With DC’s line-wide Rebirth publishing initiative, arguably no single character has benefited more from sweeping status quo changes than Superman.
The Man of Steel has struggled to connect with readers for years, and a five-year malaise following DC’s 2011 reboot The New 52 didn’t improve the situation. There were intermittent moments of solid storytelling during the half-decade during which Superman wore a high collar and his tights looked like armor, but overall it was…fine. Nothing to write home about.
That, of course, is the kiss of death in long-running superhero comics, arguably worse than actually being bad. And as longtime DC honcho Dan DiDio has been quoted as saying, the publisher’s fortunes are often closely tied with Superman. When he succeeds, so do they. For much of the last five years, the publisher has struggled to find its footing in the marketplace, with reviews being no kinder than sales.
Even before the reboot, Superman has not been a major hit for DC in years. Kurt Busiek and Geoff Johns had runs that connected with the audience, but both were fairly short-lived and, in the case of Johns’s, often truncated by scheduling conflicts (Johns co-wrote a chunk of his Superman stories with Superman: The Movie director Richard Donner and those stories came out…let’s say deliberately).
So when Rebirth happened, the pre-Flashpoint Superman was restored as the lead in the titles (along with his wife Lois and their new son), and Batman V Superman-inspired imagery started to dominate the promotional art, the market wasn’t entirely prepared for fan enthusiasm. The Rebirth line sold out for the first few months all around, but the Superman titles, in particular, were not only selling out but they were being grossly under-ordered, according to at least two different retailers who spoke with ComicBook.com. Simply said, Superman hadn’t had nearly this kind of bump out of the last few big status quo changes, so using past trends as a guide, retailers were ordering low and running out of the books in a few hours.
So what’s all the excitement about? Why should you be reading these titles?