On the surface, there aren’t many similarities between Jonathan Kent, the son of Superman, and Damian Wayne, son of Batman. One is a wide-eyed boy who grew up on a small town farm, only recently discovering his father’s job as a superhero, while the other was trained since birth to be a deadly assassin, raised in the full knowledge of the darker side of Batman’s world.
Yet one thing the two boys share is Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, the creative team on Jon’s Superman title and the former team on Damian’s Batman and Robin.
This week, Tomasi and Gleason are uniting the two boys in Superman #10, which begins a two-story arc that leads into Tomasi’s Super Sons title with artist Jorge Jimenez that kicks off in February. Tomasi co-writes Superman with Gleason, who also draws with periodic help from Jimenez and Doug Mahnke.
This week’s Superman #10 has Damian literally kidnapping Jon and bringing him to the Batcave, whiel also featuring the characters Maya and Goliath from Gleason’s run as writer/artist on Robin: Son of Batman.
And although the two boys don’t have much in common, Tomasi and Gleason plan to show that there are actually a few things they share – including a love of animals.
Newsarama talked to the duo to find out more about Superman #10, what happens when these two headstrong boys meet, and what readers can expect from the title when “Rebirth” starts to affect the wider DCU.
Newsarama: Peter and Pat, as soon as you got the chance to write Superman with a son, did you anticipate this meeting with Batman and his son?
Peter Tomasi: Yeah, the minute we knew we were doing the book together, it was like, we knew that meant Damian was definitely coming in at some point.
It wasn’t a question of “if,” it was just a question of when we would have Batman and Robin being guest stars in the book.
Nrama: Pat, you’re getting to play with some of the characters you introduced in Robin: Son of Batman – particularly Maya and Goliath, who really emerged as a fan favorite. How did it feel to get back to these characters, and what was it like returning to them in this type of story?
Patrick Gleason: It was great. When I was writing and drawing Robin: Son of Batman, I created Goliath and I created Maya.
These were characters that were very near and dear to me, and it was really hard for me to leave a lot of those threads dangling. But I’ve been really happy to see Goliath in other books.
When Pete and I were sitting down to figure out how this arc was going to play out, I thought bringing in Maya fit really perfectly.
So I feel like I’m getting to introduce her to a whole other side of the DCU that hasn’t met her yet.
But I have big plans for her. Maybe we can talk about that some other time.
But yeah, I like the idea that this is kind of a bridge from our Batman and Robin and my Robin: Son of Batman into our Superman book, and moving on into Jorge Jimenez’s first arc on Super Sons – just like the Dinosaur Island stuff we just did, this seemed to fit really, really well.
And it gave me a chance to work with these characters that mean a lot to me personally, as well as getting to work with them with me and Pete together. It felt right. We just got right back into the grove with this stuff.
And being able to additionally write on Superman has been great for me. But drawing is always fun. I love drawing these characters. I could do this all day long.
And I do, actually, now that I mention it.
Nrama: Pete, the setting for this issue is Batman’s world, which allows you to bring in not only Maya and Goliath, but even Alfred. Why did you want to bring the Superman characters to the Batcave? Was it so the reader could kind of see that world through Jon’s eyes?
Tomasi: Yeah. When Pat and I were talking about the story, we wanted to make sure we moved from the place of Jon’s familiar world in Hamilton and get to a place that’s the complete opposite, which is the deep, dark Batcave. So it’s like he’s gone from the light into the darkness.
It just made dramatic and tonal sense. It felt natural to get him into the cave and get him into Damian’s atmosphere, and to get him into the Bat-family also, and get him introduced to them.
With only two issues, we really wanted to make sure we let it breathe. But at the same time, having played with the characters so long in Batman and Robin with Pat, it was nice to be able to put them all together in as organic a way as possible.
Gleason: Plus, we had to have Jon meet Damian’s pets. That had to happen somewhere, preferably sooner than later. We had to bring in Bat Cow and Titus. So that might have been a little self-indulgent.
Tomasi: And also, we wanted to show everybody how much we do, in fact, love animals.
