Sunday, June 05, 2011

Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?

In 1986, the great, Alan Moore wrote a “final” Superman story, entitled, “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow.” In the story Clark Kent’s identity is discovered, the Fortress of Solitude is destroyed, arch-villains make their exits and Superman… well, Superman is no more. {NOTE: That’s as far as I’m going with the spoilers; if you are so inclined hunt down the reprint.} Superman does not walk away from this final fight. As it turns out an attorney, Marc Toberoff, just may succeed where Doomsday, Brainiac and Lex Luther have failed. Marc Toberoff may be the man who really kills Superman as we know him. Eriq Gardner’s article from the Hollywood Reporter explains what’s going on in more depth here; On behalf of the Siegels and Shusters, the descendants of the two men who created the Man of Steel, Marc Toberoff may succeed.

Remember that “Bombshell” from DC Comics? I blogged; NAY, hemorrhaged GEEK protoplasm as to what that might mean for Kal-El, the Last Son of Krypton here: [NOTE BEFORE YOU CLICK THE LINK – you really don’t have to read it. It turns out my ramblings were completely wrong.] I suspected that Superman was going to be turned into the biggest, baddest, super-villain in the entire DC universe. Hey, it’s what I would have done if I was writing for DC Comics – heck I would have had citizens worshiping him; both sincere and forced! Well all of that speculation doesn’t matter. Actually it REALLY doesn’t matter.

“How so?”

The “Bombshell” is that DC Comics will be revamping their entire pantheon of characters. That’s about 52 different comics ALL being reset to issue # 1. Here’s a good little article on the subject:

“Why?” one might ask, “Isn’t this just a trick to sell more funny-books?” Yeah, that’s a good assumption on the surface and, in fact ultimately, this probably will sell a lot of funny-books; but Warner Bros. and therefore DC Comics is launching what appears to be a preemptive move that is designed to protect their assets just in case Toberoff wins the case for the descendants of Siegels and Shusters. Let’s face facts; Superman is the basis for everything that the juggernaut of DC Comics has become. It is not possible to separate the last 60 years of comic book history from that publishing house from Superman. In other words you can take the Kryptonian out of DC but you can’t take the DC out of the Kryptonian.

DC knows this. If Toberoff wins his lawsuit will they be able to move on towards the next phase in the saga that Superman has become? They have a talented creative team at DC and I believe that they will make it work. The only losers in this scenario are anyone and everyone who has some loose sense, idea or affiliation as to whomever the character of Superman was. I’m not talking your garden variety geek here – I’m talking about the every-person, the common denominator, the person on the street. Pop-culture consumers who are not necessarily comic book fans but STILL have memories of “playing Superman” as a kid. Toberoff and whatever’s left of the Siegels & Shusters are about to rob all future generations of that simple joy. Honestly, it is this that saddens me the most.

Now if Toberoff loses then DC will stir the pot for about 12 issues and make sure everything goes back to exactly the way it was before all this silliness transpired. It is the way of the funny-book. The path of the comic book universes no matter from what publishing company they hail. Whoever ‘wins’ this lawsuit DC Comics is at an interesting crossroads.

If you click on the cover of Justice League # 1 by Jim Lee (the picture for this blog) you will see the new Justice League. At first glance you might say not all that much has changed. The “S” on Superman’s chest is different (it has to be since the rights to the “S” have gone back to Toberoff, the Siegels & Shusters), the collar & cape have differences too and he is no longer wearing his underwear on the outside of his pants. What you don’t see is that he is not really flying anymore – he’s “jumping” or rather leaping tall buildings in a single bound. You won’t see Lois Lane anymore either. She will be the property of Toberoff, the Siegels & Shusters. I’m not sure whomever or whatever else is going to be missing. There are rumors that Superman (I think he can still be called that) and Wonder Woman are now romantically involved. We will have to wait and see what other changes are in store, Gentle Reader.

So a lawyer and the distant descendants of the creators of the Man of Steel just may deal the deathblow that even Doomsday couldn’t deliver. The second death of Superman.

Lex Luthor would be proud.