By: Jon M. Wilson
Welcome to my new column for Superman and his place in The New 52. In a recent episode of my podcast the Golden Age Superman show, I gave some thoughts about DC’s upcoming line, which they’re calling DC — The New 52. Those thoughts were written down over a month before the episode was released, and now that I’ve come from San Diego Comic Con, I have more information than before and, hopefully, a more accurate expectation for how this whole thing is going to be set up.
I try to avoid writing something off before I see it, be it a movie or comic book or anything else that gets plugged into a hype machine for mass marketing, and I often caution others to do the same. However, I think being impressed by something and getting excited about it is perfectly acceptable and kinda the point of marketing. To draw a parallel, just as many of us have loved a movie trailer and felt let down by the subsequent movie, deciding to hate something before even giving it a chance is something I find simply unwise.
And so, in this move toward The New 52, I’ve seen some things that have really gotten my adrenaline going, things I can’t wait to read. Other titles I’ve wanted to be excited for, but the early information just wasn’t doing a whole lot for me. And other titles have characters I have simply never followed and will not be buying out of apathy rather than love or hate. So each month, I’ll be buying Justice League and Justice League International, the Superman family of four books, the Batman family of eleven books, the two Legion titles and Teen Titans, Suicide Squad, and I, Vampire. With the exception of I, Vampire, those titles all have a connection to Superman or Batman and, at the risk of sounding cliché, those are the two DC heroes who win in the Wilson house. The vampire title is one that my daughter selected based on cover art and solicit info and, having since read some of the characters’ earlier run in House of Mystery, I’m looking forward to the book now as well.
This blog is going to focus on Superman and his role in The New DCU. This means reviews of his feature titles as well as comments on his appearances in other books. I saw at least three different titles at Comic-Con that include Superman in at least a minor role in the first issue, so I’ll try to gather as many of those as I can and bring them to the table here. Needless to say, there are going to be spoilers. Don’t read a column of a work if you don’t want to be spoiled on it. That includes the remainder of this post. So if you want to enter the reading experience as virginally as possible, stop reading now.
Briefly, here are my thoughts on what I know so far about the key Superman titles.
Action Comics — young Superman, roughly five years ago, just after his parents’ death, moving into his role as iconic superhero. A bit more rough and ready brand of justice than we’ve seen in recent decades, modeled largely after his attitudes in early issues of Action Comics. The first arc is going to have Superman’s journey to the suit that he wears for the bulk of his career, the Jim Lee redesign that has been featured on the covers of Justice League and Superman. The storyline will catch up to “present” by issue 7, but after that, the story will continue to move back and forth between the current period and his early career. There won’t be any actual adaptations of Golden Age plots, though Morrison has mentioned a slum teardown. One thing I was glad to hear at Comic-Con is a connection between Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes WILL be retained in some fashion, as a part of the new background for the character.
Superboy — Contrary to what I suggested on my show, this is in fact Conner, made from Kal’s and Luthor’s DNA, continuing his story with slight modifications like with all the other heroes. Project NOWHERE (superhero hunters) will be abducting him and deconstructing him. This will go badly for our hero, and for his friends on the Teen Titans. Lobdell is writing both Superboy’s solo and team books, and though each can be read separately, the plots will interrelate. Lobdell wants it to feel like a single biweekly title without the story explicitly being constructed that way. This is the one I felt the most trepidation for, but I feel better about it now. Sure, the “Superboy goes bad” plot has been done before, but what plot hasn’t? They’re establishing their footing for moving forward, and I’m okay with that. (It probably helps that I haven’t read those other stories, but I still think I’d be okay with it.) The villain for much of the first year of Teen Titans will, in fact, be Superboy himself. The Supertronboy design is a bit less appealing, but ah well.
Supergirl — This story will open on a mystery plot. Supergirl is on Earth and doesn’t know how she got there. Maybe she doesn’t even know who she is; I can’t remember if that’s what they said at the Con. She’s going to have a harsh run-in with Superman almost right away. Due to the mystery element, the writers didn’t want to confirm if this is the Kara we’ve been reading since 2004 or a whole new Supergirl (since making whole new Supergirl has been done a few times now), which makes me think that it will be revealed to actually be Kara in the story to the non-surprise of all. Again, this seems to smack of plot retread, but if they can make it feel fresh, I’ll be there. People made cracks about Dick Grayson as Batman being a retread of Prodigal, but other than the basic concept, is that really how it played out? My thought is no.
Superman — Wow, this book has been kept the most secretive of all. Maybe it’s because it hits at the end of the month, so they’re holding their cards close right now. Other than the Clark-Lois breakup and her new boyfriend, I know nothing about this book. There were two preview pages released that show Clark calling on Lois at a bad time (as in, her man toy is in the apartment with her) and walking away to the elevator as he sadly superhears what is being said about him behind his back. There’s a lot about this scene that smells kinda like One More Day, the infamous 2007 Spider-Man story that retconned that character’s marriage. But I’m really hoping for a better story to come out of it. I just remember Mary Jane’s sad face behind closing elevator doors, and we got the same with Clark. Probably unintentional visual similarities, but still. And I should reiterate what I said on the show. Even if this isn’t the status quo that everyone wanted, even if it’s not the one Pérez wanted to write about, I trust his ability to tell good stories, much like with Gail Simone and the now walking Batgirl. One thing I am really hoping to see is a return to the private lives of Lois and Clark playing a large role in the Superman story.
But in closing, I’m going to blog about the new Superman. I don’t know how much I’m going to like the books, but I’m hoping for a mostly positive experience.