‘Supergirl’ writer Tony Bedard on Kara Zor-El’s future as a Red Lantern

(CBR) DC Comics’ Supergirl has been a fixture of the Superman family since she was first introduced to readers back in 1959. However, new “Supergirl” writer Tony Bedard has a different direction planned for Kara Zor-El when his run begins this December — plucking her out of the Superman family and into the arms of the Red Lantern Corps!

First teased by “Superman” writer Scott Lobdell at during the NYCC 2013 Superman panel, DC followed up by releasing the solicits for “Green Lantern/Red Lanterns” #28 and “Supergirl” #28, which all pointed toward Kara receiving the rage-fueled Red Ring. Bedard, announced as the new writer for “Supergirl” back in September, will join artist Yildiray Cinar as their first two arcs pit Kara Zor-El against New 52 Lobo and embroils her in the machinations of the Red Lanterns. With such big changes on the horizon, we caught up with Bedard to discuss the move, the rational behind giving Kara the Red Ring and how permanent her status as a Red Lantern in the New 52 really is.

CBR News: While many New 52 fans know you for your long run in the “Green Lantern” corner of the DC Universe, you’ve also written a lot of teen heroes, including the pre-“Flashpoint” Supergirl. What interested you in coming back to the character?

Tony Bedard: First of all, it’s an honor to write any of the “Super” characters. As a comics creator, you always hope you might get a crack at the truly iconic characters — the Batman family, Superman family, Green Lantern books, X-Men, Spider-Man, etc. So when Editor Rickey Purdin reached out to me with an offer to write “Supergirl,” I didn’t hesitate.

On a more personal note, there are two types of books that over the years have been a good fit for me: “cosmic” ensemble books like “Green Lantern Corps,” “Exiles” and “Negation,” and books with young female protagonists like “Route 666,” “Rogue” and “Birds Of Prey.” “Supergirl” is a blend of both, so I get to have my cake and eat it, too.

Thus far in “Supergirl,” readers have seen Kara struggle to find her place on Earth and then struggle with her Kryptonian background and outlook. Are you looking to continue this tone, or does your Kara have a bit more of a handle and sympathy for Earth and its cultures now?

I actually want to change that tone a bit, but in a way that makes sense and isn’t too abrupt. Basically, Kara Zor-El has had a very rough life. Everyone she grew up with on Krypton is dead. Her only surviving relative has “gone native” on an alien planet. Her first love turned out to be a monster and she had to kill him. She’s met an alternate version of herself (Power Girl) who is better than her. Her father has turned into Cyborg Superman. And her current “Krypton Returns” exploits aren’t going to have a terribly happy ending, either. So if she’s filled with teen angst and resentment, that’s only natural. But a pouty teenager can also be a little off-putting, and I’d like to arc her character toward something a little more positive and proactive. So that’s the long-term plan: to make her more likable and have her embrace her mission in life while respecting the stories that have led up to this point.

According to DC’s solicitations, your story begins after “Krypton Returns” and brings Lobo into Supergirl’s orbit. What can you tell us about your first “Supergirl” arc?

In issues #26-28, Kara returns to Earth and seeks help from Shay Veritas, the super-scientist who operates The Block, a research facility at the Earth’s core. Shay is sort of the New 52 equivalent of Professor Hamilton, only with much better hair. She’s the science genius who Superman trusts with his deepest secrets. Kara needs to figure out if she can trust Shay, too. But there’s more to her and the Block than meets the eye. While Supergirl is there, Lobo shows up — massive property damage ensues.

All of this leads to a major development that was recently announced — Supergirl joins the Red Lantern Corps! This may seem like an odd choice at first, but considering how much pent up anger and resentment Kara has in her heart, it actually makes perfect sense.

Both the Lobo and Red Lantern storylines have a lot to say about who Kara is and who she should become. Like Kara, Lobo is one of the very few survivors of a dead alien race. In fact, Lobo serves as a cautionary example of what Kara might become if she lets her anger and resentment take over. That inner rage is what draws the Red Ring to her and Kara’s induction to the Red Lantern Corps will in one sense give her what she longs for: a place to belong. But it’s also going to force her to come to terms with her own issues and what she wants to do with the awesome power that Fate granted her when it took away everything else.

