Spoilers ahead for this week’s Action Comics #990.
In this week’s Action Comics #990, Superman learns the truth about Mr. Oz, and readers discover the character’s motivation for some of his actions.
But throughout the issue, one thing is made clear – the threat of Dr. Manhattan (or whomever Oz has been calling “him”) is huge, and it coming soon.
In the last few Action Comics issues, Superman was confronted by Mr. Oz and told that his actual identity was Jor-El. The character was supposedly imprisoned and forced to watch the worst moments in history, and as a result, he believes Superman and his family are too good for this violent and destructive Earth and must leave humanity to their deserved demise.
In this week’s Action Comics #990 writer/artist Dan Jurgens and penciller Viktor Bogdanovic, readers learn even more about Oz’s motivations and what he calls a “massive threat” that’s about to hit Earth.
Superman is off saving people and trying to make peace – and the entire Justice League seems to be helping out in various places on Earth – while Jor-El is trying to convince his son Jonathan to leave for the perfect planet.
It’s a place he calls Bliss, where everyone is equal and nobody has to hide behind a secret identity. In fact, Jor-El calls Superman’s secret ID “that silly Kent identity.”
Jor-El says it’s wonderful that “Clark Kent” has saved lives, but “over all his time here, have humans ever improved?” he asks Jon, then adds: “Even if they did, it wouldn’t matter. It’s too late.”
Well, here’s where we get to the interesting part. Jor-El (also known as “Mr. Oz”) says the threat that’s “out there” is very “deadly and unbeatable.”
“Earth has never seen a threat like this,” Jor-El says, presumedly describing Dr. Manhattan, who’s going to come up against Superman and other heroes in Doomsday Clock. Jor-El describes this threat as one that the world cannot survive – not even Superman and the Justice League.
“This entire plane of existence has no future,” Jor-El says.
That doesn’t sound so good…
Janet and the Oz-lings
Readers are also shown some of Oz’s soldiers again – the dudes in the black costumes who helped Oz find Doomsday in Action Comics #962.
Janet (who’s the Oz-follower from Oz’s earliest appearances in 2015) calls the soldiers “Mr. Oz’s anointed ones! Blessed to have been in his presence!”
So yeah – there’s some worshipping going on here.
The soldiers say that “Oz believes in openness and honestly, that the true nature of man must be revealed. He demands nothing – only gives us the means to act as we desire.” They call the residents of Metropolis “monsters” and talk about “Phase Two” being initiated.
The soldiers begin a process – as Janet watches – that will release toxic gas and “purge” Metropolis of life. The soldiers and Janet seem to believe that they’ll be saved from the gas by Oz.
Superman returns to Metropolis (responding to a call from Jimmy’s watch – actually by Lois, who’s worried about her missing son).
Just as Superman starts to wonder if Jor-El’s appearance is connected to all the turmoil in the world, he discovers Janet and the soldiers’ plot to kill the people of the city he loves.
As he forcefully stops their plans to release the gas, he notices that Oz’s soldiers are “dressed like the men who tried to capture Doomsday.”
“So there it is,” a thought box reveals Superman thinking. “No matter if Oz really is my father or not, he is involved in all this madness.”
As Superman rushes to Lois at The Daily Planet building, Jor-El shows up with Jonathan and continues talking about how awful humans really are. He claims that he didn’t force any of the tragedies to happen – he merely “allowed” the people to prove how “ghastly they really are.”
When Superman yells at Dad for taking Jon, the boy says he went willingly. And he starts to defend old granddad, pointing out that Jor-El/Oz helped him “back when we were fighting Zod in the Fortress” (in Action Comics #984).
So with Jon defending him, Oz starts to also defend himself – and we get an explanation for some of those prisoners that Oz brought to his fortress.
Why did he take possession of Doomsday, and lock Mxyzptlk up, and “end the threat” of Metallo? Because his son’s survival is “everything” to him.
Jor-El then tells Superman about the “massive threat” that’s coming to the world. “You have no chance of surviving,” Jor-El says.
“I saved you once and will do so again,” he says, referring to how he sent his son away from planet Krypton. “You and your family, you must leave now or you will die.”
Superman says he doesn’t know if Oz is really Jor-El, but even if he is, he’s not the hero his son thought he was.
Superman’s about to start a big ol’ Kryptonian-versus-Kryptonian fight with the old man when Jon grabs his fist. “No! You gotta listen to Grandad!” Jon says. “If we don’t go, we’re all gonna die!”
The story is scheduled to continue in November 8’s Action Comics #991.
We revealed earlier that Tony Daniel was drawing “Legacy” variant covers for DC Comics Comics Rebirth ongoing series hitting milestones.
As such, Superman #34 is Superman #800 (on sale November 1, 2017) and…
…Wonder Woman #34 which is Wonder Woman #700 (on sale November 8, 2017).
DC Comics has also now released the black and white version of Batman #34 which is Batman #800 (on sale November 1, 2017).
The cover for Flash #39’s Flash #700 (on sale January 24, 2018) covers has not yet to be released.
Action Comics #1000 (late March 2018) also hits stands soon too. Unlike the rest of the line it and Detective Comics have reverted to the legacy numbering for their runs with the advent of Rebirth. No word on whether Tony Daniel is working on any variant covers for those books as their milestones come up.
