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The 'New 52' Superman: Hero or Enemy of the State?

The cover of Action Comics #2 and a look at the original Action Comics #1 reveals upcoming changes to the iconic character

For the last week or so DC Comics had been trickling out the covers and solicits to their October comics. First we got a look at DC's upcoming Batman titles, and then DC revealed the covers and solicits to their Justice League and Young Justice books. Yesterday we caught a glimpse at all the rest, including a few variant covers to the second issues of some of their biggest upcoming books. Probably the most interesting of the bunch, however, has to be the second issue to Grant Morrison and Rags Morales' Action Comics #2.

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We know that with all the new 52 #1's the DC Universe is set to undergo some massive changes, but the character that seems to be getting the biggest face lift also happens to be the face of DC Comics. Yesterday we talked about the two costumes DC is giving Superman; one full outfit fully equipped with a belt and a cape, and another very Superboy-esque look with a shorter cape, blue jeans and a t-shirt. But that's the least of Superman's upcoming changes.

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Action Comics #2
Action Comics #2

According to a recent announcement, in the new Superman revamp, fans will witness Clark Kent the bachelor. That's right, that Superman and Lois Lane marriage never happened starting this September. Oh, and that's not all. The Superman we'll be reading in the upcoming Action Comics series will focus on Superman's history as a youth as well as his struggle to control his powers.

[Action Comics will focus on a] younger, more brooding" Man of Steel adjusting to his adopted homeworld. His powers are still in development at this point, as he "can leap tall buildings but can't fly in space."

This might explain the crazy new cover to the second issue where Supes is seen strapped to an electric chair which will leave you wondering whether Superman in Action Comics #2 is more enemy of the state than he is the protector and superhero we know him to be. While all of DC's major characters will be getting a little bit of a revamp, the most prominent seems to be Superman whose entire identity is seemingly shifting. So why all the changes to Superman? DC's co-publishers Dan Didio and Jim Lee both discussed the changes to all of their characters in a recent interview with Newsarama, but more specifically, why they decided to change Superman. The answer? The same one DC's been dishing out since news of the revamp hit.

But we also wanted to get back to some of the grass roots of the character. And some of the best ways to do that is to really go back to the early days of the character, where you see him in his formative years, learning his powers, and learning how people react to him, as we'll be examining in Action Comics. But also, we want to re-examine his relationships, because we think there's a lot of fertile ground about him and the people he deals with."

Yet when asked whether or not the felt the character felt a little bit stale, Didio responded that indeed the character does feel a little bit "old."

I think in some cases, he felt a little old. We've made Superman such an iconic figure over the years that we've lost some of the character and the ability to tell stories with that character. There's so much continuity that's been built on this character. We really wanted to get a Superman that is more accessible to the audience...One of the reasons we did it with Superman is it was done once before, and very successfully. We're hoping for the same luck here.

In fact, Superman does indeed feel a little bit old, but that might be because he is old. 73 years old, to be exact. However, Superman hasn't been the same character for the last 73 years. Superman was first introduced in Action Comics #1 in 1938 and while the character has certainly evolved and changed more than one time throughout the years, (Golden Age, Silver Age, John Byrne's The Man of Steel), the relaunch of Action Comics #1 this September might be the biggest change the character has ever endured. And while DC might say that the changes are happening because the creators want to get to the characters "roots," it might have a little bit to do with what they aren't talking about, the loss of Superman's appearance in Action Comics #1 to the Siegel and Schuster estates.

Will Superman still have these powers?
Will Superman still have these powers?

A recent article over at Variety cited a report from the Columbia Journal of the Law and the Arts, the 7th Circuit of Appeals Judge Richard Posner's decision regarding the Superman case was influenced by the verdict of Neil Gaiman's suit against Todd McFarlane which was settled last July.

[The decision] ...Could provide the rationale for both parties to continue legally exploiting" Superman. Posner determined that Gaiman's "Medieval Spawn" was "sufficiently distinct" to justify a separate character copyright from the original Spawn.

Superman and Lois Lane no more?
Superman and Lois Lane no more?

You can read more details about the Neil Gaiman v. Todd McFarlane law suit here.What the ruling essentially comes down to is the fact that DC can continue to make Superman stories, but the stories they do make cannot be based on Superman's appearance in Action Comics #1. Which might be one reason why Superman is being completely reworked in Grant Morrison's Action Comics #1, set to release this September.

So what exactly do they have to change, and how much of the character will stay the same? Superman's first appearance in Action Comics #1 stated that he could "raise tremendous weights," and "run faster than an express train." Not only was it Superman's first appearance, it was also the first time Clark asked Lois Lane out on a date. And she accepted. We already know that those two won't be together in the upcoming new series, so what else do you think will change? Are you looking forward to Action Comics #1 this fall?