Exclusive: Superman and Commissioner Gordan joining Batman in ‘Zero Year’

(CBR) Come November, “Zero Year” won’t just be hitting Gotham City.

DC Comics today revealed to CBR News that the Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo “Batman” origin story will gain two tie-ins with “Detective Comics” #25 and “Action Comics” #25. Written and drawn by regular creative teams of John Layman & Jason Fabok and Greg Pak & Aaron Kuder, each issue will focus on the mysterious apocalyptic past of Gotham, as seen through the eyes of Commissioner Gordon and Superman.

Within the city, the “Detective” tale offers a new take on Gotham’s legendary corruption and Jim Gordon’s fight against it. “My issue is before Batman and Gordon even officially meet. It’s the warm-up to their meeting, and a prelude to their inevitable partnership,” Layman said.

Meanwhile in Metropolis, “Action” #25 returns both Pak and the series to their first version of the New 52 Man of Steel. “I’ve had a huge amount of fun writing the young T-shirt-and-work-boots Superman in this first ‘Batman/Superman’ storyline, so I was immediately intrigued by the possibility of doing another story in that general time period for the ‘Zero Year’ tie-in,” Pak said. He noted that readers will see more of Superman before he was fully formed. “We’re going to see a young, cocky Superman testing his limits by taking on what might be the most powerful opponent he could ever find. In short, for the first time, Clark begins to think he might be an actual force of nature. We’ll see if he’s right.

“I also loved the idea of launching my ‘Action’ run with a story set in the past. It’s a great way to start the character at the beginning and lay out some of the big themes we’re thinking about in a big way. And the nice capper is that Scott Snyder’s one of my favorite people in comics and I was thrilled by the chance to come over and play in his backyard.”

Both tie-ins present brief pauses from the ongoing stories of “Detective” and “Action,” but Layman is used to working with all sorts of twists in the Bat Universe. “I’m treating ‘Detective’ a little like jazz,” he said. “While I do have long range plans, a lot of it is improv, and I’m prepared to dodge and swerve at a moment’s notice in order to accommodate other things, crossovers and special events and whatnot. It also helps that I’m trying to do issues relatively self-contained. Each issue is a case, or some aspect of the case. This allows me to be spontaneous with new stories as company-wide or Bat-universe wide events occur.”

Similarly, Pak relishes the idea of working with both Superman and Batman’s pasts. “I love writing these characters at different stages in their lives,” he said. At each moment, there’s a different nuance in how they relate to each other, and it’s tons of fun figuring out just how the relationship works. And yes, you’ll absolutely see things that we’re exploring in the current ‘Batman/Superman’ story reverberate into the modern day stories I’ll eventually be telling. I don’t want to spoil things, but I will say that there’s always a degree of conflict in this relationship that’s great fuel for compelling drama and character development.

“They’re both heroes and they share the same ultimate goals. But I think these two heroes are still works-in-progress, each constantly struggling to figure out how to do the right thing — and sometimes they come to very different conclusions. So Bruce and Clark are always challenging each other — sometimes in ridiculously dangerous ways and sometimes in the best way possible.”

“Action Comics” #25 also promises the debut of a mystery woman that DC hinted fans will recognize from before the New 52. Asked whether this debut might be one of Clark Kent’s alliterative girlfriends, the writer only said, “There certainly are a lot of characters with the initials ‘LL’ kicking around the DC Universe, aren’t there?

The new debut’s identity may remain a secret, but one set of stories fully in the light of day before the “Zero Year” tie-ins will be the Villains Month titles by both writers. “Both ‘Clayface’ and ‘Catwoman’ were just fun opportunities that I said yes to,” Layman said of his one-shots. “Honestly, I thought I’d be fired by now, so I’m still sorta amazed I get asked to do stuff. DC asked me to do Clayface. I like Clayface. I said yes. Simple as that. Same with Catwoman. Not rocket science, not part of a master plan. I’m just having fun with DC characters I like.”

The Clayface story with Cliff Richards expands the stable of artists the writer has been working with as the likes of Fabok and Andy Clarke stay strong on the monthly “Detective” title. “Cliff Richards is great. His Clayface story absolutely blew me away. I can’t wait to work with him again,” said Layman. “Jason Fabok is a revelation (and a lightning fast one as well.) Andy Clarke is phenomenal. As is Rob Guillory and John McCrea. I’ve been very, very, VERY lucky with the artists I’ve got to work with in the past year.

And though they’re first issue isn’t out on stands yet, Pak has seen plenty of Kuder’s work in “Action” as the pair are creating the book “plot first” with the artist taking the storytelling lead. “I’m having so much fun working with Aaron,” the writer said. “Plot-first comic book making can be a big challenge — it’s definitely not for every creative team. But if you have folks who like getting on the phone, talking things out, and figuring out stuff collaboratively on the fly, it can be amazing. I wrote up a very detailed page-by-page outline for ‘Action’ #25 and was planning to go directly to full script. But my editor Eddie Berganza said, ‘Hey, why don’t we just send this to Aaron as-is?’ I blinked. And then I said, ‘Yeah!’ And it’s been great, because Aaron’s a great storyteller and incredibly enthusiastic and totally eager to get in there and think through the beats. Aaron and I and our editors just spent ninety minutes on the phone the other week talking through the script and layouts. And we came up with a number of beautiful little call-backs and buttons and grace notes that I’d have been hard pressed to come up with all by my lonesome.

“And yes, Aaron’s absolutely getting the chance to deliver a new kind of action. It’s a pretty epic story and Clark is going to cut loose in a huge and surprising way. Aaron’s already drawn one page that’s one of the best depictions of one of Clark’s powers that I’ve ever seen. At the same time, there are some pretty subtle character moments that Aaron’s just eating alive.”

“Detective Comics” #25 and “Action Comics” #25 both ship November 6 from DC Comics.