Elseworlds and the conclusion of myth

In his pitch for the unproduced comics Twilight of the Superheroes, Alan Moore discusses the idea of comics not attaining true modern myth or legend status due to having to be open ended. That because the stories are continued every month, there really isn’t room for closure so the myth never has a conclusion. He compares it to the myths and legends of Robin Hood, King Arthur, and Davy Crockett. “You cannot apply it to most comic book characters because, in order to meet the commercial demands of a continuing series, they can never have a resolution. Indeed, they find it difficult to embrace any of the changes in life that the passage of time brings about for these very same reasons, making them finally less than fully human as well as falling far short of true myth”.

An example Moore uses of a comic doing this right is Frank Miller’s the Dark Knight Returns (1986). Given Moore wrote his pitch in 1987 and before the Elseworld imprint was invented or Miller created the Dark Knight Strikes Again (2001)or Dark Knight III the Master Race (2017), using Dark Knight Returns is more than ideal. It is set in a possible future where Batman had retired for years, before coming back and eventually “dying” in a fight with Superman. Bringing a satisfying conclusion to the Batman mythos. Had Dark Knight Returns been published post Gotham by Gaslight (1989) then perhaps we would refer to it as an Elseworld story for how much it has in common with alternate reality stories.

I believe a reason why Elseworld stories can be so satisfying is because, much like how Moore describes Dark Knight Returns, they provide a conclusion to a story for the most part. In Superman: Red Son (2003), Superman’s rocket lands in the Ukraine rather than Kansas. He grows up to be Russia’s hero rather than Americas, he eventually becomes a dictator and controls Russia, before ‘dying’ protecting the Earth from Brainiac. In the Batman & Dracula trilogy, Dracula invades Gotham, Batman becomes a vampire to stop him and the other vampires, he eventually dies when he’s no longer needed. JLA Act of God, the Justice League suddenly lose their powers and have to adapt to an ordinary life. Some eventually accept their new role, with Clark and Diana having a son at the end.

Regardless of their quality, Elseworld stories do provide something that main continuity can’t give you. Closure and a complete myth. Perhaps the best example would be the fantastic Kingdom Come (1996), which takes a lot of ques from Moore’s Twilight of the Superheroes. In universe, the heroes we know have already disappeared into myth and legend, before coming back for an epic battle. At the end, they are once again seen as myths and legends, with Clark and Diana about to have a child, with Bruce as godfather, giving rise to another generation of heroes. Despite the fact that it does take influence from Moore’s work, it’s possible that he would have seen Kingdom Come as the ultimate example of a complete mythology with DC Superheroes.

Bibliography:

  • Miller, F. (1986) The Dark Knight Returns. DC Comics: Burbank
  • Moore, A. (1987) Twilight of the Superheroes: The Interminable Ramble. [Online] Archive. Available from: https://archive.org/stream/TwilightOfTheSuperheroes/TwilightOfTheSuperheroes_djvu.txt [Last accessed: 31.08.2019]
  • Augustyn, B. & Mignola, M. (1989) Gotham by Gaslight. DC Comics: Burbank.
  • Moench, D. & Jones, K. (1991) Batman & Dracula: Red Rain. DC Comics: Burbank
  • Moench, D. & Jones, K. (1994) Batman: Bloodstorm. DC Comics: Burbank
  • Waid, M. & Ross, A. (1996) Kingdom Come. DC Comics: Burbank.
  • Moench, D. & Jones, K. (1998) Batman: Crimson Mist. DC Comics: Burbank.
  • Miller, F. (2001) Dark Knight Strikes Again. DC Comics: Burbank.
  • Moench, D. & Ross, D. (2001) JLA: Act of God. DC Comics: Burbank.
  • Millar, M. & Johnson, D. (2003) Superman: Red Son. DC Comics: Burbank.
  • Miller, F. & Azzarello, B. (2017) Dark Knight III: The Master Race. DC Comics: Burbank.
Advertisements

Overthinking the DC Multiverse, String Theory, and Dimensional Perspective

I’ve been giving some thought to how Grant Morrison tells his stories. How he thinks about meta-narratives, the nature of time, and the fourth wall. Granted, some of it comes in to my own research, but there is something specifically interesting about Morrison even outside my research. I’ve found myself looking at his map of the multiverse and considering it as though it were real. That sounds kind of stupid, of course it’s real. You can Google it and print it off, or just pick up a copy of Multiversity and take a look at it there. But I started to consider it in the way that I imagine Morrison does.

The first thing to notice about the map is the presence of 52 Earths in the centre. The number 52 comes up often in DC lore and does frequently refer to there being 52 different realities. Earth 0 is New Earth, where the New 52, and now Rebirth universe takes place, Earth 1 is where the stories of Superman: Earth One by J. Michael Straczynski, Batman: Earth One by Geoff Johns, and Wonder Woman: Earth One by Grant Morrison take place, as well as the other Earth One titles. Earth 5 is the home of Captain Marvel, the original name for the hero now known as Shazam and a send up to the Pre-Crisis Earth S. Earth 11 is gender-bent. Earth 22 is the world seen in Kingdom Come, Earth 43 is the world seen in Batman & Dracula: Red Rain, so on and so forth. But what is important to remember here is that while they are represented as planets within this space, they are actually the universes those stories take place in. Within each of those “worlds” on the map, there are other planets and galaxies. So, while they are represented as singular entities, they are actually far more grant and complex than you would imagine. Almost symbolic of the map as a whole.

During the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, and obviously Pre-Crisis, there were more than just 52 earths. As previously stated, Earth 5 previously existed as Earth S Pre-Crisis, before being rolled into the then New Earth. The point of Crisis on Infinite Earths was to roll all of their separate universes into one cohesive continuity. Though this was later broken again years later, see Infinite Crisis. What is interesting to note though is that this Map of the Multiverse could have existed even then. In the Tenth Issue of Crisis on Infinite Earths, the narrative at the bottom of the page states;

“On the planet Adon, five youths known as The Forever People used their powers to protect their adopted world from destruction. Across the dimensions, their pursuer, Darkseid the destroyer, cloaked only Apokolips from harm.”

On Morrison’s Multiverse Map, Apokolips and New Genesis both exist outside of the centre point. Separate from the “worlds”, which we will address shortly.

This collection of “worlds” is addressed here as the “Orrery of Worlds”.  This is due to how the Monitors see the worlds, and given their collective status here, it is the most appropriate term.

Between each of these “worlds” is space known as “The Bleed”. If we were to think visualise each of the “worlds” as marbles in a bowl of jelly. Then the jelly would be The Bleed. The space in-between each of the “worlds” in order to keep them separate. But this Bleed doesn’t seem to be solid, comparing it to something like jelly might actually be appropriate. As there have been times when “worlds” have collided or partly phased into each other. Take Convergence. The main plot of the event is that different cities from across the multiverse were bottled, then made to battle each other to see who would survive. Clearly movement between these “worlds” is possible. Morrison even lists the different types of ships the Monitors use to cross the Multiverse. A more direct example of bleed travel would come from the abilities of The Flash.

