In "Superman" #16 the "H'el on Earth" storyline comes to a head as the Justice League steps in to assist Superman in his battle against fellow Kyrptonian foe H'el. The fight against H'el is particularly emotional for Superman as he's put in the precarious position of saving his adopted home or allowing H'el to reverse the traumatic events that led to the destruction of his birth world of Krypton, thus demolishing Earth. We had the opportunity to speak with "Superman" writer Scott Lobdell about Superman's emotional state, creating H'el as a sympathetic villain and Superman's status as an outsider in the New 52.
MTV Geek: Where is Superman emotionally at the end of #15 leading into #16.
Scott Lobdell: I think that emotionally Superman is very conflicted because any other day of the week if someone came to him and he believed it was possible to save Krypton, he would be very supportive of the idea. But as it becomes clear that H'el can't accomplish that even if it were possible without first destroying Earth and its entire solar system, it puts him in an awkward position because if it were possible he would like to help, but since it would mean the death of millions of people, he would have to weigh that against his family history and lineage and stuff, so I think he's very conflicted at this point. Even in his relationship with Kara, you have to consider that he's always been a very lonely guy, being the only Kryptonian on Earth and he always felt a little bit like an outsider, until now his cousin has come along and he feels more kinship with humanity, than he may have felt previously in terms of...he's always wondering what Krypton was like and what it would've been like if he were there and like all of us we kind of romanticize that which we don't know and I think that having Kara and shortly after that H'el show is making him have t readjust his thinking of how he sees both his life on Earth, as well as his Kryptonian past.
Geek: Bouncing off on that, up until this point in the New 52, him having this outsider perspective, we have him with his friends the Justice League, we have three Kryptonians - or semi-Kryptonians - running around, so how much of this is about him joining a larger world and abandoning that outsider perspective? Or is that something that's going to stick?
SL: I don't know that he can ever abandon it, at the end of the day, no matter how much he wants to be human, he's not. He's from another planet and that will also be the case, regardless of who raised him. While he spent the first two thirds of his life being a kid from Smallville, he's still a kid from Smallville, who was never truly human and had to hide that from his friends and the rest of the world. I know that a lot of people see Superman as this shining light on a hill, showing us how we can be the best of what we are and how humanity can rise to superhuman heights, but I always look at that as scant, because at the end of the day, Superman can do things that none of us can ever, ever do. And so this notion that Superman would see himself as an ideal, I don't see him that way. I see him as a person who lives on a planet not his own and trying to use his powers to do what's best for the rest of the people that live here. I don't think he's going to view himself as an outsider, that kind of James Dean, not-fitting-in outsider, as much as he has to be aware every time he looks at those around him that he's not part of us. That doesn't mean he has to be sad about it, or anything. But I do think he's always going to be Superman.
Geek: Let's talk on the other side of the spectrum about H'el a little bit, it seems to me that he's a very sympathetic villain, do you see it that way?
SL: Oh my god I love H'el! I was asked a few weeks ago to describe him and I only used the word tragic. I really feel badly for him because I know if I was in a situation I certainly would do anything I possibly could to bring back...you know if something happened to Earth and somebody said, "Hey, Scott, you have the chance to go back and make it right," I certainly would do anything I could to make it happen. I feel very badly for him and I'm glad you do as well. You know he's not a mustache-twirler, he's a guy who's heart is totally in the right place, but the means he has to employ to accomplish his goal are certainly intolerable, as far as Superman and Justice League, pretty much everybody on planet Earth would be willing to pay to have Krypton back.
Geek: By the time it gets to 16, are we going to start to see things tying into those flashes that we've seen in the 0 issues of Superman and Superboy and some of our characters on Krypton?
SL: No, nothing that is happening at this moment on "H'el On Earth" is going to provide insight into what happened in the 0 issues. I can tell you that "H'el on Earth" has a definitive ending and that happens on page 20 of "Superman" #17. Having said that, the events that take place in "H'el on Earth" in 16 and 17 are going to have impact on the time travel story that takes place in all 4 of the "Superman" titles. So, the story of H'el and the past and Krypton, all this will be told, but it's not going to be told consecutively. Anybody looking for answers to their questions that were raised in the 0's will not be answered until that story gets played out.
"Superman" #16 hits shelves on January 30, 2013.