Superman in the New 52. Superman is one of the characters that has undergone a lot of changes in the DC Comics Rebirth initiative. His story-line has seen quite a bit of upheaval.
Let’s try to get you up to speed without too much unneeded detail.
In the New 52 we saw a younger Superman. The pre-Flashpoint Superman had vanished from the timeline. This younger Superman had only recently become a superhero. He was not the squeaky clean boy scout type. He would not only fight against criminals, but against any injustice, even if it meant breaking the law, battling a corrupt government, or losing his temper with the police.
He had also lost both of his Earth parents before taking a job at the Daily Planet. He did not have the Kents guiding him. This New 52 version actually started a relationship with Wonder Woman.
As a result of DC Comic’s Convergence story-line all previous existing universes were brought back and merged into one timeline. That means the pre-Flashpoint version of Superman existed alongside the New 52 version.
Superman in Rebirth
The pre-Flashpoint version of Superman was married to Lois Lane and they had a son (Jonathan Kent). Jonathan inherited many of his fathers powers and abilities. They decided to remain under the radar in this new merged universe. Pre-Flashpoint Kent kept tabs on his former villains to ensure they did not do as they did in his universe.
The New 52 Superman dies in the Rebirth story-line after expending all his energy in a fight to save innocents. His body is turned to ash. Pre-Flashpoint Superman does some soul-searching and decides to step in to replace the fallen hero.
In the meantime Mr. Mxyzptlk has kidnapped Jonathan Kent. Mxy is upset that Superman did not come to save him while he was imprisoned by who we assume to be Ozymandias/Dr. Manhattan. While rescuing Jonathan, Superman comes to the realization that he was split in two between the New 52 (red energy) and pre-“Flashpoint” (blue energy).
Jonathan is able to sense the red energy of New 52 Lois and Clark. He is able to merge the two (red blue energies). The result is Lois and Clark being in existence with a unified history overwriting their individual lives.
We see the mysterious Mr.Oz watching the whole event. He seems surprised by what has happened saying “Love does conquer all”. Mr. Oz did hint at the beginning of Rebirth that Superman is at the center of the whole Rebirth story-line.
Now that DC’s “Superman Reborn” has solved the mystery of Superman’s nature — something that was brought into question by Mr. Oz in DC Universe: Rebirth #1 — do the story’s revelations shed any light on the nature of Mr. Oz himself?
Solicitations for upcoming stories indicate the character may be exposed soon, but the just concluded “Superman Reborn” crossover offered some clues. Some contradict ideas that have been presented in the past, but others clarify his role.
Cause, or Not?
We’re getting mixed signals about how involved Mr. Oz was in the creation of the “New 52” Superman — and possibly, by extension, the “New 52” universe itself.
The first time Mr. Oz appeared (in Superman #32 during the “New 52”), the hooded character was watching Superman fight and implied that he was part of his initial education.
“Clark,” Oz says. “You always get up when you get knocked down…I taught you that.”
Yet “Superman Reborn” makes it seem as if there were other “forces” behind what happened to Superman when the “New 52” was created – forces that did not involve Mr. Oz.
Superman being split in two was even referred to by Mr. Oz as a situation that was “broken.” That doesn’t sound like he was a fan. And he didn’t seem upset when that broken situation was fixed.
In fact, he seems more like a fan who’s curious about what’s going to happen next.
We already knew that Oz likes to watch Superman in particular, although he knows about the entire DCU — even referring to the nature of Tim Drake’s “mentor” and grabbing the former Robin from Gotham.
Yet Oz is not omnipotent. In “Superman Reborn,” we learned that Oz was chasing Mr. Mxy after the character escaped from his prison. But Mxy was able to hide from him. Looking back at past issue, readers were shown the first time Oz saw the “human Clark Kent” (whom we now know was Mxy in disguise). At the time, Oz labeled him a “wild card,” and called him “a human Clark Kent.” He was no more knowledgeable about the character’s identity than anyone else.
And although he seems to have some sort of scheme, his plans tend to change. He said in Action Comics that he “thought” he was done with Doomsday, but he ends up going after him anyway.
He has minions who do his bidding. First, there was an average looking human woman (in Superman #39) who was working for him — the first person to call him Mr. Oz (on a telephone call) — and she had an “Oz” tattoo on her hand that looked a lot like the logo from Adrian Veidt’s Nostalgia Perfume bottle in Watchmen. Later, Oz was shown to possess a costumed army (and some high tech gadgets) to help him grab Doomsday in Action Comics.