The Flash’s ability to move between universes possibly comes from the fact that the very thing containing the worlds and the Bleed is the Speed Force Wall. The very force that the Flash taps into. The Flash’s abilities stem largely from vibration. Using his speed to change the molecular vibrations within him, he can perform some interesting moves such as Quantum Tunnelling, the ability to move through solid objects, as well as travel through time and other universes. The idea of molecular vibrations has a strong connection to the real-world principle of String Theory. To grossly oversimplify, String Theory states that the smallest molecules that make up matter are themselves made up of string. This string vibrates at different frequencies in order to determine what they are making up. Morrison makes note of this fact in the final act of Final Crisis. As Superman states before defeating Darkseid;

“The Worlds of the Multiverse vibrate together Darkseid and make this…. Sound, like an orchestra. Everything’s just frequencies, vibrations. And counter-vibrations that cancel them out.”.

How the Flash travels through The Bleed and to other Universes by manipulating his own vibrational frequencies to slip right through. A more advanced version of his quantum tunnelling. The speed force entrapping these “worlds” also explains how the Barry Allen Flash became trapped after the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths. Speaking of Crisis, it works to explain why Tuning Forks were needed to try to stabilise the worlds.

Beyond the Speed Force Wall lies the Sphere of the Gods layer. This as aptly named, as it sees eight more “worlds” above the previous 52. These are labelled as:

  • Nightmare
  • Skyland
  • New Genesis
  • Heaven
  • Dream
  • Underworld
  • Apokolips
  • Hell

Each of these “worlds” are inhabited by Gods, New Gods, Demons and Angels alike. Fittingly, given how these beings would be seen as being above regular man, it’s appropriate that their plane of existence would be higher than the Orrery. Apokolips and New Genesis we did address earlier, as during Crisis on Infinite Earths they were both protected. The world “Dream” is home to beings such as the Endless, Dream, Destiny, Death etc. “Skyworld” is home to the mythical gods, Asgard, Olympus, etc. “Hell” housing beings such as Etrigan and Trigon, and the “Underworld” can lead to the Kryptonian Phantom Zone. The North side of the sphere known as Order, while the lower as Chaos. As I’ve said, it makes sense that these worlds would be above the Orrery. These beings are Gods when compared to man. Beyond these, we find the Monitor Sphere. Those that watch over the Multiverse and are used within Crisis on Infinite Earths, and Final Crisis.

Holding the entire thing together is the Source Wall. This has recently been played with by the writer Scott Snyder in both his Justice League run, Justice League: No Justice, and Dark Nights Metal. Granted, Snyder has also been playing with a dark version of this map through Dark Nights Metal, and the Dark Multiverse. The source wall is said to be too high to scale, too wide to go around, and too low to crawl under. Essentially, it’s impenetrable from the inside. Beyond the wall is nothingness. Empty white space known as “The Source”. Given how Morrison thinks, I believe that “The Source” is the inspirations from the creators, readers and writers that made this multiverse. You can trace the inspiration of characters like Superman to circus strongmen and real-world mythology, Batman can be traced to Sherlock Holmes and possibly Dracula imagery. Just as the Gods of their multiverse are in a plain higher than the heroes and worlds, I believe we are in a level beyond “The Source”. It could stretch beyond that. Maybe “The Source” also includes other fictional multiverses. What if the Marvel universe had a similar map? One that could be placed alongside this map. Morrison’s map, while possibly not intentional, does show elements of “The Source” bleeding in towards the maps centre. Elements of outside fiction slowly influencing their worlds due to pop culture and writers’ tastes.

If you think of this model in a real-world aspect, who’s to say this isn’t how our world works? That we are a single world in a massive Orrery? Morrison has often played with the idea of perception. In Multiversity, where this map is also published, Captain Atom flips through a comic book and makes this comment;

“This story’s linear, but I can flip through the pages in any order. Any direction. Forward in time to the conclusion. Back to the opening scene. The characters remain unaware of my scrutiny, but their thoughts are transparent. Weightless in little clouds. This is how a 2-Dimensional continuum looks to you. Imagine how your 3-D world appears to me.”

In a 2-dimensional universe, one in this case that almost purely exists on paper, we do see it this way. We have full control of time, pacing and what we chose to acknowledge. What if something in the 4th or even 5th dimension views our reality this way as well? Are we secretly being spied on by Mr. Mxyzptlk or Bat-Mite? God, I hope not. But it’s an interesting proposition to make. Going the other way, could the fiction of the DC universe also be broken down this way? Does their fiction get as much attention in universe as theirs does in ours? Perhaps in some higher plain of existence, we are all just entries in a fan Wikipedia page. I bet you mine is a single paragraph or a redirect entry.

Bibliography:

  • Wolfman, M. & Perez, G. (1986) Crisis on Infinite Earths. DC Comics: Burbank.
  • Gaiman, N. et. Al. (1989 – present) The Sandman. DC Comics: Burbank.
  • Moench, D. & Jones, K. (1991) Batman & Dracula: Red Rain. DC Comics: Burbank.
  • Waid, M. & Ross, A. (1996) Kingdom Come. DC Comics: Burbank.
  • Johns, G. & Jimenez, P. (2006) Infinite Crisis. DC Comics: Burbank.
  • Morrison, G & Jones, J.G. (2009) Final Crisis. DC Comics: Burbank.
  • Straczynski, J. M. & Davis, S. (2010) Superman: Earth One. DC Comics: Burbank
  • Johns, G. & Frank, G. (2012) Batman: Earth One. DC Comics: Burbank.
  • King, J. & Van Sciver, E. (2015) Convergence. DC Comics: Burbank.
  • Morrison, G. et al. (2015) Multiversity. DC Comics: Burbank
  • Morrison, G. & Paquette, Y. (2016) Wonder Woman: Earth One. DC Comics: Burbank.
  • Snyder, S. & Capullo, G. (2017 – 2018) Dark Nights Metal. DC Comics: Burbank.
  • Snyder, S. & Manapul, F. (2018) Justice League: No Justice. DC Comics: Burbank.
  • Snyder, S. & Jirmenez, J. (2018 – Present) Justice League. DC Comics: Burbank.

Millennium (1987) by Englehart, Staton and Gibson

Post Crisis on Infinite Earths is a strange time for DC Comics. While continuity is reset, it’s also remembered by some of the characters involved. Millennium takes place shortly after Crisis, even involving Harbinger, a key figure in that story.