All of this will yield some intense, over-the-top action, but my real focus is further defining who she is and whether she’s going to let her misfortunes define her, or if she can turn her life around and stop being a victim of tragedy. I think she’ll to emerge a stronger, more likable character.

The Red Lantern news is huge, so lets talk for a moment about her move over to the Lantern corner of the DCU. How tied-into the events of the ongoing “Red Lantern” comic will she be? Is this a case where Guy Gardner and the other Ysmault Lanterns will be supporting characters, or appear in both books?

“Red Lanterns” writer Charles Souled I are still working that out. I anticipate some fun stuff between Red Lantern Kara and Bleez, who would make an awesome odd-couple. I don’t see the books being linked lock step in the way that the GL books sometimes are, though.

Is becoming a Red Lantern a permanent move for Kara? After this first arc will her grappling with being a Red Lantern be a driving force in the comic?

I definitely want to use this change to explore her character and to bring about a more positive direction for Supergirl in the long term, but I think it’s safe to say she won’t be a Red Lantern forever. On the other hand, this isn’t change for change’s sake, nor is it a throwaway storyline. This is a big deal and a turning point for her. If you care at all about Supergirl, you won’t want to miss this storyline.

Along those lines, as a Kryptonian, was Kara aware of the existence of the Red Lanterns, or the Lantern Corps in general? Or does the Red Ring blindside her, and change the way she perceives herself?

I don’t think she was aware of the Red Lantern Corps. Supergirl is still trying to get her bearings in the DCU and find her place in it. She’s going to get much more than she bargained for when that red ring offers her a chance to finally belong somewhere.

Outside of the rage connection, what interested you in bringing in Lobo as a foe for Kara in this first arc?

It’s the parallels between Lobo and Kara that make him an unlikely yet perfect foil for her. The new Lobo is a very cool customer — a guy who has channeled his own rage and tragic past into becoming the scariest hired gun in the universe. He’s more nuanced than the old Lobo and once he clashes with Supergirl we’ll see that they have more in common than either ever expected. Where that leads remains to be seen, but I think he could make a great recurring frenemy for her.

Overall, what are your goals for Kara after this first arc? With Lobo and the Red Lanterns are you looking to expand her rogues’ gallery?

When Rickey first brought me aboard, we discussed our priorities for the series. Giving Supergirl villains of her own is one of the main things we want to accomplish. I have several bad guys in mind, both revamps of established villains and entirely new ones. The common thread is that they all illuminate Supergirl’s character. Most of the best villains are either a twisted reflection of the hero or the hero’s polar opposite. The Joker is Batman’s opposite number. Bane is a dark reflection of Batman. That’s the sort of thing we want for Supergirl’s adversaries so she isn’t just borrowing villains from other heroes. As I stated earlier, Lobo is in many ways a twisted reflection of Supergirl — an example of what she might become if she doesn’t get her act together. The Red Lanterns speak to her need to come to terms with her tragic past or be consumed by it. We’ll bring in other cool characters to test Kara’s mettle, but even when we’re focused on building up the bad guys, the real payoff is a clearer understanding of Supergirl and what makes her unique.

Finally, you’re working with the versatile artist Yildiray Cinar on this arc. What does he bring to the table in terms of drawing Kara? And what has it been like working with him for the first time?

I’m wishing we’d started off with this question because Yildiray is knocking it out of the park! He’s a terrific storyteller and his visuals are always twice as good as whatever I imagined as I wrote the script. I’m looking forward to establishing a real collaboration with him and figuring out how to play to his strengths even more.

While I’m at it, I’d like to mention inker Ray McCarthy and colorist Dan Brown. Rickey Purdin really put together a remarkable creative team here. Having edited a lot of books, I can tell you it’s rare when the art improves at each stage, from pencils to inks to colors. But these three guys really get each other, and it’s a thrill to see that their combined efforts are greater than the sum of their parts. Yildiray, Ray and Dan are setting a very high bar. I’m a very lucky man to be working with them, and the four of us are absolutely devoted to giving Supergirl the run she deserves.

Tony Bedard and Yildiray Cinar’s “Supergirl” #26 hits stores December 18.