How I Would Have Done It: New 52 Superman by Jerry Whitworth
With DC Comics reinventing itself again with the so-called new 52 following Flashpoint, they had the opportunity to inject new life and story elements into properties that a softer approach like Infinite Crisis and Final Crisis failed to present. The result was mixed: initially boosting sales, after months of publication the result was sales essentially the same as before the change (while angering many fans in the process, most recently with the WTF Certified month of releases). Perhaps a different approach could have offered better results and so I offer my own interpretation. To start with, lets take a look at Superman where his new 52 version has largely been altered to try and separate the character from its perception as a “boy scout.”
Featuring the earliest adventures of Superman in Metropolis, the Man of Steel has to come to terms with his role as the savior of mankind as the Earth’s first superhero. Essentially wiping out crime in the big city, new challenges arise as Superman has to deal with the terrorist organization SKULL, criminal organization Intergang and its allies on Apokolips, psychopaths like Toyman, Prankster, Puzzler, and Master Jailer, and former childhood acquittance Lex Luthor, media mogul of Metropolis, and his underlings Bizarro, Metallo, and the Parasite. Despite the good Superman brings the world, he nonetheless has to consider the toll his presence has on Earth attracting the attention of intergalactic threats like Mister Mxyzptlk, Brainiac, Mongul, and Darkseid. These early tales reveal the secrets of Supergirl, the Legion of Super-Pets, Fortress of Solitude, Bottle City of Kandor, and Superboy.
He’s conquered death and battled gods, but Superman faces his greatest challenges as newly wed to girlfriend reporter Lois Lane and father to foster son Chris Kent. Once feared by the people of Earth, Superman is now embraced as the planet’s savior and must live on the pedestal this places him upon. His childhood acquittance and present arch-nemesis Lex Luthor earned the presidency of the United States, the covert Suicide Squad advancing his private agendas and an alliance with Apokolips lines up Superman’s greatest enemies against him. The Man of Steel still needs to find time for threats like Manchester Black and the Elite, mutual foe of Brainiac in Grax, the time-traveling King Kosmos, and the godlike Dominus. Along with ongoing foes like Cyborg Superman, Gog, Maaldor the Darklord, and Lord Satanis, Superman must face a virtual army of threats that endanger the very Earth itself.
When Clark Kent was just discovering his newfound powers in his teenage years, visitors from the future enlist his aid as Superboy in the future as part of the Legion of Super-Heroes battling the likes of the Fatal Five, the Light, Legion of Super-Villains, Mordru, Universo, Doctor Regulus, and Darkseid. An idol of trillions, Superboy has little time to learn how to employ his abilities in front of cameras that stretch the cosmos as a super-celebrity. But jaunts into the thirtieth century only make up one part of Superman’s past as Superboy is introduced to the small community of Smallville interacting with tomboy Lana Lang, comic book nerd Pete Ross, and angry yet brilliant loner Lex Luthor. We also get to observe Clark Kent’s earliest interactions with Metron, Martian Manhunter, and Mon-El.
Superman’s cousin and sole survivor of Argo City, Kara Zor-El has made a life for herself attending Metropolis University under the identity Linda Lee splitting her free time from adventuring into the future with the Legion of Super-Heroes (taking the place of her cousin Superboy who graduated to become Superman) and battling the villainous Council led by Lex Luthor’s niece Nasthalia Luthor (her scarred face an everlasting symbol of her hatred of the Maid of Steel). Kara’s complicated life is eased with friends like Draaga (survivor of Warworld and founder of Metahuman Brawl), Matrix (incomplete clone of Supergirl), Steel (niece of the original Steel), Cir-El (Superman’s daughter from the future), and Power Boy (Orion’s son). What may not be so easy is juggling the affections of Brainiac 5, Power Boy, and Jimmy Olsen.
Clone of Superman and Lex Luthor made by Project Cadmus, Conner Kent lives as the cousin of Clark Kent under the roof of Jonathan and Martha Kent in Smallville, Kansas where he attends Smallville High (with Civics teacher Lana Lang), works at Multiversity (Pete Ross’ comic shop), and raises rambunctious canine Krypto. When he’s not busy doing all of this, he adventures with the Teen Titans (of which he was a founding member), helps out Superman and Supergirl in Metropolis, and evades the US government’s Squad K (including Kenny Braverman, junior agent Conduit, who infiltrated Smallville High) who want Superboy in order to make an army of Supermen. The youth’s life is that much more complicated by the presence of reoccurring characters like girlfriend Miss Martian, Vril Dox (aka Brainiac 2), Dev-Em (rebellious Kryptonian from the future), the malevolent fifth dimensional imp Zyx, DNAlien Dubbilex, fledgling mage Yellow Peri, Match (Superboy’s imperfect clone), and Alexis Luthor (Lex Luthor’s ancestor from the thirtieth century).
Superman and Batman, Earth’s greatest heroes, team against threats they can’t handle alone facing the likes of Doctor Zodiac, Moonman and Lady Lunar, Composite Superman, and the teaming of their greatest separate enemies led by the Joker and Luthor. While not precisely the best of friends, Batman and Superman recognize each other as the progenitors of a dynasty where it’s important their “families” learn to operate in tandem, starting at the top with the two heroes (while realizing they make a good team). Essentially representing the light and darkness, combining their separate approaches makes the pair virtually unstoppable which means the threats to face the duo should follow along this line in being seemingly insurmountable.
While featuring stories of Superman, Supergirl, and Superboy, the focus of the series in upon supporting members of the Superman family and heroes of Metropolis like Nightwing and Flamebird, Black Lightning and his daughters Thunder and Lightning, Steel and Steelworks, Booster Gold, Cyborg, Thorn, Eradicator, Alpha Centurion, Project Cadmus, the Special Crimes Unit, Agent Liberty, and Ambush Bug. As an anthology comic, the title offers insight into the changes in Metropolis, Kandor, and Smallville through the eyes of the various players featuring guest creative teams set to tell a finite story in brief chapters.
A team-up title for the Superman family, it could feature adventures like Superman and Starman or Sandman, Supergirl and Batgirl or Wonder Girl, Superboy and Nightwing or Air Wave, Chris Kent and Damian Wayne or Lian Harper, and many more. The series offers an opportunity to give a look at the new and revised heroes of Earth as well as test the waters for new series based upon them. It also offers creators the opportunity to work on characters they otherwise didn’t yet have a chance to play with or produce another chapter for characters they’re known for their work upon.
A mini-series telling the story of Krypton in its final days, we learn the blight their world has had on its galaxy through its attempts to play God including accidentally unleashing Doomsday on neighboring worlds and empowering the barbaric warrior race of the Khund. In trying to make up for their sins, an alliance is formed with worlds like Xudar, Terminus, and Aegena in the United Planets to stop the advancing Khund hordes. The results prove disastrous when the alliance runs afoul of Apokolips bringing the New Gods to Krypton. What measures can the brothers of the House of El Jor-El and Zor-El do to stop the advancing Darkseid-enslaved military guild of Krypton led by General Zod and prevent the destruction of their world? And why does the dread despot of Apokolips desperately desire the infant Kal-El?