The Warner Bros. PR machine has been on a marketing overdrive in an attempt to convince fans that their favourite Man of Steel plays no part in its big ticket release Justice League.
It released a new poster that not only addresses the elephant in the room, but also hints at how it might happen. It incorporates emblems of all of DC Comicsâ€™ big guns, but the one that stands out is that of Superman.
Reddit threads went into collective meltdown following his apparent death at the hands of Doomsday in last yearâ€™s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice with many putting on tinfoil hats to debate the story arcs that DC-Warner could use to bring the last son of Krypton back from the dead. While the latest trailer did give a glimpse of Clark Kent, albeit in a flashback/dream sequence, the poster more or less confirms his return, despite he studio pretending otherwise.
An e-commerce site specialising in comic merchandise recently put on sale a black cap with Supermanâ€™s insignia as part of an exclusive line. The cap harks back to the Superman: Doomsday story arc, which sees Superman use a black suit during his time in the â€œregeneration matrixâ€? following a brutal assault by Doomsday.
Henry Cavill, who plays Superman, has himself teased a monochromatic suit on his Instagram account, sending fans into a tizzy.
He might be conspicuous by his absence in the posters, but there is no Justice League without Superman and Warner Bros. knows that. And with the amount of money on the line, they surely will not risk going down that road.
There is also a shift in the tone with the studio literally lightening up the characters. The new poster is brighter and more vibrant than previous ones that have bordered on the monochromatic. Aquamanâ€™s traditional gold and green costume and the bluest Batman in years highlight a marked directional change after the box office dud that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was.
Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice had alienated many fans with their sombre theme, forcing Warner Bros. to rope in screenwriter Joss Whedon, the man who gave the Marvel Cinematic Universe its outlandish success, to steady the film.
Whedonâ€™s screenplays have set the cash registers ringing at Marvel and he was given a clear run at re-shoots and post-production to weave the same kind of magic â€” as being seen in the poster. The studio will be hoping Whedonâ€™s magic touch, coupled with the almost obvious return of Superman and the debuts of a host of DC Comicsâ€™ big guns will finally get its extended superhero universe off the ground.
Justice League, directed by Zack Snyder, releases in the US on November 17.
For the most part, superheroes tend to exempt themselves from partisan politics. Except in rare cases — like 2008’s super-weird DC Universe: Decisions special that literally broke down the political positions of several DC heroes — we’re left to imagine whether Bruce Wayne “felt the Bern” or if Hal Jordan voted to Make America Great Again. However, it’s fun to examine the philosophies of particular heroes and imagine where they’d fall on the political spectrum. Or, in the case of the two-party system in U.S. politics, whether they’re a Democrat or a Republican.
For the purposes of this article — and to get a good discussion rolling — let’s look at Superman, and go over the many reasons why he would likely vote for a Democratic candidate in a U.S. presidential election. For many of us, it’s obvious that Superman is a Democrat, but for those who might be interpreting Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s message in a different way, let’s run down why he leans left.
The first-ever glimpse of Superman, on the cover of 1938’s Action Comics #1, was an image of him flipping a car and scaring the hell out of a capitalist “suit,” evoking a powerful anti-economic inequality message. As discussed at length in Grant Morrison’s Supergods manifesto, the image signifies a rejection of greed, and defiance against the wealthy.
Superman would have no problem paying taxes — something Republicans take issue with, to say the least. The principle behind taxes, at least in their modern form, is to offer one’s fair share for the betterment of a community. While Clark Kent undoubtedly pays taxes as a reporter for The Daily Planet, Superman’s contributions come in the form of civil service. As evident time and time again, the Man of Steel wholeheartedly believes in something usually associated with Spider-Man: With great power comes great responsibility.
Superman feels an inherent responsibility to offer his “wealth” (in his case, superpowers) rather than viewing his good fortune as something deserved and kept for himself. Superman’s prerogative to use his fortunate position to help others would, no doubt, make him side with a single-payer healthcare option. Rather than believing healthcare — or the right to maintaining a healthy life — is something completely under the responsibility of an individual, Superman would view paying taxes for the sake of healthcare for all as a no-brainer. In short, Superman would be willing to forfeit choice, or liberty, in favor of life.
Nationalism vs. Globalism
While nationalism isn’t something inherently Republican, it’s often championed by the party as part of an economic message, especially in recent years. Like how Democrats are generally left to advocate for social justice, Republicans are there to preserve national identity. While Superman is often associated with “Truth, Justice and the American Way,” he’s proved time and again that he is not for American exceptionalism, as discussed at length in editor Mark D. White’s Superman and Philosophy: What Would the Man of Steel Do?
Superman wasn’t always championing “the American Way.” That addition to the character’s motto was popularized for the 1950s serials starring the late, great George Reeves, but was first added in the 1940s as a means to stir patriotism as the United States entered World War II. “The American Way” was represented as the “good” in a fight of “good vs. evil,” not necessarily as an American exceptionalist message.
Furthermore, in DC Comics’ controversial 2010-2011 storyline “Grounded,” Superman renounces his American citizenship. Sending a message that he disagrees with the (then-) current political climate, Superman set out to reconnect with the grassroots of America and champion a more globalist, internationally inclusive message. This shows how Superman is prepared to ditch “the American Way” part in favor of Truth and Justice.