A Guardian from OA, and his Zamaron companion come to earth as the Millennium has come. Just as immortality and evolution came to their species, it is now time for Earth to undergo the same process. Ten humans have been chosen from different walks of life to ascend to a higher plain and attain immortality. However, the enemy of the Guardians, the Manhunters, have come to Earth and infiltrated many of Earth’s heroes’ friends and colleagues. While the Guardian and Zamaron travel the world collecting the chosen, it’s up to Earths heroes to defeat the Manhunters and protect the chosen. However, when their friends have been taken over by these androids, can they really trust each other?

Spanning across Eight issues, the story feels lacking in places. Heavily relying on tie-ins to fill in major details meaning that it feels like you are jumping from issue 1 to 3 even when going in order. it is relatively easy to fill in the gaps, but it feels like you’re only getting half the story. With a lack of trades, it means trying to track down the necessary issues.

Happily, the story does have a good amount of focus on none conventional heroes. Such as Captain Atom, Booster Gold, even the Floronic Man gets some focus as one of the chosen. It’s refreshing to see, and even provides some more incite into the Green Lantern Corps. Granted, it’s not as overwhelming as Crisis, it’s interesting to see this mix especially as a modern-day reader.

The concept is interesting and could have major potential. But for the stakes and gains, it feels like the pay off is very weak. It feels as though this should have had major ramifications, but it just seems to end. Perhaps reading it with the tie-ins would improve this but the core issues just feel lacking. Perhaps a modern revisit to this idea would have greater ramifications, but for it’s time, it’s an interesting cosmic tale.

Gotham by Gaslight (1989) by Brian Augustyn and Mike Mignola

Considered the first Elseworld story, Gotham by Gaslight is a what if story, setting Bruce Wayne and his antics as Batman to 19th Century Gotham, and pitting him against Jack the Ripper. Having travelled from London to continue killing.

Beginning as Bruce is finishing his travels and study in Europe, he travels back to Gotham City on a ship. He arrives back, and before long discovers that young woman is being murdered in the streets. He begins to don his Batman costume and tries to assist the police in the investigation, while also looking for his parent’s killer. However, the police suspect that Batman is in fact the killer, given that they showed up at the same time. It’s when evidence points to Bruce Wayne as the Ripper, he is imprisoned and must find a way to clear his name and take back to the streets as the Batman once again.

Mignola’s style fits the story like no other. His use of shadows is striking to truly sell that Victorian theme, and the grim associated with the Jack the Ripper killings. His costume is iconic. A steampunk interpretation of the classic Cape and Cowl. A striking new coat with a folded collar. The costume is both easily recognisable as Batman, while still feeling like a natural part of the period.

It’s incredibly refreshing to have a Batman story, especially an Elseworld take, without the Joker as a main figure. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t appear. Early on in the story, when Bruce visits Inspector Gordon where Gordon talks about the increase in crime. He uses an example that he has the flyer for on his desk. “Take this one. A real merry Widower. Wed old ladies then poisoned them. With Strychnine. Ten of them. Ten. Tried to kill himself when we caught him. The loon took some of his own poison. Not enough. Didn’t kill him, just paralyzed his face. Happy looking Jasper, eh?”. The image on the poster is heavily reminiscent of Conrad Veidt in 1928s The Man who Laughs. A silent romantic drama directed by German filmmaker, Paul Leni. The film has been cited as one of the key inspirations in the design of The Joker. The nod is small, but greatly appreciated and adds some greater detail to the world Gotham by Gaslight takes place in.

Interestingly, after Batman begins to act in Gotham City, during a party, policemen and officials are discussing how this “Bat-Man” could be the killer of late. In conversation, he is referred to as “Nosferatu”. The instant connection to make here, would be the 1922 film Nosferatu, it in itself a loose adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. However, Gotham by Gaslight takes place in 1889. Predating both Nosferatu and even the novel Dracula, which saw publication in 1897. The term ‘Nosferatu’ reportedly dates back as far as 1865, but primarily in German magazine publications. The use of the word in Gotham by Gaslight might draw on this, but it’s more likely that it’s referencing the film, despite the mismatching years. Never the less, the use of the reference here is more likely meant to evoke vampiric imagery in the readers mind, rather than outright talking about the film.

If the book has one downside, it’s that the villain is remarkably easy to guess from the first few pages. Making himself known and delivering his name with everything but a wink and a nod. However, it’s Batman we are here for, and watching Bruce figure it out and clear his name. Discover the mystery behind both the murdered woman, and the death of his parents. Gotham by Gaslight is worthy of its praise, and a fantastic kickstart to the Elseworld line.

In 2018, Gotham by Gaslight was adapted into an animated film. Taking its story from both Gotham by Gaslight and its sequel Master of the Future. It changes the killer’s identity, and thus the later half in itself is changed. Meaning that watching the film won’t spoil the book, and vice versa. But even with it’s small page count, the book is more entertaining and compelling. Though the film is also well done, with many small nods to mainstream continuity.

Reflecting on Evangelion – A Personal Statement

Today I sat and watched the 10 minute and 30 second teaser for Evangelion 3.0 + 1.0. It left me with a lot of questions of what to expect in the final film, though I doubt the ones I have will actually be answered. Mostly relating to what they did to Paris at the end of the clip, and the logistics of having spare parts for Unit 02 just underneath Paris. But what it really got me to think about was Evangelion as a whole.

I discovered Evangelion in 2004. A magazine series run by Manga Entertainment here in the UK released a new anime DVD every few weeks. Early on in that magazine was a copy of Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death and Rebirth. A few weeks later this was followed by The End of Evangelion. To the best of my knowledge this was one of the only UK DVD releases of The End of Evangelion. I was ill around the time both of these made it into my collection, and without any knowledge beyond the 4 pages of text that came with the discs, I sat and watched them. I was 11 and had no idea what was going on. But I enjoyed it. it intrigued me. I watched them again a few times hoping that I’d eventually understand what was going on. I sort of did. I knew that the pacing and structure of End of Evangelion made a lot more sense that Death and Rebirth. The reason for that? Death and Rebirth was a cut down version of 24 episodes of a television series, told out of order with some new footage as a refresher for those about to watch End of Evangelion. The more access to the internet I got, the more I learned about the TV series that spawned these two DVDs. I managed to track down all seven of the Platinum edition DVDs for the whole series and watched them back to back, finally getting what the hell Death and Rebirth was trying to explain.

Not long after engrossing myself in this world, in 2006 that is, the franchises creator announced the Rebuild of Evangelion project. Hideaki Anno wanted to retell Evangelion the way he had always pictured in. Wanted to do it his way without the budget problems of the original series, or the backlash of the films. I loved this idea. Maybe it would give me some of the answers I was looking for. Originally, the four films making up the Rebuild series were to be released by the early 2010s. It’s currently August 2019, and I’ve just seen teaser footage for the final film. Which given the track record, even if it came out at the end of this year, it probably wouldn’t see a UK release until 2022.

