1. Superman will question whether or not he’s a hero.
Buzzfeed: First of all, what is Superman Unchained? Because “unchained” could mean full adrenaline, or emotionally unchained, some third thing.
Scott Snyder: We wanted to approach this story as though there were no limits to it. So it’s kind of the Superman story I’d tell if I only got once chance to tell one Superman story ever before I got kicked out of comics.
It pits him against a new villain that’s totally crazy and sort of challenges him physically but also emotionally and psychologically and really shakes him to his core in terms of what he does. It’s a story that really makes Superman step back and say, “Is what I do the right thing?” Those are the kind of Superman stories I love the most, the ones the really make him rethink who he is.
2. The villain might not be a bad guy (or girl).
You said the villain was new? BRAND new. So not a retired villain, or a revamped gender-bent version of a classic bad guy?
SS: It’s brand new. Nobody pulls off their face and is revealed to be an old villain beneath it. No Scooby-Doo villains. It’s definitely somebody new, and is designed to be a villain for modern times, to challenge Superman’s relevance in today’s climate.
A villain for modern times? So a less black and white, more sympathetic baddie?
SS: Yes. To me, that’s the kind of thing that really challenges Superman. In a lot of ways, he makes the right decisions. And yet, the stories I love the most put him in a position where making the right decision is not only incredibly hard because of the physical consequences like villains wanting to come kill him, but because it’s deeply unpopular and Superman finds himself overstepping on. When Superman makes a decision to stop something or do something on a global scale, he winds up putting himself in the spotlight for the whole world to judge him and possibly become Public Enemy #1 in the eyes of the people.
3. Wonder Woman needs to look out. Lois is after her man.
Is Superman Unchained part of the New 52? Is this an alternate reality or an extension of the same Superman who is dating Wonder Woman?
SS: No, it’s an extension but you’re not going to see a lot of hot and heavy action between Superman and Wonder Woman. It doesn’t focus on that so much.
The comic brings Lois Lane back into the picture. Should Superman/Wonder Woman shippers be concerned?
SS: Without giving anything away, you could read it for the soap opera for the fun of it to see what happens because they do have a connection, Superman and Lois. And that will never go away. But mostly I wanted to do a book where Lois had a big part because she inspires Superman so tremendously. She’s kind of his human counterpart. She’s always trying to do the right thing and pursue the truth even if there is great peril to herself. They have a connection that goes beyond the fact they want to hook-up or get together, which they do want to, but also they have a deep admiration for each other and that’s part of what the story is about. Lois has a big investigative journalism plot which plays a key role in every issue.
4. The opening conflict revealed.
Now you all said in the announcement that 13 satellites are falling from the sky and threatening humanity. What kind of satellites? Cell phone communications? Secret military ones? Generic?
SS: Well I don’t want to give too much away. The idea really is someone is attacking Earth with them. They’re not just hunks of metal. The one that Superman is fighting at the opening has a nuclear core. So these are more bombs someone, but you don’t know who, has hurled at the Earth and Superman has to stop them before they kill thousands of people. So it’s like you’ll just lose phone service for a little bit, it’s meant to be higher stakes than that!
5. Lex Luthor is in the Arkham of Metropolis.
According to the press release, Lex Luthor is in prison in the beginning of the series. Is this something long time readers would know already or a new development?
SS: It’s a new development because he’s being transferred to a new prison in Metropolis. It’s a prison that Jim Lee designed that’s really fun called the M.A.W. that has it’s own logo and is almost like the Blackgate or the Arkham of Metropolis. It’s a new place and Luthor is on his way there in a pretty colorful way in Issue #1.
What does M.A.W. stand for?
SS: I’d have to go look [laughs]. Jim made it up. It was really cool. He always does that. Where I’ll say “Lex is on his way to prison,” and he’ll be “Let’s make it a cool prison.” And it suddenly becomes so real and plausible. I love his imagination that way.
6. M.A.W. isn’t a normal prison.
You made it a prison, did Jim turn it into prison for supervillains?
SS: He definitely upped the ante and it has defenses we came up with together that are pretty fun. Lex, should he ever escape, would have to overcome quite a few obstacles but he’s always up for challenge.
It sounds like prison meets American Gladiators.
SS: One of the fun things, and this is actually a bit of a spoiler, Lex is transferred there for good behavior and he’s being brought to Metropolis to also (from prison) help revamp the grid to be more dependent on solar energy. He sees it as a big coup because he thinks why should Superman be the only one benefitting from the sun? And in that way, Superman has a line where he says, “Only for you could being transferred to super-max be considered a step up.”
7. Lex Luthor doesn’t like the new villain stealing his thunder.
In M.A.W. going to become a fixture then? Can readers expect to see any other Superman villains making cameos or causing trouble?
SS: You’ll definitely see cameos down the line. And Lex has a big part too, but he’s been kind of recast in a way, because he’s not the main villain of the series. In a way, he’s a little bit resentful of that. He doesn’t like it when something else challenges Superman in a way that puts Lex in second place.
Yeah, Lex is Superman’s villain boyfriend!
SS: Exactly. No one gets to kill Superman but him.
8. The series is for old fans and new.
Is this series mostly for hardcore Superman fans?
SS: It’s a big, bombastic, cosmic scale epic story and yet we wanted it to be something that was really friendly for people who have never picked up a Superman comic before. It’s Superman as you’ve never seen him before, in terms of the scale of the story but at the same time, if you’ve never read his comics, come on in.
With it being his 75th anniversary, I really hope readers give this one a shot. It’s a book that was made with a lot of love and we’re having a lot of fun on it and trying to do something different.