While Superman is more than willing to be a “Boy Scout” for President Reagan in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, it’s indicated in the story that Superman (at least with that wink upon the big reveal at the story’s end) is more for what’s right in general, rather than for what’s right for the American cause.
In Death is not the End, we spotlight the outlandish explanations for comic book characters (mostly super-villains) surviving seeming certain death.
Today, we look at how Superman survived the “Death of Superman”!
As you all likely know by now, in the famous event in 1992, “The Death of Superman,” the story ends with Superman and the monster, Doomsday, beating each other to death…
After the funeral of Superman, there was a break for the Superman titles, with the last issue before the break ending with Jonathan Kent, Superman’s adoptive father, suffering a heart attack.
In Adventures of Superman #500, Jonathan’s spirit sees Superman’s spirit and he decides to brave it all to bring his son back…
Jonathan spends the rest of the issue fighting his way through the spirit world to get his son to fight this and come back to the living with him…
When Jonathan comes to and recovers from his heart attack, he tells everyone that Clark came back with him. When Lois goes to see Superman’s tomb, he’s no longer in the coffin!
Okay, so a bunch of Supermen show up and in Action Comics #687, we see that one of them actually came to Superman’s tomb!
Then, a few issues later, in Superman: Man of Steel #25, a Kryptonian armored thing shows up and when Steel and Superboy break it open, who comes out but Superman!
Okay, so the Eradicator (from Action Comics #687) then sacrifices his life to restore Superman’s powers.
Then, in Action Comics #692, we get a handy-dandy guide PRECISELY how Superman came back from the dead, courtesy of Doctor Occult. We have too many images so far on this page, so let’s go to a new page to see what happens…
Superman, the Man of Steel and the Last Son of Krypton, is generally considered not only of the greatest superheroes in comic books, but also one of the most powerful. In fact, it’d be fair to say that he’s known for his ridiculous power-sets and his ability to do practically what is required of the story. He’s moved planets; travelled at hundreds of times the speed of light, time-travelled for grins and giggles, and even famously sneezed away an entire galaxy. Few heroes and villains present a genuine challenge to the Man of Steel, which has made some readers consider Kal-El boring; he can do anything and beat anyone. Except for those characters he can’t.
You may not realize it, but there’s a plethora of characters in the DC Universe capable of destroying Superman. Yet for one reason or another, the powers that be at DC Comics have decided to keep these characters hidden. These individuals are simply missing from current comics. Presumably, there isn’t enough room for multiple Supermen and/or beings capable of thrashing Superman with the flick of a finger. Today at CBR we’re looking at 15 characters DC Comics has kept hidden that can totally take down Superman.
15. THE SPECTRE
A charter member of the Justice Society of America, the Spectre gets his power from God himself. A being of magic, capable of doing practically anything, the Spectre is a god in his own right. With limitless strength and the ability to control all matter, along with time and space, the Spectre is really only hindered by his human host and their ability to judge someone fairly. Aside from the Presence and perhaps one or two other godly beings, the Spectre is second to none.
Heroes and villains alike do everything they can to stay out of his way and treat him with only immense respect. However, if the Spectre tries to judge/kill someone the Presence and/or God doesn’t want him to, then the Spectre’s powers are ineffectual against the individual. Also, he doesn’t harm innocent people. Where the Spectre is now is anybody’s guess.
14. MARTIAN MANHUNTER
For the longest while, DC Comics fans have wondered just where the heck the Martian Manhunter is. Appearing for brief stint during the New 52 series Stormwatch and even briefer still in his own mini-series afterwards, there’s been no recent sign of everyone’s favorite Martian, J’onn J’onzz. The last surviving Green Martian, his power is so great that for all intents and purposes he can beat Superman.
Already sporting all of Superman’s powers, i.e. strength, flight, heat vision, and invulnerability, Martian Manhunter also comes equipped with telepathy, shapeshifting, and he can become intangible. Superman once admitted fearing J’onn’s power and it’s easy to understand why. And so, DC has quietly swept Martian Manhunter under the rug, letting him drift off quietly, allowing readers to believe Superman is the world’s strongest hero.
13. PHANTOM STRANGER
One of DC’s premiere magic users, there are few more adept at the arcane arts than the Phantom Stranger. He uses his abilities primarily to assist other heroes, but the Stranger will get personally involved if a situation is dire enough. When he does, few opponents can match him, including Superman. Effectively immortal, the exact nature and limits of his power are unknown to even the Phantom Stranger.
He can teleport, travel between dimensions (including Heaven and Hell), time travel, fire energy blasts, dispel magic, can survive without air, manipulate reality, visit people in their dreams, is omniscient and cannot be hurt through physical means. His only weakness is magic and it has to be someone on the tier of the Spectre, God’s vengeance, or even God, for him to be troubled. The mini-series Trinity of Sin was when last we saw him.
While there have been several iterations of Firestorm, they all have one commonality: they’re all wicked powerful. Potentially one of, if not the, mightiest people on the planet, according to Batman, Firestorm has enough power to bring Superman to his knees and then some. Though Firestorm’s range of powers might be pretty broad, his simpler abilities consist of firing nuclear fusion blasts, absorbing radiation, phasing through objects, and he’s even superhumanly strong.
