Meltzer’s new novel deconstructs Superman

Brad Meltzer’s writing has shown up in mediums from television (co-creator of Jack and Bobby) to his work in comics (Superman, The Justice League) and in being a New York Times No.1 bestselling author. Meltzer’s novels and comics are usually accompanied by controversy.

Controversy will be a key theme in his latest comic, The Last Will and Testament, which plans to kill off the DC Universe.

"I knew they were going to blow up the DC Universe, but I was more interested in writing what happens the day before and the next day," Meltzer said. "And the idea was, you know it is your last day to live, and for me that is more of an emotional story."

Meltzer’s work on The Justice League has earned him key praise in the comic community, combined with recently taking the Eisner Award for Best Single-Issue Story. There have been talks about a future movie based on The Justice League.

"The truth is they don’t need me for that (Justice League movie), they are going to do what they are going to do. How can I not love the fact that I can go to my local multiplex and see The Dark Knight in the marquee? That just makes me happy. If you love it or hate it, it doesn’t matter, it is there," he said. "Christopher Nolan (director of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight) is changing how all super hero movies are done. It is 1986 again. You are going to see darker, grittier versions of the comics, like you see in The Dark Knight and soon in The Watchmen."

The Book of Lies, Meltzer’s latest novel, has been 11 years in the making and studies the murders of Abel by his brother Cain, and the death of Mitchell Siegel (father of Superman creator Jerry Siegel).

"Eleven years ago after my first novel was published, I pitched my follow-up book," Meltzer said. "And I pitched a Cain and Abel story and my editor at the time said, ‘You’re an idiot, you were a complete unknown and we got you on the best seller’s list, (but) a Cain and Abel story, you’re nuts.’ I could have done what I believed in or caved. I caved faster than anyone in the history of caving. I was terrified they were going to take it all away."

It took a chance meeting at a book signing two years ago to renew his interest in doing a Cain and Abel tale. This time, a familiar character was the driving force in intertwining two of history’s most mysterious deaths.

"When I was on my book tour for my last book, I was at a signing and some woman stands up and says, ‘I know more about Superman than you’re ever going to know.’ I said, ‘Lady, there is no way you know more about Superman than I know,’" Meltzer said.

The lady in the crowd turned out to be a relative of Superman creator Jerry Siegel.

"She was the one who really invited me into the family, and I was able to pull apart these rumors and myths that I heard about that Jerry Siegel’s father had actually been killed," Meltzer said. "And I thought it was fascinating that in over 50 years of interviews when asked where he got the idea for Superman he never once said my father was shot. That is how the world got Superman, not because America is the greatest country in the world. It is because a little boy lost his father and wanted a bullet-proof dad. That story is what I loved, and I started pulling it apart."

These revelations had Meltzer question everything he heard. At the same time a conversation with a friend about the Bible also helped shape the direction of The Book of Lies. The conversation was key in the comparison of the death of Abel and that of Mitchell Siegel.

"(My friend) said to me, ‘How did Cain kill Abel?’ I said, ‘With a rock,’… and he said, ‘Some say with a rock, and some say Cain bit Abel’s throat, and that is where we get vampires from,’" Meltzer said. "I put together these two stories that are thousands of years apart – one which gives you the earth’s worst villain in Cain, and one that gives the world’s greatest hero in Superman."

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