Look, up in the sky! A Superman who’s still married! A Lois Lane who didn’t expose Clark Kent’s secret identity to the world! Not a hoax! Not an imaginary story! This is all happening in the newly re-rebooted DC Universe, where there’s another weaker Clark Kent leaping tall buildings. What the heck is going on?
A few months ago, DC Comics published an awful crossover called Convergence, which pulled together heroes from various multiple realities to fight a cosmically-upgraded version of Brainiac. The best things to come out of Convergence were tie-in miniseries that brought back fan-favourite iterations of characters that had been wiped by DC’s New 52 reboot back in 2011. If you were a reader missing the Stephanie Brown version of Batgirl or the Wally West who assumed the mantle of the Flash, then you were in heaven for the months that those miniseries ran.
When Convergence ended, things changed a lot in the DC fictional landscape. One of the big meta-changes mutated it back to being a multiverse, a panoply of realities with different versions of its heroes. After the return of the multiverse, fans assumed that some of those formerly extinct character variations would be back in new alternate-reality series tucked safely away from the main plane of existence.
So it’s a big twist that Superman: Lois Clark #1 isn’t on an alternate Earth at all. The first issue by Dan Jurgens, Lee Weeks, Scott Hanna and Brad Anderson plants the pre-reboot Superman right on the New 52 Earth where a younger version of himself is starting out a superhero career. This book brings back a version of the Man of Steel that still wears red briefs on the lower half of his costume, at least for a little while. The married Superman still has a secret identity and a Lois Lane to protect, along with a young son named Jon.
The main conceit that Jurgens and crew try to sell to readers is that the aftermath of Convergence put the older Superman on the New 52 Earth right as a new version of the Justice League was coalescing into being.
The shift into a wanna-be-edgy tonality by the latter-day reimaginations of DC’s characters is treated as a plot point, one that spurs this Superman and Lois to go into hiding.
They become Clark and Lois White, a seemingly ordinary Midwestern couple hiding their efforts at world-saving from their curious son. This version of Clark remembers everything from his life in a now-gone universe and that knowledge has led him down a very curious path. His super-quest in this issue is try and make sure the spacecraft mission accident that created one of his toughest enemies doesn’t happen in his reality. It’s a bit questionable morally but Superman justifies his interference by thinking of the millions of lives it would save if the Cyborg Superman never comes into existence.
Superman: Lois Clark #1 comes across like DC editorial is trying to have its cake and eat it, too. On one end of their shared universe fiction, there’s a Superman who’s angry at Lois and less powerful than he has been in decades. In this new corner, the Superman who’d been a going concern for decades is back and one imagines that the series’ creators are going to work in some Forrest Gump logic to explain when and why he has/hasn’t been active in the events of this universe. But, this is DC’s most blatant olive branch yet to fans who’ve felt cast aside by changes to a Man of Steel. The only catch is that they will have to read about the Superman they loved as a side dish to a main course Clark Kent they have no taste for.