Yet none of that compares to his trump card: his ability to rearrange the atomic and subatomic structure of inorganic matter. Frankly, he can turn anything into anything, and that includes kryptonite. Additionally, Firestorm can use his molecular rearranging power on himself to shapeshift, regenerate and give himself the ability to survive without food or water. He’s a walking powerhouse Superman could not stop and he hasn’t interacted with the DCU in a big way for a while.
11. COMPOSITE SUPERMAN
If you’re unfamiliar with the villainous Composite Superman, don’t feel bad, as that only means DC has done a stellar job of keeping the Batman/Superman hybrid away from readers’ eyes. The story of Composite Superman is a weird one, and that’s saying something since this is comics. After Joseph Meach tries to commit suicide Superman saves him and gives him a job at the Superman Museum. While there, a bolt of lightning strikes him and a display of statues of the Legion of Super-Heroes and he gets all their powers; Superman’s included.
Meach then turned his skin green and gave himself a ridiculous Superman/Batman costume. Despite his general kookiness, the Composite Superman proved stronger than Superman and is capable of not only taking on the Man of Steel and Batman simultaneously, but the entire Legion of Super-Heroes too. Goodness knows when/if we’ll see the bizarre villain again.
10. THE PRESENCE
Out of all the characters to keep excluded from the DC Universe, you’d think God would not be one of them Well you’d be wrong. It’s been years since we saw God, or as he’s known in this case, the Presence. DC Comics’ version of God, the Presence rarely appears, if only because it can do anything. The Presence has taken many forms over the years including the disembodied Voice of God, and the source of the Spectre’s power, and the Hand.
The Presence is infinite and eternal and second only to the Primal Monitor, which is essentially the writer and/or the canvas and paper of whatever comic book he’s featured in. With such a vast array of power, and the strongest being on this list, it’s easy to see why DC would keep the Presence hidden, but it would be nice to see God now and again.
An android built by the mad Professor Ivo, the scientist was completely obsessed with power and wanted to create something that couldn’t die and could defeat any adversary it came across. To that end, he created Amazo, who had the combined powers of the original Justice League, including, the Flash, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Aquaman and Superman. Capable of using the powers to their fullest extent and in any combination, Amazo is simply stronger than Superman in every way.
Add to the fact that the android can absorb and replicate additional powers, and it makes him more of an unstoppable beast. Only through clever thinking and plenty of training and teamwork is the Justice League ever able to stop him. Even so, an iteration of Amazo appeared in The New 52, but DC has kept him under wraps since then.
Without question Superboy-Prime is one of the strongest non-magic based mortals in the entire DC Universe. Leagues above most singular heroes or villains, Superboy-Prime stems from a universe much like our own, where he was the only person with superpowers. Originally a good guy during Crisis On Infinite Earths, he went insane in Infinite Crisis.
He fought virtually every superhero on the planet and nearly took them all down. With power dwarfing Superman’s by leaps and bounds, there’d be nothing the Man of Steel could do if the crazed Kryptonian returned. His impact on the DC Universe was profound. He started the Rann-Thanagarian War, killed Superman from Earth-2, murdered multiple Green Lanterns, punched a hole in reality, and would have killed Ion if the heroes of Earth didn’t stop him. Currently, DC is keeping him tucked away; who knows if we’ll ever see Superboy-Prime again.
There have been multiple Gogs in DC Comics and they’ve all proven crazy powerful. The most common iteration is William Matthews; when he became Gog he also turned into a literal god. Gog possesses all the fancy powers you can think of, including bending time and reality, super strength, energy blasts, flight and even granting people wishes!
If there’s any question about whether Gog could kill Superman, Mark Waid’s The Kingdom ended the debate. Gog, imbued with unearthly power, goes back in time and kills Superman with minimal effort. Then he takes it one step further and travels back a day into the past, killing him again. He repeats the process over and over again. Despite his power, or maybe because in spite of it, there’s been no sign of Gog for years and nobody seems to have asked why.
6. CAPTAIN ATOM
Nathanial Adam, or Captain Atom, is not only ridiculously powerful, but also the general inspiration for Alan Moore’s Watchmen character Doctor Manhattan. Captain Atom’s origin involved getting disintegrated and then reformed as a nigh all-powerful being with a wide array of powers. Aside from the basic abilities like flight, super strength, and invulnerability, Captain Atom’s true strength lies in his ability to manipulate and project incredible energy, transmute properties and objects, and can even control his size.
Already made primarily of living energy, Captain Atom’s only legitimate weakness is overusing his powers, which leaves him unable to maintain a physical form. Even if Captain Atom can’t move planets like Superman, his other abilities make up for it. With a thought he can manipulate reality, summon nuclear energy, or even let loose a volley of red sun or kryptonite-based radiation at Superman. After his latest mini-series, Captain Atom is M.I.A.
5. MISTER MAJESTIC
Mister Majestic was Wildstorm’s answer to Superman. His similarities to Superman are staggering; he’s really just another version of the Man of Steel, but under a different name. Mister Majestic has all of Superman’s powers, but to an even more heightened degree. While their physical strength is similar, Majestic simply has more powers than Superman.
