Over the weekend, DC Comics finally lifted the lid on Rebirth, its rapidly incoming creative reshuffle that sees a plethora of new series and changes coming to the DC roster. But one huge character was missing from these big announcements: Superman. Sort of. Kinda. Allow me to explain.
For those who’ve been following along with the world of Superman comics recently, you’ll know there’s actually two Supermen in continuity right now: First, the post-New 52 era Superman, as seen in Superman, Action Comics, and virtually ever other DC book to feature Superman. This is the main one, the one that’s been through all kinds of miserable hell in the last year, and recently got all of his powers and his costume back.
But, to quote a certain diminutive green Jedi, there is another. Also running around is an older, beardier Superman: the star of Superman: Lois & Clark, who is actually the old Superman from the comics before DC rebooted with the New 52 in 2011. He’s been hanging around in the background with his wife Lois and their son Jon, trying to stop Pre-52 Clark’s enemies from popping up to harass the Post-52 Clark.
Confused? You should be.
But maybe you’ll be less confused in Rebirth, because it seems like New 52 Superman is disappearing. None of the Superman comics announced as part of the event seemingly star the current iteration of Kal-El.
Let’s recap: Action Comics, reverting to its old number run, will be the continuation of Superman: Lois and Clark, starring the Pre-52 Superman.
The Superman ongoing also features this Superman, given that Lois and Jon are on the cover, and he’s tearing off his Superman: Lois and Clark black suit to reveal the classic one underneath.
Then there’s Super-Sons, which DC confirmed as featuring Pre-52 Superman’s son Jon on the cover, as well as the classic Superman (note the lack of a collar on the suit, and the spit curl hairstyle—compare it to New 52 Superman’s current suit, which you can see in the header image).
The other two covers that Superman featured on in the Rebirth reveal, Justice League and Trinity, also feature the no-collar, spit-curled Superman, indicating that it’s the Pre-52 character rather than the New 52 incarnation:
The only other Superman comic revealed was The New Super-Man, which features neither version of Clark, but a new character that somehow gains Superman’s powers.
The New 52 Superman is missing from all of these titles. He’s nowhere to be found in Rebirth so far.
What’s brought this on? After all, these two Supermen were meant to meet in Superman #50 this month, but the story was changed a few weeks before the issue went to print—and the fabled meeting between the old and new Clarks never happened. Is that because there are different plans for the New 52 Superman? Is he going away for good, or becoming something else, allowing the classic Superman to step in and take his place? DC has teased that Rebirth is about bringing back some of the legacy of DC’s pre-New 52 comics. What better way to do that than to replace the “new” Superman with the ones fans had been reading about since Crisis on Infinite Earths?
A bunch of these also feature Lex Luthor in some kind of Superman armor... and if Lex is running around trying to be Superman alongside the classic Supes, then it paints a pretty ugly picture for the future of the New 52 Superman. Maybe even one where he’s dead! Poor guy. A year of getting beat up, and then he’s killed off just as he gets all his powers back.
Either way, we’ll find out more soon if the New 52 Superman’s days are well and truly numbered—Rebirth begins May 25th with a special introductory comic.