Writer Marc Andreyko on Why His Supergirl Is a Survivor

Joseph McCabe

Joseph McCabe

Sept. 26, 2019


Marc Andreyko is no stranger to writing strong women, having relaunched 'Manhunter' with artist Jesus Saiz. Now he's turned his talents to writing one of DC's STRONGEST women, Supergirl (available to read on DC Universe). Marc sat down with us recently to talk about his history of working with Brian Michael Bendis, how his Kara is motivated by survivor's guilt, and why darkness for darkness' sake doesn't work for him...



Can you talk about how you came on board Supergirl and what inspired your run on the character?


Brian Bendis and I have been friends for 27 years, and we did a book together called 'Torso.' We hadn’t worked together since that, 20 years, because he had been at Marvel. And when he came over to DC and said he was doing 'Superman' and told me what his concept was, I’m like, who’s doing Supergirl? And he said, nobody. So I called people at DC and said, "I’d like to pitch on Supergirl, I have a take." What Brian basically did with the Superman is the best sort of retcon. He said that Krypton wasn’t an accident. It was on purpose. So that doesn’t change any existing stories. It’s not suddenly that this character was a clone for 30 years. It was adding to the story that actually doesn’t change existing stories but makes it richer.


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And what’s interesting about that is, for Clark, Krypton is theoretical. He doesn’t remember Krypton. For Kara, every single person she knows died. So she’s got survivor guilt. They always use the metaphor with Superman being a Holocaust survivor, that sort of thing. Superman is the grandson of a Holocaust survivor. Kara is a Holocaust survivor. And when I got the job, I went back and re-read as many of her appearances as I could, and I was like, "Oh, this explains why sometimes they do storylines where she has anger or rage. Because she’s still a 17-year-old kid who lost everybody, who’s now on this planet where she’s qualified as this Superman’s cousin." The whole "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!" of it all, and she’s also got this survivor guilt. Is she betraying all the family she lost on Krypton if she starts liking Earth? There’s all sorts of internal stuff that adopted kids go through, that stepkids go through, that’s very human and very relatable, even though she’s an alien from a planet. So that, to me, was very interesting because the internal emotional journey she’s going on is the physical journey that she's going on. She goes to space for a year to find out if this is true, if this guy really did [destroy Krypton] on purpose. And if he did, who helped him? She needs to actively do something to honor Krypton. So she goes out into outer space for a year to unravel the mystery, and now in the book we’re crossing over with Superman to wrap up this whole epic and set the stage for not only Superman and Supergirl, but the future of the DC Universe. It’s very hopeful, which is nice. It’s a hopeful future. We’re living in a dystopia right now. I want the 'Jetsons' future. We’re living in Blade Runner now but without the cool special effects.


The nice thing about you guys, you and Brian, is that even when you do go dark, there’s a sense of humor. There’s not a pretentiousness about it.


Dark for darkness’ sake is not fun. If you’re doing a movie like 'Schindler’s List,' of course you don’t want light moments in it. If everything is dark, it’s white noise. If everything is happy, it’s white noise. You need bad things and good things to happen. And when bad things happen, you crack jokes, because it’s a way to relieve tension and feel like you have some modicum of control. So it’s not being jokey for the sake of being jokey. Whenever I try to write humor, I’m like, "Would they actually say this in this instance?" The other thing is, kill your darlings. When you write a good line, generally, you cut it because it’s a good line. It doesn’t feel like a character would say it. I try to make those lines feel like the character would say it. If it feels too much like a line and isn’t specifically a character, you cut it.


Can you tease us about what’s to come?


Well, if you read the 'Leviathan Rising' one-shot, the 80-pager, at the end of the Superman crossover, Kara comes back to Earth. Things are super complicated when she gets back to Earth because Leviathan is happening. Her adopted parents, the Danvers, are both missing. The DEO doesn’t exist anymore. So she’s dealing with that, and with the "Year of the Villain" thing, Luthor gave one of Brainiac’s drones some strength, and another drone is trying to become the one true brainiac, and he needs Kara, and she doesn’t know it yet. So it’s always something. Never a dull moment.


Can you share your five favorite Superman or Supergirl comics?


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As far as Supergirl goes... Some of my favorite Supergirl stuff is obviously 'Crisis on Infinite Earths.' Her death, and the death of [the X-Men's] Phoenix, were both just such really emotional moments. As a kid, I didn’t really have a big affection for Supergirl, but that’re like, "Oh my God."


They made it resonate even for people who weren’t reading her comic.


Which is what good comics do. I also love the Paul Levitz/Keith Giffen, 'Legion of Superhero' stuff, the Great Darkness saga. Brainiac 5 having a crush on her is great... Superman stories? Alan Moore’s "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" In two issues, he encompasses the entire -- at that point -- 50 years of Superman’s history, using goofy stuff like turtle Jimmy Olsen and making it poignant. Also too, another Alan Moore (with Dave Gibbons), "For the Man Who Has Everything," which was made into an episode of the 'Justice League' cartoon. I really love Jerry Ordway’s run on the 'Adventures of Superman' when he was writing the book while John Byrne was doing the other Superman one. And I’m loving what Brian is doing with Superman. I think it was an unexpected choice for a lot of people because Brian’s known for more down-to-Earth, gritty, dark crime stuff. But I think he’s really reinvigorating Superman in a way that doesn’t counteract anything that’s been done before, but embraces all that. It’s the first time in 80 years that two boys from Cleveland are writing the Superman books. [Laughs.]


When you were growing up, what were your favorite Superman stories?


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I love the movies. I loved 'Superman: The Movie', and I love 'Superman II'. I think Christopher Reeve was phenomenal. I think almost all the different media versions have something good in them. I mean, 'Lois & Clark' looks creaky today, but back then, there weren’t 900 movies coming out every week that cost $400 million. That was it. The chemistry between them, that great teaser poster with the tattoo and the cape... I’m a huge Henry Cavill fan. I hope, by some miracle of miracles, we get another Superman movie with him, because I think he’s so far different than Christopher Reeve. He feels like the old Wayne Boring Superman, the big barrel-chested one. And of course, 'Superman: The Animated Series.'


When did you discover DC?


I started reading DC comics as a kid with Teen Titans. Then the Marv Wolfman/George Pérez run on 'New Teen Titans' coming out at the same was like, "Oh my God. It’s like, steak and more steak." That was sort of the stepping stone for me. DC, up until recent history, was always the more prevalent in other media. So growing up with the 'Batman' TV show and the Batman movies and all that stuff. And the DC characters -- Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman particularly -- are Hera, Zeus and Apollo. They are these bigger-than-life characters that deal with human things in that context, and there’s a reason why they’ve endured for almost a century.



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