Joshua Williamson Discusses the Major Changes To Man of Steel With Superman #1
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Joshua Williamson Discusses the Major Changes To Man of Steel With Superman #1

As Dawn of DC sweeps across the DC Universe, a new era for the Man of Tomorrow and his extended cast begins with the relaunched Superman series by Joshua Williamson and Jamal Campbell. Picking up from the cataclysmic events of Action Comics #1050, Lex Luthor may be in jail, but not before forcing Superman’s secret identity back on the world. As Lois Lane acclimates to her new role as The Daily Planet’s editor-in-chief, Superman finds his usual rogues’ gallery has been undergoing changes of their own across the relaunched series’ action-packed opening issue.

I love how this issue starts, with the idea that Lex Luthor is constantly in Superman’s ear as the devil in his shoulder. What was it about creating this unique dynamic between Superman and Lex?

Joshua Williamson: I enjoy writing Lex. I realized this working on Barry Allen that these good, pure-hearted characters are at their best, and I have the most fun writing them when their opposite is nearby. When I was writing Barry, whenever he was around Godspeed, it was fun because Godspeed was his opposite. He was a little bit of a jerk, and Barry Allen is never a jerk. With this, you’re writing a character like Superman, who is so pure and heroic, you need a contrast with somebody else. It made sense for it to be Lex Luthor because I knew this book was going to be a little bit of a Superman/Lex Luthor team-up book. That was always built into it.

I’ve always enjoyed writing Lex Luthor. I knew that dynamic was going to be fun. This book is about how people are constantly telling Superman what to do. When I got the job, one of the things I would hear from people was about “fixing Superman,” and it’s interesting because everyone has their own interpretations of who Superman is, and I realized so does Lex Luthor. Lex is like, “I can make Superman better. I can fix him. I can make Superman into the kind of hero I think he should be.” If Lex is like, “The world does need Superman, but they need my Superman,” what does that look like? I knew the dynamic between these two would be interesting, but I thought that the idea of, no matter where Superman is, he hears certain people.

For the most part, it’s his loved ones, but Lex Luthor represents that negative voice in your head. It’s why the first issue is called “Voices in Your Head.” Superman is incredibly human. A big part of who he is is that he’s an incredibly human, heartfelt, and emotional character. Having someone like him, who we know is listening to his heart, have this negative voice in his head all the time is a very human thing for him. That manifests with Lex Luthor literally being that voice in his head to tell [him] how to do his job differently, not just to do it differently, but that he sucks at it.

I thought that would be a fun way of narrating the book. It’s a little bit different. Lex is almost like Superman’s Oracle in this story. That’s his backup person to talk to. It’s something I hadn’t seen before and something that makes this book different. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea that Superman could hear all these things, hearing music and people. When I was working on Robin, I wanted to give him a human thing. It’s so well-known that Damian is a badass killer kid, but he also reads manga as something to ground him in reality. With Clark, it makes sense that he would also enjoy music as most people do, but he would have his own taste in music.

I do have a playlist, and we’ll probably release that sometime soon. The thing about the playlist and Martha talks about it with Jon is that it was a playlist given to him by Pete Ross. It’s not necessarily a playlist that was made by Clark. It’s made by Pete, who is this kid wanting to get out of Smallville and probably rebelling a little bit. Here’s good farmer boy Clark Kent, and what would Pete Ross be like? How do you rebel? You know Jonathan and Martha would be listening to country. So how do I get him to rebel and ease him into something different that would start with country but then evolve to country-rock and rock?

This was about trying to get Clark to rebel because Clark was never going to rebel, so it was more of a “Hey, kid! Listen to this” kind of thing. That’s what the playlist is. With the music, I was thinking a lot about voices in your head and being able to hear things. It all came together, and it made sense for music to play a part in it. I’m fascinated by sound in comic books because you can’t hear it even when people try to do something with it, it’s all visual. I’m fascinated by that and wanted to do something with that in the book.

Lex is incredibly smart [and] manipulative and has a long history with the city, which we start to show towards the end. Lex Luthor was in Metropolis for a while before Superman got there, and it wasn’t like he was here for one year and built this thing. He was here for a while and built it a long time ago. [In] my headcanon and people can always tell [me] that I’m wrong but for me, Superman left Smallville when he was 18 and didn’t show up in Metropolis when he was 19. He was traveling like Bruce Wayne was. He probably traveled for 10 years. Some people might say five years because of the sliding timeline. But he traveled for a while.

Lex left long before Clark did. That means he was in Metropolis for even longer. He built that empire on the road of good intentions. He had his own adventures and story. We haven’t really explored that time as much. At the end of Action Comics #1050, we see Lex sitting in prison and smiling. I was getting questions about all of this, and I was like, “Do you think what happened at the end of Action Comics #1050 wasn’t all part of Lex’s plan?” What he’s doing is putting himself in a position where he seems vulnerable because he’s locked up, but we all know he’s not really vulnerable.

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