It’s Supergirl’s world, we just live in it. Fans are not only loving every second of CW’s Supergirl on TV, they’re also being treated to a superb Supergirl comic each and every month from DC Comics. Since the Rebirth era of Supergirl began, writer Steve Orlando has taken Supergirl’s print adventures to the next level of intensity. At New York Comic Con, we got to sit down with Mister Orlando and discuss how the CW show influences his writing on Supergirl, what’s next for Kara Zor-El, and the surprising return of a great old character from the Superman mythos.
Den of Geek: For those not reading the book, where is Kara currently and what might the future bring?
Steve Orlando: We just saw the arrival of the Fatal Five in “The Girl of No Tomorrow.” It was all about breaking Supergirl’s perception and legacy… we know that the idea of the Super Family is infectious so to break them, you have to change the ideal.
In the previous arc, we revealed that Supergirl’s father Zor-El was actually Cyborg Superman. And the world found out that Supergirl was working to rehabilitate Zor-El – a murderer. That was revealed to the city, and that’s put her in a new position because the reality is the Super characters are invulnerable. You can’t hurt them physically, but you can hurt them emotionally.
Supergirl is in many ways too good for us, and that hurts her more than anything else, because when the people of National City see that she was helping her father, people think they should not be helping him but protecting them. Her greatest strength, her compassion, has turned her into a pariah. She’s now an outlaw in National City.
Let’s talk about the ever present, awesome elephant in the room. Does anything from the TV series inform your Supergirl?
The hope. We always want to lead with the comics, but the show understands very well … Supergirl doesn’t do things for a trophy or a cookie and her perception of people doesn’t change even if they start to doubt her. The shows gets that… Yeah, she can punch the moon out of orbit, but her strength is when she takes the high road. The show understands that, we understand that. We live in different universes. Kara is 16 in the book and 21 in the show, but who Supergirl is doesn’t change.
So when writing the book, do you ever think, “God, I wish I had Winn for her to talk to?”
In a way, but the relationship I like the most from the show is with Cat Grant, and we have her. We don’t have to pay Calista Flockhart, so we’re never going to lose her.
Kara took a dark direction at beginning New 52 where she was very conflicted with her cousin Superman. Was there a decision to refocus on them as a unit?
The goal of Rebirth was not rewrite continuity but to steer characters back to their core themes. So for me, all of those New 52 things happened, but she’s ready to move on. In issue #14, we bring some of it up. Those events strengthened them. The less idyllic relationships are, the more respectful they are. So she was at odds with Kal, and she was a Red Lantern, but now the bond means so much more. If you don’t have to fight for something, it loses value.
Due to the current political situation, is Kara more important than ever and has anything politically changed your approach to the book?
I think she’s more important than ever due to the reasons I said. It’s all about compassion. That notion is vital. She says what I say, “Compassion is not getting to pick and choose who you care about.” That means more than ever.
There are stories coming up where we explore this. I’m co-writing issue #19 with Vita Ayala… it’s honestly a story I’ve been waiting to tell with Kara since I started the book. It’s going to be called “One Life” or something close and it’s about how Supergirl could help one person. It’s not about hitting someone, it’s about being there and standing with someone. It’s about how she can change a life. I spoke to Vita who is Puerto Rican and non-binary, and we wanted to find what more Kara could do. What I always found evocative about Marvel’s Civil War comic by Mark Millar was when Cap was sitting in a diner saying, “I should be playing softball with the Make-a-Wish kids right now.”
There’s so many lives that Kara could impact, not with her fighting with Brainiac, but by being invulnerable. She can be there for so many people. It’s coming up in #19, and I think it’s going to be my favorite issue.
Are there any classic Supergirl or Superman heroes or villains you are dying to get your hands on?
Well, we’re doing Strange Visitor…
(Let’s pause here, readers, and give you a bit of a history lesson. Strange Visitor first appeared in Superman #149 (1999) and was created by Randall Frenz and Ron Frenz. Strange Visitor’s costume and powers were patterned after the loved by some, reviled by others Electric Blue Superman. Yes kids, for a while, Supes gained electricity powers and added this light blue, energy crackling look. After Superman reverted to normal, a woman named Sharon Vance gained electric powers after being struck by lightning while she was aboard a plane. The strike caused Vance to be merged with an alien being named Kismet and transform into pure electric energy. Vance was a childhood friend of Clark Kent and was placed in Superman’s old electricity containment suit. She was a fun character that hasn’t appeared in years, but Orlando is bringing her back in the pages of Supergirl.)
I love the electric costume. We hinted at Strange Visitor in issue #3, she was in a containment tank… she’s coming back in the next arc. No one draws the electric blue costume like my artist on Supergirl Robson Rocha. I love the way the character looks, and I love the character of Strange Visitor. Getting a chance to bring Sharon back is so exciting to me.