The recent 'Year of the Villain' crossover event had far-reaching effects, one of which was Supergirl being 'infected' and transformed into a villainous persona - and becoming a target of the U.S. military.
In this week's series finale of Supergirl, Kara faces down these threats - and her 'infected' self - with writer Jody Houser and artist Rachael Stott. June 30's #42 (as well as June's #41) became digital-only releases after DC resumed shipping following the COVID-19 shutdown of the comic book Direct Market, with these digital-only issues not hitting the printed page until a planned collected edition some time in the future.
On the eve of this finale, Newsarama spoke with Houser and Stott about their creative process, including how they tied their book into a universe-shattering event, why they enjoyed working with each other on the character, and what other DC titles Houser and Stott would like to work on in the future.
Newsarama: Jody, to jump right in, what was it like tying into this over-arching DC storyline for Supergirl? How do you feel it affected her overall character arc?
Jody Houser: It was a fun challenge writing a character who still thought herself the hero no matter how dark she got. We obviously didn't want Kara to do anything completely irredeemable, so we made that struggle between her normal and infected selves the heart of the story, one that had repercussions that led into our finale.
Nrama: Rachael, how did you want to make the Metal Supergirl look your own for the ongoing series?
Rachael Stott: Well initially in issue #37 I just drew the established infected Supergirl design that DC sent me (I did a load of googling and can't find out who designed the look — but I love it. The spikes, the leather, that kiss makeup! Such a fun change for Kara). But then from the end of #39, the infection gets worse and so to reflect that we were able to push that punk design further. It really reminded me of something from Tite Kubo's Bleach (This isn't even my final form, moo haha!)
So, I loved that, giving her the insane nails, covering up her face with hair to remove her further from humanity. It's always difficult to know how far you can take the design — if it wasn't Kara I probably would have gone for something really horrific — but it's just too tragic when it's happening to such a compassionate character. Taking her down that dark path was a lot of fun.
Just wish going in that I'd thought ahead about how long nails means you can't throw a punch! A lot of scratching in that issue instead...
Nrama: As fans eagerly await the last issue, can you tell us your favorite moment from your run on Supergirl?
Houser: Infected Supergirl being absolutely awful to Batman in our first issue. And, of course, any moment with Krypto.
Stott: There were moments of self-reflection for Supergirl that I thought Jody wrote beautifully. Her getting up to fight the robot after being blasted by Kryptonite. Or her flying up to the sun to burn out the infection. The times when you really felt like you were inside Kara's head.
Also Superman and Batman. I LOVED drawing the boys. It was my first time and I hope it won't be my last.
Nrama: Why did you enjoy working on the title?
Stott: I was brought onto the book because the writer Jody Houser and I had a great time on the Thirteenth Doctor comic, and I think we make a good team. So, it was lovely staying together after I'd finished on Doctor Who, and also trying out new subject matter and getting to work on such an iconic character — Supergirl! The things that nerdy dreams are made of.
And the book was full of my favorite stuff to draw like big action set pieces but also high stakes emotional scenes. I've always loved superhero stories so getting to draw one with a collaborator who I highly respect as an ongoing story was amazing.
And then working with the colorist Cris Peter — it's so exciting seeing someone color your work for the first time, it's like seeing it with new eyes, and I thought her work on the book was gorgeous.
Nrama: Would you like to work on the character again?
Stott: I'd really love to. I find it's always the way that you only feel like you've gotten to grips with how to draw someone once your tenure on a title is over — but I think I'd feel that way if I'd done one issue or 100.
Houser: This wasn't my first time writing Supergirl, and hopefully it won't be my last!
Nrama: What other DC characters would you like to work on?
Houser: I'd absolutely love to do a run on Catwoman. Batman is always the dream. I'd also love to write more Mother Panic, Harley Quinn, and Poison Ivy. There are so, so many more.
Stott: I'm a big fan of Shazam, so that'd probably be my #1. Batman too — I love when artists push that art nouveau, gothic side of Gotham. I think a Batman book would stretch my art muscles in really fun, challenging ways.
Green Lantern - I love spacey books, I'm so jealous of Liam Sharp getting to draw one with Grant Morrison. I'd love to do a Tom Strong story, but I'm so in awe of Chris Sprouse that I think I'd be too terrified to put pen to paper.
Nrama: If there’s a message you’d like to tell your fans who have followed the series, what would it be?
Stott: I have to say the Supergirl fans have been some of the friendliest, most welcoming bunch of folks I've had the pleasure to interact with online. Even though we were a new creative team taking Kara down some places that were a bit dark, they trusted us with a character they love so I'll always be grateful and want to thank them for their support.
Houser: Kara has some of the best, most devoted fans out there. Thanks for the support!