He’s leagues faster and has more endurance; Mister Majestic is noted at having travelled for months at a time at speeds greater than light. Aside from the strength to move planets and move faster than light speed, Mister Majestic’s powers also include invisibility, telekinesis, telepathy, and even heat vision after a fashion. However, Majestic’s heat vision is hundreds of times more powerful as it’s changed the composition of Jupiter, altering it on a pre-atomic level. Mister Majestic was last seen in the comic Team Seven, but there hasn’t been a peep since.
Ion is the benevolent symbiote and the physical embodiment of the first act of willpower in the universe. As such, it is the source behind the Green Lantern Corps and the power they get from their will-based energy rings. In this particular context, we’ll be looking at Ion as seen when the host was Green Lantern Kyle Rayner. During the time he possessed the Ion power, Kyle had all the usual Green Lantern powers like force fields, energy manipulation, and the ability to create constructs with the only limit being his imagination.
From there, the dial turned up to eleven; Kyle became omnipotent and omniscient, capable of existing everywhere at once simultaneously. Furthermore, Kyle, or Ion, could control time and space without any difficulty and manipulate reality to his whim. He essentially became God. Where is Ion now? Good question.
An interdimensional demon and one of the most powerful beings in the DC Universe, the monster known as Trigon has enslaved countless worlds. The father to the Teen Titan Raven, but also a bunch of super nasty demons, Trigon claims to have existed since the beginning of the universe. A magical creature, his power not only dwarfs Superman, but nearly everyone else’s.
Immortal, Trigon is also telepathic, invulnerable, telekinetic, can discharge energy projectiles and can totally manipulate reality and transmute matter. Only beings like the 5th Dimensional Mister Mxyzptlk have any chance of taking him on. His powers don’t end there as Trigon can open wormholes, grow in size, and even once reshaped the entire Earth to his whim, becoming omniscient in the process. Yet to this day, and despite all his feats, Trigon’s full power has never been seen. Since the New 52, Trigon’s whereabouts have remained a mystery.
Impossibly old, the crazy alien known as Larfleeze is also the sole bearer of the Orange Lantern Ring. What does that mean exactly? Well, having the only Orange Lantern ring also means he possesses the entire might of a whole Lantern corps, or the Orange Corps in this case. He doesn’t have to share power with other members, but can harness and exercise the Orange Light of Avarice to its fullest on his own.
With far more power than any other power ring, Larfleeze can easily dominate any, and probably all, Green Lanterns, who themselves certainly have the power to take down Superman. In fact, his ring is 100,000 times more powerful than a standard Green Lantern ring. Along with generating hard-light constructs, anyone Larfleeze kills becomes added power for him as he can use Orange construct versions of them for his personal army.
1. DOCTOR FATE
While Superman may not have many weaknesses, magic is by far one of his sneakier ones. With no proper defense against it, Superman easily falls prey to an adept magic user, much less someone on the level of Doctor Fate. Already one of the most powerful heroes out there, Doctor Fate is also one of the strongest sorcerers in the universe. Barring godly entities like the Spectre or the Presence, few can challenge the good Doctor.
All knows Fate’s prowess in magic, but he can do more than conjure earth-shattering spells. Fate also boasts super strength, telepathy, invulnerability, telekinesis, and can manipulate lightning…because why not? While he’s popped up here and there in such titles like Blue Beetleand Dark Nights Metal, he’s never allowed to explore the full extent of his powers. If he were, every problem would be over in an instant.
Which character do you hope to see more of from DC in the future? Let us know in the comments!
Batman #33 is a pretty big issue, as it’s the start of a new story arc that sees Bruce Wayne and Selena Kyle, aka Catwoman, embarking on their greatest adventure: being an engaged couple. And part of that metaphorical journey is the very physical feat of crossing a desert on horseback. Sure enough, the costume that Batman is wearing during this sequence is a reversal of typical comic / movie protocol, as something that’s originated in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justicehas found itself being adapted into comic lore. You can take a look at the end result for yourself, in a portion of the issue’s cover, shared below.
SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains minor spoilers for Batman #33 by Tom King and Joëlle Jones, on sale now.
After the conclusion of the flashback-set “The War of Jokes and Riddles” storyline, this week’s Batman #33 (by Tom King and Joëlle Jones) once again moves the story in the wake of Bruce Wayne’s epic proposal to Selina Kyle. But instead of giving us a more conventional story that explores the fallout of such a life-altering development, the issue starts in a manner you’d not expect with Batman and Catwoman on a horseback journey through the middle of a desert.
We quickly learn that Batman and Catwoman have taken a trip to the Middle East; specifically, they’re heading towards a place called Khadym. In thew issue’s opening sequence, we see that both Bruce and Selina know how to dress for the occasion, with the two characters wearing costumes that make the perfectly recognizable as their alter-egos while being practical for survival in a long journey through the hot, dry environment. However, DC Extended Universe movie fans will quickly realize that Batman’s outfit is actually something they have seen before, in Zack Snyder’s 2016 film Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
In the middle of the film, there is an extended dream sequence dubbed the “Knightmare” vision. In it, Bruce dreams of a dark future where he is part of a rebellion that fights against Superman’s reign of terror over a planet that appears to be under the control of Darkseid and his minions. In a bleak, desert wasteland, Batman and his allies brutally fight to survive — and Batman does so in a costume that became noteworthy thanks to its stylistic and striking look: trench-coat, scarf, goggles, bat cowl and armor.
