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'Lost' mastermind takes on 'Super'-milestone

By Henry Hanks, CNN
The many faces of Superman since 1938, when he was introduced in "Action Comics." The 900th issue is out  Wednesday.
The many faces of Superman since 1938, when he was introduced in "Action Comics." The 900th issue is out Wednesday.
  • "Action Comics" hits historical 900th issue this week
  • "Lost" co-creator Damon Lindelof part of a dream team of writers for the issue
  • Lindelof and "Action" writer Paul Cornell spoke about Superman's legacy
  • In separate stories, writers explore Superman's humanity, emotions

(CNN) -- "Even Superman has daddy issues."

Damon Lindelof -- who, along with Carlton Cuse, oversaw "Lost's" six-season run -- had that to say when asked to compare the story of Superman to the story of the TV series for which he's best known.

Lindelof is one of a dream team of writers contributing stories to the landmark 900th issue of "Action Comics," in stores Wednesday. The others include David Goyer, writer of "Batman Begins" and the upcoming film "The Man of Steel"; Richard Donner, director of "Superman: The Movie"; Geoff Johns, DC Comics' chief creative officer and one of its most popular writers; Paul Dini, best known for producing "Batman" and "Superman: The Animated Series"; and Paul Cornell, who has been writing "Action" since last year and is best known for his work on the "Doctor Who" novels and TV series.

Nine hundred issues is the most any monthly comic book has ever published (though it went weekly for a brief time in the 1980s), with the first issue of "Action" having introduced the character of Superman in 1938. (That issue also recently sold for $1.5 million.)

CNN recently interviewed Lindelof and Cornell, separately, about the historic issue and Superman's legacy. They addressed a few topics of heated fan debate in the process.

CNN: What can readers expect in this 900th issue?

Lindelof: Obviously, "Action" No. 900 is a landmark issue -- one that covers Superman's past, present and future. I tried to (write) a little story that fits into the myth that we all know but looks at it from a different point of view.

Cornell: (There's) an enormous lead story, closing Lex Luthor's adventure into ultimate power, setting him up against Superman in their fight of their lives and then continuing into Superman's new ongoing adventure against Doomsday. With loads of extra features in the back!

CNN: What was it like writing for Superman?

Lindelof: To actually play in a world that was so inspirational to me since I was a kid is nothing less than a dream come true.

CNN: What did you hope to accomplish with your story?

Lindelof: My hope was to drum up a little emotion: As heroic as Superman is, there is also an inherent sadness to his story. I wanted to try to tap that.

CNN: Is there anything that's surprised you about writing the character?

Cornell: I've discovered he really needs thought balloons. He can't show doubt or fear to the world, because he wants to enthuse and support the people around him, but he can doubt and fear inside.

CNN: What have you hoped to accomplish in all of your time writing for him?

Cornell: To show his essential humanity, especially in comparison to the bad parenting that produced Lex.

CNN: Did you grow up as a Superman fan?

Cornell: I think we all did. He's one of the most recognizable characters on Earth, and we all know many details of his life and supporting cast, far more than you would with virtually any other character. I think that's the power of radio, that first mass medium, to establish details in the heads of a truly enormous audience, and it all got passed down from there.

CNN: If you could have one of Superman's powers, what would it be?

Cornell: Flight, obviously. I'd love to be able to take off and go visit people in the States. Customs might be a problem.

Lindelof: I'm sure everyone picks flight, so in the spirit of being unique, I'm gonna go with the ability to take the "S" insignia on his chest and make it grow to gargantuan proportions so I could throw it at people and ensnare them (as demonstrated in "Superman II").

CNN: Who is your favorite villain?

Cornell: It's obviously Lex. I've been living in his head for a dozen issues now. I think we have a lot in common.

Lindelof: Bizarro. I just love everything about that guy.

CNN: Do you have a favorite incarnation of Superman, whether it be in the comics, TV, or movies through the years?

Cornell: Christopher Reeve. He sorted it and balanced it so well that everyone else since has been influenced by him.

Lindelof: Chris Reeve will always be Superman to me ... but as far as comics go, you're never gonna do better than Alan Moore's "For the Man Who Has Everything."

CNN: Can you settle this ongoing debate: Is Superman Clark Kent's secret identity, or the other way around?

Cornell: Clark Kent is a real person who acts slightly more bumbling at the Daily Planet and has an interesting ethnic heritage. Superman is the job he puts on a uniform to do, and like a cop, he's a somewhat more serious person when he's doing it.

Lindelof: As I'm of the belief that everything uttered in "Kill Bill" has to be right, I have to agree with David Carradine on that one. (Carradine's character, Bill, argued that Clark Kent was Superman's secret identity.)

CNN: What can we expect beyond issue No. 900?

Cornell: A huge fight against Doomsday for the next several issues, with Superman and a bunch of his friends repeatedly saving the world. That's what everyone's after!

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