DC and The Impossible Pitch of Superboy

DC has been having continuous problems keeping on writers and it was the Batwoman team dropping off today that made me go “man, screw DC policies I have no desire to write for the nu52 at all.” The Batwoman team should not be forced to complain about editorial mandates unless they went off the deep end. So I’m sharing my Superboy pitch that will now more than never, never be used.

A few weeks back my editor gave me the opportunity to pitch to DC. The previous writer had quit the series and because my editor has connections and no desire to write for them, I got the opportunity and was excited. I could make something fun and solid that even if it didn’t get picked up, might get me considered for writing something there. And what was the title? Superboy.

I decided to keep a stiff upper lip – I liked Superboy in Young Justice. I liked the angsty loner vibe dealing with powers and seclusion. Of course, I made some mistakes there because the current DC status and the realistic mix of emotions in Young Justice was very different. I was forgetting that this tied into the nu52 with it’s new confusing continuity and then trying to read the actual issues to get a background failed. They were pretty poorly written and well drawn but unattractive pages and I felt my eyes glazing over on the pages. Eventually I just went to a comics wikia and talked to friends who suffered through the series to understand what was happening so I can add in a throw away line relating to the current storyline/status. And then I made my next mistake – making what would have been an old DC story, instead a nu52 one.

Every good pitch needs to be summed up easily. Refer to a movie or TV show and add the twist. Maybe mash up the two. I went with Superboy as Scott Pilgrim vs Jason from Friday the 13th. Super teen romance meets slasher flick. There was another issue there because DC doesn’t seem to really care about romance anymore. You have pre-established marriages and sex but no actual romance comics. Though nobody really has those anymore in western comics except maybe Little Depressed Boy (but I gave that up a while back). The next problem was that I wanted to show a different relationship with a person who needed real human contact because Superboy is pretty royally screwed in the new continuity. From what I can tell about his origins, he was cloned from Superman DNA or was it some other Kryptonian DNA – I don’t really remember at this point, and then he was raised to fight – and then he escaped and he fought some more. And he’s on the Teen Titans where he runs and fights. From what I could tell, his supporting cast was mostly enemies or the Teen Titans. That is not healthy because his entire life is based around fighting – he has no struggles with humanity – that wasn’t even considered. I wanted to cover that – that lack of trust, that lack of honest human interaction. That was an issue. And when I say issue I never heard back in any degree.

So it started on him with a date in a car. He hasn’t been driving – probably an issue. The girl he out on a date with was explicitly black without being a stereotype. Probably an issue. And then I have the serial killer attack him while he’s in the passenger seat. It’s a trope twist. It’s a bit of fun. He’s not driving but a lot of the time the passenger is attacked to scare the driver – fridge the girlfriend and all that. So when the killer goes in to stab Superboy, the knife crumples and Superboy, hunky loaner off-brand Supernatural Winchester apologies and then smashes the door off the car and starts fighting the villain. Which freaks out the girl, Torrie Jones, because this is a small town where all of a sudden people are fighting and not dying and that gut reaction to violence messes things up. And there you have a premise. Superboy is trying to relate to people outside of fighting but hie is being hunted. He is struggling for something real and meaningful without being able to find it.

And the serial killer – the super slasher as I referred to him, escapes only to strike back again later and we get more of the history of Torrie and Superboy. We see Torrie hitting on Superboy at the coffee house and him being awkward because he hasn’t really had this happen in his life. We find out that Torrie was raised by her grandparents and that raises questions. We find out that this isn’t the first time this happened – the serial killer part, that Torrie is on the hunt for the killer herself. And that now the serial killer is using magic and he’s making sure he can kill Superboy. End issue 1.

I had the arc planned that dealt with betrayal and loneliness and trying to make a relationship based on lies and giving Superboy a girlfriend who was smarter than him and making a fun relationship. My friends enjoyed it and since a good deal of them make comics, they don’t leave a lot of room for bull. My editor was satisfied with it enough (much better than the 20 edits I had to make for my Top Cow contest script that was admittedly messy) and it was sent in.

Currently there is no new Superboy writer last I checked but I am not going to lie, if I were offered the position I’d take it. Though chances are I’d probably quit myself when I’d be told to make Torrie white to appeal to a larger audience (as opposed to a newer one), to make her less assertive and more of a target (instead of a smart character) and to probably use a pre-established villain from current arc instead of making the world go beyond Superboy’s life. Most likely remove the humor, remove Torrie hitting on him first and any implication of sex – they aren’t adults, they can’t do this. And then I’d quit. Or I’d suffer through because starting out as a writer in comics, you need something to come out. But chances are that by posting this I will still never hear from DC and I’ll cement that fate. But for the time being, I am pretty cool with that.

It’s sort of a ranty whiney post but I don’t read any DC books right now. The only titles I plan to grab in the future are Morrison’s Wonder Woman and Multiversity series because he gets a lot of freedom. And then Gaiman’s Sandman because he won’t put up with editorial hands messing with his property. And I guess my point is that when I wrote a Superboy pitch that I’d want to read and that friends would read, it wasn’t touched, probably for a number of reasons (for the ones beyond not having a name for myself, I noted them because I have a negative view of DC).

If you are interested here’s a link to my script if you want to check it out.
Superboy Final

And here’s to you future writer of Superboy.

Luke Herr

Luke is a writer and an aspiring professional comic writer who is also the editor in chief of Nerdcenaries. He currently is working on a graphic novel called Prison Spaceship.