Numerous toys, figures and collectibles were made to represent the new version of the outfit, dubbed the “Kightmare costume,” and as of today, the design officially makes the jump from the silver screen to the comic book page, effectively becoming an official part of DC Comics canon. As Batman rides on his horse, readers can easily tell that this is the exact same costume, down to using the same colors as in the film.
While we’ve seen the costume in numerous previews ahead of the issue’s arrival, seeing it now that it’s been “officially” released adds a little layer of, “Hey – that’s cool!” to it. The use of the Knightmare costume in the comics is a nice touch, and a fun nod to what many fans felt was one of the high points of the BvS film.
With all the talk this month about Conner Kent – the missing character whose name showed up in Detective Comics #966 – Newsarama started thinking about whether the character might be coming back into continuity.
Now, to clarify, when we say Conner Kent, we mean the post-Crisis version of Kon-El.
Yes, there was a Kon-El in the “New 52,” and yes, he very briefly used the name Conner, but he wasn’t known by that name. And the version of Kon-El who appeared in the “New 52” had a completely different origin and personality from his original incarnation.
Neither version of Kon-El has been seen since the beginning of “Rebirth” in May 2016. Since DC has now given the name ‘Superboy’ to Superman’s son Jonathan Kent, some Conner Kent fans had given up hope that he could return.
But Newsarama isn’t counting Conner Kent out yet. In fact, we think there’s a very good chance Conner Kent is returning to the DCU – maybe not immediately, but if enough teases get enough people talking, there are good reasons to believe the character could return.
Want to know the justification for our hope? Here’s 10 reasons why we still have hope that Conner Kent will show up in the “Rebirth” DCU.
1) DC just changed Tim Drake back to (much of) his original history.
As we just mentioned, Kon-El’s origin was changed during the “New 52.” The character’s original history, reinforced during his time in Young Justice and Teen Titans, was eliminated and replaced.
Another Teen Titans character whose origin story was eliminated and replaced was Tim Drake. But “Rebirth” has restored him to his original continuity, within the pages of last month’s Detective Comics #965.
The writer of that restoration was James Tynion IV, who told Newsarama “In the ‘New 52,’ Tim Drake had a different origin – a pretty fundamentally different one – that I think a lot of fans of the character felt did not speak to the core of who Tim Drake was. … [Returning him to his original history] was a very deliberate choice. This is us bringing the spirit of ‘Rebirth’ into the comic books … we needed to ground him back in his most iconic origin, the story that really defined him for a generation of fans.”
If Tynion and DC are willing to just suddenly switch Tim Drake’s origin back to his days before the New 52 changes – without any in-story explanation for the change – why not other Teen Titans characters like Conner Kent?
2) Wally West returned – against tougher odds.
Not sure we even need to explain this one, but for the sake of clarification, let’s just point out that there are now two Flash characters in the DCU, and two Wally Wests in the DCU, and the publisher seems fine with that. The arguments that “there’s already a Superboy named Jonathan Kent” don’t matter when “Rebirth” launched by adding a character who not only had the same superhero name as another character, but literally the same name as another one.
Plus, there’s the precedent set by Wally coming into the “Rebirth” universe even when he didn’t exist as that person in the “New 52” – as well as the hints that Jay Garrick and his friends will soon follow.
3) Detective Comics and Superman both feature Conner Kent.
In this month’s Detective Comics #966, a version of Conner Kent showed up in a possible future, and the comic book specifically mentioned Conner Kent again in another scene.
One of the most powerful moments in the comic book was when Tim Drake said, “Who the hell is Conner?” It was heart-breaking for Conner fans, and there’s no doubt that Tynion understands that pain (see the writer’s above comment about Tim Drake fans).
In January 2018 solicitations, DC also revealed that the “Titans Tomorrow” version of Conner Kent would show up in Superman. In fact, he’ll be coming to the present-day DCU.
That’s a lot of love for Conner Kent.
Also, keep in mind that the current Detective Comics story is establishing a strong bond between future-Tim and future-Conner. Readers already know that characters like Wally West had to find the right “tether” to the DCU from their limbo outside the current timeline (and we’ve also learned that Jay Garrick has yet to find his tether to this world).
Could Tynion be setting up the idea that Tim Drake is Conner Kent’s tether to the DCU? Or will Tim, at the very least, be the first person he sees when he comes back to this timeline?
4) There were other prisoners, probably from other timelines, in Oz’s prison.
The “Titans Tomorrow” version of Tim Drake was transported to Oz’s out-of-time prison, and (we believe) the “Future’s End” version of Tim Drake was taken to his prison (as seen in Batman Beyond) – so what’s to say that characters from the post-Crisis timeline couldn’t have been transported there as well?
Remember, there were two shadowy figures in the same area of Oz’s prison when Tim escaped last time. And Tynion and Batman scribe Tom King have both indicated there’s more story to be told about those two. There have been a lot of guesses about the identity of those two figures, and leading among them is that they’re the post-Crisis versions of Bart Allen and Conner Kent, two characters who are greatly missed by DC fans.
