The whole “Superman” section of this post sort of got away from me here.

§ August 3rd, 2016 § Filed under superman, this week's comics § 5 Comments

So I have to say I was pretty amused by this week’s preview booklet for DC’s “Young Animal” imprint. As you can see by the cover, it apes the look of DC’s Who’s Who series, down to including Who’s Who-style entries for some of the characters in the first few pages. The rest of the pages are filled with art samples from the forthcoming titles. Mostly I’m impressed by the “lo-fi” nature of the preview, a black and white digest-sized pamphlet that stands out in this age of full-color sampler comics and full-size first-look magazines, selling ideas, not production values. An interesting statement on the aesthetic of this line, I think.

What’s interesting about the Superman titles during DC’s “Rebirth” initiative is that, all things considered, people shouldn’t like them. This is about as convoluted a set-up as you can have for a Superman franchise, involving parallel universes and whatnot, and oh Superman and Lois have a son, too…but ultimately people are interested. It’s a combination of “here’s something sorta new with the character” and “this isn’t the New 52 version of Superman you didn’t like, but the one that’s been around since the 1980s Byrne revamp, more or less.” The hooks for the two series have been engaging (with Action focusing on the maybe-redemption arc for Lex Luthor and the mystery of the Other Clark Kent, and Superman focusing on the Supes/Lois/Jon family dynamic).

I generally prefer Action, and at first I wasn’t entirely thrilled with this week’s issue of Superman…there’s a whole lot of fighting with the Eradictor, and not a whole lot else…but it does provide the next step is Jon’s evolution as the Son of Superman, and that does leave me wanting to see more. Which, of course, I’ll eventually be getting in the forthcoming Super Sons book, co-starring Damian Wayne…which makes me wonder. Did DC’s relative success in giving Batman a biological son pave the way for DC doing the same for Superman? But then, a father/son dynamic has been present in the Batman comics for decades…it’s just now the son is actually his son, not a ward or an adoptee, so there’s not really any change in that dynamic.

I guess in the Superman franchise, Supergirl sort of filled the role of the mentored youngster, but that’s not really the same as “Superman has a child.” He’s not even really had any kind of established Robin-esque sidekick like Batman, despite Supergirl’s occasional guest appearances. So, while Batman having a son didn’t really affect the franchise, giving Superman a son does alter things from the established model quite a bit. (It strikes me, sometimes, how lonely Superman seems to be in the pre-Crisis days…going to the empty Kent home, keeping his double life secret from his friends, even separated from Kandor in either its shrunken city or on-an-interdimensional-planetoid forms.)

Anyway, this is just a lot of meandering about a current plot development that will likely go away in whatever big shakeup the whole “Rebirth” thing is eventually leading to. The current story of “Parallel Universe Superman” will probably be wrapped up sooner rather than later, and whatever permutations that make this Superman differ from the Official Licenseable Version will be sanded away. But in the meantime, the Superman books have made for intriguing reading, if only for exploring how flexible the franchise is after nearly eight decades of existence.

5 Responses to “The whole “Superman” section of this post sort of got away from me here.”

  • Thom H. says:

    So the Young Animal preview is available at comic book stores now? I saw that it was given out at San Diego Comic Con, and I really wanted one, so I’m hoping my local comic shop has some copies. Very much looking forward to the new Doom Patrol.

  • Rich Handley says:

    I feel like Rebirth seems to be full of sound and fury, but signifying nothing. Hopefully, it’s going somewhere.

  • Mikester says:

    Thom – they’re being distributed to shops this week, so you should be able to find ’em there!

    Rich – my sense is that a lot of planning went into Rebirth, unlike New 52 which was sort of rushed into existence with little or no forethought.

  • Garrie says:

    Jimmy Olsen, for most of the Silver Age, was probably considered to be Superman’s son-figure. Not just in the regular Superman titles, but also all those Olsen-Robin team-ups in World’s Finest. Certainly the fact he kept Jimmy around, despite the red-headed cub’s continual inability to read warning signs on bottles and boxes, showed a strong sense of unconditional love. (Let’s ignore, for now, the Superman-is-a-dick jokes.)

    In a more spiritual sense, back in the 60s, Superman always seemed to be the father to all his readers. Batman was more of an uncle-figure to the audience, with Robin fitting the bill for ‘cousin’.

    We were all so much younger then…

  • Chris G says:

    This Young Animal thing seems to be trying much too hard.