The New Superman
Most everyone involved in the comic book world, and those who are just well informed about pop culture, know about the big doings if DC Comics this month. The eight decade old comic book company is relaunching their entire line of comics, starting with all new #1 issues with mostly new characters and continuities. One of those most anticipated and in some cases dreaded is Superman.
In reviewing DC’s new 52 initiative, many of the titles looked impressive or at least interesting to me – except for one. Superman. Beyond the erasure of the Lois and Clark marriage (shades of One More Day), I found the previews simply visually unappealing. Now this isn’t the first time Superman has been rebooted, and it won’t be the last, but I don’t mind telling you I’m worried, just a little.
The advanced images for the new Superman were not promising. Either of them. Just for the record, we are getting two distinct Supermen, even though they are the same person. Action Comics will be exploring the early years of this new Superman while the Superman title will be telling current tales of the man of steel. Action will be featuring an angry and careless young man, almost Peter Parker-like, whose superhero costume consists of a red cape, a blue shirt with the red S shield on it, and jeans and boots. I hate this look.
Whenever I see it, especially the promotional image, I am reminded of the Earth-One Solomon Grundy, whose only wish was to fly like Superman and was given a cape and sent to the moon, where the lower gravity allowed him flight. That’s what I see whenever I see that shadowy image. It’s not a good memory. The current day version of Superman wears a bizarre segmented armor version of the original costume, with new red belt, and sans underwear-on-the-outside pants. It should be noted however, that at least this version, in the pages of the new Swamp Thing #1, acts like Superman. Just don’t get me started on the guy who shows up on the last page of Justice League #1.
The protagonist in the new Action Comics #1 is a brash young man, who while doing good, is dismissive of the police and is an arrogant grandstanding wisecracker. What’s most intriguing about what may be a polar opposite of what most folks may want in their Superman – is that the real Superman does shine through. It’s all there, baby, you can still see our hero underneath this kid’s immaturity.
This is the work of writer Grant Morrison. Often controversial, but always showing a passion and love for the comics of his youth (and mine as well), Morrison is notable for writing what I consider the best Superman in decades in the mini-series called All-Star Superman. Even in other comics like Final Crisis, Superman Beyond and JLA, he shows that he understands what Superman is all about, should be all about.
I have faith in Grant Morrison, despite this unorthodox representation of the man of steel, I have faith that we will eventually see this punk kid mature into the Superman we know and love. And as the author of “Supergods”, as well as the above-mentioned comics, I think Morrison is the man to do it. For those who doubt, have faith, Superman is coming, back.