DC kept the momentum going for Day 2 of this year’s New York Comic Con with  “Metropolis All-Stars” panel focusing on the Superman line of books as well as the reveal of the new “Superman Superstars” initiative. Fittingly, the panelists which included Jason Aaron, Jadzia Axelrod, Joanne Starer, Rafa Sandoval, Phillip Kennedy Johnson, and Joshua Williamson took the stage to the iconic John Williams Superman music theme.

Moderator and Superman book editor Paul Kaminski kicked things off by asking the panelists about their their first experiences encountering the Man of Steel. Unsurprisingly, most of the panel pointed the timeless 1978 Superman: The Movie.

Johnson particularly adores the opening credits to the film and said every Superman story he reads is through the film’s depiction of the character. As someone whose own parents were avid comic readers, Superman was always a Williamson’s life since comics were always in his house. In fact, he remembers reading classic Golden Age Superman. Axelrod grew up loving the original Super Friends cartoon and still has her original Superman action figure from the Kenner Super Powers toy line. She treasures it despite its wear and tear,

Starer recalled touching childhood experiences playing Superman with her father on the couch cushions. For Jason Aaron, who was making his first DC panel appearance, Superman means a great deal to him since the first comic he ever read was World’s Finest comic featuring a cover by Neal Adams featuring Batman turning into a Bat attacking Superman. Based on his description, it’s likely World’s Finest #258. In a testament to his fandom, Aaron admitted he still owns and uses his Superman: The Movie trashcan as well as other memoriabilia like a glow-in-the-dark Kryptonite rock and Superman nightlight.    

Moving onto the various Superman titles, Kennedy began by discussing how the current storyline in Action Comics is the culmination of his work on the book since he began almost three years ago. He likened writing Superman to a philosophical statement of what mankind can be and even uses the character to teach his own ethics. As readers are aware, Superman returned from Warworld bringing alien refugees with him back to Earth. This has led to the rise of the Blue Earth Movement, an organization opposed to these new alien refugees. Unsurprisingly, Kennedy confirmed the real world parallels.

Moving onto the newly launched Sperman book, Williamson conceded it can be a challenge to write such an iconic character but that’s part of the job that he welcomes. The book sees Superman attempting to give a second chance to and worth with his greatest nemesis, Lex Luthor. In the most recent issue, readers were introduced to a metahuman named Chained who was secretly imprisoned by Lex Luthor years ago. Chained’s powers include tactile telekinesis, a power typically associated with Superboy Conner Kent. The introduction of Chained seeks to explain the origin of “tactile telekinesis” that Williamson has wanted to see since he was a kid.

The panel then moved on Axelrod’s Hawkgirl miniseries, that sees the winged warrior move to Metropolis. There have quite a number of characters to use the Hawkgirl moniker. The version in the book is Kendra Saunders, a character Axelrod remembers being first introduced in the JSA title. As a character who’s mostly known for appearing as part of a team, Axelrod relishes the opportunity to focus on Hawkgirl’s solo adventures. Hawgirl #4 will introduce the canon Metropolis style hot dog which includes French fries, chili, red cabbage, sauerkraut, canned peaches, and depending on the neighborhood you can get a egg on top with “S” Symbol. Axelrod admitted she in fact tested the recipe herself and said it’s delicious.

Axelrod thanked Johnson for incorporating A-Town, a gag she put into the Galaxy: The Prettiest Star, into the Action Comics book. The version of Galaxy appearing in the Hawkgirl miniseries is older than the one in the graphic novel, and gives the slightly jaded Hawkgirl a much needed new and optimistic perspective.

Before talking about the Fire & Ice: Welcome to Smallville miniseries, writer Joanne Starer first apologized that there is no Smallville hot dog but there is an apple pie. The basic premise finds the duo trying to figure out their lives in Superman’s hometown after screwing up on a mission. However, their ride or die friendship is at a crossroads when they realize they want different things. Starer acknowledged the tone owes a huge debt to Keith Giffen who tragically just passed away last Wednesday right before NYCC. Not surprisingly many of his creations appear in the book including Ambush Bush, Lobo, and L-Ron. Starer is having the time of her life writing this book and praised artist Natacha Bustos.

Finally, the panel arrived at the major news regarding the Man of Steel as DC announced the first two phases of its “Superman Superstars” initiative, taking place in Action Comics throughout 2024. From January through December DC will pair celebrated writers and artists for can’t-miss Superman stories in one of DC’s flagship titles.

Superman Superstars Superman SuperstarsSuperman Superstars

First up in the Superman Superstars initiative, is Jason Aaron with the “I, Bizarro” storyline, a 3-issue arc that debuts on January 9, 2024 with Action Comics #1061. For this arc, Aaron will be joined by fan-favorite artist John Timms.

According to the official press release:

“I’ve been writing comics for almost 20 years, and I’ve certainly enjoyed my share of special moments and exciting projects along the way, but getting to write Superman for the very first time, in the pages of Action Comics no less, the one that started it all, goes down as one of the absolute most significant honors of my career,” said Aaron. “So the amazing John Timms and I are doing our very best to give readers a Superman tale full of action and surprises, the most Bizarro of all Bizarro stories, in what Bizarro himself would call the worst Bizarro story ever told’!”

At the panel, Aaron elaborated that this the version of Bizarro introduced in the Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason book a few years ago. Aaron teased a darker edge to Bizarro that still retains quirkiness that fans come to expect. Writing Superman for the first time, Aaron conceded he called Superman aficionado Mark Waid to run his ideas and was glad they passed the muster.

Superman SuperstarsNext up in the Superman Superstars initiative is super-scribe Williamson and artist Rafa Sandoval who will join forces to bring Brainiac back to the DC Universe in a big way with April’s Action Comics #1064. This will be 6-part crossover story between the Action Comics and Superman books.

According to a statement from press release:

“We’ve been building to Brainiac’s epic return since Superman #1 and the start of Dawn of DC,” said Williamson. “This crossover will have massive ramifications not just for Superman but across all of the DC Universe. Plus, it’s a fun roller coaster ride with Superman, Lex Luthor, Lobo, Supergirl, and the Super-Family up against Brainiac and a Czarnian army. It’s going to be full of surprises, new ideas, and the same kind of tone that we’re presenting in the Superman series. I’m pumped to be working with Rafa again, and the pages have been bonkers. It’s everything I love about Superman and his mythology but turned up to 11.” 

At the panel, Williamson further explained that he aims to explain the Brainiac’s purpose and his obsession for collecting. Having previously collaborated with Sandoval during his Flash run, Williamson has been wanting to work with the artist again for years and praised his work on the upcoming storyline which will be drawn entirely by Sandoval.

Superman SuperstarsWilliamson teased the story will begin with Lois Lane’s day off from her job as Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Planet interrupted from Czarnian aliens falling form the sky. Perhaps the biggest reveal was a design shown at the panel for a new character called the Brainiac Queen revealed. As Star Trek fans, Kaminsky and Williamson admitted that iconic sci-fi show has immense influence on this storyline and mentioned that the classic episode “The Menagerie.” Fan can expect the Brainiac Queen to play a large part in the DC Universe moving forward.

Finally, the panel debuted the cover for Superman #10 arriving in January which will see Superman playing in the Western genre. The inspiration for the story came from a panel Williamson asked artist Jamal Campbel for the first issue of the relaunched Superman book. He also teased the reappearance of a classic Superman villain with Western connections. An expert in in audience immediately recognized it as Tobias Manning a.k.a the Terraman which was indeed confirmed by Williamson.  For more on our NYCC coverage, click here!