DC creators celebrate Superman's 80th anniversary at WonderCon

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Mar 23, 2018

If you were looking for breaking news about DC Comics on the first day of WonderCon, you wouldn’t find it at the Action Comics #1000 panel. This was a celebration of Superman with a few of the all-time great writers and artists who contributed to the Man of Steel’s legacy. It was also a party, and everyone who came received a gift: a pair of red Superman-style trunks to call their own.

But first, DC’s Paul Malmont welcomed co-publisher and artist Jim Lee to the stage alongside Jason Fabok, Dan Jurgens, Alex Sinclair, Norm Rapmund, and Marv Wolfman. After a brief video highlight reel of Superman’s first eight decades, the panel was given a brief glimpse of the future. Former Marvel mainstay Brian Michael Bendis is taking over Superman’s monthly titles in a few months, and Fabok shared his thoughts about working with Bendis on the Man of Steel limited series, which will kick off the run. He indicated that it has been difficult to keep all of the six different artists on the same page, and he will be telling a story that weaves throughout the six-issue miniseries.

Lee was teased about the return of Superman’s red trunks, which Lee eliminated when he re-designed the costume for the New 52. Lee took the jokes in stride and said he enjoyed drawing both takes on Superman, but he believes the trunks will be removed again in the future.

Later this year, a lost Superman story by his creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, will be published in the Action Comics #1000: 80 Years of Superman hardcover. Wolfman shared the story about how he came into possession of the original pages decades ago, when he was given a tour of DC’s offices as a child. Wolfman was given the chance to take home the art before it was destroyed, and he preserved the pages in his personal collection before sharing them with DC for the hardcover. This will be the first time that the story has seen print.

Jurgens and Rapmund reflected on their history with the character and their story in Action Comics #1000, which will explore the way that Metropolis thanks Superman for everything he has done. Jurgens also shared a page with the unusual image of Lois Lane opening her shirt to reveal the Superman “S” as an official city celebration took place in the background.

Additionally, Jurgens indicated that his final Action Comics story will be a part of the Action Comics Special #1, and it will bookend his latest stint with the character. When Jurgens returned to the franchise in 2016, Lex Luthor had adopted Superman’s symbol as his own and attempted to prove he was Metropolis’ true hero. This tale will bring things full circle, and it has an ominous title: “The Last Will and Testament of Lex Luthor.”

When asked to pick their favorite Superman artist, many panelists instantly named Silver Age icon Curt Swan. Fabok indicated that he grew up reading Jim Lee’s Superman in the “For Tomorrow” storyline, while Lee stated his preference for Neal Adams’ realism and emotion that he brought to the page. Rampund gave a shout out to John Byrne, the writer and artist who rebooted Superman in the ‘80s. Rampund also cited Byrne’s rendition of Superman on Time Magazine as one of his favorite memories of the character.

For Lee, his favorite memory was the Superman vs. Muhammad Ali one-shot by Neal Adams, although he also had high praise for Jurgens’ work on the “Death of Superman” story. Fabok shared his love for the Max Fleischer Superman cartoons, which he still uses to inspire him.

The panel was briefly interrupted when the red trunks were given out, and a WonderCon photo opp was born when the crowd were asked to hold up their trunks. Expect to see a lot of red underwear at WonderCon tomorrow. Perhaps some will even wear it over their pants in true Superman fashion!

Near the end of the panel, Jurgens offered his take on Superman’s enduring popularity. He believes it is Clark Kent’s humanity that keeps people so invested in the character. He even described Superman as “quintessential Americana.”

Surprisingly, Wolfman revealed that he hated Lois Lane for decades, because she always disregarded Clark in her pursuit of Superman. However, he added that she became a much stronger character in the ‘80s, and she is now one of his favorite characters. To Wolfman, Clark, Lois, and the rest of the Daily Planet staff bring the Man of Steel down to Earth and keep him relatable.

When asked how Superman will look in 80 years, almost everyone said that he will probably look the same. It’s a classic design, and there’s a reason the core elements have remained. However, Lee added that he hopes Lois Lane is still with Superman in 80 years, because she is the bravest person in the DC universe. She has no superpowers, but she never stops that from heading into danger. He went on to call her an inspiration.

To close out the panel, a short behind-the-scenes featurette on Krypton was played, which elaborated on its place within the Superman mythos.