Comics: Superman As He Never Was

Meet the New Man of Tomorrow

By , Columnist

(the new Superman by Rags Morales)

DC Comics has provided readers with the first solid details concerning the most anticipated—and possibly most controversial--reconfiguration of that company’s entire line of superhero characters, otherwise known as the The New 52. More importantly, it concerns not only one of their most important characters, but arguably that universe’s central figure, and historically the one who kick-started it all back in the late 1930s: Superman.

An entry titled “The New Man of Tomorrow” on The Source, the official DC Comics company blog, broadly describes their newly reconstituted icon as “a new Superman for the new century.”

It goes on to note that the newly revamped Man of Steel’s new adventures will be chronicled by two superstar creative teams, one consisting of Grant Morrison and Rags Morales, the other George Perez and Jesus Merino, within the pages of the ongoing monthly Action Comics and Superman series, respectively.

The iconoclastic Morrison, whose scripts for All Star Comics Superman limited series garnered both critical praise and solid sales a few years ago, will present the early years of the Last Son of Krypton in the pages of Action Comics. But rather than the fully integrated immigrant of yore, this new version of the character remains “very much an alien, one struggling to adjust to his adopted home.”  

Aided by Morales’ effortless visual storytelling, Morrison will be exploring and reinventing various core aspects of this new Superman, beginning with the evolution of his costume from a pair of boots, jeans and t shirt to a suit of battle armor inspired by his alien heritage.

And it’s not just the famous blue jumpsuit with red underwear costume that’s changed; this Superman simply isn’t as super as his predecessor. In this new version, there will be limits to his powers, meaning that while he’s able to leap tall buildings, he’s not yet fully capable of true flight, for instance.

Still, those might be the least of his worries. His biggest challenge could easily stem from his need to “come to terms with both the loss of his home world, as well as the loss of both of his adopted parents. He is more Kal-El from the planet Krypton than Clark Kent from Kansas.”

By way of contrast, the monthly Superman will feature the character’s present day escapades, where he must deal with being single and holding down his job at the Daily Planet, all while fulfilling his role as one of the world’s greatest heroes. As for Superman’s long time foil and wife, Lois Lane, DC assures readers that the character will play a significant role in the series, but that she’s dating another, unnamed member of the new outlet’s staff.

Ultimately, as profound as these changes might appear, they do seem to draw upon the essence of the character as originally envisioned by Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel seventy-plus years ago. But only time, and sales, will determine if this version will hold the same place in the hearts of fans.

Action Comics #1 will debut on September 7, while Superman, written by fan favorite creator Perez and penciled by Merino, will hit stands at the end of the month, on September 28, 2011.

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A veteran journalist who has covered the comics medium since 1998, Bill Baker is also the author of Icons: The DC Comics and WildStorm Art of Jim Lee and seven previous books featuring his extended interviews with Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and other notable creators. You can learn more about Bill’s work…

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