Mr. Oz likes to imprison various characters from the DCU — all for different reasons.
He imprisoned Doomsday after seemingly utilizing him to fight against Superman.
He imprisoned Prophecy because he was “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
And in Detective Comics, Mr. Oz captured former Robin Tim Drake — making all the Bat-characters think the young man was dead — and imprisoned him. “You were reconnecting threads that could not be reconnected,” Oz told Tim. “You’re so loved, so deeply intertwined, it became crucial that we take you off the field. And that’s where you are, Tim. Off the field.”
In the same month, Tim Drake disappeared from the future in Batman Beyond, and series writer Dan Jurgens confirmed to Newsarama that Tim’s future disappearance is related to the imprisonment of current-day Tim by Mr. Oz. So it appears that Oz removed Tim from the current-day playing “field” and the future one as well.
Some fans have theorized that Ray Palmer, who is trapped in the microverse, is also a prisoner of Mr. Oz.
Now, in “Superman Reborn,” we have learned that Oz takes Mxyzptlk “off the table” as a precautionary measure. “It’s not for what you have done, but for what you might do,” he says.
In his earliest appearances, Mr. Oz was shown speaking to someone behind a giant door, almost teasingly, so it’s possible that was yet another prisoner from the DCU — or it’s possible that it was Mr. Mxy (who seems to have been in Oz’s prison a very long time).
(And while we’re talking about that prison, there is someone there who made Tim Drake freak out when the young Bat-character managed to get out of his cell for a short time. Did Tim see Oz without his hood and recognize him? Or was Tim more disturbed by seeing someone else in the prison?)
Obsessed with Superman
“Superman Reborn” made it clear that Mr. Oz is mainly interested in the story of Superman.
He introduced the idea of Superman’s “story” in his earliest scenes. In Superman #39, when we first learned that his name was Mr. Oz (when someone called him that), he had a book mailed to Clark Kent that seemed to have a “Death of Superman” symbol on the front. As Clark pondered its meaning, Oz was shown saying, “the future is unwritten Clark, but you and your friends will see it soon enough.”
During “Superman Reborn,” in Action Comics #975, we also found out that Mr. Oz does not like “chaos in the existence of Superman.” It’s one of the reasons he imprisoned Mr. Mxyzptlk.
In that issue, he also refers to his “business with Superman,” as if his entire existence, watching the DCU, has been focused on Superman.
He has also referred to his interest in Superman and the DCU as a “game.” The character actually interacted with post-Crisis Superman in DC Universe: Rebirth #1.
“Who I am does not matter,” he said to Superman. “At least, not yet. For now you can call me Mr. Oz, if you like. What I am, oh, that’s a different story. Friend or enemy is too simple a term when you consider the long game. Some might call this that.”
Not Sure about “Him”
Both Mr. Mxyzptlk and Mr. Oz refer to someone as “him,” and readers are shown that the “him” character is apparently on Mars.
At the end of DC Universe: Rebirth #1, readers saw someone on a red planet who was putting a watch together. It’s one of the reasons most fans think Dr. Manhattan is the identity of “him,” since that character spent time on Mars in Watchmen.
But the dialogue of Mr. Oz in “Superman Reborn” makes it pretty clear that Oz doesn’t know what this “him” character will do. He’s not exactly afraid. Yet he is fully aware of the presence of “him.” It’s more like he’s anticipating a reaction. As Oz has said, the future is unwritten, but with “him” ready to react — and storylines like “The Button” and “Superman Reborn Aftermath” promising more answers about “Rebirth” mysteries (not to mention the “Dark Days” summer event — readers should see a reaction soon.
The latest trailer for Justice League came out this weekend, giving us our first good look at the upcoming DC Comics team-up. And like the first trailer, it looks pretty fun! But, despite a great showing from Jason Momoa living his Aquaman-by-way-of-Khal-Drogo life and a quip about how rich Batman is, something is noticeably missing: Henry Cavill’s Superman.
Why? Because Superman is the film’s big twist. Yes, I think Superman will be a bad guy in Justice League. And I think I can prove it.
