• Interviews 

    NYCC ’17: Talking Fatherhood, Grief, and Jon Kent Saying “Hell” with Peter Tomasi

    By | October 16th, 2017
    Posted in Interviews | % Comments

    For many people the debate is Superman vs. Batman. Who is better? Who would win in a fight? I am pretty sure they made a whole movie based on this concept. The answer these people are missing is so obvious. It is not who would win in a fight, but what if they made an ongoing series staring their sons Jon and Damian. It turns out it would be called “Super Sons” and it would be written by Peter Tomasi with art by Jorge Jimenez.

    Originally announced back in the initial ‘Rebirth’ roll out, but not released until 6 months after the launch titles, it was a title many people were looking forward to after Tomasi’s run on “Batman and Robin.” The series follows the adventures of the two kids as they learn who they are, how to be superheroes, how to deal with their parents and, more importantly, how to deal with each other. To learn more about how the series is shaping up with issue 9 dropping this week (of which we shared an exclusive preview earlier today), we were able to speak to writer, Peter Tomasi at this years New York Comic Con. We talked briefly about his time on “Batman and Robin,” giving a realistic voice and motivation to kid characters, and what the Jon and Damian might be up to in the future of the series.

    Peter Tomasi

    First off, how’s the Con going? Is it better being up here in the DC booth and out of that sweaty artist alley?

    Peter Tomasi: It is hot. Right here in the DC booth, this is where you want to be, man. The ventilation here is awesome.

    How does it feel that your and Patrick Gleason’s outstanding run of “Batman and Robin” is being collected in an omnibus next month? How’s that feel having that kind of big of a run collected and being able to look back on the series?

    PT: Honestly, it’s so great to see it collected in one big book because it really is one big story. I’m really, really proud of it. I’m hoping that over time a lot of people find it and discover that storyline, because we had such a blast doing it, and to be able to work that gambit of emotions of Damian dying and being brought back. But honestly, comic death is treated in some ways very lightly. I remember when we first killed him off after like an issue or two, [some fans are] like, “Why is he still thinking about this? Move on. He should be moving on.”

    It’s like, “You know, he just lost his son.” It’s like you really wanted to see how that affects the character, through the five stages of grief and really explore the pain of it. I think it just really humanizes Batman as a character. There’s a lot of emotional stuff in that book, so I was really proud of it.

    I think it’s so important how that run played into your run on “Superman” and then carrying into “Super Sons.” You have such a handle on these characters’ emotions and motivations. I feel like the way this series is tackling Jon and Damian has been perfect. How do you approach the personality, character, and motivation of two kids who happen to be superheroes and happened to be completely different people at the same time?

    PT: The funny this is you sort of look at yourself in a way. You say…or I even look at my son where he can be angelic and at the same time he can be a devil and in a weird way, that’s what I look at as a basis, as a template. My son is basically a pain in the ass at times and other times he’s great and just like all of us, we have those kind of moments where they’re a little darker and another moment where you’re a little lighter. It’s sort of just being open to all that too, and not being afraid to show those moments.

    It’s just to show Jon that he doesn’t fall far from the tree, but he’s not just one blank slate of listening to every direction, listening to every…He’s not going to always be the kid who listens to everything his father says. He’s going to test things like all kids do, push boundaries a little bit, and try to find his own way in the world at the same time, which is what every parent wants.

    Continued below

    That’s how we’re kind of playing the book out too.

    I mean, you had a lot of time to cultivate Damian, then coming into “Super Sons,” and then on “Superman,” you’ve been really kind of the driving force on Jon and his characterization. Where was he when he started and where do you see him now and going forward?

    PT: I think Dan Jurgens did a great job on “Lois and Clark,” bringing it in, and I think we just had a real blast sort of doing what I was saying; a some more shadings on him, watching a kid want more out of the superhero life, seeing what his dad does, learning about it, and trying to understand where he fits in it. It’s almost playing on The Incredibles in a way where it’s like he’s got these powers; why can’t he use them? Why can’t he go out there and hang out with Damian and have his own little adventures?

    He’s got curfews, he’s got this, and he’s got that. We’re just going to play with that aspect of it too and show that you can have these powers as a kid, but you’re still going to need to do your schoolwork, pay respects to your mom and your dad, but at the same time, he’s going to run into trouble because sometimes you have peer groups, like Damian’s, that will push him, be the little devil on his shoulder and say, “Hey, let’s go do this right now,” and he’s got to…you learn by your mistakes too, sometimes.

    Both Superman and Batman are two of the biggest superheroes in popular culture. How do you weight their role in a series about their kids? Both are active and involved parents, so realistically they could show up at any point in Jon and Damian’s day to day. We have seen them in “Super Sons,” but how do you balance the need for them to be present in the series but it is about Damian and Jon?

    PT: Yeah, I try … The key is in “Superman,” it was important for me and Pat to make sure that you did see them because sometimes you’ll be like, “Let’s not show them too much because it’ll be overexposed,” or we don’t want to keep playing off of that and stuff with Superman and Batman all the time, but it’s important. They’re their parents, so I think it’s really key that in “Super Sons” to show that they’re having their adventures, but it’s still a family dynamic.

    It’s still…Clark and Lois are going to be permeating Jon’s life and Bruce and Alfred will be doing the same thing on Damian. We’ve got some stuff exploring school soon, and exploring maybe the new headquarters that they’re building and things like that. It’ll be interesting to see how fans sort of react to the way we’re going with it.

    Right. I always like that, like you said, they’re not present, but just like kids … Damian’s always like, “I don’t think your dad would approve of you doing that,” or, “Why is your dad so mopey?” They’re a presence, but they’re not as just there hanging out in the background. That’s the way it is in kids’ lives. Parents, no matter who they are are a big part of who a child is.

    PT: Yeah, I mean, there’s even a scene where Damian’s flying … I mean, John’s flying around and he wants to say like “Hell.” His first instinct is just like most of the time when he’s flying with his dad, so he hesitates for a second because he’s like, “Oh my god, I don’t want to say that in front of my dad,” but of course, he looks around and goes, “Oh, he’s not here.”

    He always…you know what I mean? They’re in your head. Your parents are in your head.

    Another fun thing about the series is they’ve been on more, I would say, adventures than end of the universe crisis missions. I mean, they are kids. They’re not tackling the biggest DC super villains. Where do you see them going forward, kind of those adventures?

    Continued below

    PT: I think it’s just going to be a mix. A mix of some big ones, some small ones. Slice of life stories and mixing it up that way too. Just keep humanizing them as much as possible and just show them on a daily grind and at the same time putting some situations that are mind boggling and epic.


    //TAGS | NYCC '17

    Kyle Welch

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