Superman’s Oldest Friend: An Interview with Superman Beyond writer JT Krul
JT Krul is a comic book writer famous for his work on DC’s Green Arrow and Captain Atom. He also continues to write Soulfire for Aspen Comics. Mr. Krul was nice enough to speak to us about his work on DC’s Superman Beyond.
Tommy Zimmer: When were you approached to write Superman Beyond?
JT: It was just after the launch of the new 52, around the beginning of October. Ben Abernathy and I have known each other for some time, so when the opportunity came up, he thought of me. I got an email from Kwanza (Johnson) at the DC Digital division.
TZ: What was your reaction when you found out that you’d be working with Adam, Norm, Dustin, Derek, and Howard?
JT: Getting the chance to write Superman was enough of a thrill for me. I had written only one brief scene with Clark earlier in my DC work. He’s one of the most iconic heroes in all of existence. Knowing that the project was linked to the other Beyond books by Adam, Norm, Dustin and Derek was such another positive – having the books stand together to make a splash on the comics scene. As for Howard, he was the first and last name discussed. Howard was finishing up on another DC project and Ben asked me what I thought. “Hell, yeah” I believe was my response.
TZ: How did Tom DeFalco’s Superman Beyond one-shot form the basis for what you’d do with the book?
JT: That one-shot did a great job of establishing Superman’s world in the beyond universe, and I really used it as a foundation for what I am doing in my book, both in terms of where Superman finds himself and the lack of people in his life these days. I wanted to expand that feeling and explore the difficulties Kal-El would face.
TZ: How has Clark changed from New 52 Superman to the almost cynical Superman we see in the new book?
JT: I wouldn’t use the word cynical. Superman is the same person he’s always been. The problem is Clark’s world has moved on. From the people around him to even his chosen profession, it’s all gone. Without those tethers, what does Clark Kent even mean any more. That’s why when we see him, Superman has regressed back to the Fortress of Solitude, existing almost entirely as Kal-El, if we can think of his life in such compartmental terms. He’s lost and alone. It’s almost reminiscent of his mindset when he ventured away from Smallvile to build whatever his life would be.
TZ: Going to that same notion, Superman has suffered the loss of loved ones quite a lot. It has noticeably affected him… why does that idea of loss ones seem prevalent to the Beyond future the narrative takes place in? You see Terry and Bruce have already lost a lot…. It seems like a common theme rolling into the other stories….
JT: Well quite frankly from Bruce and Clark’s standpoint, it’s a natural part of aging. Have a conversation with grandparents, and it almost always includes comments and thoughts on friends passing away. The world they know is erasing itself, being washed over by new faces with new lives. Think about a family neighborhood. As the people get older, they start to see their friends pass away. The houses are painted and updated and new families move into them. Before long, the neighborhood doesn’t even look the same. Change isn’t a bad thing, but it happens.
TZ: With all the losses he has suffered, you have him questioning his role as Clark and Superman in the Beyond future….. Going forward, what are your plans to reinvigorate the character moving him almost back to who he used to be?
JT: That’s something you’ll see play out over this initial arc. In many ways, it’s about setting up a new status quo, giving Superman a place in the world again – both in costume and out. The story explores him going through this process of determining where he belongs and what, if anything, he has still to offer.
TZ: Now moving onto the current narrative, you have the Metropolis Police Department enhanced with almost Lex Luthor-like armor suits… why did you choose to enhance them so much?
JT: It feeds nicely into this narrative of Superman feeling somewhat obsolete. Clark is no longer needed by the friends and colleagues around him because they have all died. And even Metropolis seems to have moved-on. They have their own Supermen ready and willing to face the challenges that await. But as we see, there is more to being a hero than powers. And that cuts to the heart of what Superman means to the world. I’ve said it time and again, Superman’s powers are not what makes him super. It’s the unwavering moral fiber in his heart. He exudes everything that we as humans wish we could be on a daily basis – brave, honorable, generous, sympathetic and selfless.
TZ: You made an interesting move bringing back Luthor in a limited form after Superman took down the deposed dictator in Paul Levitz’s Superman/Batman Annual… what made you decide to do that?
JT: The hero/villain dynamic between Superman and Lex is rivaled only by that of Batman and the Joker. He is the ultimate nemesis for Superman, and even though he is dead – that can’t stop somebody as driven as Lex. In the same way that Superman will never be free on Lois, he’ll never be free from Lex.
TZ: Moving onto his supposed daughter, why did you decide to give Luthor a daughter?
JT: Again, it had to do with trying to keep that dynamic alive and well in the beyond universe. And, I was drawn to this notion of Lex reaching out from beyond the grave – both to attack Superman once more, but also to do what he does best – manipulate. This daughter is thrust into a new life and a new purpose all because of the sermon from the mount, where she is Moses and Lex is God. He paints a picture of the world as seen through his eyes – one in which Superman is an enslaver of men. She is his disciple.
TZ: What does she bring to the narrative and how does she reflect a human opposite to the Clark like Luthor did?