It’s strange to think of the Rebuild series finally coming to an end. Originally this was supposed to have finished around the time I’d finish High School. I now have a Batchelor’s and Master’s degree, I’m a visiting Lecturer in media studies, and about to start my PhD. Thinking back on it, studying Evangelion as a kid influenced my research style as an adult. Because of Evangelion, and my attempts to try and decode the series. I found myself looking at problems from different angles. I learnt more about authorial intent and the creative process. The cultural history of media, theology and existentialism. Just from being a goofy kid wanting to know what this random DVD was trying to say.

I’ll happily watch Evangelion 3.0 + 1.0 when it comes out. It will be interesting to finally see an end to this series. While I’m not as invested as I once was, I still have to admire the impact it has in my life.

Crisis on Infinite Earths

I’ve said before that it can feel deeply daunting to pick up and read Crisis on Infinite Earths. The sheer amount of information and mythology on display can be intimidating. Especially in retrospect as the stories impact can still be felt over 30 years later. The focus on multiversal stories and characters, the idea of the Monitors and stories on an epic scale. Crisis on Infinite Earths is a monumental moment in both superhero and comics history. It is difficult to get into, but the knowledge gained is completely worth the long journey.

The biggest hurdle to get past is the first two issues. That is where the main intimidation comes from. The issues start by visiting different Earths across the multiverse, with characters the reader might not be aware of, and the sudden impending threat that these Earths are being destroyed. The characters we do follow during these issues are completely new, taking the forms of Harbinger and Pariah. However, once you get past the first issue and a half, the plot becomes a lot easier to manage, as characters start to really stand out and add real weight to the events. Even newcomers like Harbinger and Pariah become deeply sympathetic.

At the beginning of time, the multiverse was created by accident. Thousands of alternate universes with different outcomes and characters. At this moment, both anti matter and matter universes were created. In the matter universe, a being came into existence that we come to know as the Monitor. A being that watches over the universes from his station. In the Anti-Matter universe, a companion being is born as well, a creature we know as the Anti-Monitor. The two beings warred for their own Matter to gain dominance, until they both became dormant. Thousands of years pass, when in one universe, a scientist known as Pariah wants to prove that the beginning of the universe can be observed. During his experiments, he accidentally awakens the Anti-Monitor, who uses this gateway to begin to destroy the matter universes. Tipping the balance of matter in his direction. This act awakens the Monitor who begins to observe the remaining universes, looking for champions to restore the balance and defeat the Anti-Monitor. For the crime of awakening the Anti-Monitor and setting this whole chain of events into motion, Pariah is forced to watch each universe fade away, and hear the screams of each world’s inhabitants. All of this is revealed over the course of the series 12 issues. With the first issue beginning as Pariah watches Earth-3 fall, that universes Lex Luther sending his only son through the multiverse to safety, and Harbinger (a girl rescued and raised by the Monitor) gathering the heroes selected by the Monitor.

Our core cast consists of characters across the different dimensions, this allows for two different versions of Superman to join the team (later joined by a third), as well as characters DC Comics had come to obtain through rights negotiations and wanted to fold into their main line universe. This led to characters like Blue Beetle, The Question, and the Marvel family (now better known as the Shazam family) being seen as true DC characters on the level of Batman or Wonder Woman. The story also allowed to clear up the continuity of comics. A reason two Supermen appear in the story, particularly at the beginning, is to make a clear definition between the Golden Age Superman from the 1930s (the one that also acted as Superboy in Smallville as a teenager) and the more modern take on the character. The way the characters were distinguished was in clearly showing the Earth-2, Golden Age, incarnation as being much older. Complete with grey temples. The stories focus on universes being destroyed, allowed Marv Wolfman, and DC as a whole, to decide what truly was in continuity. However, it also affected characters you wouldn’t expect, especially when viewing it in the modern day. Killing off the Barry Allen incarnation of The Flash, and Supergirl one issue after another. It’s not a sudden shock death for the sake of having a shock moment to pull in readers. Their deaths carried weight and meaning. Both of which dying heroic deaths for the sake of saving others. For the Flash, he used his speed to try to contain the power of the Anti-Monitor’s universe destroying machine. Running fast enough to travel through time and briefly appear to other characters before he finally disintegrates. The consequences of this cause Wally West to become the new Flash. A role he kept until the 2000s. Essentially becoming the Flash for an entire generation.

The story does introduce several characters that become wholly iconic with this event. That simply mentioning these characters summons the grand scale and ideas of Crisis on Infinite Earths. The most obvious being Pariah and Harbinger, but also the character of Alexander Luthor. At the beginning of the first issue, a good guy version of Lex Luthor manages to save his son from his Earths destruction in a very Superman-esc way. Sending the new-born through the void in a small rocket. He ends up in the care of Harbinger and the Monitor, where he begins to rapidly age to that of a teenager/young adult. The consequences of being sent through the universes mean that his body is somehow composed of both matter and anti-matter in perfect harmony. He becomes a valuable asset to the team, as he is able to transport the other heroes to the Anti-Monitor’s world. He also manages to use these powers to give the Earth-2 Superman a happy ending to his story, transporting him to a paradise void where he can live with his Lois Lane.

Even with the grand scale of the plot, there are a lot of little side details, like the Psycho Pirate being used to manipulate an entire Earth into feeling deep fear, as well as torturing The Flash for the Anti-Monitor.

The stories reach can be felt heavily in later years. Most noticeably in other ‘Crisis’ stories, such as Zero Hour: Crisis in Time, Infinite Crisis and Final Crisis. But it also stretches to other big event stories using the Multiverse in Flashpoint, Convergence and even the somewhat recent Multiversity and Dark Nights Metal. Zero Hour acts as a pseudo-sequel to Crisis as it involves alternate realities suddenly invading the main Earth, with a wave of nothingness, similar to the Anti-Matter wave, erasing entire historical ages through time. Infinite Earths is more of a direct sequel, with those in the paradise dimension, the Earth-2 Superman and Lois Lane, Alexander Luthor and Superboy-Prime, becoming angry with what the other survivors have done to the Earth. Given the state of the DC universe at the time of Infinite Crisis this is understandable. The recent murder of Maxwell Lord by Wonder Woman, Batman’s paranoia becoming so overwhelming to the point of creating contingency plans for all of his teammates and setting up the Brother Eye Satellite to watch everyone. As well as Superman just becoming less of an inspiration to people. Infinite Crisis shows the members of the Paradise dimension breaking free in order to confront the survivors, with Alex and Prime deciding that they want to create a perfect Earth, even if it means destroying existing worlds.

