Information has been slowly trickling in from DC about its new 52-issue relaunch. Today we recieved some major news about the Man of Steel himself—Superman. Let's talk about what's happening ... and what it means.
Action Comics, where Superman made his first appearance, now written by Grant Morrison and drawn by Rags Morales, will tackle his new origin, explaining how our hero becomes America's greatest champion. How different will it be? Take a look at the press release and see for yourself:
"This Superman is very much an alien, one struggling to adjust to his adopted home. In the series, he must come to terms with both the loss of his home world, as well as the loss of both of his adopted parents. He is more Kal-El from the planet Krypton than Clark Kent from Kansas. He's a loner trying to find his place in the world."
For our money, these shifts make for a radically different character. Gone is the boy who grew up feeling the tug of human roots, and instead we have a man who has lost both his birth and adoptive parents. That's the kind of angsty backstory that could give two Batmen a run for their money.
What this means, from a reader's perspective, is that we're switching from a character who starts out connected with humanity (and thus with us) to a character whose narrative plays out slowly through his disconnection from us. Rather than beginning with a desire to protect the people around him, he must adapt to that world and develop a reason to care for humanity.
He's still identifiable. After all, who hasn't looked at his fellow man from time to time and felt a complete disconnect? We struggle to understand each other every day, and this new Superman origin looks to be attempting to tell that story.
There's a little more info on what to expect from the new Action Comics:
"The series' first storyline will explore the origins of Superman's costume, as it evolves from a look that includes jeans and work boots to a new look: a suit of battle armor that pays tribute to his Kryptonian past.
His great powers have limits. When the series begins, Superman can leap tall buildings, but his ability to fly is in its infancy."
The idea of an evolving costume has potential. What Superman wears while he's flying around and saving the world says nearly as much about the action he takes. This isn't the first time Superman hasn't been able to fly. In particular, this may be an attempt to pull in fans of the recently completed Smallville TV series. Narratively speaking, it simply means that our hero has a long way to grow before he becomes anything like the Superman we've come to respect.
It's not all origin stories, though. We'll also be reading a present-day story written by George Perez and drawn by Jesus Merino with the ongoing comic Superman. Here's a little background on that one:
"Clark Kent is single and living on his own. He has never been married. Lois Lane is dating a colleague at the DAILY PLANET (and his name isn't Clark Kent) and she has a new position with the paper."
That confirms the long-held suspicion that Clark and Lois would not be the immediate love story. That gives the writers an opportunity to grow both characters separately. It also means we may see Superman locking lips with a certain Themysciran who is into lassos. Or maybe it's just more fodder for Clark to brood over. Only time will tell.
What do you make of these changes? Well you read the tales of the New Man of Tomorrow?