Someone take my quotation mark keyboard key away from me.

§ February 9th, 2015 § Filed under superman § 11 Comments

SPOILERS for Superman #38 to follow:

So this issue contained two big events in the history of the Man of Steel: first, the acquisition, or, rather, revelation of a new power (the ability of expel all the solar radiation in his cells at once, creating a big explosion and hopefully not giving everyone in the immediate area cancer), and second, finally revealing to his best pal Jimmy Olsen that he and Clark Kent are one and the same.

I’m okay with both of these things, which I’m sure the powers-that-be at DC are relieved to hear. When I first heard “new power,” I figured it’d be some crazy thing that’d be around for a couple of issues until plot machinations or creative team forgetfulness/disdain did away with it. I mean, they still might, but it’s nice that the new power is explained as a natural extension of how we understand Superman’s powers to work. Plus, it has that Space Battleship Yamato/”wave motion gun” effect of Superman only getting one shot at using it before having to wait a day for his “solar batteries” and superpowers to recharge. (It also reminds me a little of the nova blast power of the Fantastic Four’s Human Torch.)

And regarding Jimmy…well, there’s not a lot to say about that other than it’s sort of about time. The issue’s been brought up before, as I recall, particularly in the Silver Age, where Jimmy would say something along the lines of “it’s best I don’t know Superman’s secret identity, so that his enemies don’t use me to get to him!” Again, it’s a change that can be undone in short order, but I’m looking forward to seeing the repercussions of Jimmy sort of taking the position of “normal person confidant” that Lois held in the pre-New 52 universe.

Now, I said I’m “okay” with this, but…well, this is kind of the weird aspect to it, in that I’m sort of not “feeling” the full impact of these changes. This New 52 Superman still doesn’t quite feel like the “real” Superman to me, which is a completely ridiculous thing to think about a comic book character, but there it is. Of course, then you have to ask, well, who is the real Superman, and there’s no good answer to that, either. Superman’s undergone enough changes/soft reboots/full-on reboots over the years: the Golden Age Superman certainly feels different in tone from the Silver Age Superman, and 1970s/early ’80s Superman is a different animal from the previous versions, and the the post-Crisis John Byrne start-from-scratch reboot is a whole other hoohar altogether.

But the thing about all those Supermen is that you can sort of feel a connecting thread through them all, that they were all drawing from the same essence-of-Superman well. Even the Byrne relaunch, though perhaps a bit on the rough side at first, eventually came ’round to feeling more Superman-ish, though perhaps that’s more due to 25+ years of dozens (hundreds?) of creators churning out lots of Superman material that, averaged out, gave us a recognizable modern Superman that outgrew his ’86 reboot.

The New 52 Superman seemed to break that thread, likely due to a seeming lack of a plan aside from “do something different,” giving us a character that sort of looked like Superman but didn’t really feel like him or act like him, and, aside from Grant Morrison’s entertaining efforts in early issues of Action Comics, didn’t really have much of interest going on in any of his comic book appearances. Of late, that’s changed for the better, as recent Superman-starring titles have had a reasonable increase in quality, and have gone a long way in rehabilitating Superman’s character in that he now sort of feels like the Superman we remember.

That said, this version of Superman (the New 52 version, which itself seems to have have a number of different sub-versions since the 2011 relaunch) doesn’t feel like he’s been around long enough yet for These Big Changes to have the impact they should have. There’s too significant a break between Superman Now and Superman That Has Come Before for these changes to feel like additions to the legend. Right now they just feel like “here’s something else different that we’re experimenting with for this Superman-like character we’re publishing while the real Superman is on hiatus.”

Totally not a fair thing to think, and honestly, I have been enjoying the Superman comics of late, and I do look forward to seeing how they’ll follow up…but man, what I wouldn’t give to have seen the Curt Swan-drawn Superman telling Jimmy he’s Clark Kent, and having it stick as part of the ongoing saga, and not as a dream, hoax, or imaginary story.

Oh, and there’s a third change to Superman, in that his New 52 costume is now mildly less terrible, though it still has that awful collar and there’s no forgiveness for that.

11 Responses to “Someone take my quotation mark keyboard key away from me.”

  • swamp mark says:

    is it just me or is his leg thinner than his arm? that’s a weird super power!!!!

  • And his head is a Pez dispenser!

  • Corey says:

    The new costume also has fingerless gloves built into the sleeves. So we have that to look forward to.

  • swamp mark says:

    pez dispenser!!!
    that’s hilarious

  • Rich H. says:

    Wow. That cover is AWFUL.

  • John says:

    Jay Leno Superman comes to mind. Great post

  • G23 says:

    JRJR is crazy over-rated.

  • D. Latta says:

    Its so weird to see JR JR working for DC.

  • This JRjr Superman deal was because he had an idea that he says would work for either of two characters, one from each of the Big Two publishers:
    SUPERMAN or… DOCTOR STRANGE – and whichever publisher jumped first would be the one he would do.

    With the possible exception of a few issues of Spider-Man during the JMS era. In which he actually drew Doc pretty nicely, JRjr’s recent work made me pray that DC would hop all over him like he was handing out free money.

    I felt as if I may be a bad fan, wishing away a possible grand return of my favorite character, but the idea of my eyes having to wash over JRjs’s sketchy, scratchy, disfigured artwork on a character who has been mistreated by Marvel for DECADES was too much to bear.

    I’m glad Jr’s concept seems to be working on Superman, as I am equally glad that Strange’s upcoming movie will bring forth a good creative team with a push by Marvel.


  • Adam Farrar says:

    At WonderCon in 2002, JR Jr said he was interested in working for DC and had reached out to them but they were only going to put him on a B-list title instead of Batman or Superman like he wanted. He explained to the crowd, he would rather stick with Spider-Man.

  • Snark Shark says:

    Why is Supes fighting Thor?

    “well, who is the real Superman”

    Christopher Reeves.