Final Crisis ties in much less then the others, but instead, Grant Morrison uses the elements set up by Crisis on Infinite Earths to tell his own story about the nature of linear storytelling. Using the Monitors and the multiverse to tie the plot together, though using Darkseid and his forces as the story’s villain. With Convergence, Multiversity and Dark Nights Metal, it’s all about exploring alternate worlds in different situations. In Convergence it’s them being collected and pitted against each other, Multiversity tells stories within those universes, and even them coming together in a similar fashion to Crisis. And Dark Nights Metal shows the dark side of the multiverse. Something DC plans to explore in their upcoming series Tales from the Dark Multiverse.

Crisis on Infinite Earths is an epic on a grand scale. One I don’t think has been matched by any story DC story since. The stories legacy is well earned, and its impact is still being felt. It can be intimidating to get into and does drag in the second half before the finale, but the experience is well worth the journey.

Superman by Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason Retrospective Part 1

Superman is a character than means a lot to me, one that I’ve known of my entire life thanks to the collective unconscious, but really entered my life towards the end of college and at the beginning of University. However, this coincided with the New 52. A point in time where, while Batman was doing great, Superman was far from interesting to me. It became a time of research, looking at classic stories and must reads such as Kryptonite Nevermore, Superman: Birthright, and Kingdom Come. When DC Rebirth was announced, I was on the fence about it, until the creative team for Superman was announced. Peter Tomasi on writing and Patrick Gleason on art. The only book I was adamantly reading during the New 52 was Batman and Robin, also written by Tomasi and Gleason. As the title suggests, Batman and Robin focused on Bruce Wayne and the newest Robin, his son Damian. The dynamic and drive of the book was the pair learning to really get along. Bruce trying to connect with his son, while Damian learns to curb his killer instincts and to be a better person. When Grant Morrison killed off Damian in Batman Incorporated, Tomasi and Gleason used the opportunity to examine Bruce’s grief into loosing yet another family, and eventually fighting through hell to resurrect the son he’d come to love. While it was overshadowed by Snyder and Capullo’s mainline Batman book, in my opinion, it was the best the New 52 had to off.

The announcement of a new Superman book, the idea of it focusing on him being a father, and the creative team of Tomasi and Gleason. That was a dream come true.

Background:

The Superman of the New 52 is not the same one we meet in Rebirth. DC treated the New 52 as an out and out reboot. A fresh start for all, with the exception of Batman. Who, according to Scott Snyder in a Fat Man on Batman podcast, was decided to largely keep the same but with a condensed timeline. The New 52 Superman came off as a little more brash, he had a working relationship with Lois, while instead dating Wonder Woman, a much blander pairing in honesty, as the dynamic isn’t as fun or enduring. Started off as a blogger before joining the Daily Planet. Developed a new power in the form of the ‘Solar Flare’, became the God of strength along with other Justice League members after fighting Darkseid, and finally died in The Final Days of Superman. However, it’s during both Convergence and The Final Days of Superman that we learn there is another Superman in the New 52 universe. This one is the Post-Crisis Clark Kent. The one that has existed from 1986’s Man of Steel by John Byrne, up until 2011’s Flashpoint event that created the New 52 universe.

During Convergence, we see different incarnations of characters interacting with each other, all fighting for survival. In the event tie-ins, specifically Convergence: Superman #1 and #2, we learn that among these different versions of characters are the Post-Crisis Superman and Lois Lane. While in the bottled cities of the story, Superman loses his powers, and he and Lois spend a year having a somewhat normal life. In this time, Lois even becomes pregnant with Clark’s child. However, as Lois is due to give birth, the events of Convergence kick in. Superman’s powers return, and the inhabitants of their city is forced to fight a city of people from the Flashpoint universe. While Superman does fight them off in order to protect Lois and his unborn child, it’s only with the help of Flashpoint Batman, Thomas Wayne, that his son is safely delivered. A half human, half Kryptonion boy they name Jonathan Samuel Kent.

When Convergence comes to an end, Superman, Lois and Jon are transported to the New 52 universe. Arriving during the New 52’s Justice Leagues formation. Their time in the New 52 Universe while that Superman was still active was chronicled in the miniseries Superman: Lois and Clark by Dan Jurgens and Lee Weeks. That is worth reading in itself, while short, it gives a lot of information and details as to how they do try and live an ordinary life, granted under pseudonyms, and how Clark just can’t stop himself from trying to do good. Donning a black suit, sans cape, with a silver emblem on his chest and a short beard. While the mini series comes to an end, Jon discovers that his father is Superman, and begins to learn about his own powers. Tomasi and Gleason’s run begins just as the New 52 Superman passes away, and the Post Crisis Superman steps up officially.

Superman: Rebirth One-Shot:

Every title from the beginning of Rebirth received a one-shot issue before the #1’s hit the shelves to try and explain where the series will be when it starts. Superman’s rebirth one-shot covered, all be it very briefly, everything I’ve just touched on in the background. It’s shown in a single page, while the rest of the issue shows the Post-Crisis Superman visiting the grave of his New 52 counterpart. While in the tomb, he comes across the New 52 Lana Lang. He needs to calm her at first that he is not her Superman at first, where she immediately calls him a faker. Once she is calm, she asks why he is there. In a moment of calm, he explains to her that he wanted to see if he would come back to life. Wondering where he got that idea from, Clark explains to her that in his universe he did die once. Walking her through the events of The Death and Return of Superman. At the end of Clark’s story, they remove the New 52 Superman’s urn from the tomb and take it to the Fortress of Solitude. Clark’s hope is that this one will work just as his did, that they will find the Regeneration Matrix, this universes Superman will be resurrected, and that he can keep his promise of not interfering with this universe. However, there is no Regeneration Matrix in this Fortress. There is no way of bringing him back. Clark’s genome is read by the computer and a message from the New 52 Superman, intended for his Supergirl plays;

“If these crystals have been activated, it means I’m dead, Kara. Like we spoke about the last time we were here together. You’re the last Kryptonian, our beautiful and fragile adoptive home world needs you now more than ever. It needs its Supergirl to be ready.”

While the message plays, Clark notices something different about this Fortress compared to his own. While he had statues dedicated to his Kryptonian parents, the New 52 version made statues to both his Kryptonian and human parents.

“Never occurred to me to do it in my Fortress… But how obvious. He honoured both”.

The idea of honouring all that created him, and the idea that this Superman can’t bring back the New 52 version stirs something within Clark. He turns to Lara and they both decide to ‘bring him home’. Both arriving in Smallville cemetery, where Lara buries the remains of her Clark with his human parents. As the issue ends, Clark flies back to the Fortress, and carves a new statue of his New 52 counterpart alongside his family.

Son of Superman (issues #1 – #6)

The first arc to Tomasi and Gleason’s run dealt heavily with Clark taking back up the role of Superman publicly, and its effect on Jon. Granted, the actual public side of this is addressed in Jurgen’s Action Comics run alongside this. The issue begins with Clark returning to the graves of Jonathan and Martha Kent, with the New 52s remains also buried there thanks to the one-shot. He’s essentially asking their permission to carry on for him.

