CREDIT: Rags Morales (DC Comics)
“Will New 52 Superman be resurrected?”
That was one of the main questions asked in Superman: Rebirth #1, when Lana Lang and the post-Crisis Superman worked together to try to figure out if “New 52” Superman might return from the dead. After all, post-Crisis Superman remembered that he was brought back to life once.
But according to that issue, the regeneration matrix that brought post-Crisis Superman back to life didn’t exist on the “New 52” Earth – or at least he couldn’t find it at the Fortress of Solitude.
By the end of the issue, post-Crisis Supes seemed convinced that his “New 52” counterpart might actually stay dead.
However, there are new theories emerging about just how much the current Superman stories appear to be echoing the original “Death of Superman” storyline. (And perhaps it’s not an accident that Dan Jurgens, who was instrumental in the creation of “Death of Superman” is now involved with “Rebirth”‘s Superman stories as writer of Action Comics as well.)
For example, in Superman and Action Comics, two of the key villains featured since the “Rebirth” relaunch have been Eradicator and Doomsday – two characters linked to the “Death of Superman” story.
There are also, currently, a lot of Super-folks flying around the DCU, taking “New 52” Superman’s place after his death. There’s Superwoman, Supergirl, a New Super-Man, Lex Luthor in a Super-suit, and even the Clark White dude who’s apparently from a parallel universe.
For long-time Superman fans, this might sound similar to the “Reign of the Supermen!” storyline that followed on the heels of the first “Death of Superman” storyline in the 1990s. After Superman died – and everyone believed he wasn’t coming back – new heroes Steel, Cyborg Superman, Superboy and the aforementioned Eradicator.
Plus, the “New 52” Superman’s powers are still coursing through the veins of some of these characters – or he’s related to them in some way. The new Superwoman literally got her powers from “New 52” Superman. And the New Super-Man was also created by utilizing “New 52” Superman’s powers. And Supergirl is his biological cousin.
Some eagle-eyed readers have even compared the black-clad, yellow-energy-wielding characters from the end of Action Comics #961 to Project Cadmus’ flying shock troops who showed up in the ’90s “Death of Superman” story.
So why does it matter if the current DCU is mimicking the fallout from “Death of Superman?”
Because, at the end of “Reign of the Supermen,” the dead Clark Kent was resurrected.
There have also been clues that something fishy is going on with “New 52” Superman’s death. In the first few pages of Superman #1 by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, post-Crisis Superman takes a moment to visit “New 52” Superman’s grave. When the older hero touches the ground above his dead counterpart’s body, a glowing blue handprint forms in the grass.
The moment has been linked to the involvement of some Watchmen characters (revealed in DC Universe: Rebirth #1) in continuity changes — mainly because post-Crisis Superman thinks about Mr. Oz when he sees the glue glow.
However it might be connected to Mr. Oz, it’s pretty obvious that the blue light is supposed to represent a type of energy. Somewhere down in that grave, something appears to be emitting an energy – or at least is linked somehow to the post-Crisis Superman in a way that emits energy.
And then there’s Lois Lane’s words as she apparently died in the final pages of Superwoman #1.
As Lois died, she saw something. She said, “What is that?”
Then she said, “Clark..? Oh God. I understand now…it all makes se…”
As Newsarama pointed out recently, “New 52” Lois Lane’s death looked a lot like “New 52” Superman’s. But if we’re considering whether “New 52” Superman might return, it’s even more interesting that Lois’ dialogue before she died indicated that Lois could see her Clark in the seconds before she died.
Could she see his energy still alive somehow? What could she “understand now?”
There’s also the ongoing mystery surrounding the Superman character Mr. Oz. The clues that the character has dropped since his first appearance in 2014 are many, and they could be interpreted a lot of different ways. And a few words in his dialogue – such as his affinity for “New 52” Superman and how he supposedly “taught” him, or his message to the young Superman that the future was unwritten – might be isolated to support the idea of “New 52” Superman returning one day.
Of course, the idea of “New 52” Superman perhaps returning isn’t shocking to long-time comic book fans. The moment “New 52” Superman died, readers knew that he could return. This is comic books, after all, and anything is possible – particularly resurrection. But as readers get further and further into the “Rebirth” storylines, there do appear to be indications that “New 52” Superman’s return might be more probable than readers may have originally thought.