Caped Fanboy Battles Surprise Villain at Superheroes Panel

Tim Kring, not to be confused with the Joker.Photo: Getty Images

The New Yorker fest’s superheroes panel recalled the crossover spectaculars from comic books, wherein the characters of a half-dozen titles will come together under the flimsiest of pretexts to repulse some monumental threat to universe. But instead of Wolverine, the Punisher, and Dr. Strange uniting to fight Dracula, we had Grant Morrison (famous for reinventing such characters as Batman, Superman, and the X-Men), Mike Mignola (creator of Hellboy), Jonathan Lethem (author of Motherless Brooklyn and Fortress of Solitude), and Tim Kring (creator and executive producer of Heroes) banding together to … answer questions from moderator Ben Greenman, New Yorker editor and author of the story and essay collection Superbad (not to be confused with the greatest movie ever made).

The supergeeks did not disappoint. Lethem talked about the superhero’s mix of fame and outsider status and how it compares to the lives of many kids; Morrison described how Superman and his foes changed over the years (in the forties, he was a socialist; in the fifties, a suburban dad; and in the nineties, he had a mullet); and Mignola explained that Hellboy’s near indestructibility was modeled after his father, who “always seemed to have some dried blood on him.” But by the end, a villain had emerged: Kring denied that his superhero show is indebted to any comics. (Egad!) It was a mysterious caped man from the audience who saved the day, restoring the panel its innocence with a single question: “Who’s faster, Flash or Superman?” “Are you kidding?” Morrison replied. “The Flash!” —Ehren Gresehover