“The World needs to see again that there’s a Superman looking out for them. You may not be here in body, but I know you are in spirit. The colours will fly”.

Clark unzips his jacket and flies off, showing off a brand-new costume. It’s a nice mix between the classic look, and the New 52 armour. The military high collar of the armour is gone, now taking a shape closer to the classic costume. Though the trunks are still missing, the red in the middle being replaced with a stylised belt.

It cuts to Hamilton County, and the Farm that Clark and his family are now living on. Taking up the surname Smith rather than Kent. We get our first look of Jon, as he’s looking out of the window at the barn that has just been struck by lightning. Jon admits that he’s scared, that the animals are screaming, but when his father shows up and rescues them, he knows he doesn’t have to worry. The very hope that Clark inspires in his son just by doing good is a fundamental part of Superman. Superman has always been a parental figure. It can be seen in his interactions with people throughout his 80-year history. But the introduction of Jon and this chance to see their interactions brings home that feeling. It strongly hammers in that notion of Superman as father figure.

The next day, Lois, Clark and Jon are cleaning up, as Jon begs his father to let him help with rebuilding the barn. Clark tells him that he can, as long as he promises to keep his powers in check, especially when Clark isn’t around. He promises and runs off to go fill up the corn harvester with gas. As he’s running, Lois’s cat Goldie runs with him chasing a mouse. However, while in the field, a hawk swoops down and snatches Goldie. At first Jon throws a rock to try and get him to drop the cat, but in a moment of panic, his heat vision kicks in and kills both the hawk and Goldie. Jon falls to his knees, holding Goldie’s collar close to him, and cries over not only loosing his cat, but breaking his promise to his father. In his grief, he notices a young girl watching him from a nearby tree. Through the series, and especially in the early arcs, we see Jon come to terms with the idea and responsibilities surrounding his powers and having to live up to his father being Superman. It’s a tremendous amount of weight on his shoulders, especially for a 10-year-old. Later, he walks back to the house where his father asks if he’s ready to help with the barn and give his powers a try. Defeated, Jon tells him that he’s changed his mind and wants to take it slow learning how to use them. Clearly noted something is wrong, Clark tells him to take it easy and that he’ll see him at dinner.

At dinner, the family discuss their day, when Lois asks if anyone has seen Goldie. Both Clark and Jon say no, when the door bell rings and the girl from earlier is waiting. Her name is Kathy Branden, she and her grandfather just brought the dairy farm across from the Smiths, and she wanted to drop by, say hi, and give them some milk. Jon is very clearly uncomfortable as he doesn’t know how much she saw earlier. Clark invites Kathy in for dessert, but she politely excuses herself with chores, clearly noting Jon’s discomfort. Once they are alone, Lois points out how quiet Jon was, and Clark notes that maybe it would be a good idea for Jon to make friends since they seem to be about the same age. Jon’s emotions hit boiling point, when he snaps at his parent;

“What’s so nice about it, huh, mom? Everything we do is one big secret. I can’t tell them who we really are. My mom writes books under a secret name. My dad is secretly a superhero and I’m secretly half human and half Kryptonian?!”

It’s clear that Jon does have a lot to deal with. Not just his life’s secrecy, but the isolation he feels from it. For his outburst and accusing his parents of “using him to be a bunch of liars”, his parents send him to bed. We cut to the middle of the night, Jon looking out of the window again with tears streaming down his face. In the darkness, he spots two figures, finally moving into the light enough for him to see that it’s Wonder Woman and Batman. Superman appears out of the shadows to greet them, and Jon tries to use his hearing to make out what’s going on. When all three of the heroes look in Jon’s direction, he panics and hides by his bed. Suddenly, his father bursts into his room and tells him that Jon is coming with him.

Clark takes Jon far north, a distress beacon came through from the Coast Guard Icebreaker, and they are there to help it out. Clark notes that Jon is shaking while he’s carrying him, despite being wrapped up in a coat, hat and gloves. Nervously, Jon asks if he is going to hand him over to the Justice League, if Wonder Woman and Batman were at the farm because of him. Clark admits that it’s actually him they are worried about since he’s the “new Superman on the block”. They land on an iceberg and Jon admits that he’s not sure if it’s such a good idea to have brought him along. At this point, it’s very clear just how unsure of himself Jon is. He’s untested, stressed, and still very guilty over what happened with the cat. But Clark calms him;

“Just relax and don’t worry. I want you to listen, watch and learn, okay?”

He leaves Jon on the nearby iceberg, while diving under water to help free the trapped submarine. Jon is clearly in awe at seeing his father work and admires how he talks to the crew once the work is done. However, just as the job is finished, a giant tentacle monster bursts out from the ocean and attacks the submarine. Clark shouts for Jon to stay down, but as the tentacles get in close and almost knock Jon over, Clark tells him to follow his directions and use his heat vision to help. Jon is understandably very nervous about this, shouting that if he was to use them, he’d hit his father and burn him. He follows Clark’s directions but immediately stops when he realises that it does hurt Clark. Jon breaks down for a second;

“See? I’m burning you! I can’t do it right – I couldn’t before and….”

Clark looks back and assures him that he’s fine. That he knows he can do it, because he’s his son. Jon bursts open his coat and reveals his own Superman shirt, a zip up jacket with red shoulders. Getting into position, Jon uses his hear vision, and manages to drive the creature back into the ocean. The pair sit for a second, and Jon comments that it was kind of fun. Clark comments on Jon’s shirt, asking if he’s wearing the shield for Superboy. Jon says that he found it in a second-hand store in town, and that he sees a lot of people wearing the Batman logo or the Wonder Woman symbol. And that he just wanted to feel ‘super’ like his father.

“Jon, you’re not like the boy who outgrew this shirt and donated it. I’m afraid that someday soon – too soon – you will have to pick it up and embrace the ‘S’ for yourself. It’s not about our powers, or strength, or heat vision, it’s about character. It means doing the right thing when no one else will. Even when you’re scared. Even when you think no one is looking”.

What Superman is talking about here isn’t just the responsibilities that his son is going to inherit, but also the meaning that symbol embodies when we as readers wear it. it’s the semiotics behind the Superman shield. When we were it, we are carrying with us the hope, strength and ideals of Superman. A good book that looks into the idea of Superhero costumes and the semiotics around it is The Superhero Costume by Graydon and Brownie.

Jon admits to his father what happened with the cat. That he used his powers to try and save Goldie, but he just made things worse. Clark admits that he already knew, that his heat vision gives off a distinct smell in the ozone. One that he picked up when the wind blew that day. Jon is still filled with guilt for not being able to save Goldie, and that he just hopes that his father and mother can forgive him. Clark and Jon set off home, but as they have left, a red glow bursts out from the ice, forming a superman shield in the smoke. It’s clearly scanning, and has picked up a genome shared by both Kryptonian and human, originating from the House of El.

