A historic moment is coming in Superman: Son of Kal-El #13, as actor Nicole Maines has co-written the issue alongside writer Tom Taylor. (If you’d forgotten: Superman: Son of Kal-El has already made the news, literally, with Superman coming out as bisexual.) Maines and Taylor will be introducing the Supergirl character Dreamer into the DCU; it’s not every day a TV character crosses over into comics, not least of which a trans superhero.
With representation more important than ever — a quick look at the bigoted bills being passed nationwide is proof enough — Maines and Taylor aim to introduce Dreamer but do so in a way that feels natural and aligned with Superman’s story.
Before the issue lands July 12, and just in time for the final order cutoff (that’d be Sunday, June 12), Maines and Taylor sat down to discuss the series. We dug into what fans of Dreamer should expect, how the collaborative process worked out, new details around Maines’ recently announced Dreamer OGN, and so much more!
Plus, check out some advance pages from Superman: Son of Kal-El #13 below, too!
AIPT: Tell us in three words or less what we might expect for the 13th issue before FOC this Sunday.
Tom Taylor: Shocks. Tense. Damn another word, awkwardness.
AIPT: I like that.
Nicole Maines: I would say… I’m gonna string ’em together. I’m just gonna say “Dreamers got news.”
AIPT: Ooh. Okay.
TT: You win
AIPT: What has the collaboration process been like writing together?
TT: It has been great. It’s basically lots and lots of phone calls. Lots of WhatsApp messages.
TT: Lots of, “Oh! I have a new idea.”
NM: Lots of me calling him out of the blue being like, “I know you’re busy and you have a family but there’s this thing and I need to do it right now.”
TT: Yeah. Lots of that. Just lots of bouncing off each other and lots of laughing and lots of, “Oh my God. That’s such a cool idea. Yes, we got to do that.”
NM: It’s been really great because I am able to just throw my wackiest, craziest ideas and have them met by his own wacky, crazy ideas. And then they just sort of fuse into this… <laugh>crazy wacky, insane, story that we’ve come up with.
AIPT: How long have you been collaborating on this project?
TT: We literally sort of bounced off each other for well over a month before we had anything written.
NM: There was so much to talk about because yes, what do we actually wanna do in this story? But I think also a big part of it is, okay, we’re introducing this character in the DCU for the first time. How are we going to present her in a way where she is bringing something that nobody else has, nobody else can do. That took some time to sort of find where that space is, but where she is now, she is equipped with the abilities to be a mainstay in the DC universe for a long time.
TT: She shows up with something that is huge to the entire DC universe. A Nicole said, Dreamer has, what, how did you put it?
NM: News, she’s got news!
AIPT: What made now the right time for Dreamer to come in with this news?
TT: From a story POV, it was the exact time. I mean, Dreamer fit in flawlessly into the story we were already telling in Superman: Son of Kal-El, which was perfect. As far as why it was a more important time for Dreamer to show up in the DC universe. I throw to Nicole for that.
NM: I think it’s important for a Dreamer to be in the DCU now because she’s needed now. Likewise in the comic, she’s showing up because she is urgently needed, but likewise it’s the same thing beyond the fourth wall. We are seeing an unprecedented level of anti-LGBTQ, but specifically anti-trans legislation here in the states and everywhere of course. Specifically targeted at queer children. To be able to give those children a superhero who is powerful and smart and important and beautiful and trans is invaluable at this point. Knowing what I went through growing up, I could not imagine doing that and then doing it while the state governments are just
NM: Like they’re in a competition for who can come up with the craziest bill targeted at children. It feels that the least that can be done is, you know, at least we can give these kids a superhero who will fight for them.
AIPT: Something I was curious about, Dreamer of course is in the Supergirl show. Are they one-to-one as far as their powers or personality? Will fans of the TV show be able to jump right in?
NM: The short answer is yes. Personality-wise, this is Dreamer. This is our girl, this is Dreamer. This is not Arrowverse Dreamer. She has not met Supergirl. She hasn’t met Brainy. She hasn’t met any of ’em. This is a Dreamer who’s been on her own. And she is stepping out of the shadows out of necessity.
And power-wise. Yes. They can jump right in. However, that does not mean she’s not bringing anything new because it simply would not be Dreamer if we just didn’t give her a brand new power out of nowhere.
AIPT: Superman: Son of Kal-El has had so many incredible moments. Like when Lois hugs Jon, it was so emotional. And knowing that Dreamer, this trans hero is coming, I just feel like it could be another important moment. And I don’t know if you guys are going for that or trying to hit those beats like that?
TT: Actually I would say not really. One of the things that Nicole and I talked about was how important it was for Dreamer to just show up and be a superhero. I guess not to make a statement beyond here I am and here I am to save the world.
NM: Yeah. It’s difficult writing queer heroes because you want to simultaneously do their identities and their struggles and their lives, justice. While at the same time, you’re not trying to make them a caricature of themselves or you’re trying to put it in a place where it doesn’t make sense. While we were talking about this, you know, she’s coming with this grim world-ending news and we’re trying to figure out, you know, where in here does it make sense for her to come out to them, to talk to them and share her identity with them? And it’s like, I think after the world is saved. I think you have something more important to talk about. Yeah. you know, the bathroom is a bit of a contentious point for me, but we’ll talk about that. After we save everybody.
AIPT: In the few uncolored unlettered pages I got to see (which you can see in this story!) and it looks like there’s a bit of a conflict between Jon and Dreamer. What kind of relationship may we expect from these two at the start?