Spoilers for Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and Suicide Squad follow:
First off, I would like to point out that not including Superman in the Justice League trailers is extremely weird. If we only saw Cyborg once or twice, or had only gotten a glimpse of Aquaman, that’d be strange, sure. But they’re not established characters in DC’s film universe in the same way Batman or Wonder Woman are. But this is Superman! He’s incredibly important to the entire Justice League conceit! Along with Batman and Wonder Woman, he is probably the most important member of the Justice League!
Now, there is an obvious explanation, which is that Zack Snyder killed off Superman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Superman isn’t being shown off in the trailers because it would ruin the “surprise” of him not being dead in Justice League. I will counter that argument by saying that if Snyder was hoping to make this a surprise, he shouldn’t have:
Announced that Henry Cavill will be starring as Superman in Justice League
Ended Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice with this image of dirt rising off Superman’s coffin to immediately indicate to anyone watching that Superman isn’t really dead
Released a picture showing Superman frontandcenter as a member of the League
Therefore, Superman’s death and complete absence from anything we’ve seen in Justice League have to be taken as specific, intentional choices by Snyder to serve some narrative purpose. That leaves me with the conclusion that we haven’t seen Superman yet because he’s a villain. Shocker!
This isn’t anything new, of course. The DC Extended Universe movies have been telling us that Superman is destined for a heel turn for basically the entirety of their existence. Man of Steel posits that Superman is capable of visiting untold destruction upon humanity. Batman v Superman’s central conflict is about whether or not that’s true, and what should be done about it. A Justice League where Superman finally does go bad would serve as a fitting cap to that arc. And it’d be downright poetic for Batman, who, after having spent an entire movie trying to murder Superman before he goes rogue, would now be forced to save him from being the very thing he always feared.
It’s a thread that follows through in the larger DCEU, as well. The Suicide Squad’s entire raison d’être is as an answer to the question “What if Superman went bad?” and that film ends with Bruce Wayne promising Amanda Waller that next time, he and his friends (i.e., the Justice League) will handle it instead.
But if these “subtle” hints aren’t quite enough, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice alsohasalready shown us an evil Superman who rules over a parademon-infested Earth, just to hammer the point home.
And then there’s the costume. Cavill released a teaser picture on his Instagram showing off a close-up of his costume from Justice League last August. The image shows what may be a black version of his iconic suit, although it’s equally possible that the photo might just be a stylistic filter.
A post shared by Henry Cavill (@henrycavill) on Aug 15, 2016 at 11:58am PDT
If the black suit is real, it could very well be Superman’s post-resurrection “solar suit” from the comics. Then again, it’s another point in favor of the theory that “dark version of supersuits” = “evil.”
Assuming Superman is going to be evil in Justice League, a question remains: why?
One can take the simple answer that Justice League is a big superhero team-up film, and if The Avengers, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Captain America: Civil War have taught us anything, it’s that we as audiences love to see our favorite characters fight. Heck, both Avengers movies feature “mind-controlled super-powerful hero is forced to fight the rest of the team as a means to come together” as their major second act conflict. At this point, it would almost be weird not to have the various members of the Justice League duke it out before uniting to face off against a mindless horde of enemies and a sky-beam. Plus, “Evil Superman” is already having a bit of a cultural moment thanks to the Injustice series and the upcoming Injustice 2video game (set to release just months before Justice League) featuring a universe where Superman has taken over the Earth.
Alternately, having watched Man of Steel’s character assassination on Superman, along with Batman v Superman’s literal assassination of him, it’s possible that Zack Snyder just doesn’t like Superman. (Remember how he had Superman’s pal Jimmy Olsen killed off in the extended edition of BvS in the name of “hav[ing] fun with him?”) Having Superman serve as a major villain to the Justice League — a group he’s a critical founding member of — would be like if Marvel ended Captain America: The First Avenger by revealing Steve Rodgers to secretly be a Nazi the Avengers would have to fight. It makes sense if you buy into Snyder not loving Superman’s boy scout image. But that’s just a bit of mostly baseless personal speculation.
In short, Justice League will feature Superman as a bad guy, at least until the Justice League beats the stuffing out of him and turns him good again. (I, for one, am looking forward to seeing the delighted grin on Jason Momoa’s face when this happens, because if the trailer is anything to go by, I think he might be the only one having any fun here.)
I look forward to being proved right about this when Justice League is released later this year on November 17th.
The Justice League trailer finally arrived offering the first real glimpse into the epic scope and scale of the film, promising DC’s greatest heroes teaming up to take on a global threat with the fate of the world in the balance. Fans have responded, voting it the 8th Most Anticipated Film on ComicBook.com.