Back at the farm, the family bury what’s left of Goldie beneath the tree as the sun sets. It’s clear that despite Jon’s fears, his parents do forgive him, knowing that while he did the wrong thing, it was for the right reason, and his guilt shows that he knows this. Later, Jon is sat in the tree when Kathy comes to join him. Back at the house, Lois is treated Clark’s burnt back while they talk about what to do about Jon’s powers. While this is going on, Jon asks Kathy why she didn’t mention the cat to his parents. Naturally Kathy notes that “everybody’s got secrets, small ones, big ones…” They continue talking, with Kathy asking if his powers scare him. Jon states that he doesn’t want to hurt anybody, and she replies that she knows that because he has a kind heart. Suddenly, the branch the pair are sitting on breaks, and Jon falls. While Clark and Lois continue talking, they are disturbed by Kathy and her grandfather bursting in, carrying an unconscious Jon. Kathy explains what happened, and her Grandfather, Cobb, offers to take him to the local doctor. In a very threatening manner, Clark tells them that they will take care of it, and they should go. Once they are alone, Clark reveals that he has already given him a full body scan, and that he has a slight concussion. Lois, understandably freaked out, asks how he could still have these frailties, even with his powers developing. The pair decide it’s best to take a look at him in the Fortress of Solitude, but while they discuss it the red light from before enters the Fortress and finally takes the form of The Eradicator.

As the family arrive at the Fortress, Lois comments about how uncomfortable she feels there. It’s not theirs. It’s the Fortress belonging to the New 52 Superman. It feels like trespassing. As they enter, they spot the Eradicator who comments that he’s been waiting for Kal-El. In a moment of rage, Clark dives for him, angry that he’s broken in, and not in the mood to deal with him. Jon wakes up during the fight and is taken back by what is happening. As Superman and the Eradicator fight however, the walls begin to crumble, and a piece is about to hit Jon and Lois. To Clark’s surprise, the Eradicator saves them. Stunned, Lois and Clark place Jon in the scanner, while The Eradicator watches on from behind.

Jon asks how long the scan will take, and the family discuss how worried they are about the changes happening to Jon. That “sometimes you’re at risk of skinning your knee or hurting your head in a tree fall, other times you’re not”. That according to the scans, his bod is still adapting. In a moment of calm, Superman asks the Eradicator what he is doing here, let alone why his costume includes the emblem of the House of El, the Superman shield.

“We are here because we are fated to be here. After assimilating personal objects within your Fortress, we now wear your house symbol proudly. But before our mission to cross space and time to find you began…. There was a secret protocol. We were built to comply with while Krypton thrived. This protocol was created by General Zod. He christened us as his Eradicators. Our duty was to seek out and arrest Kryptonian lawbreakers on General Zod’s list… By whatever means necessary. General Zod directed us to draw out the lawbreaker’s life force and transfer them to a Phantom Zone Projector where they would await trial. Their bodies would be placed in cryo-chambers until their respective trials. In the weeks that followed, several assignments for General Zod took us to the far reaches of the planet. Upon returning from a stealth operation to Bokos General Zod had sanctioned. Krypton began to explode. Molten slag and subatomic organic matter of the planet burned through us, coating and bonding to our form. Wiping away all mechanical vestiges and leaving us in a non-descript humanoid shape. In those last horrific moments. We alone bore witness to the final fate of our world. The life force of a planet screaming. Lost and cold. Fragmented. Alone. No survivors. Or so we thought. We caught a glimpse of one lone rocket escaping the fiery cataclysm. And one protocol was all we had. Scour the galaxies, every solar system, every planet. Find the survivor. And let nothing get in our way. Then this solar system with the yellow sun drew our attention. We searched the first two planets closest to it and then the third. Finally discovering the first trace of Kryptonian DNA to be that of your son’s…. Which…. Unfortunately, has been tainted with your wife’s human side. For Krypton to truly be reborn in all its glory, our species needs to propagate. But to preserve the purity of the race, the Kryptonian genome needs to be uncorrupted. We shall start with your offspring and find a way to bolster his Kryptonian genome to subsume his human one”.

With this revelation, Clark is clearly not happy. This being, who claims to want to preserve the Kryptonian race, has plans to harm Jon because he is a hybrid. While they talk, and things are clearly getting heated, Krypto the dog comes into the room. As the Eradicator prepares to ingest Jon, Krypto dives in the way and is swallowed whole. Clark begins fighting the Eradicator, as Jon kneels, and picks up Krypto’s cape. Tears in his eyes, and now visibly upset, Jon marches towards battle, holding the cape tightly.

Clark and Eradicator continue to fight, slowly destroying the Fortress as they go. Jon says to Lois that he had promised to himself that after Goldie, he wouldn’t kill, but right now he wants to help. Lois comforts him;

“Jon. Don’t Listen to it. Listen to me. You have the best of both worlds inside you. You can be great. Choose to be”.

Jon zips up his jacket, uniting the two halves of the S shield, attaches Krypto’s cape to the back and charges in to help his father. In a moment of unity, and a stunning two page spread, Jon and Clark punch The Eradicator square in the face.

The Eradicator begins to burst with energy, and Clark tells Jon and Lois to get down. In a burst of fire, the Eradicator reveals that while watching Krypton explode, he absorbed the souls of the dying, and they are now slowly bursting out of him.

It cuts to a bar in Metropolis run by Bibbo. While Bibbo and Hacken are arm wrestling, they start discussing the collection of Superman memorabilia, and its latest addition of a moon rock in the bar, Hacken stating that it’s more of a shire. “When someone dies they ain’t coming back.” Suddenly, there is a rumbling from above, as the energy bursts into the bar, and Clark, Lois and Jon land on the pool table. Lois notes that something is wrong, Jon and Clark are both in pain. She realises that the moon rock has to contain Kryptonite. The souls of the lost Kryptonians fill the room, slowly taking over Hacken. They seem to be drawn to the Kryptonite in the moon stone, as though it is calling them home. Slowly, they begin to take over Clark as well. As they try to take him away, Clark sees his father. His human father, who imparts to him some advice;

“It’s the duty of the living to carry on the name of those of us who can’t so we can rest easy… So that you can be free”.

The souls of the Kryptonians calm down and finally seem to relax, as the Eradicator bursts in and assimilates the souls once more. Superman scoops up Lois and Jon, getting away from the bar, as the Eradicator pursues behind across the water. Jon attempts to give them some coverage by using his heat vision to create some steam. It doesn’t work however, and the Eradicator manages to blow them out of the sky. In a panic, Superman gets into the local Aquatic Research port and steals a small, high density submarine. Packing both Jon and Lois inside, as he flies off to the moon. Getting the Eradicator away from the people below.

