Superman Writer Peter Tomasi On The Transition From Superman/Wonder Woman to Super-Squad and Rebirth

With Peter J. Tomasi about to take over Superman, and writing the Super-League story that runs [...]

(Photo: DC Comics)

With Peter J. Tomasi about to take over Superman, and writing the Super-League story that runs through the whole Superman family of titles ahead of DC Universe: Rebirth, his run on Superman/Wonder Woman now seems like a primer for what's to come in the Man of Steel's solo titles.

The relationship-centric, action-driven title most recently served as a staging ground for some of the most bombastic fight scenes of the Savage Dawn storyline, in which a year's worth of Superman stories came to fruition.

Tomasi joined to talk about the end of Savage Dawn, the end of Superman/Wonder Woman, and what's next for the Man of Tomorrow.

Your Superman/Wonder Woman chapters of Savage Dawn were some of the most action-packed Superman stuff I've seen in a while. When you're doing basically a 20-page action scene, how do you make sure that people get character moments and the story is served, without slowing down the book?

That's a good question. For me, action stuff is sometimes hard to write. The thing is, there are those issues, when you're building up so much over the course of so many months of a story, that have got to be action. It's not like you're going to cut away and do small story stuff at that point so it's really just balls to the wall and just throwing it all out there.

When I write an action-packed issue for the whole twenty pages, I make a list of the characters I need to be working with and do bullet points as to how they'd interact with the other ones they're fighting and make sure everybody's got enough screentime, so to speak. The main thing is to lay a spine across an action issue so that you know your set piece and you know the pieces that are part of it and you try to make sure that you move in a correct timeline and have some ebbs and flows to the action that reverberate through the length of the issue.

In a weird way, you plot out an action issue the same way you would a regular story. Make sure everybody gets their moment, there's some big reveals, twists, a reversal if you can put it in there. It's sometimes a bit of a bear, but when it comes out good it makes you psyched up to see it when it's drawn.

In Superman/Wonder Woman, you had a beat where you really established that Vandal wasn't doing it for his kids as he had been claiming, but that he's a complete monster.

Yeah. We wanted to show that Vandal's the same selfish bastard he always is. He had these plans, and he had these reasons for doing what he's doing with his kids, but what he really wanted to do was build a wall of protection around himself to allow him to do what he needed to do. To show that in the end he's still a selfish bastard and that he's in it for himself is totally in character, and damn the consequences, so to speak. If my kids can help me realize my dreams, then they're just as expendable as anything else to get what I need and get what I want and be where I need to be.

Anyone who can feed Vandal's fire is a good thing. He'll throw on any piece of wood he needs to to build the fire higher and brighter. Think of him as a military commander: if he can build a rapport with his troops to get them to send them over the top and get mowed down line after line...they're going down in history for him and they're shedding their blood and their lives for him. And in their minds, too, it's for a greater good, until they come to the realization that it's going in a little bit of a different direction than they expected.

You incorporated the Justice League United characters in Savage Dawn -- was that to set up Super League, since Supergirl is missing now but used to be part of the team?

It boiled down to making sure other parts of the DCU were represented. They were seeded in the previous chapter and my job was to keep that ball rolling and allow them to get some more moments to shine in the next chapter of the ongoing story. It was all laid out that there were certain characters we wanted to see get in the mix, and that was all laid out prior to the writing.

Was it a tough balancing act to give them all screen time, and still feature Wonder Woman enough in this huge Superman story that she doesn't fall into being a supporting actor in her own book?

It has at some points, obviously. The storyline itself, after Superman's identity was revealed and Vandal using Superman's Solar Flare and all that, it was sort of a bear to make sure that Wonder Woman was still front and center -- but it kept hearkening back to the relationship being at the center of that title. At certain points in the last one or two, though, because it was a big crossover at that point, some of that had to fall away.

Especially in the last issue, where we had done Supes and Wonder Woman kicking some serious ass outside the Fortress of Solitude, but once we got into that next issue we had to serve the story and the third act element of it and at that point, Wonder Woman's role diminished a little bit because at the end, it was a Superman story to a degree.

How does Wonder Woman play into the bigger picture of the Super-League story?

There's not much I can really say about it because it's a real big spoiler -- everything's almost a spoiler in that Super-League story -- but Wonder Woman has a role to play. There's two issues of it that encompass the story so she's right in the mix of it. The people who have been reading Superman/Wonder Woman will be really happy to see where the arc of their relationship goes and where they come out at the end of the kind of tunnel of love that they've been going through. That all will be paid off in the May issue.

Before you became well-known as a writer, you were an editor. Do these big-picture stories really lean on that skillset, where you can keep track of all the moving parts?

Yeah. To say that doesn't inform you as a writer when you're putting together these kind of stories and save your ass? It's definitely helpful. It gives you a leg up, no matter how you cut it, having been on the other side of the desk. You understand it from the company's point of view and the editor's point of view, and then you explore it from the creative point of view to make sure it all fits and everything serves the story.

Do we drop the ball occasionally? Of course: every company that does these crossovers have balls that get dropped here and there. But I think we're all very happy with the epic-ness of Truth, Savage Dawn and now Super-League.

And just so people know, the April and May books aren't an endpoint for those titles. Everything that's happened and everything that happens in the April and May titles is just the beginning for what's coming out of Rebirth. It's all tied in together, and it's a big mass of story that's going to keep continuing onwards and upwards.