SXSW: Bendis, Lee & More Talk Superman’s Lasting Legacy & Bright Future

DC and Warner Brothers Television have partnered to create a traveling DC pop shop that landed this week in Austin, Texas for SXSW. I stopped by the shop to catch up with some of DC and Warner Brothers’ best and brightest, for a panel called “Superman: 80 Years of Truth, Hope and Justice” and to check out so very many Batmobiles.

With Action Comics reaching issue #1000 next month and Krypton set to premiere this week at the conference, DC has legacy on the mind. The issue marks a turning point for the character, with longtime Marvel writer Brian Michael Bendis taking over for Dan Jurgens. Krypton, the new not-Superman show from Warner Brothers TV, promises to explore the meaning of the character in a new way: through his absence.

DC talent Dan Jurgens, Jim Lee, Brian Michael Bendis and Frank Miller were joined by Krypton producer Cameron Welsh and two of the show’s writers: Lina Patel and Nadria Tucker. What might seem like an ill fit — jamming comics and TV talent into one event — was intentional, so that they (and we) would reflect on Superman sweeping legacy. Tucker and Patel, both of whom were raised on DC media but not on DC Comics, had childhood memories of the character that are as treasured and valid as those of the most hardcore DC Comics fan.

That Superman is character owned by all of us, collectively, is something that was on my mind throughout the discussion. While the panelists dug into Superman’s history, the various adaptations and which interpretations of the character meant the most to them, fans queued up outside of the pop up shop, waiting to get in. Their Superman isn’t quite the same as Jurgens’ or Miller’s or even Welsh’s, but Superman means something to them too.