A veritable brain trust of DC Comics writers appeared at Google HQ recently to discuss 80 years of Superman in pop culture. The group consisted of Dan Jurgens (creator of Doomsday), Paul Dini (developer of Superman: The Animated Series), Marv Wolfman (writer of Crisis on Infinite Earths), and DC newcomer Brian Michael Bendis, who will be taking over the Man of Steel title after Action Comics #1000 (out April 18).
While the panel began with a discussion about the values Superman stands for and what makes him such an enduring hero, talk quickly turned to his greatest enemies. In fact, Bendis is introducing a brand-new villain within the pages of #1000, as he feels like the character doesn't have the same rogues gallery of archnemeses that superheroes like Batman and Spider-Man do.
"We're gonna be as additive as possible," said Bendis. "And starting right away with Action #1000, is this new villain, who knows something about Superman and the history of Superman that Superman does not know and that's gonna really challenge him, both spiritually and physically."
Coming straight from outer space, the big baddie is an alien called Rogal Zaar. The name "Rogal" was actually taken from the doctor that saved Bendis's life when he suffered from a terrible bout of MRSA, which nearly ended his life last year.
"Every day I heard this German woman come in and work on my face, but I couldn't see her, I was blind," he said. "And I heard this [name] ROGAL! every day and then I go 'she's definitely gonna be the villain.'"
However, Doctor Rogal had no idea that he wrote comic books for a living and thought he was nuts when he first told her he was naming the villain after her. After she Googled him, though, she was really excited about it.
They'll also be debuting a new criminal mastermind inspired by Lex Luthor, who's got none of the ego of Luthor. While the chrome-domed familiar one runs around causing trouble and trying to get the attention of the Man of Steel, this other villain has been running an illicit empire in Metropolis for all these years, right under Superman's very nose.
Watch the full panel below discussion below, recorded at Google LA during WonderCon 2018, but just released today:
Offering his own thoughts on Superman's villains, Jurgens said that he's a big fan of Lex and that he'd have no problem writing a 3-year run for the character. Wolfman was of a similar mind, voicing his perference to for the bad guys that challenge Superman mentally, rather than those who chalenge him physically. As Wolfman notes, being smart isn't his superpower, and while he's not dumb, Clark often has to come up with creative ways to defeat the evil geniuses such as Luthor and Brainiac, whom Wolfman considers to be some of the strongest characters in the DC Universe.
Action Comics #1000 becomes available to the public tomorrow and only costs $7.99 for 80 pages, including Bendis's first Superman story and a lost one from Superman's creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.