James "Jimmy" Olsen might be taking the world by storm played by Mehcad Brooks on CBS's hit Supergirl, but in the comics, he's still Superman's pal -- and last week, the Man of Steel needed him something fierce.
Jimmy, true to form, stepped up in a big way.
Writer Francis Manapul joined ComicBook.com to talk about the project, which hit the stands last week.
You can pick up a copy of the book at your local comic shop (if it's still in stock) or on ComiXology.
As an artist, did writing this issue tickle your design sense? The strong visual of the black and white Superman was very cool.
Absolutely. As an artist, I always felt that it was 2/3 of the job telling the story and 1/3 was drawing and getting a chance to write the character as bombastic as Superman really lent itself well to some real widescreen type of epic shots. One of my favorite things to write. And a part of me felt a little bit like a jerk, but I loved writing that double paged spread with just the buildings and Superman really small. It allows scale and it really showed the isolation fo the character in what was happening. So yeah, it was an absolute blast to write a character like Superman and I hope I get a chance to do it again.
You had a big, widescreen Superman story with the New Gods and everything. Was it important to ground the story a little bit by having Jimmy play such an important role?
Absolutely. With him being the god of strength, it would have been very easy to have gone the route of "What makes him the strongest person in the universe, physically?" And I sort of hint at what he's been doing since he left Apokolips, just proving he's the strongest there is. And now here he is, back on the planet where everything is so weak by comparison and yet there's an emotional strength there that he was beginning to lose. I think reconnecting with Jimmy and Jimmy playing such an important part of reminding him who he is, even if it's momentarily, really kind of showed what it was that really made Superman. It wasn't so much the strength but it was more the emotional ability that he had to connect with the planet.
More than pretty much any non-superhero character ina ll of DC's canon, Jimmy has a strong connection to the New Gods. Was that part of the decision to make it him?
Yeah. I think to me, it feels like Jimmy had more of an action than Superman did, riding his bicycle through the city. There was a real sense of bravery and adventure there, going out into the city that's being consumed by this mysterious black doom, and then seeing it from the top where he's sick and diving right into it in a very dynamic way. I think there's that aspect of the Fourth World with Jimmy thrusting himself into action when really he's just some kid with a camera, right?
In a lot of ways, what gets through to Superman in this issue is Jimmy's faith in him, which in the post-Flashpoint DC Universe has been rare. People don't have faith in superheroes the same way as they used to. Do you think that part of Darkseid War is putting up a wall between superheroes and gods and showing why they're different?
I think Jimmy, from my perspective anyway as a writer, was more of a mouthpiece for how I felt about superheroes and how I feel about Superman. I think that through time, regardless of however these heroes are depicted, I think that as a reader, that's what draws us to them is this belief that these characters are bigger than us, but they're not above us.
There's a sense of commonality that you can relate to. I think in that final scene where Jimmy appeals to Superman and reminds him of what's really important, that aspect of him at its core reminds us that these characters are the same even though there's physical changes or personality changes. I think Jimmy is a perfect character to stand in as a reader and as a writer to talk about how we feel about these characters.
There isn't a traditional villain here, really. It's kind of a Man Versus Self story. Is it fun to write a story like that in a big, widescreen superhero story?
Yeah, absolutely. It was very difficult to write an empathetic character. I think that's why I opened the issue with him punching a robot and from there on, it was really inner conflict. I think the real key to the story was Jimmy, because Superman was the hero-slash-villain but the real hero that instigated and was the catalyst for Superman's change is Jimmy Olsen. I think once I zeroed in on what it's like to lose your humanity and as a god to do more or less whatever you want, I realized the story is about how even gods can get lonely.
Using the pie as this thing that he thought that he wanted but the only reason why he thought he liked the pie was these memories that he had that are now corrupted. Once he saw through the veil of darkness, he realized it was about the people. He's there for the people that interact with him on a daily basis and that made him feel like he's a part of this world. That really became the crux of the whole story.