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NYCC '21: Phillip Kennedy Johnson promises no “evil Superman” in his run

Comic Books

NYCC ’21: Phillip Kennedy Johnson promises no “evil Superman” in his run

Phillip Kennedy Johnson shares his thoughts on Superman at NYCC 2021.

Writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson assured a crowd at New York Comic Con on Thursday that there will be “no evil Superman in my run.” Johnson is the current writer of Action Comics for DC Comics.

Johnson, speaking at a panel with fellow DC Comics writer Stephanie Phillips, was asked by AIPT about the proliferation of “evil Superman” archetypes in popular culture, from the movie Brightburn to Invincible, The Boys, and even Injustice.

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“It’s literally not possible” to imagine Superman in mainstream continuity breaking bad, he said. Hollywood might love inverting his familiar moral compass, but Johnson said those kinds of stories are, to quote Yoda, “not better, but easier, quicker.”

Phillips added that our minds naturally gravitate toward an evil Superman because a human with his powers is more likely to break bad. “It’s just easier to imagine,” she said.

NYCC '21: Phillip Kennedy Johnson promises no “evil Superman” in his run

Phillip Kennedy Johnson speaking at the Stephanie Phillips, Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Josh Williamson in Conversation panel at NYCC 2021.

When asked more generally about his view of Superman, Johnson contrasted his idea of Clark Kent with a version that’s still “finding his way,” as in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel. Superman, in Johnson’s view, “shows us the way.” He added, “When he smiles, there’s no ego in it. There’s no haughtiness. He’s just here to help you.”

In Johnson’s view, the events of “Injustice,” where Superman breaks bad after Lois Lane’s death, would never happen in mainstream continuity. “It is possible to have ultimate power and not be evil,” he said.

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