FCBD 2013: Scott Snyder And Jim Lee Introduce A New Villain In 'Superman Unchained'

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By Ali Colluccio

"...he’s someone who is going to challenge Superman physically, emotionally, and psychologically all at once." - Scott Snyder

The first Saturday in May has a very special distinction. We’re not talking about the race at Churchill Downs; we’re talking about Free Comic Book Day! Local comic book shops open their doors to long-time and new readers alike and offer them a selection of comics at no cost. As one comics fan put it, “it’s a cheap, easy way to check out new comics you might not know about and to get your friends to try them out, too.”

In Lower Manhattan, at Midtown Comics’ Downtown location, fans were celebrating the day with some of the biggest names in the comics industry. In addition to handing out free comic books, the shop hosted three different signings on Saturday. According to Midtown’s Event Manager Thor Parker, the point of Free Comic Book Day is to turn people on to comics, so he does his best to make sure the shop is buzzing with activity. “It creates an impression, especially for kids that maybe this is the first time they were in comic book store,” said Parker. “So it gives them this image of a very special and exciting place, which I think comic book stores are.”  

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Outside the store, there was a line around the block for a signing with DC Comics’ Co-Publisher Jim Lee and "Batman" writer Scott Snyder. Inside the store, MTV Geek was lucky enough to chat with both creators about their upcoming project, "Superman Unchained."

With the first issue hitting stands June 12, the comic is “the Superman story I would tell if I got one chance ever to do a Superman story,” said Snyder. While the book takes place in the current New 52 universe, “it’s more or less a self-contained story,” said Lee. “One of the important things when you’re building a story like this is that it’s understandable from page one. And I think Scott’s done that.”

The comic will feature the classic Superman cast, including Lois Lane, Lex Luthor, Perry White and Jimmy Olsen. “But it’s also got some newer elements that I think will sort of put Superman in situations you haven’t seen before,” said Snyder. “We wanted to kind of shake him to his core with this one and give you a story that’s going to be earth-shatteringly big and give you all your favorite stuff, but do some new things as well.”

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One of those things is a new villain for Superman. According to Snyder, “he’s facing something that really makes him frightened.” The writer was pretty tight-lipped on details about the new antagonist but did say, “he’s someone who is going to challenge Superman physically, emotionally, and psychologically all at once,” and “using somebody new, I think, makes the other characters more interesting too--like Lex, who suddenly isn’t the big bad guy in the story.”

Back to the Man of Steel himself. Snyder sees the character as “deeply guided by the things the Kents taught him. For me, his greatest superpower, the thing that makes him Superman above all else, is that ethical compass, that sense of what’s right.” He went on to say that Superman “teaches us how to be better and to do the right thing even when the right thing is really, really hard to decide to do, especially in a world that doesn’t always reward that.”

In addition to being released the same week as the "Man of Steel" movie, "Superman Unchained" also coincides with the 75th anniversary of the character. Few characters have that kind of staying power. Over the years, creators have added elements to the mythology of Superman to keep the stories relevant and make readers come back time after time. According to Lee, that’s what readers will see with "Unchained." “You going to see all the things you want to see with these characters at the same time we’re going to interject something new from the villain to other elements to Metropolis, which I think enhance it and bring it up to date and make it feel like something you haven’t read before,” said Lee. “I think it’s exciting to read something that’s been around 75 years and still be entertained and surprised by what you read.”

"Superman Unchained #1" is in stores June 12, 2013.