JT: In terms of how Lucinda compares to Clark, it boils down to a view of the events that occur around them. Superman never feels like a victim. He is always able to empathize with others, seeing the world through their eyes. It’s part of his endless compassion. He sees the struggles people face and wants to help them – well, help them help themselves. As for Lucinda, she’s got a different kind of chip on her shoulder than her father did. Lex saw Superman as the only thing in his way, but Lucinda sees the world itself as an obstacle. She sees it as being unfair. She is bitter about the hand that’s been dealt to her and views those around her with derision. This is why she is easily manipulated by Lex’s story. He weaves a tale where her woes are the result of necessity because of Superman’s malice. Lex is almost telling her that the world isn’t against her – Superman is.
TZ: Will she be sticking around for the near future? Do have plans to make him one of Superman’s biggest enemies in this future?
JT: Luthors have a tendency of being resilient, so she could be around for a while.
JT: Writing in the Beyond Universe, the cast of familiar faces is somewhat limited – most everyone is dead and gone. I was thinking about what characters might still be kicking around and Solomon Grundy immediately came to mind. I don’t see him as working with Lucinda. He’s living in his own world with his own agenda. And let’s face it, who doesn’t want to see Superman and Grundy brawl?
TZ: Why did you choose to leave Superman in a tight spot so much he needed Bruce to save him?
JT: I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to have Bruce put on the cowl one more time to come to the aid of his oldest friend.
TZ: With Bruce recently having some physical problems in Adam Beechen’s Batman Beyond, I am wondering how much you coordinate with each other…?
JT: We do try to coordinate our books. Editorial keeps track of such stories and Adam and I have talked on several occasions about the world we are sharing. In terms of continuity, the Superman Beyond arc takes place prior to the events in both Batman Beyond and JL Beyond, so that health concern wasn’t an issue for my story.
TZ: Do all have any plans for any future crossovers?
JT: At some point, I think a big crossover between all three books would be a blast, though no plans are in place at present.
TZ: Going back to Bruce, why did you decide to bring him out of retirement to aid Superman?
JT: I wanted to have that World’s Finest moment and the notion of presenting Bruce in a suit somewhat reminiscent of the one featured in The Dark Knight Returns was again too much fun to pass up. I wouldn’t expect to see him hopping around rooftops all the time. Terry is the Batman now. This was a special case where Superman had his back against the wall and needed some support from an old friend.
TZ: He also seems to be in a new bat suit…. Is this really Bruce Wayne, an impostor, or something else?
JT: Nope. It’s Bruce, albeit utilizing an enhanced suit to give him the means to be effective.
TZ: What do think Clark at his age sees in Bruce Wayne? Bruce was very reluctant to let Terry join the Justice League Beyond or even let him leave Gotham…..
JT: Superman (like Alfred) has always seen the importance of Bruce having a pupil to mentor – from Dick to Jason to Tim to Terry. They bring a sense of hope for the future that would be missing from Bruce otherwise. As for Bruce not wanting Terry to join the JL, part of it is the protective nature of the relationship.
TZ: Going off of that, will Bruce or Terry play a large role in the upcoming issues?
JT: Nope. This was just one chapter in Superman’s story. That’s not to say you’ll never see Terry or Bruce pop up again in the future, but this is Superman’s book.
TZ: Do have any plans to resurrect some more of Superman’s past enemies? We’ve already seen resurrections of Lex, Metallo, and recently Solomon Grundy……
JT: Moving forward, you’ll be seeing both new villains and old featured in the book. I don’t want to mention any names, but the second arc really has everything. It’s a big epic story for Superman and the symbol he represents.
TZ: How do you decide which characters are alive and dead in this future? What informs your decisions on that?
JT: That’s not up to me. It’s DC’s sandbox. I’m just building in it. As I develop new stories, I determine which characters I want to use – sometimes I can; sometimes I can’t.
TZ: Going forward, what surprises do have for fans? What should we be expecting as the book continues on?
JT: Like I said, the next arc is even bigger than the first. It focuses on a new threat to the Man of Steel, challenging the very thing he stands for – and it features some familiar faces that I am sure readers will enjoy. And Howard’s art is just getting better and better. He already was doing a great job, but I tried to give him a lot of fun and cool and different stuff to play with in the new arc. It shows in the art.
TZ: What other projects do you have coming up?
JT: In addition to my work at DC, I am always working with Aspen Comics on a project or two. Currently, I am writing the 4th volume of Soulfire with Mike DeBalfo and Nei Ruffino on art. It’s a futuristic story where magic has come back to the world. Imagine Lord of the Rings meets Blade Runner. I’ve also finished my first novel, The Lost Spark, which will be debuting from Aspen around the beginning of 2013. A young-adult, fantasy novel, the story centers on a teenage girl who must reconnect with the magic of a lost childhood toy in order to help save a grandfather who is losing his mind. And, I’ve got a new creator-book coming out next year as part of Aspen’s 10-for-10 celebration of their 10th anniversary.
Thanks Mr. Krul! And check next week for our interview with Derek Fridolfs, co-writer and inker on Justice League Beyond.
Leave a Comment
NOTE: You can continue to post as a guest, or you can log in to post a comment. By registering you can stay logged in next time you visit, update your avatar, and more!