Greg Pak is probably the most gregarious writer of comics we’ve ever spoken to. We got a chance to speak with him about the upcoming Batman/Superman, and one thing that struck us the most was just how much fun he was having talking about heroes. And, just to add to the fun, we’ve got a preview of Jae Lee’s artwork as well.
Gamma Squad: So, how did you start approaching this book?
Greg Pak: The beautiful thing about this book, and what hooked me about it, is that it takes place at the beginning of the New 52, which means that it happens at time when Superman and Batman are just starting, putting on their costumes for the first time. When they meet, for the first time, they have a much different relationship and view of each other than you might expect. We’re used to seeing them as best friends, and I love that, but this gives us a chance to see it from the beginning. When they first meet, they see each other as the most dangerous person on the planet. And who wouldn’t? Imagine yourself as Batman seeing Superman for the first time, a guy who can burn you to death with his eyes. We hear “Superman”, we understand his power. But for Batman in this timeframe, it changes everything, and it’s frankly terrifying.
Gamma Squad: Will the story grow from the beginning, or will we move around in time?
Pak: The first arc takes place during that timeframe, but we’ll be getting to the modern day after that. There are all kinds of possibilities with this.
Gamma Squad: Superman and Batman are very different people now. Can we expect any personality clashes?
Pak: I really think of these guys as Clark and Bruce, and as much as I love seeing Superman and Batman meet, I’m in love with Bruce and Clark meeting. Clark is a sharp reporter, and he’s a match for Bruce Wayne. There are nuances to both of these characters that are interesting and fun to explore.
It’s easy for us to think of Superman as a flying fist, physical power personalified. But he’s brilliant! Clark Kent is an investigator. He’s not a detective, and he’s got a different approach. It’s interesting how he’s been built up in the New 52. Clark Kent as a journalist is as a crusader, his work is incredibly important. That whole aspect of him is very interesting. It’s a contrast with Bruce, who has his own mission, focused a little differently.
Gamma Squad: Superman is so, so powerful as a character. How do you approach writing somebody who can solve all his problems with his powers?
Pak: I guess I’ve been lucky. I love writing big huge powerful characters, that you can write ever bigger things for. It’s fun! I’m a kid who grew up reading tons of Greek mythology, the first superheroes. I’ve always loved those kind of stories, characters like the Hulk and Hercules.
There are things that provide fun nuances. At the time the story starts, he’s not quite as powerful as the Superman we know. He’s leaping, not flying. There are certain limitations that are interesting to play with. Our characters are going to end up on Earth 2, which has its own Superman and Batman, much more established, experienced than they are, and that’ll blow Clark’s mind. There are different levels of this that we can play with.
The other thing I’ll say about powers is that comics are all about the characters, their struggle to figure out how to do the right thing. The fact that you have these characters that have incredible power is a great way to raise the stakes. It comes back to the characters and the high stakes choices.
Gamma Squad: So you’re in James Robinson territory with Earth 2. How’d you coordinate the timelines?
Pak: We had a chance to talk a bit. He’s brilliant and doing amazing work with that. Our stories are taking place at different times. Our story is going to take place a few heartbeats before his start, so they can compliment each other nicely that way.
Gamma Squad: Any characters you can hint might appear?
Pak: A while I tweeted that I saw a page from Jae Lee, and said fans of a certain DC female character would be surprised. I’ll just say it, Jae Lee draws Catwoman like nobody’s business. She’s showing up on page nine of the first issue, and I can’t wait to see reactions.
Batman/Superman arrives June 5th, but here’s some artwork to hold you over in the meantime…