The clips managed to give each character a brief spotlight, hinting at their motivations and greater team dynamic in the face of the invading forces of Apokolips and the Parademons.
But while the trailer made for some awesome moments and reveals of the overall plot of Justice League, there’s one noticeable absence that is leaving fans scratching their heads and wondering:
Where is the Man of Steel?
Superman’s demise at the hands of Doomsday was the obvious impetus for Batman bringing the team together.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, despite that tragic moment, ended with a hopeful moment for Wonder Woman and the Caped Crusader moving forward while also teasing that maybe Superman’s situation was permanent.
Director Zack Snyder spoke about Superman’s presence in the team and how the character will affect the film, the other members, and the entire planet.
“It’s hard to have a Justice League without Superman. That’s how I feel about it,” Snyder said, hinting at the character’s state in the new movie.
“It was always a super-intriguing concept to me to have this opportunity to have him make that sacrifice but also have him be this, in a weird sort of way, the why of Justice League: What do you do now with him? What does the team think? What does the world need?” Snyder said. “All that comes into play. It’s fun for us but it’ll be interesting for audiences what we do with him.”
The fact that Superman’s death seems to be a temporary situation is obvious to almost everyone, as even those with a passing knowledge of comic book events could tell you about the time the character died.
But Snyder seems to be more enamored with the “how” of it all, hinting that Superman’s eventual return will be more important than “why.”
It’s interesting that they’ve decided to leave him out of a majority of the marketing and promotional material for the film, given Henry Cavill’s casting and obvious participation. We’ll find out more when Justice League premieres November 17.
Are you excited for the film now that you’ve seen the trailer? Let us know with your vote in the Anticipation Rankings below!
Justice League is directed by Zack Snyder, from a screenplay by Chris Terrio, and features an ensemble cast that includes Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Ciarán Hinds, Amy Adams, Diane Lane, Jeremy Irons and Jesse Eisenberg.
DC’s ambitious Rebirth event is still unraveling, and the company is using the framework of introducing the Watchmen to this world as a way to take some major strides toward reconciling the splintered continuities that have developed over the past few years. Case in point: We finally have a Superman that should make everyone happy.
A quick refresher: There were two version of Superman and Lois Lane running around the DC universe for a while, including the pre-Flashpoint versions, and the younger versions from the last relaunch. The New 52 versions both seemingly bit the dust, and the “old” Superman and Lois have been the main ones for a while now. But, all that changed this week.
In the latest issue of Action Comics, issue 976, it’s revealed that these different versions of Superman and Lois Lane are literally splintered fragments of the same person all yearning to be reunited. They merged in this issue, creating “new” versions of Supes and Lois that have memories from the pre-Flashpoint era, as well as the events of the New 52. Supes even got a new look with a tweaked costume featuring some throwback design nods. Put simply, this is all the Supermen rolled into one.
As IGN notes, it’s implied that there could be splintered versions of all the DC heroes out there, just waiting to be reunited and made whole. The fact that Superman pulled it off also surprised the mysterious Dr. Oz, the figure (possibly Ozymandias from Watchmen?) who has been watching all these events since Rebirth. The best guess is that Doctor Manhattan splintered the reality of the DC universe at some point after Watchmen, and with Superman showing this can be undone, that precedent will almost certainly come back into play later on.
Setting up the DC universe vs. Doctor Manhattan, perhaps?
Did you like the twist? What do you think this means for the future of the DC universe?
This week saw the final part of “Superman Reborn“, the crossover that answered a number of pressing questions about The Man of Tomorrow’s status in the DC Universe, but also left readers with a good number more. The end of “Superman Reborn” had some huge consequences for DC Rebirth and Superman‘s continuity, but what exactly happened, and what does it mean for the future of the DC Universe?
NOTE: This article contains spoilers for this week’s Action Comics#976 and the whole “Superman Reborn” crossover.
The previous issue in the crossover, Superman #19, established that Superman was split into two separate Supermen in the dawning days of The New 52 by an unknown player. Since then, they have each been living half a life, with their own personal histories and relationships. One Clark Kent became the young and brash champion of the oppressed from Grant Morrison and Rags Morales‘ Action Comics, while the other Superman continued to live his life with Lois on the annexed Convergence reality.
