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Sky's the Limit: Brian Michael Bendis Talks Superman and Action Comics

Sky's the Limit: Brian Michael Bendis Talks Superman...

By Tim Beedle Thursday, July 12th, 2018

While the six-issue MAN OF STEEL miniseries may have given us our first taste of Brian Michael Bendis’s Superman, this week officially got the blue-and-red party started with the release of SUPERMAN #1, which not only serves as Bendis’s debut on the Superman ongoing, but officially relaunches the book for the first time since Rebirth. That’s pretty exciting for Supes fans, but it’s only the beginning. A bit later this month will see the release of ACTION COMICS #1001, also written by Bendis, which promises a Superman tale of a considerably different bent. Both books will pick up threads that were first introduced in The Man of Steel, including the mystery of Rogol Zaar, the events of Lois, Jon and Jor-El’s journey through the galaxy and what exactly is going on with the fires around Metropolis. (Because they can’t really be caused by Superman...can they?)

Kal-El fans will want to hop on both titles. Bendis has promised us some bold storytelling that will take the Man of Steel into some thought-provoking new directions...some of which may be hinted at in Superman #1. But don’t take our word for it. We recently had a chat with the writer about just this very subject, in which he discussed some of the events that lay ahead, opened up about the new Fortress of Solitude and revealed whether we’ll be seeing more appearances from the Justice League.

Both Superman #1 and Action Comics #1001 have a different feel than Man of Steel. Is that deliberate? Can you talk about the differences between the two ongoing titles?

The opportunity here, which is something I’ve done in the past and had a lot of success with, is having two different books starring the same characters, and they’re running simultaneously, but the landscapes of the books are so different that it’s surprising. So, in Superman you have the biggest stories. This is Superman at his biggest, most epic—only the villains that Superman could fight. Superman #1 is the first chapter in a literally year-long epic Superman story, that by the end of the story, will be bringing stuff into the DC Universe that we’ve never seen before. Even Geoff Johns said to me, “Oh, we’ve never done that! Great idea!”

…Which was, by the way, my greatest moment since starting work with DC. I just thought, “Thank god! He hasn’t done it before!” Because that’s hard to do—pitching stuff in front of Geoff Johns.

So, this feeling you have in Superman is just big and epic, and it will continue. It’s filled with genuinely original Superman conflicts. I think even in the first issue you see that Martian Manhunter is challenging Superman to do more than he’s done before, as his father kind of needled him in Man of Steel. “Are you doing enough?”

Superman’s been doing a lot, but he’s been doing the same thing for a while. Now, things are kind of turning, and he’s being challenged about whether it’s all he could be doing. That will inspire a year-long storyline that will, at the end of the year, get us something we have not seen before in a Superman comic…and I’m excited about it. I think you can tell.

With Action Comics, you have the story of Clark Kent and The Daily Planet and Metropolis and Superman. Superman is front and center in that book as well, but it’s really Clark Kent’s story. This is the story of a man who is rocketed to Earth and a lot of things have been thrust upon him. A lot of greatness has been thrust upon him. He’s rose to the occasion of being Superman, but that was kind of given to him. The thing that he chose to do—the choice he made himself was to be a reporter.

I’m kind of obsessed with this, and I really think it’s because he is looking for the truth. There’s truth that as Superman, he can’t punch his way towards, but as Clark he can get closer to it, and he can reveal it to people. That is a choice that he’s made, and I’m going to reflect that, honor it and dive into it. It’s going to be the story of a modern newsroom—a newsroom that deals with everything that newsrooms deal with today.

You mentioned getting to some big events and big changes with Man of Steel, but I feel like you’re not slowing down at all in Superman #1, where you introduce a brand-new Fortress of Solitude. What can you say about that?

Well, number one, I’m kind of surprised how into blowing up the Fortress everybody was. I thought we were going to take a beating for about a month until we debuted the new Fortress, but I think the fans were really excited.

The new Fortress is very classic in that it has all the stuff from the original Fortress of Solitude, but it uses Kryptonian technology and the special energy from the Bermuda Triangle to create a completely different Fortress filled with all kinds of stuff. It was very inspired not only by the Legion headquarters—the classic “Great Darkness Saga”—but what Scott Snyder and everyone is doing in JUSTICE LEAGUE with the Hall of Justice. We really wanted to create a Fortress of Solitude that is filled with magical, fun, cool stuff. The original was so retro fun, but we wanted to take that and make a more modern-styled version of it.

One thing that’s pleasantly surprised me is how often the Justice League has shown up in your Superman run so far, both in Man of Steel and particularly in Superman. Considering everything that’s going on with those books, do you talk to Snyder and team so that you’re able to sync your titles up with theirs?

Yeah, we had a big DC retreat just a couple weeks ago. We all get together and we tell each other our stories and we help each other. Even last night, Scott and I were texting back and forth. We’re sharing an organism, and the best way to do that is to use it to surprise and delight the fans as often as possible. So, people who are reading Justice League and Superman—if you’re reading one or the other, great! You’re going to have a good time. But if you’re reading both, and we can add levels of entertainment there, it’s almost an obligation to do so. That’s one of the things that comics can do that no other medium can do.

So, “yes,” is the answer.

SUPERMAN #1 by Brian Michael Bendis, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Alex Sinclair is now available in print and as digital download. Read a preview of it right now by clicking here.

ACTION COMICS #1001 by Brian Michael Bendis and Patrick Gleason will be available in print and digital on July 25th.