March 2017 will be the twentieth anniversary of the newsstand release of Superman #123 by Dan Jurgens and Ron Frenz — and it looks like elements of that story will be playing out in Superman and Action Comics that month.
Superman #123 featured a story titled “Superman…Reborn!” It was released on March 12, 1997 and introduced Superman’s (in)famous “electric blue” costume.
After the Final Night crisis, in which Superman worked tirelessly to save people while operating without the rejuvenating benefit of yellow sunlight, the Man of Steel was briefly powerless. In his quest to restore his abilities, he tried a number of things, and the combination of experiments resulted in a change to his body and power set that lasted for about a year. His skin turned blue, he was forced to wear a “containment suit” that kept his energy-based form from dissipating, and his abilities shifted to more electricity-based ones with similar application to his traditional powers. Toward the end of the storyline, an attempt to destroy him resulted in the “electric blue” Superman being split in two — one red, one blue, in a riff on the Silver Age story “Superman Red/Superman Blue” by Leo Dorfman and Curt Swan.
The “electric red” Superman costume and power set has shown up recently — as the inspiration for Lana Lang’s costume in Superwoman. Around that same time, the New 52 Superman had died, passing some of his powers along to Lois Lane and some to Lana. Meanwhile, the pre-Flashpoint Superman, Lois, and Jon Kent arrived, with Superman stepping in to replace his recently-deceased counterpart and then Lois eventually doing the same when Superman’s powers killed New 52 Lois. This pair, of course, were just married when the whole “electric powers” thing happened and lived through it…albeit on another Earth.
Now, Comics Beat has the first look at the first major crossover between Superman and Action Comics since the start of the Rebirth era: a four-part story called…”Superman Reborn.”
And, yes, the final chapter in Action Comics #976 (at a twice-monthly publishing schedule, that’s one year away from Action Comics #1,000, by the way!) features what appears to be New 52 Superman as “Superman Red” and the pre-Flashpoint Superman as “Superman Blue,” complete with electric halos.
What does it mean? We couldn’t possibly begin to guess at this point, although the eventual disposition of the “electric Superman” storyline was a bit thrown together and reeked of “let’s get this over with.” So if there’s somehow a way they can tie all of it together that would help readers from 20 years ago understand the end of both stories, they’d probably get a medal for that.
Action Comics writer Dan Jurgens, of course, was the writer on Superman at the time and a key driving force for the Superman family of titles from 1991 until 2000.
You can check out the full cover in the attached image gallery, along with several other covers from DC’s March 2017 solicitations.
You can check out the solicitation text for the final chapter below, which takes place after Superman #19 forces Superman to “face the truth about his life,” with his son’s well-being hanging in the balance.
ACTION COMICS #976
Written by DAN JURGENS—Art by DOUG MAHNKE and JAIME MENDOZA—Cover by PATRICK GLEASON and MICK GRAY—Variant cover by GARY FRANK
“SUPERMAN REBORN” finale! As this epic tale wraps up, Superman’s life is drastically changed…and that’s all we are saying for now—except that you won’t want to miss it!
* The covers by Patrick Gleason and Mick Gray and the variant covers by Gary Frank for SUPERMAN #18-19 and ACTION COMICS #975-976 will connect to form a single vertical image.
On sale MARCH 22 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
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