TT: Look, Jon is not expecting Dreamer to be where Dreamer is. When they first encounter each other Jon is obviously feeling very protective cause Jay’s there.
NM: And historically when people do what Dreamer has done. They’re not good guys.
TT: I think we’re coming in a bit defensive. While being surprised by Dreamer Jon also has some surprises for Dreamer, which you’ll see in issue 13.
NM: They just keep each other on their toes.
AIPT: And then we have Jay there, too.
NM: Jay and Dreamer have some great moments. Jay and Dreamer’s back and forth is I think one of my favorite parts of the issue. Okay, we love Jon. I’m kind of reading it and was kind of like, “Do we need Jay and Dreamer to go on a side adventure side quest?”
AIPT: Nicole, it’s so amazing, you went from reading a script and taking on this character, embodying it, giving the world the identity of this character visually on screen. And now you get to write it into the comics. I don’t think there’s anyone else in existence who’s gone through this rollercoaster ride of developing a character like this.
NM: Yeah. I don’t know where I get off.
AIPT: Do you feel like you can kind of put yourself into this character, like your own identity into it, to make it real and alive?
NM: That’s kind of what I’ve realized with a lot of what I’m writing is a lot of it is coming from my personal experience. And a lot of it is just becoming sort of commentary on things I’ve gone through in my life. You write what you know. That was the same playing Dreamer. It was always, how do I bring it back to what I’ve been through? How do I liken her experience to my own? Obviously, I’m not fighting, evil superpowered villains. But I fought the state, I guess. Writing it has been very interesting. I’m definitely feeling the pressure, definitely feeling the pressure of bringing this character to life because I never claimed to be a writer or I never claimed to say I love to write comics.
So now here I am. And I’m like, “am I doing this right.” Especially with the graphic novel, I’m just writing a story that I like. And I’m praying those other people like it. I love this character. I love what she can do. I think she’s the best. I’m sure I’ve ruffled a lot of feathers, but I will unapologetically continue to say, I think she’s just the most powerful character in the universe. I adore her and getting to write these stories for her has been so much fun and that’s all I’m really going off of. I just wanna see her do cool s--t.
It’s really cool to be a superhero fan right now, Ms. Marvel was created in 2013, Dreamers is relatively new too, and yet they’re hitting the scene and people want these characters. I’m like looking at the Ms. Marvel show and I’m like, “huh, golly someone should do that with Dreamer!” <Laugh>
AIPT: Nicole, you brought up the OGN you’re doing with Rye Hickman. Is there anything you could tell us about that or when it might come out?
NM: We’re aiming for some time in 2023, 2024 at the latest. DC might have other plans, but that’s just me giving myself a wide breadth. This is sort of a retelling of her origin story. We know a little bit about Nia’s history with her family, her sister, and these powers. She’s grown up in this town, this sanctuary for humans and aliens on earth to live together. And so we’re looking at, okay, what does that world look like? How does she fit into it? Or how does she not fit into it? And then, you know, here’s what her family life looked like. This is what a Naltorian on Earth does, as a mother. It’s all about Dreamer as a young 15-year-old realizing that she has these matrilineal powers, that were meant for her sister and how she reacts to that, and how she goes completely off the deep end. She’s trying to do everything she can to try to protect a sister who doesn’t give that much of a f--k about her in the first place.
AIPT: I love Rye’s art, too.
NM: Oh my God. You haven’t seen the s--t I’ve seen. It’s so good!
AIPT: Speaking of great art, in DC Pride 2022 this year, we have Jadzia Axelrod and Jess Taylor’s Galaxy Prettiest Star in a full-page spread, which is like, holy crap. Can we get this duo together? Any chance of that?
NM: Golly. I can neither confirm nor deny that…but I will say they were next to each other.
AIPT: Tom, I wanted to ask you about Superman Son of Kal-El, there are so many big beat moments. I think you’ve done more than most writers do in 50 issues, but in hindsight, is there anything you might have changed or done differently?
TT: I’m a writer, you know, there were things that were like, okay, this has to happen by Coming Out Day. And I would’ve loved a little bit longer for Jon and Jay to be together before the kiss. But having said that the importance of that moment far outweighs slight pacing issues, you know? When it makes global news and I’m watching it on SNL or whatever, yes maybe you could have done with maybe 10 more pages, but as far as global, you’re writer’s cap to one side.
We somehow managed to keep people engaged without actually having Jon punch anyone for six issues. I think that’s really important as well. So we have a young bi guy who also is just the sweetest, most empathetic nurturing guy who doesn’t wanna hurt anyone. And I think that’s far more heroic than somebody punching a supervillain in the face.
NM: And Dreamer is like, “You want someone punched? I’ll do it!”
TT: I have to tell you in issue 14, there’s a moment I haven’t told you yet. Where Dreamer is using things and she’s literally blasting people and Jon’s just blowing them away and they’re side-by-side. Anyway. I’ll tell you about it later.
AIPT: So it sounds like Dreamer and Jon are gonna be teaming up for a couple of issues then, yeah?
TT: Yeah. So Dreamer definitely hangs around for a couple more issues. Cause there’s something that Dreamer comes with, which…Dreamer has news.
NM: Dreamer has news!
TT: Dreamer has news. And so she comes along for that next stage.
NM: She doesn’t have anything going on.
TT: That’s right.
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