That’s all conjecture, of course, but with Tim Drake opening up the prison cells when he just left the prison, he freed more than just Doomsday.
5)Tynion has promised “answers” about where Conner Kent is.
It seems unlikely that Conner’s brief mention in this week’s Detective Comics is meant to “answer that question.” Tynion’s statement implies more answers to come.
6)”Superman Reborn” cleared the way for a new Conner Kent story.
Although Tim Drake’s original origin is back, he’s somehow still the character who participated in all those Batman stories and Teen Titans stories during the “New 52.” “Rebirth” has opened the door for, basically, a new version of Tim Drake that combines elements of both the post-Crisis Tim and the “New 52” Tim.
The door is also open for a new version of Conner Kent. During the “Superman Reborn” storyline, the “Death of Superman” story was returned to continuity. However, its aftermath – known as the “Reign of the Supermen” story – had changes.
One of those changes was that Conner was not part of the “Death of Superman” aftermath.
That means a new version of the character could be introduced somehow, or the old character could be morphed into a combination of the “New 52” Superboy and the original one. Either way, the slate is completely clean and ready to go.
7) Tynion has worked closely with Geoff Johns – and loves his Teen Titans run (which co-starred Conner Kent).
Tynion has acknowledged that when he was planning his current Tim Drake story for Detective Comics, DC Entertainment Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns was part of the process.
“We were sort of talking around it. We knew the emotional role that the figure who was locked up in there with Tim needed to fill. And it was Geoff who brought the idea of the ‘Titans Tomorrow’ Tim to the table.
“But it was an immediate – like, it immediately clicked for me. That was one of the stories that really defines Tim Drake for me.
“I’ve told Geoff this a million times, but his Teen Titans run is one of the most formative comic book-reading experiences in my life. That was the book that really made me a DC Comics hardcore fan. I got into reading the rest of the line out from that core.”
You can see why Johns’ involvement is important as you consider…
8) Geoff Johns, who is the architect of “Rebirth” (and writer of Doomsday Clock) loves the original Conner Kent.
The writer-turned-executive has mentioned in interviews that Conner is his favorite character – time and time again.
And Johns’ love for Conner Kent is not extended to the “New 52” version of the character. When “Rebirth” first launched, Johns said:
“What happened with the ‘New 52’ was that a brick wall had been built between that and everything that had happened before. … I’ll tell you a character specifically, and I’ll be candid about it: Superboy, Connor Kent.
“One of my favorite characters of all time. And I had a great time writing him in Teen Titans, and I loved writing him in his solo run [in Adventure Comics]. They reintroduced him in the ‘New 52’ and he was so different, so vastly changed, that I couldn’t connect with the book that well. The emotional tie just severed, and it didn’t sever in the way that made me angry, it was worse than that: I had apathy for it. I didn’t care anymore.”
So Conner Kent/Kon-El from before the “New 52” was one of Johns’ favorite characters, but the one during the “New 52” was not.
If that doesn’t scream “Geoff will fix Conner,” we’re not sure what will.
9) Johns didn’t want Conner Kent to die last time he was gone – and he brought him back.
In interviews, Johns bemoaned the fact that he had to kill Kon-El/Conner Kent in Infinite Crisis, the event comic Johns wrote in 2005-2006.
In fact, Johns said the main reason Superboy had to die is because it saved Nightwing from being killed off. (Nightwing was, famously, originally named by then-editor-in-chief Dan DiDio as the character who would die at the conclusion of Infinite Crisis, but Johns and some other writers didn’t support that idea.)
In the Infinite Crisis hardcover, an interview included with the book had Johns stating:
“We originally talked about killing Nightwing. That was always Dan’s plan … Dan focused on offing Nightwing, but we all felt it was just the wrong character. … Well, what other character? Not Wonder Girl. Enough women have died in the DCU. Superboy was my favorite Titan. And I literally had to offer him as a sacrificial lamb.”
A year after the character’s death, Johns stopped writing Teen Titans. The writer admitted to Newsarama at the time that the death of Superboy influenced his decision to leave the title.
“I loved the character,” Johns said of Conner Kent. “It’s like, I thought he wasn’t the smartest kid in the room, and he wasn’t the dumbest, but he just had a good heart and a good soul, and that’s why I just loved him. He was a nice, normal kid despite the crazy background, and he had so much growing to do. You know, I think if Superboy was still in the book, I’d probably still be writing it.”
Conner Kent wasn’t gone for too long before Johns was returning him to life. About two years after Johns wrote the character’s 2006 death in Infinite Crisis, he revived Conner in the pages of Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds.
(Johns might have moved even quicker if there hadn’t been legal problems at the time with DC’s use of the name Superboy, thanks to a then-in-litigation challenge from the estate of Jerry Siegel. That case has since been resolved.)
Once Legion of 3 Worlds concluded, and Conner was added again to the DCU, Johns immediately launched a new title called Adventure Comics that starred none other than Conner Kent, making the character very much back alive and well.
10) When it comes to Conner Kent, Geoff Johns seems to get what he wants.
There’s this crazy story about Geoff Johns that kind of proves his tenacity when it comes to Conner Kent.
Back in April of 1996, DC published a letter in Superboy #26 from a young comic book-reading fan named Geoffrey Johns – years before he would even come close to working in comic books.
