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Brian Michael Bendis' new Superman comic is here, and he's got questions about Krypton

By: David BEtancourt The Washington Post
June 4, 2018 Updated: June 4, 2018 at 4:20 am
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photo - Cover art for "The Man of Steel" No. 1 by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Alex Sinclair. MUST CREDIT: DC Entertainment
Cover art for "The Man of Steel" No. 1 by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Alex Sinclair. MUST CREDIT: DC Entertainment 

While contemplating the next major move of his career, comic-book writer Brian Michael Bendis found the answers and inspiration he was looking for at a public library in Ohio.

The Cleveland-born Bendis was back in the state for his brother's wedding. During his visit, an old friend invited him to the downtown Cleveland library, the one he had visited frequently as a child, to check out an exhibit.

The exhibit? "Superman: From Cleveland to Krypton." Bendis felt it was a sign.

At that moment, few knew that Bendis was contemplating a jump to DC Comics after almost two decades as one of the top writers at Marvel. But there he was, in his hometown - which also happens to be the birthplace of the Superman comic and its creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster - surrounded by curvy S's and capes.

Bendis was so moved by the seemingly spontaneous superhero moment that he recorded it on video for his wife (convinced she wouldn't believe him) and later posted it to his YouTube channel. The comic book gods had spoken: Bendis knew it was time to take a leap, up, up and away to an uncertain but exciting future.

"I went through that exhibition and I said, 'Yeah, that's it, I'm doing it,'" he said.

Though his first Superman story debuted in the 1,000th issue of Action Comics, Bendis' full-time duties kicked off last week with the release of "The Man of Steel," a six-issue miniseries (the first issue illustrated by Ivan Reis) that is a continuation of the story Bendis began to tell in Action No. 1,000.

Bendis knew he would create a villain for Superman. The superhero needed a new rival, someone who could get under his impenetrable skin. That villain, Rogol Zaar, appears in the Action issue and "The Man of Steel" No. 1.

To research what tricks a villain would have to have up his sleeve to make Superman uncharacteristically emotional, Bendis went to the best source. But while diving into decades of Superman comics, one question kept coming back to him: What's up with the destruction of Krypton?

Bendis ran the idea by fan-favorite Superman writer/artist Dan Jurgens, who just finished the writing run on "Action Comics."

"I called up Dan and I said, 'Should I ever do a story about what really happened on Krypton?' And Jurgens goes, 'Why, what really happened on Krypton?' I knew from (his) inquisitive tone that (I) was on to something," Bendis said.

Once "The Man of Steel" wraps, Bendis' writing time will be split between "Action Comics" and a new "Superman" series. Bendis says "Superman" will feature the biggest stories in the DC universe - adventures only Supes could handle. "Action Comics" will have more of a focus on Clark Kent, with a look at his life as a reporter.

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