Superman is not the same as he was before. You've likely heard the news by now. Clark Kent's life has been turned upside down. After gaining a new power, it now seems they're all messed up with him possibly losing the full extent of them. If that wasn't bad enough, his secret identity has been exposed. Oh yeah, who exposed that big secret? It was none other than Lois Lane.
Gene Luen Yang is jumping on board SUPERMAN and joining John Romita Jr to tell the story in how a lot of this has happened and why. We talked to the two to find out more about this decision, what we can expect, and whether or not things will eventually return to "normal."
COMIC VINE: What will be the focus of this series and how is it similar and different from the other Superman titles?
GENE LUEN YANG: What we’re going for is making each title independent somebody could read just one title and enjoy it. But they’re also interlocking so if someone chooses to read all four books in the Superman group, they’ll get a bigger, richer picture. It’s been a challenge but I think we’re pulling it off. We’ll see.
The way this current storyline, Before Truth, fits in with all the other Truth stories is in the title. It happens before what happens in ACTION, before what happens in BATMAN/SUPERMAN, and before what happens in SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN. All three of those books are set in Superman’s reality. What John and I are going to do is show how we get to that new reality.
CV: Gene, which came first, you becoming the writer for this series or Superman’s powers and status quo being shaken up?
GENE: Well, John and Geoff [Johns] were already shaking up his status quo before I was even attached to the book. They already had Clark reveal his secret identity to Jimmy and they also introduced the new power, the solar flare power. It had a side effect of draining all his superpowers for 24 hours.
CV: John, how does it feel going from where Superman was before Convergence to this new direction?
JOHN ROMITA JR: I couldn’t be happier with it. Honestly, the trepidation I had about getting on the character was completely taken away with these changes. Nobody worries about Superman doing the same old same old and being too perfect, etc. This was a nice variation of that. I’m so happy that the suits, for lack of a better term, allowed us to play with it and here we are. Although Geoff is a suit and a writer at the same time. [laughs] We had an “in.” Taking this opportunity and going with it and running with it are two different things. You can take a good idea and turn it into a bad one if you don’t have talent in front of it. That’s what the writers are. That’s what Gene is. The ideas are one thing but moving them around and playing with them, the way this is going to be, is fantastic. I’m very impressed with the direction of the character now. I’m glad to have been a part of it.
CV: I know the creators on the different Superman books are working together but who exactly came up with the idea of have Superman’s secret identity exposed?
GENE: When I first started talking about the idea of writing SUPERMAN, I was invited to a bunch of different phone conferences with the writers of the other books—with Greg Pak, Aaron Kuder, Pete Tomasi, and the editor of the Superman group, Eddie Berganza. We were kind of given a mandate to shake things up. This was part of that. You hear a lot about the big corporations and these comics being a little bit conservative or not wanting to deviate too much from the norm. My experience with it, so far at least, is the exact opposite. What they really wanted was change. What they really wanted was something that would really push Superman to his limit so we could see what lies at the core of the character. So everybody that’s working on a Superman book, that’s our focus.
CV: John, what do you think of drawing Superman with the jeans and t-shirt look?
JOHN: I’m very happy with it. The restrictions in doing the costume are well known to any artist. You can only do so many changes to Superman but bringing him really down to earth is a lot of fun. Everybody will roll their eyes and say, “Here we go again. Jeans, a motorcycle and boots and a t-shirt…aw, I could do that.” Well, they’re not going to do it the way we’re going to do it. This is great. I’m really happy with this.
CV: What about the new costume you just designed?
JOHN: New costume I designed? Ha! I think I changed maybe two or three lines. [laughs] There’s a lot of people behind the way Superman looks, corporate entity-wise. It’s great. They have their input and we make some slight alterations and they okayed it. I’m not a dummy. I knew exactly going into it, how the decisions are made. That makes this new direction all the more amazing and impressive it was allowed to happen. So, okay, I’ll do whatever you want with the costume as long as we can play with the character the way we see fit. That’s exactly what happened. I’m really thrilled.
CV: From the DIVERGENCE sneak peek, a lot of people got upset with Lois Lane’s decision. Will your part in the Truth arc show why she exposed his identity?
GENE: Yeah. That’ll definitely be a huge part of our current arc. If people want to find out what her motivation were, they have to read the book.
CV: Lois has often been left out of the main stories or delegated to the sidelines. Is she going to get her chance to be in the spotlight some more?
GENE: Lois has been featured prominently in the Superman books that I read, in preparation for writing this. Like Greg Pak featured her really prominently in a storyline where both Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne lost their memories. I think one of the awesome parts about the rebooted DC Universe is we get to see who Lois is, apart from her romantic connection to Clark. We get to see that she is an amazing three-dimensional character that works well just on her own. That said, she does play a huge role in this current storyline. I really hope that fans of Lois Lane will come out, read the book, and tell us what they think.
CV: How intertwined is SUPERMAN with the other books?
GENE: What we’re hoping for is independent but interlocking. If someone just wants to read one, they should be able to with no problem. It should be an enjoyable experience. If they read all four, they’ll get a deeper, richer feel for the world we’re trying to make.
CV: Is there any turning back now that his secret is out?
JOHN: There better not be!
JOHN: That’s been done before where you run back and you change things. No, for the sake of being different, this is built into the character, permanently. There’s no aunt and uncle you have to worry about. His immediate family is his friends. He’s close to them. If they’re threatened, that goes with it. That’s the way it is. If you’re an undercover detective and you’re found out, your family’s in trouble. That’s the way it is! So it should not be taken back. No. That’s my humble opinion.
SUPERMAN #41 is on sale June 24. You won't want to miss it. Trust me. That's the truth!