Superman has been going through some big changes recently. He gained a new solar flare power in Superman #38. This left him powerless for twenty-four hours as his body needed to recharge. Next he started to lose his powers, and it was unclear whether the two were related. Superman wasn't as strong as he used to be and could no longer fly. If this wasn't bad enough, a new enemy known as Hordr_Root discovered his secret identity and started to blackmail him. Hordr_Root wanted to force Superman to unleash his solar flare so the energy could be absorbed (and used for evil purposes, of course). Lois Lane decided to take away Hordr_Root's hold over Superman and revealed Superman's identity to the world.
There will be some spoilers for Superman #49 and Action Comics #49.
While trying to adjust to his new situation, Superman discovered many felt betrayed that an alien was secretly living a normal life among them. They saw his Clark Kent persona as a huge lie. The good news for Superman is he’ll soon be getting his powers back. The solicitation for March's Superman #50 mentions we'll see "the Man of Steel back to full power."
Superman has figured out what the problem is. A layer of cells in his body has mutated and he is no longer able to absorb energy from Earth's yellow sun. This has been his source of power since he first arrived on Earth. He came up with a theory that could solve his power problems. By exposing himself to deadly Kryptonite, the mutated cells would be wiped away and give him the ability to power up once again.
With the help of Steve Trevor, Superman gains access to A.R.G.U.S.' supply of Kryptonite. Just as he's about to fully expose himself to the Kryptonite, the place is attacked by one of Superman's enemies. Trevor and Etta Candy fight off the Puzzlerbot as Superman crawls into what feels like his crypt. Kryptonite normally drains Superman completely. Exposure could be deadly and Superman is taking a big risk.
The results were as you might have expected.
Superman survives the exposure and is re-powered. Flying out of the container of Kryptonite, he easily takes on the Puzzlerbot.
Of course it won’t be that easy for Superman. There will be repercussions and not everything is as it seems. While using his strength, there is some pain and his blood feels like it's boiling. The Kryptonite is burning away the poisoned cells, but his mutated ones aren't quite dead yet. The mutated cells are fighting the Kryptonite by absorbing the energy. Superman is getting powered up but it's in a new and different way. Adding to this, the Kryptonite is also killing off his healthy cells.
What will this mean for Superman? He is able to fly again. He's stronger than he was before. Instead of having his super-hearing, he can feel transmissions and energy waves. The idea that the Kryptonite is killing off healthy cells and his body is absorbing the Kryptonite is concerning.
It was said he'd be back to full power, but would DC add a new twist by having his powers not be dependent on the sun? Will Superman need to expose himself to Kryptonite instead? That seems unlikely, but it was also unlikely we’d see his secret identity exposed to the world.
Superman's struggle to fully regain his powers isn't over yet, but he's several steps closer to the Superman we're all familiar with. You can find out more in this week's Action Comics #49.