Mr. Action Speaks!

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It’s been a busy few weeks for Superman and his supporting cast, with extra scheduled issues of the Super-books tying into the bigger Countdown picture and the Man of Steel’s involvement in the bigger mysteries of the DC Universe. BF took the opportunity to talk to Super-scribe Kurt Busiek about Jimmy Olsen, Krypto, New Earth origins, Camelot Falls and what the future holds for Kal-El.

BF: Superman’s "New Earth" origin was recently recounted in the pages of Action Comics #850. Old-time readers will probably be most interested in the place the Silver Age Legion of Super-Heroes seem to play in Clark’s history now (again hinted at in various Countdown-related storylines). Is this the definitive origin/history for the post-Infinite Crisis era?

KB: I wouldn't say we recounted the origin in #850 so much as showed small bits and pieces of it, here and there. But everything in that issue, once they zero in on the right Superman, is canon -- that's all part of his New Earth origin and history and all.

BF: Arion has been playing a big part in Superman’s life of late (in the Camelot Falls storyline) and I particularly enjoyed seeing the straightening out of his continuity in recent issues. Is the upcoming age of darkness that Arion is so keen to prevent related in any way to the Great Disaster in the pages of Countdown?

KB: In a way, at least. Arion's not trying to prevent a specific catastrophe -- what he's saying is that as the heroes have held back the pendulum-swing toward chaos and darkness that would naturally have come by now, it's been building up stronger and stronger, and will eventually break through. When it does, it'll cause some sort of disaster, and if it's held back for too long, the disaster will be big enough to destroy humanity entirely.

So any and all trouble headed our way is an expression of that darkness he's talking about -- Countdown, Camelot Falls , everything.

BF: How closely do the Countdown tie-ins in the Super-books play into the bigger picture and what’s the significance of an issue being labelled a "Countdown dossier" as Superman #665 is?

KB: The "3-2-1 Action" issues in Action #852-854 tie in to Countdown directly --  they're each connected to a specific Countdown issue, and expand on and spring from specific scenes in those issues. Though they're also understandable and enjoyable on their own -- we don't want to make people feel like they have to buy two different series to follow a story. We're hoping they'll want to, because the combination is more fun. But each series can be read separately.

As for the "Countdown dossier" on Jimmy in Superman #665, that was a story I worked out even before I knew Jimmy was going to be a lead in Countdown at all. We'd come up with a number of Jimmy-centered stories, and one of them was the story of how, in New Earth continuity, he came to work at the Planet, and to be Superman's pal. So when it turned out that Jimmy was going to be a major star of the DCU this year, it seemed only natural to do that story as a special issue, as an "origin story," as it were, for Countdown fans who'd like to know more about where Jimmy's coming from and why he and Superman are friends.

Along with that, Action #852 has a story-within-the-story, too, that provides background on a key development in Jimmy's "New Earth" history...

BF: The Action Comics Countdown arc (#s 852-854) sees the return of some old favourites. Is this an all-new Kryptonite Man and is there anything you can tell us about the new Mr. Action?

KB: I can't tell you anything about the new Mr. Action! Only Dan DiDio gets to blow the story secrets ahead of time!

On that front, I can only suggest that people read Countdown to see that particular angle develop, and pick up these Action issues (which are gorgeously drawn by Brad Walker) to see it take full flower. Or, uh, something.

As for the Kryptonite Man, he's not exactly all-new, since he's appeared before. He was introduced in Superman #650, the first issue of the "Up, Up and Away" storyline, so that was Geoff's and my debut on the current books. He was created in that issue, was part of Luthor's plan, and wound up abandoned and picked up by the cops. Now he's in jail, but his lawyers are trying to get permission for him to continue his scientific work even while he's in custody, and I can tell you in advance that that's not going to go well. Not for him, not for the court, maybe not for the world...

BF: We also get to see the return of a certain Superdog. Krypto has always been one of the more lighthearted parts of the mythos. How much fun was it to write him and is this tale related at all to the delayed final Krypto story?

KB: I have a blast writing Krypto, and it'll be great to have a Krypto story actually see print! This story happens after the delayed Krypto story (which was never a "final" Krypto story, just a story about what happened to him in the wake of Infinite Crisis and the death of Conner), so it picks him up as of the end of that story and takes him on to the next development we had planned for him. I'm trying to write it in a way that won't give away what's in the delayed story, because I'd like that to see print someday, and I don't want it to be just an "oh yeah, we knew that" when you finally get to see it.

But this one's the next story beyond that. So that one's "Krypto: The Missing Chapter," at least for now.

BF: Speaking of fun parts of the mythos, upcoming solicitations also mention a giant monkey popping up in this arc. Could it be a certain giant ape from Superman tales of yore is making a return…?

KB: Well, you know what Freud said. Sometimes a giant monkey is just a giant monkey.

But what, exactly, this giant monkey is, I'll let readers discover for themselves.

BF: Jimmy Olsen seems to have been channelling his Silver Age self of late in the pages of Countdown and there’s a trade paperback collection of classic Jimmy stories in the works to complement this. Does his upcoming "New Earth" origin and history tie into these developments?

KB: Umm...maybe?

BF: With all these classic elements from the Man of Steel’s past getting a moment in the Countdown-related spotlight are there any other Silver Age characters you’d love to revamp or use in upcoming issues of Superman?

KB: There are lots of Superman-related characters and concepts I want to play with. Some of them are Silver Age ideas -- and one of those, at least, will be central to the Lex Luthor mini-series I'm working on -- and some are Bronze Age, or post-Crisis, or even from other media. I'm still badgering my editors to get official permission to bring Chloe Sullivan into the Super-books, which I'd like to do next year.

BF: What next for the cast of the Super-books after the conclusion of the Countdown crossovers? And are there any other upcoming DC projects you’re involved in you’d like to tell us about?

KB: After the Jimmy issue of Superman, we have the extra-length Superman #666, drawn by the great Walter Simonson, and then it's back to Carlos for the bangup finale to the whole huge Camelot Falls epic. After that, we delve into the secret of the Third Kryptonian, which will lead to big-time shake-ups, and after that, we debut the all-new Insect Queen.

Over in Action, after the Countdown crossover, Geoff, Richard Donner, Eric Powell and Gary Frank will be throwing Bizarro World, the Legion and more at you. And then both books come together in a big, devastating epic that'll have major repercussions for the Super-books and the DCU for a year or more to come, and then...well, isn't that enough? For a while, at least?

BF: Thanks for your time Kurt!

KB: My pleasure!


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