Exclusive: Why Kara is the strongest superhero, according to Superglrl REBIRTH’s writer

When DC Comics launched their Rebirth project in June, they didn”t just unload dozens of new titles. Instead, they opted for a slow burn, with new series arriving each month. One of the superheroes that have waiting for her moment to shine? Kara Danvers, a.k.a. Supergirl.

That wait ends this week. Supergirl: REBIRTH #1 arrives on store shelves this Wednesday, August 17, 2016. With Kara”s profile raised thanks to her show, Rebirth will blend some elements of Supergirl the show with her comic universe.

From the official synopsis:

“Supergirl turns to the shadowy organization known as the D.E.O. (Department of Extranormal Operations) to restore her lost powers once and for all! But as a fateful experiment sends Kara Zor-El rocketing toward the sun, disaster strikes at home in the form of the lost Kryptonian werewolf Lar-On! All the epic action of the brand new Supergirl series starts here!”

Ahead of the issue, HitFix Harpy was lucky enough to get both a peek inside Supergirl: REBIRTH #1 and snag a phone interview with writer Steve Orlando. We discussed what makes Supergirl unique more the DC pantheon, what Steve hopes to accomplish with the character, and even touch on the topic of DC”s proclivity to hire male writers to write female characters.

Image Credit: DC Comics

HITFIX HARPY: For fans that have been introduced to Supergirl through her show on CBS (now on The CW), is this comic a bit of a mash-up between that universe and the comic universe? If you're a fan of the TV show you're going to come in and see characters you recognize but not necessarily in roles you're familiar with, right?
STEVE ORLANDO: Yeah, I think that that's true. We like to lead with the comics. I think it's an interesting magic trick that the show has done because it gets everything right, it just understands Supergirl. You'll see National City, you'll see Cat Grant, you'll see the Danvers. What we're really digging into, with the show on top of everything else, is what the character of Supergirl means. What she stands for: the hope, the positivity, the never giving up.

But Rebirth is not a reboot, so this version of Supergirl is one that was already in the new 52. Correct? She is just being repositioned and reintroduced.
Absolutely, she is the same character we have seen but, just like you said, its a re-positioning. It's getting her into that classic mode. New readers can find out why she”s great and long time fans will welcome her back.

Were you at all nervous about taking on Supergirl? You”ve written other things for DC Comics, but Supergirl is pretty iconic.
I am. I think that's the way it should be. I was intimidated and it should be intimidating. Anytime you are writing a character with an “S” on their chest you're picking up something that means so much to people. It is one of the most recognizable symbols worldwide and it's just a huge legacy to be a part of. It's a huge responsibility to be a part of. Especially Supergirl. She has been an icon for so many people and meant so much to so many people. I see that when I meet readers, talking to me about how they are waiting for the series and TV shows. It”s intimidating. You want to give them what they have been asking for. At the same time, you want to say something new with the character. It's exciting because it's a chance to show why that “S” is important. Why Kara is important and why she is unique in the DC Universe.

Talking about why she is important, I was actually surprised how much family features in this first issue. It's really all about blended families. Superman has always really been about that because he is adopted and he comes from another planet. But it”s different for Kara, having a birth family which she can remember. That's an interesting space to play in. Is that going to play a big role in her new comic?
STEVE: It has to, I think. Her experience, like you said … They're both from Krypton but Kara”s experience, in many ways, I think is more real for readers and speaks more to real world experience. We say that the super characters, Superman were created by two Jewish immigrants, his is an immigrant story. But when you come right down to it the first face he saw were loving human parents. Kara's is much more like what people go through. She's left real things behind. She has real things that she lost and she remembers. That adjustment period is important to her.
Beyond that, it's not just a source of drama in her life, it also is why she is who she is. She was welcomed by Earth despite all these things. Despite being an alien, despite being different. I think that that more than anything, that experience informs Kara”s wealth of understanding, the wealth of compassion that she shows. She's been there, she's been the one that people are afraid of. She's been the one that people don't trust and so that experience she had, being welcomed to Earth and coming into her own, she wants to pay that forward for people. That's who she is, it's what makes her a great person.

Do you feel like Supergirl is almost a herald of trying to get back to a place with superheroes where it's not just punch first ask questions later?
I definitely aspire to that. That's not to say that there won't be big action and things won't eventually reach powder keg status but, it's not the only way to solve problems. That's something that Kara knows. That kind of community-minded problem solving comes from a place of not automatically demonizing the person that you have a disagreement with. It's a goal for me. When the action does finally explode for Supergirl, it”s her last resort. It's not her first resort. Understanding is her first resort and that doesn't make her any less strong or any less of a hero. It's especially harder when someone is bearing down on you, to look them in the eye and say “I want to understand you,” instead of just punching them into the ground.
Everyone always asks me, “How do you get Midnighter's voice down, who inspires Midnighter?” I usually say that it”s Janeane Garofalo's voice inside Luke Evans' body. For Supergirl, I realized my favorite Supergirl story is the true story of Malala Yousafzai. Here is someone who looked at the people that actually tried to kill her, and she not only survives, she writes books and gives speeches saying that she forgives them. That's my North Star for Kara because there is no better example to me of what actual strength is. It takes so much more strength to do that than to lash out at someone, and to me Supergirl is one of the strongest characters in the DC Universe.

How did you respond to the push back that it was frustrating to have yet another man writing a female character in the DC universe?
I didn't see a ton of push back personally is the real answer. Most people who know me know the way that I feel about those things and the amount that I weighed in when it comes to research when it comes to respect for community. As for myself personally, I felt that it was very important to have a female co-creator and I pushed for it very strongly. Sometimes those decisions are out of my hands, but it's something I felt very strongly about. I wanted a female co-creator on the book. We got Emanuela Lupacchino working on Rebirth and she is going to be working Supergirl moving forward. It's not something I ignored. It's something that was important to me since the beginning.
There is not an issue of Supergirl that is not discussed with peers I have in the writing community, with female peers, with people whose perspective matters to me. It's extremely important. But I am here and I want to do the best job possible. But it's still something I am pushing for all the time.