By: Jon M. Wilson
The first month of The New 52 has come to a close, and the first issue of the premiere Superman title gives us a huge new set of changes for the world surrounding our Man of Steel. This column will look at what we learn from about Superman and all characters who wear an S on their chests, from every book in the New DCU. This week, I’ll be focusing on Superman’s appearance in his own featured title, Superman #1, as well as his guest spot in Justice League Dark #1. I’ll then follow-up with Superboy’s cameo at the end of Teen Titans #1.
Superman #1 opens with the destruction of the Daily Planet building that has stood for almost two centuries. Superman fans who know their Golden Age history will know that Superman originally worked for the Daily Star, and that this was changed without explanation to the Daily Planet around the time that 1939 was becoming 1940. In the new history, we know that Clark originally worked for the Daily Star in competition with the Daily Planet, and now we see the Daily Planet’s original facilities being demolished as they take up residence in a new building under the auspices of Morgan Edge and Galaxy Communications, who have recently bought the Planet out. Joined together in one publishing initiative known as the Planet Global Network.
Clark is very much not a fan of the new partnership, as Galaxy’s publications, Newstime and the Globe, have been cited on numerous occasions of illegal tactics to get news out the door. We see Clark holding two covers up, one that is anti-Superman and another that vaguely seems to show Luthor as Man of the Year. Edge is new to the CEO job, though, taking over for Glenmorgan, who we saw being hassled by Superman five years ago in Action Comics 1.
A big deal is made by several people in the story about the fact that Superman is back in town. Where has he been recently and for how long? Could it be as simple as blowing off steam for a few days after his argument with Lois? Or was the argument with Lois just earlier that day, after Clark’s return to town? OR, was Clark in town and just not being Superman for a few days/weeks for reasons unknown? As far as the traveling question goes, we saw him in Louisiana in Swamp Thing #1, but that wasn’t really a trip that I would think would take up a lot of his time. Neither was the trip that we’ll be discussing below in Justice League Dark #1, which appears to have been to somewhere in the Midwest. On a continuity note, though, the Swamp Thing story did picture Clark working out of the old Daily Planet building, so that story definitely precedes this one. The placing of Justice League Dark is not yet clear.
While I’m speaking of continuity, we see the alien blowing a horn in this book that we heard about in Stormwatch #1. Oddly, the scene seems to really have nothing to do with the rest of the issue. At this point, it seems like a rather odd way to connect the two issues. Hopefully, the plots will continue to intertwine down the road. Otherwise, this might qualify for the running to be the cheapest crossover gimmick I’ve ever seen.
Superman gives us our first look at super breath in The New 52 era. I don’t really expect his power set to be any different from before, but it is the first time we’ve seen it. Also, Jimmy makes the comment that Superman still seems to be on the increase in his power growth, though that may be subjective on his part.
The fire creature seems to utter the word “Krypton” at some point while fighting Superman. This is probably a seed for future developments, but it is worth noting that by this point in his life, Clark is aware of his Kryptonian roots. I may have forgotten to mention it last time, but when Superman greets Supergirl at the end of her first issue, he does so in Kryptonian. His discovery of his origins is a story we have yet to read in Action Comics.
On the personal side of Clark’s life, he seems to be good friends with Lois. They may have dated at one point or maybe not. Lois has a new boyfriend, Jonathan Carroll , and she denies to him that she and Clark were ever intimate. That might be a white lie on her part to stay smooth with the new boyfriend, but I’m going to take her words at face value for now. On the other hand, their friendship has certainly been close enough that Clark felt okay going over to her apartment unannounced. And we definitely get a sense of rejection from him when he sees Jonathan and leaves, listening with his super-hearing as they talk about him behind his back. Lois also displayed a complete lack of understanding when Clark questioned the ethics of the Planet getting in bed with Galaxy. Combine that with Clark’s rejection of Lois’s old Action News anchor position when Edge offered it (because his face would get too much publicity), and Clark seems to be in a rather sad and dejected place in life right now.
What about the supporting cast? We already talked about Lois’s new boyfriend. She is also the new executive producer of PGN’s nightly news division and executive vice-president of new media. Jimmy Olsen is still taking photos but also has a partner, assistant, or girlfriend (exactly which, remains unclear) named Miko, who, by the way, is on Twitter. Jimmy also works with a helicopter pilot named Morrie to help him get his shots. The news copter has so far NOT been referred to as the “flying newsroom” (thankfully). Perry White still handles the newspaper, but he now reports to a PGN exec named Ms. Izquierdo, or “Izzy”. AND (and this is cool) Ron Troupe is still working for the Planet. I am hoping that Pérez or Giffen makes use of him down the road and didn’t just name-drop him to name-drop him. We also have Billy McCoy taking over Lois’s former anchoring position for the television news branch of what is now PGN. McCoy used to be a pundit of questionable repute, so his replacement of Lois is a rather interesting decision to me. Not sure how that managed to happen. And finally, we have Lieutenant Casey, who also appeared in Action Comics #1. At the time, I thought it was a clever name-drop of Golden Age police officer Sgt. Casey, but it appears that he will be a regular cast member, which makes me happy as a Golden Age Superman fan. The Flashpoint woman appears off to the side at the PGN unveiling banquet, though of course no one seems to notice.
Justice League Dark #1 portrays several different magical events that all stem from a magical maelstrom cooked up by the Enchantress, and Superman moves in with the Justice League (i.e., Wonder Woman and Cyborg) to stop her at an isolated cabin. Superman is not as tentative around magic as we might expect. It’s not explicitly said that this is Superman’s first encounter with magic, but it kinda reads like that. It might just be that all the heroes are relatively inexperienced and that Superman isn’t yet as weary as he should be around such things. This scene is also notable for being the first portrayal of the modern Justice League, and they are rather stunning to look at, especially the coloring on Superman’s modern suit (and Wonder Woman’s too, for that matter).
Teen Titans #1 focuses primarily on Kid Flash, Red Robin, and Wonder Girl, but we do learn a bit more about Project N.O.W.H.E.R.E. First of all, we get our first on-the-page description of the clandestine international organization as one that tracks and abducts young metahumans, corroborating part of what Scott Lobdell told us at SDCC. We also find out that the lab where Superboy is doing his VR experiments is “half a world away” from New York City. Zaniel Templar confronts Tim Drake and offers him clemency in exchange for cooperation, and it is when this confrontation goes south that Templar goes to the lab and calls for the mobilization of Superboy. The issue also gives us a panel that just might be Luthor doing a television piece about Aliens in America. We know very little about the New 52 Luthor so far, but his disdain for extraterrestrials that we saw in Action Comics #1 is the sort of thing I can see him going on TV to talk about.
As for the rest of The New DCU, we do have one mention of Superman in I, Vampire #1. Mary, Queen of Blood, has decided that vampires deserve to take over the world, and she longs to feed on super-heroes. So she plans to lead her armies against Superman and all the rest. I’d love to see Superman fight these new vampires. Also, on a recanting note, the line from Hawk and Dove #1 that I mentioned a couple of posts back turns out to NOT have been a reference to THE Crisis with a capital C. Dan DiDio has said that no universe-altering Crisis events have transpired. So, whatever events surrounded Don’s death, that Hawk considers to be “the worst crisis the world has ever seen”, were something other than Crisis on Infinite Earths as we know it.
From this point forward, this column will be biweekly. Each installment will take a look at a Superman book and a Superteen title, as well as any related team books as they come along.
So, next time: Action Comics #2: Superman in chains; and Superboy #2: Alien prison break!
And next month: Superman #2: Invisible Threat!