The big hook of DC Comics’ Superman at the moment is that he’s is a father who is balancing his life as the world’s greatest superhero with being the world’s greatest dad, and setting an example for his son Jon Kent, the current incarnation of Superboy. However, this isn’t the first time in the past decade the Superman books have given Superman a kid to pass on his legacy to, and that kid made his return to the DC Universe last week with a new destiny that brings him into direct conflict with the Superman family.
Who Is Christopher Kent?
In the wake of Infinite Crisis, Richard Donner, Geoff Johns and Adam Kubert introduced Chris Kent, who became the foster son of Clark Kent and Lois Lane for a time. While the arrival of a new Kryptonian greatly interested the US army — especially classic DC Comics character Sarge Steel — Superman was determined that one of the last remaining Kryptonians remained safe and got the same chance that he did after arriving on Earth as a baby. Superman removed the child from the custody of the US government, and thanks to the help of Batman — who was also going through some newly-discovered paternal struggles — Clark and Lois were able to get their hands on documents stating the child was a relative of Clark’s named Christopher.
Clark tried to help Chris assimilate into Earth culture, but the young boy struggled with his newfound powers, even after Batman created a red sun watch to dampen them when he attended school. Meanwhile, Superman confirmed to the US government and the press that he had taken responsibility for the Kryptonian child, which drew the attention of Lex Luthor who attempted to kidnap Chris Kent with the help of Bizarro, though he was unsuccessful in his endeavours.
Ultimately, it was discovered that Chris Kent was in fact Lor-Zod, the child of General Zod and Ursa, who was conceived in the Phantom Zone. The Kryptonian criminals escaped their prison alongside their heavy Non and attempted to bring their son back into the fold, but thanks to Superman’s inspiration, Chris rebelled against his biological parents and trapped them back in the Phantom Zone, even though it meant he himself would also be stuck there.
Nightwing and Flamebird
Chris Kent returned as a teenager during the “New Krypton” era of Superman comics in the pages of Greg Rucka and Pete Woods’ Action Comics. While in the Phantom Zone he interfaced with Brainiac technology which connected him with another Kryptonian, Thara Ak-Var. Once free from the extradimensional prison, he became the new Nightwing, with Thara acting as Flamebird. At the time, Dick Grayson was Batman in the wake of Final Crisis, and had thus abandoned his Nightwing persona, one that was itself inspired by an old Kryptonian legend Superman once told Grayson about then the latter was still Robin.
As Nightwing and Flamebird, Chris and Thara made it their mission to seek out and capture Phantom Zone sleeper agents hiding on Earth. But due to the hostility between Earth and New Krypton, they wore fake power armor as a means to hide their true origins. At the time, Chris was undergoing strange biological changes and growth spurts, first to around the age of seventeen, and then again to around twenty-three. It was eventually revealed that this was a plan by Jax-Ur to harvest Chris’ DNA to resurrect Rao, but Chris and Thara both summoned the ancient deities associated with the Nightwing and Flamebird to put a stop to that crisis.
Unfortunately, Thara Ak-Var perished when Lex Luthor and General Sam Lae turned the Earth’s yellow sun to a deadly red, sacrificing herself to turn it back to its traditional color. Chris Kent then took on his father General Zod during the War of the Supermen pushing him back into the Phantom Zone. Once Chris returned to the dimension of his birth, his body reverted to its natural age and size.