At San Diego Comic-Con, Kindle sat down with Jim Lee and Scott Snyder to talk about working with each other and the experience so far working on "Superman Unchained".
Jim, you’ve been
working with the character of Superman for a long time now and most recently as part of the “Justice
League” since the start of the New 52. What do you enjoy most about “Superman
Unchained” compared to “Justice League”?
JIM LEE: For me it’s been the singular focus on Superman and
his cast of characters and villains. I love drawing the Justice League but it’s
a team book and all the characters are stars unto themselves so they’re all
struggling for the center of the stage. This is clearly a Superman story and so
you have all these incredible foils, characters, antagonists, and people who
inspire him surrounding him like Lois. Having all of that allows you to get
into a very deep story thematically and what I love about Scott’s writing is
that on the surface there is a very simple through line but there’s all these
different layers and textures to it and
I just love all the interactions between all the different characters.
Scott, you’ve been
working on Batman for a few years now. How do you go from Bruce Wayne/Batman to
SCOTT SNYDER: Both of those characters are so sure of
themselves. Bruce maybe more pathologically or obsessively than Clark, but
Clark wants to hear advice from his friends, he wrestles the issues with his
supporting cast where Batman/Bruce is private and keeps to himself. It’s been a
really wonderful and vibrant experience for me to have a character who wears
his heart on his sleeve as opposed to Batman who keeps it close to his chest
and Alfred has to ask, “Are you okay?”, and then he’ll say “I’m fine” and then
you know he’s not fine as a reader. Now Clark will say, “This is what I’m
worried about,” and he’ll say it to his friends or to you as a reader so
there’s a real vulnerability in there and a real different psychology but at
the same time they’re both such strong characters that the vulnerability is so
different for each of them and that’s really why I love writing them for that
Do either of you have
a favorite issue from Unchained yet?
JIM LEE: It’s not so much a specific issue for me but the scenes.
The first time you see Lex, you just see his eyes peering over a book but he’s
smiling, and it was fun to draw that knowing that he was smiling but actually seeing
him do it. It was fun trying to capture that essence in the eyes. There’s
certain scenes between General Lane and Superman that are very biting and sharp
and makes you feel for Superman but you also understand where General Lane is
coming from. He’s got a particular point of view and agenda that isn’t necessarily
wrong or amoral. Then Lois Lane’s scenes that are a lot of fun and she’s on her
own, it’s not about her needing rescuing from Superman, it’s about her dealing
with challenges on her own and Scott’s just written a bunch of scenes that
really showcase her as a character. Those are the things that really keep you
up at night working through the late hours to make sure the pages get done.
SCOTT SNYDER: I have favorite scenes that I’ve written but
the best part of working on this book has been waking up every day and seeing
the pages that come from Jim. It’s great seeing the things I wrote
interpreted in ways that make them better and exponentially more exciting.
Sometimes it’s very close to what I wrote and other times it’s something
surprising in the best way and that’s always the way I want to work with Jim or any artist. I want him to change anything that he thinks could be
The title “Superman
Unchained” evokes a sense of coming off the rails or unrestrained power. Tell us about the creative process and working together to tell such a
big epic story?
JIM LEE: Well for me the most impactful scenes and the most
stinging blows to Superman are the one’s delivered by words. I think that’s
just really a testament to Scott’s writing because the characters are so smart.
When you look at Superman or Lois and the way they face challenges and
catastrophes, they have this cool presence, they think it through and just come
off so smart. For me at least it’s so hard to write smart characters, I don’t
know what that says about me, but Scott does it so well and it’s really fun to
draw those scenes.
SCOTT SNYDER: There’s a really big physical threat in this
story and when I see those pages drawn by Jim I will literally call my wife over
to look at them. It’s so imaginatively and expressly done. It isn’t just how
spectacular it is because nobody does spectacular like Jim but to see the scene
that I had written. If I say, “This scene is about the tension between Lane and
Superman because Lane feels sorry for Superman.” That direction will be there
in the gestures, the angles, the way that Superman is surrounded and looks tiny
on the page. That’s also expressed in the posters, on one side Superman is tiny
and then the next side he’s huge. That’s really what the story is about in a
lot of ways, it’s about how in certain moments, to everybody he’s this perfect
hero and then in other moments he’s the little guy who can’t do enough. I see
that and those are honestly my favorite scenes because I get to see them
interpreted and conjured in ways much better than I could have done visually
and that cut to the heart of what each scene is about.
For Issue #3, what are
we going to learn about this new villain and are we going to finally see
Superman take him on?
SCOTT SNYDER: So there are moments in the story, like in
this next issue, where Superman really gets destroyed by this guy. Like we were
saying earlier I think the deepest cuts for Superman are the things that are
said to him but he also gets his ass kicked pretty badly in this next issue. This
guy is a “Military Superman” who landed here in the 30s and has been part of
American military history and he’s meant to be like the ghost in the machine. He’s
the ghost version of Superman, the Superman that might have been if he was a
different character. He’s been here longer so he’s stronger; he has a similar
physiology to Superman even though he’s not from Krypton. He has powers that Superman
doesn’t have yet but he tells him he’ll develop someday. He’s bigger, he’s
bulkier, he’s more warrior-like so you’ll see him basically crush Superman’s
hand and nail him across the full state of Utah in the next issue.