In this week’s finale, Jon managed to convince Superman and Lois Lane merge with their pre-Flashpoint counterparts. In doing this, the personal history of both characters was re-written. Now, much of their original continuity as it stood before is once again canon, and in this new history of the DC Universe, the pre-Flashpoint Superman continuity has overwritten the stories of the jeans-and-T-shirt Superman.
In our exclusive interview with Dan Jurgens and Peter J. Tomasi, Jurgens went into a bit more detail about the continuity changes for The Man of Tomorrow.
The events of Action #976 reset and reshape the entire Superman timeline. Where there had been two Superman, their realities have now been fused into one timeline with just one of them. And, yes, Clark and Lois are back at the Daily Planet. Not only does everyone know they had a child; they were there shortly after Jon was born. The Daily Planet crew has known Jon his entire life.
Action Comics #977 and #978 will delve a bit more deeply into that timeline, so readers have a common understanding about Superman’s past.
In the story’s epilogue, the mysterious Mr. Oz contemplates the new timeline, and the book ends with a very cryptic tease, reminding us that we don’t know who split Superman in two, or for what purpose.
The final panel of Action Comics #976 lingers on the red planet of Mars, to make readers think of its sole resident, Doctor Manhattan, but there’s always every chance this is another red herring in the long-game mystery that is DC Rebirth.
The ongoing saga of post-Rebirth Superman culminated this week in the final part of “Superman Reborn” in the pages of Action Comics. It didn’t just forever solve the tale of two Clark Kents though—it had some extremely big ramifications for the whole of the DC Universe.
The release of Action Comics #976—by Dan Jurgens, Doug Mahnke, Jamie Mendoza, Christian Alamy, Trevor Scott, Wil Quintana, and Rob Leigh—this week pretty much picks up directly where Superman #19 left off. Which means we’re still in Mr. Mxyzptlk’s interdimensional limbo, and the ghostly red energy of the New 52 Superman and Lois Lane just merged into the bodies of their Pre-New-52 counterparts, bringing them back to life… and bringing their own memories of the New 52 back, meaning that neither of them know who Jon Kent is.
Jon’s grief at the thought that his parents have been replaced by a Superman and Lois Lane who don’t know him at all plays throughout the issue, as Mxyzptlk’s bizarre limbo starts breaking down around the Kents—and the fifth dimensional imp keeps cackling on about how the return of the New 52 Superman is an event that will be noticed by a mysterious “him” left to the reader’s imagination.
All hope for Jon getting his parents back seems lost, until he recognizes that the two mysterious orbs of energy from the last issue, which he used to inadvertently resurrect the New 52 Clark and Lois, are still there… and now they’re glowing blue, the same energy field that glowed around his parents when they entered Mxyzptlk’s limbo. The two orbs transform into ghostly figures, and Jon recognizes that they’re the essences of his parents, just as the red forms were the essences of the New 52 Superman and Lois.
The young boy uses the energy of his parent’s essences to blast Mxyzptlk back, and eventually merge the two ghosts with the New 52 Clark and Lois. This time, there isn’t an expulsion of energy. It’s an integration. There are no longer two Supermen and two Lois Lanes, separated by being from different universes.
There is only one of each, a melding of both realities into single characters, characters who remember the events of both the pre-Flashpoint DC universe and the events lived by the New 52 rebooted counterparts. Jon gets his parents back, but they’re something more now.
But it’s not just the Kents who are affected by this mishmash of realities. As we go on to learn, thanks to the mysterious Mr. Oz—that other mysterious interdimensional wanderer that’s been slumming around the DC Rebirth comics with talk of big plans for the fates of Superman and the wider cosmos of existence—in order to accommodate for the existence of a Superman and Lois who remember both the Pre-Flashpoint DC universe and the New 52 rebooted one, the people they know, and the events they’ve impacted upon, have to be cosmically shuffled to refit.
Essentially, around Superman and the many lives he’s touched, the fabric of reality itself has been re-written. The DC universe is no longer the New 52 one, but a hybrid of both it and the Post-Crisis, Pre-Flashpoint one. “A new, existence-wide, single reality, rebuilt from two,” as Oz intones.
This obviously has ramifications—monumental ones—that stretch far beyond the lives of Clark Kent and Lois Lane. We have yet to see the evidence of it in the wider DC Comics roster, but this is essentially a brand new DC Universe. Moments from before the New 52 reboot in now exist again, alongside the events of the New 52 universe itself.
