It was in october 1986. In the limited series THE MAN OF STEEL, John Byrne, recreated Superman. This entreprise is an aberration. They sweaped half a century of publishing as if never did have exist. The former Superman doesn't dwell in a parallel universe, like when we passed from Earth II to Earth I Superman, he is not anymore the same character whose we would discover some untold and unsuspected aspects like when Miller transformed Daredevil. The former Superman did never exist. He is taken into account as butter. (When french children let one think he is playing with them but don't take the points got by him into account in the score, he is "taken into account as butter".) No matter if Superman fights beside Batman, Flash and all his JLA chums, who associated the ancient Superman. It ruins only DC continuity. Beside, many of them undergo the same kind of lifting. John Byrne did the same misdeed at Marvel's, a few years letter, with Chapter One. But Spider-Man murder failed. The changes were too small to overthrow the character identity. They marely introduced some contradictions between old and new episodes (we saw worse without that being wittingly .) and were soon forgotten. On the contrary, changes in Superman are fundamental and generally hunappy. All of them, begining with the spectacular powers diminution, go in the same dirction, to disenchant Superman, to take him the spell, the charm, the magic, all that distinguished him from other super-heroes, to make him more realistic, more credible, a more serious reading. |
The wonderful world of Krypton ain't no more, from now on, but a sinister planet, an ecologist nightmare without any remarkable phenomenon or specimen. Krypton is anihilated much more by its new creation than by its new destruction. All that survived the planet is an automatic, awful and lethal technology which will come several times to threaten Earth. And if Superman himself is still the blameless hero that we allways knew, they won't hesitate to tell us that we own it to his earthly education. (They don't say what planet Staline, Hitler and co came from.)
Superman has no more secret identity. More exactly nobody suspects that he has one nor therefore try anymore to discover it. This theme which was the subject of much more stories than any great Superman foe and which gave all its pepper to Lois Lane personality is thrown into the oubliettes.
Just for not to say that I am a moaner, let's see a fruitfull change. Superman and BATMAN who lived together hundreds of adventures without making their writers or their readers mind about what could unit two so different people,meet each other anew for the first time.Not knowing each other, each one sees the other like he realy is. Superman stands for Ethics and Law. From his point of view, Batman is an outlaw who try to impose his own justice. If the hostility will stay very limited because of both star belonging to a same team une, the JLA, one of DC bigest sales, their antagonisme will be exploited, particulary by Frank Miller in Dark Knight where the two former best friends - excuse me, the men who would may have been the two best friend in some other reality-fight each other.
One may also admire the inspired idea in Superman V2 11 in wich Byrne, without affirming anything, allows us to imagine that Mr Mxyzptlk could be... the Beyonder, the God of Marvel universe.
The new Lex Luthor, imagined by Marv Wolfman, is intersting also. One might regret that he lost the ambivalence of the one of Earth I, who shown human aspects, but this is not a coming back to the 40's vacant stereotype. The new Luthor is rather like Marvel's Kingpin, machiavelian, more credible, dilightfully hateful and all the more dangeroussince apparently respectable. I don't thik that Wolfman realised it but his irrational hate for Superman is the same than J. Jonah Jameson one for Spider-Man
This new Superman is also a come back to origins. In two ways. Firstly, he sweeps off the 1971 changes, clark T.V. reporter and so. That's not so bad. Unfortunately the characters created after 71 vanished too, I think of Captain Strong or Valdemar.
Secondly Superman personality is also altered. In the 60's Superman became some kind of super boy scout. Indeed, then, heroes didn't use machine gun nor wore a big skull on the chest, but even for those day Superman was realy the saint of comic books. He spent more time in charity performances than fighting bad guys and fought them with non-violence. Beside, he was serving the world and not a particular nation. The new hero, even though he keeps exemplary compared with many of his today's colleagues is more hard and more american. In the fourth issue of the new Adventures of Superman (the 427), he invades, on his own decision, a sovereign country presumed accomplice of international terrorism. In the next one he terrorises some gangsters. In both cases he acted reluctantly but Earth I Superman would have found another solution. It seems to me that, from age to age, Superman's evolution follows America spirit's one.
There has been no Superboy; Superman was grown up when he's got his powers. Jimmy Olsen is a loser, at least people treat him as a loser, like in the 40's, another come back to origins, so. A love story begins between Superman and Wonder Woman wich will never realy start because of the unexpected evolution of his relationship with Lois Lane (see further).. Jonathan and Martha Kent are still alive. Superman's costume is not indestructible.