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Superstar team takes on 'Superman'

By Henry Hanks, CNN
updated 8:51 AM EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
Acclaimed artist John Romita Jr. joins fan favorite writer Geoff Johns bringing a fresh take to Superman in "Superman" #32. (Warning: This gallery contains spoilers!) Acclaimed artist John Romita Jr. joins fan favorite writer Geoff Johns bringing a fresh take to Superman in "Superman" #32. (Warning: This gallery contains spoilers!)
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Superman's new direction
Superman's new direction
Superman's new direction
Superman's new direction
Superman's new direction
Superman's new direction
Superman's new direction
Superman's new direction
Superman's new direction
Superman's new direction
Superman's new direction
Superman's new direction
Superman's new direction
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Geoff Johns and John Romita Jr. begin their run on "Superman" starting with issue #32
  • Romita is the son of acclaimed Spider-Man artist (and a Spider-Man artist himself)
  • Romita admits to being nervous about taking on Superman
  • New characters will be introduced, along with the new take on the Man of Steel

(CNN) -- After celebrating his 75th anniversary last year and getting rebooted for the big screen, what would DC Comics do for an encore for the Man of Steel (at least until his next movie, "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice")?

Bring in fan favorite writer and DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns and fan favorite artist John Romita Jr. ("Amazing Spider-Man," "Kick-Ass") for starters.

Johns made his mark by reinventing Green Lantern and has since done the same for Aquaman, to much acclaim.

Romita, meanwhile, is comic book royalty. Not only did he work on Spider-Man, his father did in the early days of the character as well.

This new supercreative team has built up anticipation among fans for "Superman" #32, which hits stores on June 25.

The issue introduces Ulysses, who is something of an equal, and a reflection of Superman. But perhaps not is all as it seems. Meanwhile, Perry White tries to get Clark Kent to return to the Daily Planet.

CNN spoke to Romita about diving into the world of the Last Son of Krypton.

(DC Comics is owned by Time Warner, which also owns CNN.)

CNN: What was it like when you first started work on Superman?

Romita: There was a self-imposed nervousness, and I felt intimidated. No one gave me the impression that it was daunting, I just do that myself. I get nervous anticipation when I get ready to play softball, so this was the same thing.

Honestly, everybody was very encouraging. My father signed off on it, saying "Yeah, try something different." But my mind started to collapse on itself. Once I started, I felt much more comfortable in it. Once I got the pencil to paper, and read the amazing script, I felt so much more comfortable.

CNN: Have you tried to put your own take on Superman?

Romita: Not necessarily. One drawback to drawing Superman is it's been done so many times that you can't really differentiate the style. I just wanted him to look 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds of solid muscle. You can't go light on that. You have to give him that powerful presence. You tweak the body language and the weight on the floor. There's a strict way the face should look, the hair is drawn a certain way. The only thing I like to do is convey the weight and the power of the figure, especially with a character like this.

I was told to draw Spider-Man in a very awkward sort of way because he's not a very graceful character. And here we have this very graceful, elegant, powerful character. When he flies there's the cape behind him and all that. This is the whole ball of wax.

CNN: Do you have plans to change Superman in some way down the road?

Romita: That will possibly happen later on. Right now, we're following through on the costume designed by Jim Lee. While there are limitations to redesigning Superman's costume, his costume will be destroyed eventually, because he's doing cosmic stuff. But remember, we're dealing with the big S on the front, the big S on the back and the cape, so we'll be careful not to get too far from that iconic figure. However, it doesn't mean I can't throw in some influence the way Jim Lee did on his.

CNN: Now that you've had the chance to work on him, do you have new insight into why Superman has lasted 76 years?

Romita: I couldn't tell you why anything lasts that long, other than that it's a great representation of a hero. The way the character has been done all these years had its ups and downs like any series. Recently, the past 20 years, it's been done how it should be done: he does fail, he does get the snot beat out of him. I think that's the key to the character because none of us are infallible. His weak point over the past 76 years is when he was infallible. The realization that this is a superhero to the nth degree that has to struggle with real life is what comics are all about.

CNN: Do you have a favorite supporting character?

Romita: Out of the normal, down-to-earth characters, I'd like to see what happens with Lois, because she's a bit different now. I like the female characters because I feel like it's more difficult for male artists and writers to handle the female characters. Jimmy Olsen is a real kid, Lois is a real hustler at work.

There's a new character I'd never seen before named Jackee, and I'd like to see how we explore her.

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