This is so out of nowhere that I feel like I might have gone slightly insane reading this comic book. DC doesn’t just up and create a whole new universe for its comics without a fanfare. But this has to affect more than just Superman and Lois’ lives, right? If it is as Oz says, this is a brand new reality, and we don’t know what’s completely happened beyond these pages, what other characters now retain from their pre-New 52 existence. But this is big. And it’s not just Oz who’s paid attention to what’s happened to the Kent family. Someone else might have something to say about the Man of Steel just casually rewriting the DC cosmic.
SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for “Action Comics” #976 by Dan Jurgens, Doug Mahnke, Jaime Mendoza, and Wil Quintana
The conclusion of the Superman-centric crossover story arc “Superman Reborn” has arrived in “Action Comics” #976, bringing with it some massive changes to the Man of Steel’s status quo in the past, present and future, as well as some shocking clues for the what to expect from the post-“Rebirth” DC Universe.
Picking right up from last week’s “Superman” #19, we learn that Clark’s efforts to rescue his son from Mr. Mxyzptlk’s trap have transformed both he and Lois back into their “New 52” incarnations, and unsurprisingly, those changes weren’t just cosmetic in nature. The Clark and Lois on the page, meeting Jon, are literally the resurrected versions of Clark and Lois from the main continuity of the New 52 — meaning they have no recollection of ever having been in a relationship, much less being married and having a son.
In case you need a refresher, this Clark (which is to say, the New 52 Clark) was killed just before the start of Rebirth in an event called, appropriately, “The Final Days of Superman.” Similarly, New 52 Lois was killed immediately after the start of Rebirth, in “Superwoman” #1, leaving the only active Superman and Lois Lane in the Rebirth line the married pair who were shifted to the Rebirth universe with their son, Jon, from the formerly alternate pre-Flashpoint universe. Since Rebirth began, this version of Clark and Lois have slotted into the vacancies left by their dead counterparts with only a few minor hiccups, including gaining the trust Batman, figuring out how to fit in at the new Daily Planet, etc.
If you think that sounds a little morbid and a little, well, tricky to keep track of, you wouldn’t be wrong. The dissonance found in knowing Clark and Lois have been existing in Rebirth, literally replacing people’s dead friends and coworkers, has been a pretty common off-and-on thematic undercurrent in nearly all the main Super-family titles. But now, it would seem, the coin has been flipped and the replace-ers have become the replace-ees — that is, at least, until Jon gets to have his say in the matter.
New 52 Superman is understandably confused and enraged to have been dragged back into being by an imp from the 5th Dimension that he’s never met, with a coworker he only barely associates with, and a child claiming to be his and said coworker’s son. Clark rounds on Mxy, only to be met with typical Mxyzptlk rejoinders, questioning the nature of his reality and identity, claiming that any real answers he provides Clark will be met with trouble.
More specifically, trouble from “him.” Mxy claims that if he explains any of what’s going on beyond the confines of his own little extra-dimensional game, he’s going to attract some unwelcome attention from the person responsible for this whole universe-twisting debacle in the first place.
He doesn’t offer any more hints about this mysterious entity’s identity, so it’s unclear if he’s talking about Mr. Oz or another party, but whoever it is, Mxy is clearly desperately afraid of him — a fact that’s as concerning as it is interesting, given Mxy’s continuous meta-commentary on the very nature of the DC Universe from a perspective that feels almost editorial in nature.
As it happens, Mxyzptlk’s pseudo-editorial jabs were only the tip of the meta-ice burg.
The Children Are The Future
In his desperation, Jon is able to make contact with a set of strange blue lights, similar to the red lights he interacted with upon his teleportation into Mxy’s game. As he tries to speak with them, they slowly take more humanoid shapes and reveal themselves to be none other than the “echoes” of his parents, apparently reaching out from beyond whatever extra-dimensional limbo they’ve been caught in.
The light “remnants” of Jon’s Clark and Lois are able to bestow power in their son to help them “become whole again.” These powers allow Jon to not only genuinely hurt Mxyzptlk, but also fuse their remnants with their New 52 counterparts.
Which, of course, is exactly what he does. After forcing Mxy into a hasty retreat, Jon turns his attention back to his parents to, well, “fix” them.
The two sets of Clark and Lois are merged into one, a shockingly literal move to apparently begin to “delete” all vestiges of New 52 from continuity. The merging prompts a complete reconstruction of their history, apparently overwriting nearly everything that happened between 2011 and 2016, or at least somehow combining that with the experiences of Jon’s parents.
