Digesting the New 52: Up, Up and Away!

12 10 2011

Action Comics #1

The biggest, most noticeable changes in the “New 52” center around Superman.  Superman is the original; the icon; the first superhero. And the powers-that-be have decided to reposition Superman as just that… or at very least the first superhero to operate publically.

Changing Superman’s continuity creates a multitude of problems. Kal-El has always been at the center of the DC Universe, and any change in his status creates ripples all over the place. And, as we quickly learn the changes go a lot deeper than not being married to Lois anymore, and getting a shiny new costume.

Action Comics is considered one of the cornerstones of the relaunch. Set in the past, it focuses on Clark Kent’s earliest adventures as Superman. Donning a cape and a t-shirt with his signature ‘S’ shield on the front, along with a pair of jeans and work boots, this is a very rough-around-the-edges Man of Steel. His powers haven’t fully developed, so he’s “leaping tall buildings in a single bound” rather than flying. And instead of fighting super villains, he’s taking on corrupt politicians, businessmen, and fat cats who are typically “above the law.” It’s an interesting take on the character, as Clark is immature, idealistic, and prone to mistakes. That said, he comes across as more vigilante than hero, and it’s a little uncomfortable reading a Superman that’s less than the iconic ideal. I’m interested, though, and that’ll keep me reading for a few more issues at least!

Superman #1

Superman is set in the present day DCU, and gives a better look at the new status quo. Clark Kent is still working for the Daily Planet, which has been bought out by a multimedia corporation operated by Morgan Edge. There’s a bit of tension as the Planet staff don’t know exactly what to expect in the world of new media. Lois Lane has moved over to head up the internet news division, and Clark does not approve of this decision. Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, and the rest of the supporting cast are around in some form or another.

As mentioned before, Clark and Lois are no longer together. To put it more accurately, they were never together to begin with. On the one hand, it’s a clean slate and readers will be able to watch their relationship develop from the ground up, but on the other it’s a shame to see a romance that has gone on in some form since 1938 completely erased. Also, Superman has a new costume, with no underwear on the outside. It’s also noticeably shiny, as if it were a form of armor complete with kneepads. I’m not sure why an indestructible guy needs kneepads, but supposedly all will be explained.

Superboy and Supergirlare fresh but not entirely new take on the characters. As with the most

Superboy #1

recent take on the character, Superboy is the clone of Superman with some mystery DNA in the mix. He’s been grown in a laboratory by an unknown organization with unknown motives. The experiment is considered a failure, and Superboy is ordered to be terminated. Thanks to the actions of a sympathetic scientist, he is able to escape.

Supergirl sticks to her traditional origins, with a few minor tweaks. She’s Kara Zor-El, a survivor of Krypton and Superman’s cousin. Unlike Kal-El, who was rocketed from Krypton as an infant, Kara is a teenager, and has memories of living and growing up on the doomed planet. Unlike her cousin who grew up here, Earth is a totally alien world to Kara, and she really doesn’t know what to make of it.

Supergirl #1

While Superboy was a solid read, it was Supergirl that I found to be more compelling. I think either would be great for young readers, and more likely to connect with tweens and teens than either Action or Superman. As for myself, I’ll stick with Action Comics for a while, and I’m sorely tempted to pick up a few more issues of Supergirl.

Next time: A look at the Justice League and Legion of Super-Heroes titles!

– dEV

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