An excited Jon points out the lunar lander as they fly by, but their destination is a place created by Batman. The Batcave on the Moon! Complete with mechanical Bat guards. Jon excitedly asks if they are going to team up with the Justice League to take the Eradicator down. Clark’s response is very accurate and telling;

“No. Jon. This is a Kryptonian matter… A family affair. The League suspects you have powers and I don’t want to involve them at this point. And to be honest, I’m not ready for you to grow up so fast and step into that world. It was risky enough zipping around Metropolis”.

Clark’s fears go beyond just people getting hurt. He want’s Jon to grow up safe and happy, but most importantly, to grow up at his own rate. To learn about his powers, his views and beliefs at his own rate. To push him into the full Justice League experience right now, it robs him of having the choice to just lead a normal life later on if he chooses to. However, it’s not long before the Eradicator arrives, and declares that Jon needs to be Eradicated for the good of Krypton. The battle continues as Jon and Lois run for cover. While Clark tries to fight him off, the Eradicator gets closer and closer to Jon. As he is about to reach Jon, Clark jumps in the way and is absorbed by the Eradicator. Jon runs and tries to escape, while Lois tries to find someway to help. As the Eradicator is now holding Jon by the cape, Lois dives in wearing the Hell Bat armour, throwing the Eradicator aside. The appearance of the Hell Bat armour is an amazing call back to Tomasi and Gleason’s previous Batman and Robin run. During one of the last arcs of the book, Batman develops the armour in order to go into Apokolips and bring his son back to life. The use of the Hell Bat armour has now twice been used to emphasis the lengths a parent will go to for the sake of their children. The danger they will put themselves in for the people they love. Seeing the Eradicator hurt Los, forces Jon to leap into action;

“Stop hurting my mom – and bring my dad back now – before I turn you to toast!”

Meanwhile, inside the Eradicator’s body, Clark is talking with the lost souls inside. They decide to band together and rip themselves free of the Eradicator’s hold. As The Eradicator gets closer and closer to Lois and Jon, Clark bursts out of his chest, stating “I’ll take it from here”.

In the final part of the story arc, full of rage, Clark goes all out against The Eradicator. Taking the fight to the Moon’s surface and causing some serious damage. During the climax of the fight, Krypto begins to free himself from the Eradicator’s hold. With the help of Krypto, Superman lands the final blow to the Eradicator, blasting him with heat vision. Proclaiming that the ‘Legacy of the House of El’ belongs to Jon. The lost souls of Krypton leave, finally free, as the Eradicator says that he feels cold and alone. Asking if this is how Clark feels. As he leaves, Clark tells him that he’s never felt alone.

During the battle, the Lunar Lander was knocked out of place, and while the on board cameras capture the scene, Superman straightens the monument and introduces the world to their new Superman.

Back at the farm, Lois and Jon watch the ceremony in honour of Superman while they talk about the events. Jon momentarily calling Lois “Bat-Mom” as they settle down and watch on. Jon asks Lois if someday, he’ll be just like his father;

“No. You’ll be you, Jon. You’ll be even more amazing than you already are. But for now, the simple fact is when it comes to Superman, no one else even comes close.”

Later that night, Jon is sitting out of his bedroom window, when Clark comes in to see him. Clark hands him a Hamilton Huskers hat, and a pair of glasses. Stating that a lot of people are going to be asking questions about the Superboy seen alongside Superman, and that since he’s starting school next week, and that a disguise might be a good idea. Jon feels sad at the fact that there are now more secrets he has to keep, but Clark tells him that the best part about putting on the glasses, is getting to take them off.

“Truth. Justice… Family… I want to help you make that ‘S’ your own. I know now that there’s something I should have done with you in the first place.”

In a call back to the first issue, Clark tells him to “quickly and quietly, you’re coming with me”. As they arrive the Justice League Watchtower, offering to help repair the Lunar Cave, and introducing the team to Superboy.

This first arc is a fantastic introduction to the book’s dynamic moving forward. Setting up the ideas of what it means to live up to the ‘S’ shield. The responsibility of having powers and the freedom of choice.

Our Town (Issue #7)

Issue #7 is a one and done story, but one that adds so many dimensions to the everyday lives of the Family. The issue opens with Superman looking over the world, having just helped out those on the space station. The next few pages show him going around different towns, helping the other League members before finally arriving back at the farm. He says him to Lois and Jon, with Lois telling him that tonight is the last night for the Hamilton County Fair, and that since he’s working so much, she plans on taking him. Clark comments that it sounds fun, and wants to tag along, to the surprise of both Jon and Lois.

“This is our home and maybe it’s time we start living like it.”

Lois makes Clark promise that since they are having a day together, he can’t do any ‘Superman-ing’, Clark promises, even giving her his cape.

The family arrive at the carnival and are overjoyed at the amount of people and fun surrounding them. They run into Kathy who invites them to come by the Blue-Ribbon Contest and check out their cow. Lois says they will come by, and Kathy leaves telling Jon that she likes his glasses. Meanwhile, the ticket booth is being watched by a group of ill-intentioned teenagers, planning to steal the admission money. The family continue to have fun, Jon failing to knock the bottles down in a booth, when they stumble upon a booth showing science projects from Jon’s school. Clark and Lois now meeting Jon’s science teacher. His teacher, Tony Martinez, comments on how good of a student Jon is, even if he is a bit of a daydreamer. Clark thanks the teacher for giving Jon an extension, and as they leave, the thugs are putting on clown masks as a disguise. One of them bumping into Clark while on the way. Clark uses his X-Ray vision to see what’s in the clown’s bag, realising that he’s up to no good. The family grab some food, Jon happily chowing down on a burger as they go and check in on Kathy and her Grandfather. The two families celebrate Kathy and Cobb’s win with a glass of milk as the festival fireworks are about to start.

Clark sees the clowns sneaking off towards the admission booth and makes an excuse to get out of there. Jon shouting after him that he promised to go on the roller coaster with them as the fireworks reach their peak. Clark tells them he’ll meet them there and rushes off. Cut to a few minutes later and Lois and Jon are sat on the roller coaster hoping Clark will arrive, who shows up just in time. As the ride starts, the ticket booth forgets their microphone is on, with the emplyees inside discussing how some dark blue blur stopped a robbery a few minutes before. As the roller coaster goes up, and the conversation continues, Clarks face becomes more and more awkward, and Lois looks even more angry. The issue ends with the family at the peak of the roller coaster, fireworks surrounding them, and Jon and Clark shouting “Up, up and away!” as Lois screams “I knew it!”.

It’s a one-off issue, but beautiful in how it furthers the family dynamic, and showing Clark’s inherit want and need to do good, even in his days off. It’s the kind of one-off story you would want to see from a book following the family of Superman.