In Mr. Oz’s words, Jon has “realigned (…) the memories and experiences of all (…) so it all fits,” but the specifics are still a bit vague. A double-page spread hits the highlights of the new status quo in a sort of timeline — everything from Clark’s origin story, to Ma and Pa Kent, to “The Death of Superman” and Jon’s own birth — but doesn’t explicitly explain how this new history affects the rest of the DCU. The idea is, clearly, that at some point, everyone will suddenly have their memories altered right along with the Kents and their friends (“everything solidified, locked into place”), but that poses more than a few complications for characters who have yet to have their own New 52 stories modified in ways that fit into the new (old?) past.
With the imminent arrival of April’s “Batman” and ”Flash” crossover “The Button,” it seems all the more probable that we are going to see similar efforts to delete and re-write the New 52 history for the rest of DC’s major characters in the coming months. After all, DC is certainly no stranger to the merging and re-aligning of multiple continuities, even if taking it on a character-by-character basis is a different approach to the endeavor.
Regardless of how it transpires, the message is clear: the New 52 as we know it is done for.
The Manhattan Project
As the dust settles, the newly restored Clark proclaims “I’m back. We’re back, and everything is going to be fine,” a statement which begs the question: Will it?
Mr. Oz doesn’t seem to think so.
The very last page of the issue is focused entirely on Oz as he watches from a distance (in his mysterious, decidedly Ozymandias-esque viewing room) and wonders if Superman actually gets the final say here, or if “he” (meaning the mastermind behind everything) does.
This narration takes place over a slow zoom to Mars, yet another piece of evidence to add to the growing pile in support of the “Dr. Manhattan caused the New 52” theories that have been swirling around since “DC Universe: Rebirth” #1. Perhaps more troubling, if it is indeed Manhattan who has been pulling the strings, these panels seem to imply that he’s located within the main universe of “Rebirth” rather than somewhere beyond it; camping out in the solar system, just a hop-skip-and-jump away from Earth.
If “he” — Dr. Manhattan or otherwise — really is that close to home, it would seem a counter offensive is bound to happen sooner rather than later. And with Jon’s new ability to “heal” the fractured universe unlikely to just fade away, it’s all the more likely that Superboy will find himself a major target in days to come.
Created in 1938 by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Superman is the most iconic superhero in the world, and he’s loved by millions — but he’s not necessarily the easiest character to get to grips with if you haven’t been exposed to the right material. Even as a massive Superman fan, I’ll admit that it can be a bit hard for some readers to wrap their heads around exactly why he’s so great and why he matters so much. We’ve put together a list of the ten essential Superman stories for any reader looking to dive into Superman fandom.
Superman is easily my favorite comic book character, and the reason I love him is because of the example he sets for humanity. The stories in our list all follow a general theme that focuses on the character’s inherent goodness and inspirational qualities, so you won’t find any dark alternate reality tales like Injustice: Gods Among Us and Superman: Red Son. That’s not a knock on those stories; they do provide insight into the character in their own way. They just aren’t as essential as the stories featured in our list.
I’ve placed these stories in order, counting down to the one that I think is best, but they’re each going to be someone’s favorite. Think of this list as recommended reading for any fans interested in the character; any of these comics would be a great place to begin.
Find the story that appeals the most to you, and get acquainted with the wonderful world of Superman. You’re very welcome here.
NOTE: This article contains SPOILERS for Superman #19
For all the success of the DC Comics Rebirth, there’s one truth impossible to overlook: the boost in sales, readership, and enthusiasm came with a heavy price tag. And chief among the changes leading to the Rebirth and the return of the Post-Crisis Superman was the death of New 52 Superman. The modern incarnation of the character hadn’t been quite as much of a hit as his predecessor, which lead many to view his death as DC giving older fans what they wanted, returning the older Superman and his wife, Lois Lane, and their son, Jonathan Kent. To add evidence to their claim, the New 52 Lois Lane was killed too, after receiving her powers from the dying Superman.
As it turns out, DC has a much larger story in mind for those versions of the characters. One that is tied into the very heart of the Rebirth and its blue, glowing, Watchmen-based architect. The first big twist may have been dropped with when the cover of Action Comics #976 revealed both the New 52 Superman and the one that replaced him taking flight together, but we now know the possible explanation. There are still secrets to be spilled in “Superman: Reborn” but it’s time to hop on the story arc, Super fans – because DC may have just returned the New 52 Superman to the current DC Universe.
