Monday, February 25, 2013
Dallasite Greg Pak to write forthcoming Superman/Batman series for DC Comics
Pak, a Marvel veteran, will re-chronicle the story of how Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent met.
Even if you do not read comic books (and you really should), you know the characters: The Incredible Hulk, the X-Men, Iron Man, the Silver Surfer. For close to nine years, Greg Pak has been putting words in their mouths, and his name joined theirs on the covers of some of Marvel Comics’ most popular titles. Not bad for a Dallas Independent School District product: Polk Elementary, Alex W. Spence Middle School, Hillcrest High Class of ’86. Quite super, matter of fact.
But on Thursday DC Comics announced what may be Pak’s biggest gig — and biggest challenge — to date: writing Batman/Superman, a brand-new title that will explain how a young Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent first met … and then duked it out on their way to becoming suspicious friends and tenuous teammates who don’t really trust each other.
“These guys are raw and cocky and trying to do the right thing, but they might make mistakes, which is a good place to start,” says Pak, whose title will be the first Superman-Batman book since 2011. “And, if you’re Superman what’s your reaction to a guy in a bat costume beating people up? And what’s your reaction if you’re Batman to an alien who can bend steel in his bare hands? They each see each other as the most dangerous guy in the world.”
The timing’s perfect: Pak, who will partner will illustrator Jae Lee, comes a little more than a year after DC Comics launched its so-called “New 52″ line, which threw out decades’ worth of contradictory origin stories, ancillary characters and confusing story lines and revamped (and redressed) most of its heroes. Pak will begin at the beginning: His Superman will start out as the jeans-and-blue-T-shirt version initially seen in Grant Morrison’s Action Comics reboot, while his Batman will be a much darker Dark Knight. It’s a long way from the 1952 tale in which Clark and Bruce meet after being forced to share a cabin on a packed cruise ship.
Pak had been a filmmaker before making the leap into the funny pages; his shorts anthology Robot Stories was released to well-deserved critical acclaim in ’03. A year later, though, he was penning Marvel’s revamped Warlock, which began his uninterrupted — till now — run at Marvel, highlighted by the massive undertaking known as World War Hulk.
He says he was approached “several months ago” by comic-creator-turned-DC-co-publisher Jim Lee about taking over a new title. When Lee told him which one, Pak says, “My head popped off.” After all, Hulk and Iron Man are great characters. But as Pak says, Superman (who debuted in ’38) and Batman (who followed a year later) are more or less “the first superheroes.”
They shared a book for years: World’s Best, later retitled World’s Finest. But that dates back to the early ’40s and ’50s, when comics had grown cutesy — as evidenced by this cover featuring Batman, Superman and Robin playing baseball. Frank Miller redefined their relationship in his germinal Dark Knight Returns in 1986, casting Superman as a government flunky dispatched by the president to take down the aging vigilante. Pak’s take will stick much, much closer to Miller’s vision.
“I love all these characters,” he says. “I grew up with Marvel and DC and, heck, Richie Rich. But if you look at the characters the average person on the street knows and people around the world now, Superman and Batman have to be the biggest. They’ve been around the longest. As kids, you and I growing up in Dallas, we were hopping on our Schwinn Sting-Rays riding down to the 7-Eleven, and we’ve had these guys in our heads forever. It’s a huge thrill. And a little scary. I’ll admit it.” He laughs.
“But once you sit down and do the work and think about the stories, it’s just fun,” he says. “Like, with the Marvel characters, I had this crazy feeling when I sat down to work on Hulk. But once you think about character and do the actual work of writing, it’s a blast because they’re conceived so very well. The reason they’re icons is because they’re great characters with compelling back stories and great hooks. There’s so much meat there.”