When Action Comics #1000 hits on April 18, it’ll bring a series of incredible, unbelievable stories celebrating everything that is, was, and will be about Superman, The Man of Steel. New and returning writers and artists will join forces for DC’s celebration of one of their most enduring and beloved characters — and one of those pairings will be the team of Louise Simonson and Jerry Ordway, two legendary creators who have each helped create some of the most iconic stories to ever feature the character.
In their five-page story in the issue, called “Five Minutes,” they follow Clark Kent as he races to uphold truth and justice in both his life as a journalist and civilian, as well as his identity as the greatest superhero in the DC Universe.
Ahead of the release of Action Comics #1000, both Simonson and Ordway spoke to CBR about their story, and their feelings on getting to return “home” to Metropolis once again. Additionally, CBR has the first look at Simonson and Ordway’s “Five Minutes” in its entirety, courtesy of DC.
CBR: I suppose the big question is — how do you feel about the return of the red pants?
Louise Simonson: I prefer the red pants — I kinda like the classic costume — but that’s nostalgia. I really don’t care all that much. Superman isn’t his costume. I’m happy as long as he’s portrayed as the heroic embodiment of the best humanity has to offer.
Jerry Ordway: I couldn’t be more amused by the controversy! I think the costume looked fine without the shorts, but the belt needed to be yellow to break the blue color. While I can draw it without looking at reference, I feel like it’s possibly the wrong move to backslide on it, and bring the trunks back.
More seriously, then: what do you feel makes Superman look like Superman? From a design perspective, what defines Superman as an image, an ideal, for you?
Simonson: The S-shield! And the S-curl on his forehead. You know he’s gone from Clark to Superman when that curl appears. And I do love that bright red cape!
Ordway: To me, the simplest and best design element on Superman is his “s” shaped spitcurl. It’s a logo on his forehead, so you recognize who he is if he’s buried to his chin in lava, you know?
Why do you think Superman has managed to last as one of the most defining and iconic figures in pop culture history? What is it about his character which people relate to?
Ordway: When anyone is in more trouble than they can handle by themselves, Superman is the hero we need. He can also fight social wrongs, an errant supervillain, or invaders from another galaxy! His “mission” is broad enough to translate to any decade.
Simonson: Truth and Justice sometimes seem in short supply. In a way Clark, as a reporter, is the seeker of Truth. And Superman is the dispenser of Justice. In this cynical time when adulation inevitably goes to the antihero, it’s inspiring to focus on a hero who, when he sees a wrong, will do his best to step in and put things right.
When you write Superman, what do you try to emphasize about the character?
Simonson: Responsibility. Because of his super-senses, he’s bombarded by information. He has enormous power to do good. At the same time, he’s just one man. So he’s learned to scan, evaluate, and focus his efforts where he hopes they’ll be most effective. His life could feel overwhelming… and futile since he can’t be everywhere. He can’t save everyone. All he can to is his best.
His human existence — friends, co-workers, family, the people of Metropolis — reminds him why it’s worth making the effort. The “small” victories are often the ones that count. They speak to his heart and help keep him sane.
Ordway: Whenever I’ve worked on the character, I’ve felt the key is to remember Clark’s humanity.
How have you found heading back to Metropolis again to write this new story? Was it a case that as soon as you started writing, you found yourself back again in that world?
Simonson: Loved it. It was like coming home.
Ordway: I know I felt that way once I started drawing the story, I was home.
What can we expect from your story in Action Comics #1000?
Simonson: Pretty much the themes I’ve mentioned above — Clark/Superman moving at super-speed through his dual life, doing the best he can to be the embodiment of Truth and Justice.
Ordway: Ten pages of story packed into five!
What’s it been like to collaborate with Jerry once again for this story? What has it meant to have the chance to work together once more?
Ordway: I think I inked some pages for Louise and Jon Bogdanove’s Man of Steel #1, but I am pretty sure this was my first time drawing a story the she wrote. I was writing on Superman for all of the time we shared on the titles, so I never had time back then. This was a blast, very fun to draw!
Simonson: Jerry inked a few pages in Man of Steel #1. That’s our previous collaboration! So I loved having Jerry draw this story. His Superman is classic! It was a blast having him draw one of my stories, especially this one appearing in Action #1000. And we did squeeze in a lot of story!
Fundamentally, what do you think is the defining message of Superman’s story and journey as a character?
Ordway: I go back to his humanity. He comes here, is adopted by the Kents, and learns good human values. When he accepts his powers, he embraces his mission, which is to be a symbol of Truth, Justice and the American way.
Simonson: Superman was born an alien, but Earth is his chosen home. As humans — despite differences in race, religion, culture, or national origins — we are all his chosen people. Every one of us has power — so be like Superman! Look around you. Be inclusive. See where you can help. And use your power for good.
Action Comics #1000 is scheduled for release on April 18 from DC.