Keeping Up With Mxyzptlk
We say “may” because the entire story has gotten more and more ludicrous and unpredictable the closer we’ve gotten to answers. Remember that de-powered version of Clark Kent stalking Lois Lane? It turns out that’s been classic Superman enemy Mr. Mxyzptlk the whole time (the fifth dimensional imp known for his trickery and games). Apparently, old Mxy was captured and help captive by the same mysterious ‘Mr. Oz’ who’s been pulling the strings behind the Rebirth universe – kidnapping Tim Drake, and another Doomsday, among others. Believing Superman would rescue him before long, Mxy was forced to finally realize that the Man of Steel wasn’t a friend after all. He managed to blast his way out of Mr. Oz’s prison and back into the world, but could only escape his jailer if he convinced the world – himself included – that he was everyday Clark Kent.
But with Jonathan Kent now in his custody and a bone to pick with Superman, Mxy has taken his game to another level. First, he wipes Lois’s memory of her marriage to Clark Kent, or their son. Next, he plants Jonathan at the very top of a strange, fifth-dimensional skyscraper and challenges Superman to make it through his nonsensical nightmare and retrieve his son. Mxy isn’t volunteering to answer the questions of Superman or the reader, casually referring to the days prior to the death of the New Superman, when the older Superman was shown to be watching from the shadows prepared to lend assistance if it was needed. According to Mxy, the bond between this older and younger man from two (presumed) different dimensions has been misunderstood.
Was the original Superman “split” to make two versions? It’s a new idea for the New 52 and the Rebirth, but it’s just the beginning of weird happenings in Superman #19.
Jonathan Kent Learns The Truth
It’s Jonathan who makes the actual discovery of the fates of both the Superman and Lois Lane of the New 52. As a brief reminder, neither actually died in a traditional sense. Instead, they erupted in a burst of red energy that reduced them to ashes. So it may not be too shocking when Jonathan – hovering in a state of limbo in Mxypltzk’s game – witnesses two balls of red energy that fly towards him and stop, seeming to communicate. By presenting photos, the balls of energy reveal that they are Clark Kent and Lois Lane… the New 52 versions, not Jonathan’s parents currently seeking him out. Not one to get hung up on the details, Jonathan senses their power, and requests their help in communicating with his parents. And by ‘communicating,’ we mean blasting him out of whatever prison Mxy has left him in so his parents won’t have to fight their way to him alone.
As Superman succeeds in smashing his way through Mxy’s game with the motivation only a child in jeopardy can offer, the imp changes the rules. He’s determined to wipe Superman and Lois’s memory of their son and have the final laugh… but that honor goes to Jonathan. Begging his new friends to help him escape, the detonation of red energy that breaks Jonathan free of Mxy’s labyrinth into full view of his parents also sends the reality itself crumbling. Mxyzptlk is stunned and infuriated, but Jonathan has never been happier. Because he now stands beside his mother and father… possibly a different version, but a reunion of the family, all the same.
New 52 Superman Returns?
The issue ends with the New 52 Superman, in full, collared costume returned in all his glory. In one arm he holds Lois Lane, and Jonathan in the other. What makes this shocking reveal – the return of the presumed dead New 52 Superman – so powerful is that it’s not quite clear just what’s occurred. Has the New 52 Superman taken physical form out of his energetic one alongside his Lois Lane? That is, are Jonathan’ parents safely standing out of the panel, brought face to face with the doppelgangers they watched from the shadows in the years since the New 52 relaunch? Or, in a more unexpected twist, has the release of energy brought some essence of those New 52 versions to reshape his own parents?
Jonathan’s quivering, questioning reference to them as his parents confirms that even he isn’t sure just yet, so fans don’t need to obsess over the outcomes. What matters most is that, after months of being presumed dead to make way for a more popular rendition, the New 52 Superman is back… we think. Even if it’s just his essence, his costume, or his willingness to help a boy in need. And that’s a start.
What do you Superman fans think of the bombshell (that was teased without context already)? Are you thrilled with the very idea that the New 52 Superman’s death was never just what it seemed? Or are you suspicious that some other plan or strategy is in play? Let us know your own theories in the comments, and stay tuned as “Superman Reborn” delivers its next twist.