Gleason: Yes, we do love animals! Despite rumors!
But the scene also allows us to play with how Damian sees Jon.
Nrama: Reading the issue, what really stands out is that, they’re just two kids. I mean, they act like two kids would, but they’re doing it with Superman and Batman standing there. And the two men are comparing notes on being dads just like two dads would.
Gleason: Yep, the boys are just boys. I mean, they’re a special breed of boys, because they could easily kill each other if they lost their temper.
But there’s also that underlying idea that they understand each other. And the loneliness they have being these children of superheroes – they may start to see that they’re not alone. Even though their parents are forcing them together, there might be something they can get from each other.
And that applies to the parents too. Batman and Superman now have this common element in their lives, in this early stage of their relationship – between this Superman and Batman.
It all fits really well. Having Jon and Damian be frenemies – I think people will enjoy seeing the fireworks that come out of that.
Nrama: How does this lead toward what’s coming next in the book? And I assume it also leads toward Super Sons?
Tomasi: Yeah, I think you can look at Superman #10 and #11 as a prologue to Super Sons. The story is kind of lighting the fuse and showing that, obviously, it’s going to be a really long fuse. In Super Sons, we can’t be showing these two kids suddenly wrapping their arms around each other, like “Yee-ha, we’re best buddies forever.”
It’s going to be constant oneupmanship. They’ve got such different points of view and perspectives – not only from, obviously, their DNA, but even where they’re growing up and their surroundings. Everything that makes them tick is all very different.
So it’s going to be a constant battle between personalities, and disagreements on the way to do things. They’re each their father’s son, so to speak, so they’re coming at everything differently. And that’s going to cause a lot of dramatic tension between the two.
It’s going to be a lot of fun, as we show in #10 and #11, and then moving on to February in Super Sons. There’s a lot of kinetic energy and a lot of atoms smashing against atoms. They’re not going to be happy-go-lucky together, that’s for sure.
Issues #10 and #11 show you in a very clean and succinct way just what the differences between these characters are. And we explore it in Super Sons too. In a cool little sequence – people coming on board, if they are, for the first time on Super Sons, it was really important for me, really clearly and quickly, to show just what makes each of these characters tick and how different they are.
It’s important in a book like that. It just wouldn’t be as interesting if they’re both on the same page. They’ve got to be coming at everything from different angles, and that’s what makes it more interesting. And a lot more fun.
There’s a lot of fun in Superman #10 and #11 that Pat and I put in there, and Super Sons is the same way. This book cannot be immersed in a dark place. It really needs to have a lot of light and levity and really character-based humor. It makes it a lot more of a fun read and really shows these characters in a fun and dramatic light.
Nrama: That said, the stuff going on with “Rebirth” is looming on the horizon. Will these books with their levity and fun with the kids – with boys featured in both Super Sons and Superman – will these two books be affected by “Rebirth” in the coming months?
Tomasi: Yeah, I mean, there’s no getting around that. Right now, everybody has to feel that there’s change coming, which is always good in a periodical and a comic book. But especially these coming out so frequently – like Pat and I have with Doug Mahnke, it’s two times a month. So you’ve got to make sure that there’s shake-up and change and evolving moments and beats coming up.
Pat and I have been obviously plugged into the rest of the DCU on what’s going on and what’s coming up, to make sure our book is going to reflect that.
Gleason: That’s not to say we’ll lose the adventure and fun side of stuff in Superman. That’s one of the things that the twice-a-month format has really afforded us. We’re doing these three mini-arcs in a row, starting with “Dinosaur Island” and then the “In the Name of the Father” stuff we’re doing now, and then moving on to Frankenstein. We’re really looking at this as little bite-size arcs that let us explore that fun and excitement and adventure – it’s the side of Superman that people have really been asking for.
We’re making that a part of the book, so then we’re ready to move into the bigger DC-wide stuff that’s coming down the hatch. We can’t talk about what that means for the book overall, obviously, but it’s been really great to be able to do these fun arcs before the bigger stuff hits down the road.