love have to be earned, they can't come too quickly. Clark is the new guy in town, Lois barely knows him yet, and he scooped her on the interview of the century. So he has to overcome that. Similarly, as Superman, he is the story that Lois is covering, and a reporter has to keep some measure of distance from the subject you're writing about to remain objective. To have Lois fall right into Superman's or Clark's hands right after they meet felt disrespectful to her character. She's smart, independent, talented... let's have Clark work for her affections for a while.
That said, I didn't want Clark to be entirely alone, so that led to the creation of Lisa, who is bright and charismatic and funny and keeps nudging her way into his life. He's not entirely sure what to make of her, but he likes her, and she likes him, and neither of them knows if this will ever go anywhere... they just know that they enjoy one another's company.
There's a lot more exploration of the history of Krypton in this volume... indeed it's crucial to the major plotline. Did you feel that it was important for Superman to find out more about his homeworld at this point in his journey?
JMS: We are all, to a degree, defined by where we come from. Clark has been shaped by his time in Smallville; now it's time to shape Superman a bit more by learning more about where he came from.
I'm guessing, from the ending, that there are plans for a Volume 4?
JMS: DC wants me to keep doing the book for as long as I'm having fun with it. So that being the case, with luck and longevity, I'll be doing this for a while to come.
This interview is Copyright © 2015 by Steven Younis. It is not to be reproduced in part or as a whole without the express permission of the author.
IntroductionThe Superman Homepage has had the pleasure of interviewing various Superman Comic Book creative people about their work.
Question and Answer Interviews:
- Interview with Christopher Priest about the Superman vs. Deathstroke story in Deathstroke #8 (November 2016)
- 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)