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Wednesday, July 20, 2011 

It's official now: Supermarriage is erased

What was first hinted at a few months ago is now official, and unlike Marvel's steps in erasing the Spider-Marriage, DC doesn't seem to be hiding anything:
Superman will be a bachelor again when DC Comics relaunches its entire superhero line in September. He had been married to longtime love Lois Lane since 1996 in comics.

"We just felt there were more interesting, creative stories to mine in that time period of Superman's history prior to him getting married," says Jim Lee, one of DC's co-publishers along with Dan DiDio.

"There was something special and unique about the love triangle that existed between Clark Kent, Superman and Lois Lane," Lee says. "By restoring that essential part of his mythology, we would get a lot more interest in the character and take Superman and Clark Kent in bold new directions that felt more contemporary and modern."
There were once stories to mine, but with people like that around, not a chance it'll be the same. That was then, this is now, under the influence of people who don't have any idea how to deliver tour de force as in the Silver/Bronze Age.

And just how do they know they'll draw more interest in the Man of Steel now? If it didn't work with Spider-Man, why should we expect any different here?
There will be two Superman-centric titles in DC's "The New 52" line.

George Perez's Superman takes place in the present of the new continuity. It features Superman sporting a new costume (red briefs are out, Kryptonian ceremonial armor is in); a new villain who's more powerful than the Man of Steel; Clark Kent as a bachelor; and Lois Lane dating a co-worker of hers and Clark's at the Daily Planet.

And Action Comics No. 1, written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Rags Morales, will be set five years in the past. This book promises a younger, brooding outsider version of Superman who's still finding his way in the world as an alien from the planet Krypton.

His outfit? Jeans, T-shirt and a cape.

"Does he wear a skintight ballet suit? No, not today, and I don't think anyone falls for it," Morrison says. "And if the skintight ballet suit has to come into it, I want to have a really good explanation.
Just what we need to hear, an insult to the classic costume deriding it as a ballet suit! IMO, those kind of outfits are drawn from circus trapeze outfits. This is almost like a throwback to the time when Morrison took up writing the X-Men, and even if it was an editorial mandate that they wear outfits like in the movie, he still had no problem with it. But it also renders Superman not all that different from the Connor Kent Superboy, who often wears a costume that looks more like regular clothes. Morrison is just tearing down on classic concepts and insulting the original creators who conceived them in the past century.

We've also head the whole story of brooding before, something that affected the X-Men badly, yet Morrison otherwise kept writing them that way when he had his hands on the book years ago. I don't want to read about Superman as a brooder; I want Supes to be optimistic and inspirational.
Action Comics won't flash back to when Kal-El crash-lands on Earth, but DiDio says that when this Superman is introduced, it is after both his adopted parents have died and he is acting as a vigilante working outside the law — a nod to his original roots as a people's hero.

"With him no longer married and the loss of both his parents, he really is an island unto himself and there's a lot more self-examination and understanding of who he is," DiDio says.
And what if that includes overbearing uncertainty in how to act? As the island part also hints, this looks to be about too much brooding.
Making them both single also makes Lois a more dynamic character within the DC Universe, Lee says. "People will be very surprised by not just what's happening with Superman, but also with Lois Lane and the entire staff of the Daily Planet."

Superman will be one of the cornerstones of "The New 52," and Lee is looking forward to presenting a truly different "Man of Tomorrow."

"Maybe as readers and fans, we've grown a little too comfortable with Superman," he says. "Part of the creative changes we've put behind the mythology is to tell people, 'Look, you may think you know Superman, but you don't.' There's a lot of great stuff about the character that we're going to show you that hasn't been discussed or presented before."
I think he's got it backwards: it's people like Lee who don't really know Superman, or forgot because they became so overwhelmed with PC. Some of the things they're going to start telling - or even lecturing - us about, include the following:
Even more potentially off-putting for longtime readers could be the new Superman’s increasing obsession with his alien heritage. The mature hero of the Superman series by George Perez and Jesus Merino, is described as “more Kal-El from Krypton than Clark Kent from Kansas.” The armor that Supes sports on the cover of Superman #1 is “ceremonial” armor from Krypton, hence no more red shorts. While the new post-Flashpoint Superman series have effectively side-stepped the whole Superman renouncing his American citizenship nonsense (see “Supes Citizenship Flap Spreads Like Wildfire”), the character’s increasing embrace of his alien heritage could also tend to render “the American Way” portion of his motto increasingly irrelevant.
And if that turns out to be the case, then clearly it's not like they intend to back off their plans to trash one of the most inspirational ideas added to the mythology. More likely they intend to abandon it through stealth tactics. One more reason why this sounds so unappealing, as they make him obsess about his alien heritage at the expense of his respect for American values.

Here's also the NY Post article about this, and starts with Morrison saying:
"This is a young Superman who still believes a better world for everyone is possible," said Grant Morrison, who'll be chronicling the Man of Steel's days as the world's first superhero in the new Action Comics.
But then they say:
The company described former "X-Men" writer Morrison's take on the character as more brooding, and said it will play up his status as an alien, making him more Kal-El from Krypton than Clark Kent from Kansas. And while he can leap tall buildings in a single bound, he doesn't yet have the ability to fly.
Again, if he's going to brood, I don't see how he can truly believe in a better world for everybody, especially if he doesn't believe in one for himself. Nor am I particularly impressed by reducing his flying ability as they have here. And if he's going to be more alien than human, I'm not sure how exactly they can get really good character drama out of that.
The first "Action Comics" No. 1 - which featured the debut of Superman and superheros in general - is one of the most sought-after comics in the world. A copy of the rare book sold for $1.5 million last March. The series reached it's 900th issue earlier this year,which included a controversial story where Superman announced he intended to renounce his American citizenship to better serve the entire world.

That storyline is effectively nullified by the relaunch.
But if the ICV2 article is any suggestion, the negative theme itself might not be.

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Morrison needs to turn off the Simon & Garfunkel LPs.

First, Perez removed the American symbolism from Wonder Woman, and here we go again. I really like Perez, but I wonder if he feels this way or is it because of editorial fiat? And I second everything else Avi said.

Oh, well, nothing new, right?

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