During MTV’s San Diego Comic-Con Livestream, writer Scott Snyder and artist Jim Lee talked the themes behind “Superman Unchained” including the recent “does Superman kill?” controversy and the possibility of a second arc.
Snyder explained that the core idea of the whole story is that scientists from Earth sent a message to space asking for help to be better planet. They wanted someone to change the world for them, and Superman was that someone. But why hasn’t he completely used his powers to positively affect the planet. Snyder explained that in “Superman Unchained” #3, they explore that theme by having characters accuse him of craving attention, and blatantly telling him that he needs to “grow some balls” and be a real hero, and take on the big issues.
But what is a real hero? That’s the question Snyder and Lee ask themselves as they work on the book.
Using the controversial ending of “Man of Steel” as a jumping-off point, Snyder and Lee explained how they addressed the hot-button issue of whether Superman kills or not. Snyder explained that he uses the conflict that Superman’s personal “I don’t kill” moral code creates for him as fuel for his narrative but he believes that “Superman Unchained” is less about the conversation of should he or shouldn’t he kill, it’s about him making difficult decisions to completely use his powers to change the world for the better. Snyder explains how in “Unchained,” he and Lee use characters like Lois Lane to take Superman to task for being what is an attention hound. Snyder wants to pose the big question of what the point of his powers are? Shouldn’t he be trying harder? Isn’t that the sign of real hero? Why not use his powers fully?
When asked why Superman doesn’t solve the issues of disease or death, Snyder went on to say that he believes Superman is a great humanitarian and he does everything he can to save people. And he would solve those issues if he could, but he leaves those decisions to humans. But that takes he and Lee back to the central question, if he knows he can solve the big problems, why doesn’t he? And why doesn’t he save people at night, behind the scenes. Why does he need the accolades? Snyder hopes readers turn those issues over as they read. Would Superman stop death camps? Would he stop the atom bomb? Snyder thinks he would. But he can’t go too far. But exploring those themes in the fun of the story for him, “You can really get under his skin and break his bones,” he said.
Lee went on to discuss whether Superman has killed before in comics. And he has. In the ’30s he indirectly let people die, by allowing planes to crash and the like. But adressing the ending of “Man of Steel” he said, “To me you’re seeing superman at his first adventure, his first trial. It’s an earlier version of Superman and asks the question ’under what situation would you to do what you have to do,’ and what does it do to his character?”
When asked if the limited series will continue after it wraps. Lee said he’d love to se a second arc, but working on the monthly series is tough on the artist, so he’d time to work on it.