At the time, DC had established that Conner was a clone of Superman and … some unknown human. In his letter to the Superboy staff, Johns said:
“Now for some suggestions … I think I know who Superboy is a clone of. How about Lex Luthor? All the pieces fit, and it would have great ramifications.”
The answer DC published to Johns’ inquiry was that no, Lex Luthor was not the source of Superboy’s human DNA.
However, several years later, Johns got to launch a brand new Teen Titans comic book. And one of the first storylines in the series explored the source of Conner Kent’s human DNA. Under Johns’ pen, it was Lex Luthor.
The Conner Kent fan in Geoff Johns got what he wanted.
Add this story to the fact that Johns willingly sacrificed Conner (doing what he wanted) and got to bring the character back to life (again doing what he wanted) – it’s pretty clear that if Geoff Johns wants the original Conner Kent back, it’s going to happen.
We’re going out on a limb and guessing that the return of Conner Kent is either going to happen in the pages of Detective Comics (as Tynion insinuated) or that the teases in Detective Comics set up the moment for Doomsday Clock, which Johns is writing.
So, is Dan DiDio being serious about Conner Kent not returning in his lifetime? Or was that statement meant to mislead? We’re not sure, but there are a lot of reasons to believe there’s still hope for a Conner Kent return. Now, if we could just come up with enough reasons to expect Bart Allen’s return…
In 1986, towards the end of the Cold War, DC Comics published Watchmen, the groundbreaking graphic novel about aging ex-superheroes who stumble upon a conspiracy on the eve of nuclear holocaust. Twenty-nine years and one movie later, DC is finally releasing a sequel, Doomsday Clock, in which the characters of Watchmen collide with the mainstream “DC Universe,” the home to Batman, Superman, and the Justice League. This kind of crossover would have been unthinkable in 1986. But today, it’s really happening.
Set to release on November 22, Doomsday Clock by Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank will take place seven years after the original by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. But while it’s still in the past, Doomsday Clock appropriates today’s hellish political landscape; in the first six pages previewed at New York Comic Con, an absent U.S. president is hitting the links while the country plummets into chaos. “Deplorables” take the streets, and independent journalism is shuttered in favor of propagandic, state-run cable news.
In many ways, Doomsday Clock will try to live up to the spirit of its successor with obvious, but pointed, political satire. But as DC co-publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio tell me at New York Comic Con last week, conversations were still had about how to approach the sequel to a comic long believed should be left untouched.
“This is a conversation we’ve been having for awhile,” DiDio tells Inverse. “The origins of Doomsday Clock go back to Watchmen. It’s never been out of print, sold millions of copies. There’s been real interest in those characters. There’s a reticence to do anything that follows [it].”
Two things changed everyone’s minds at DC, DiDio says. The first was Geoff Johns, a DC mainstay writer who has gone on to produce TV and movies including Wonder Woman and the upcoming Justice League. The second was that DC internally had already endured the hard conversations of revisiting its most sacred texts when it did Before Watchmen back in 2012.
“Geoff Johns had a story on how to cross the teams, to bring Watchmen together with the DCU. He had a strong story and an idea,” says DiDio. He also mentions Gary Frank, “the only artist that could really execute it in the style that would feel satisfactory” to fans of the original. “But it comes down to story. It would not have been done if we did not have a story worthy of crossing over these two worlds.”
In 2012, DC published Before Watchmen, a prequel that explored the beginnings of the main Watchmen characters. Despite harsh critical reception, Before Watchmen allowed Doomsday Clock to happen. The offense of committing sacrilege was in the rearview.
“We did Before Watchmen back in the day and I think that broke the ice,” says Jim Lee. “Whatever discussions we had were had at that point. That in some ways cleared the path for us.”
“The level of angst was palpable,” DiDio recalls. “We’re not seeing nearly the same concerns as we did during Before Watchmen. We’re proud of that material but this [Doomsday Clock], we feel, is really strong.”
That story of Doomsday Clock, as far as fans know, takes place in 1992 with the world on the brink of another nuclear threat. Somehow, the characters of Watchmen will cross paths with the heroes of DC, like Batman and Superman, who inhabit an entirely different universe.
Doomsday Clock truly began rolling within the pages of DC Universe” Rebirth #1, a one-shot comic published last summer that ushered in DC’s big reset, Rebirth. Borrowing its title from Green Lantern Rebirth in which Geoff Johns restored the Green Lantern to his original form, the heads at DC used Rebirth to bring the heroes of DC back to their purest essence.
“Rebirth had a meaning,” DiDio says. “We built what it stood for: Returning to the core conceits in respect to the characters. In this case it was a full universe rather than individual characters.”
In its deconstruction of superheroic monolithic myths, Watchmen imagined a very real, very grimy world where damaged people wore costumes to fight crime. Almost three decades later, the sequel is on the horizon. While Watchmen was a dark, grim book, DC is promising something different.
“To me the tone is surprising,” Lee says. “If people think it’s gonna be a tale where there’s a lot of misunderstanding at the beginning, Watchmen fight the DC characters and they realize they have a common foe and band together, this is not that story. You’re going to be surprised.”
Doomsday Clock #1 of 12 will be released on November 22.