Who is Clark Kent/Superman in the new 52?

There have been six writers scribing stories over the past 13 months about the New 52 Man of Steel  (more if you count his appearances in various books which includes Scott Snyder):   Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns, George Perez, Keith Giffen, Dan Jurgens, and now Scott Lobdell.  Morrison is/was writing five and a half years in the past to Perez’s present timeline.  This five year gap has proved problematic for the development of the character,  especially in the present timeline since the foundational history of the character is not established yet and therefore, ‘current’ stories can’t build upon it.

Besides the problem of multiple authors and multiple timelines for ‘character development’ of this hard rebooted character – there’s no one vision of the character’s growth within the present timeline books.   For instance, Geoff Johns has the editorial mandated plot of Superman and Wonder Woman kissing due to loneliness and inability to relate to humans even though they have a big heart for them. (Yes, I am rolling my eyes)  After the kiss, Superman backs away as if to apologize, Diana interrupts him and leaves before he can finish.  Five days later, he says that what happened was just a kiss, not a commitment.  Written by Johns, this would display a modicum of emotional maturity on Superman’s part as well as a knowledge of what is in his heart.

Action 12 released the same month as the kiss issue, had Superman doing everything within his superpowers and then some, to save Lois Lane.  He even ‘saw’ a future marriage with her before he read every medical book and did surgery on her to keep her alive.  Although this is in the past, we can see that Superman DEFINITELY has strong feelings for Lois Lane in the five year previous timeline.  Which begs the question — How Morrison is going to explain the entire history of the five year gap in three issues?  We’re not that gullible.  There is no way, even with Action Annual #1 and Sholly Fisch’s backstories and the ‘genius’ of Morrison – that is a superhuman feat for mortal writers.  TOO TOO many unanswered questions will abound with the bandaid treatment.  The Superman book hasn’t really told us much in 13 months, how in the hell is Action going to do it in 3 issues at the end of Morrison’s run?

George Perez gave Superman fans enough for them to ‘know’ Superman.  He established Clark’s Metropolis life and his supporting characters.  Keith and Dan had to introduce us to Helspont (fans will see why that is ‘important’ later) but weren’t able to bring their vision to fruition due to editorial mandates.  Do we really believe these veterans of Superman stories would make Lucy Lane the’ love interest’?  Uh . . . no.

Which brings us to Scott Lobdell.  I have no past experience with his writing.  Loved Superman #0 but that was about Jor-El and Lara not Superman/Clark and Lois.   In Superman Annual #1, Lobdell plotted the book but did not script it.   In that story, Clark loves being amongst humanity, enjoying his subway ride to work, watching couples in the park, and missing Lois Lane and her love of REAL news not infotainment which is what Clark has had to deal with since Lois was promoted.  Also in that issue, we see that Jimmy Olsen (his roommate for now) is a slob and Clark isn’t.  Pa Kent taught him ‘everything in its place’ as we can see by his closet of clean, neatly arranged clothes (mostly suits for work).  Clark also has taken a shower in that issue and is brushing his teeth.

Compare those things to Superman #13 written by Lobdell.   Clark has been ‘pumping iron’ for five days and has lost track of time.  He has sweated for the first time as far as he can remember. He’s giddy about that.  He then rushes off to his apartment to get ready for work in six seconds.  He finds he has forgotten to do laundry.  (More brain farts)  Shedding off the remnant of his biotech suit, he states that since becoming invulnerable he no longer can feel hot water on his skin.  HUH?  What does he feel then?  He seems to chastise himself for continuing the ritual of showering.  BUT the guy just ‘sweated’  — so wouldn’t showering NOW be a necessity?   And the skin is the largest organ for a human or a Kryptonian, so would it be numb to every sensation including pain?  Would he feel a kiss?  That hot water statement really opens up a huge industrial-waste size can of worms.  It’s a commentary on his power set which doesn’t appear to be well thought out.  Is he more like Cyborg or Metal Zero than humans?  There’s alienated and then there’s . . . . bullshit.

As in so many other Superman stories, both ancient and current, Clark seems to lose focus regarding his powers at times and uses them ‘indiscriminately’ at others.  He doesn’t see, hear, or smell Jimmy and a female in his shower before he opens the door.  Where is this guy’s head?  Does he still have the bullet with the tesseract space with Club Med for villains in his brain (Action) or is Helspont’s thrall still have a hold of him (Superman) or are the ramifications from Grave’s azura lesser gods (Justice League) still wreaking havoc?  This guy is just walking through his life like he’s an understudy.

So with no shower or shave and wearing a Smallville hoodie and jeans, Clark shows up at the Daily Planet after a five day absence with no Superman story.  That’s his beat now.  Perry White, his editor, is reading him the riot act.  Lois Lane is there because Perry seems to need an interpreter when it comes to Clark.  In fact, this is the first time we’ve seen Clark and Perry in the same panel in the Superman book.  Perry has been his editor for how many years now?  Clark has no relationship with his Editor-in-Chief?  Lois is there for a reason.  There’s a plot point coming up, but she may be there since she used to cover the Superman beat.  She explains to Clark that he’s the reporter and that Perry as editor decides what gets published.  Clark just needs to write the story.  Isn’t that what reporters do?

Clark goes on a tirade about infotainment instead of news being produced by the Planet (which we have seen before) but then he tears into Lois for her television production and choice of stories.  She’s heard this before and she has something else going on in her life besides Superman and Clark.  She gets a text message from her boyfriend.  Perry has a no-text policy and Clark is wondering why Lois is breaking the rule.  (Even though he showed up to work after a 5 day absence with no story)  He spies on her phone to see that her boyfriend is moving in.  Lois half-seriously text replies if it’s too late to back out now.  Indignant Clark goes speechless at this revelation and leaves the room.

At his desk, Clark wonders why he can’t be happy for Lois.  And why nothing serious happened between them by now – as if relationships fall out of the sky with no effort on his part.  Yea, Clark, why didn’t you ever ask Lois out in FIVE YEARS?  But he’s moved on now (editor’s note explains ‘kiss heard round the world’ in Justice League 12).  Moved on from what?  Doesn’t there have to be something to move on from?   So this Clark’s emotional maturity seems to be in the basement (when compared  to the guy who actually kissed Wonder Woman).  Is this a guy thing?  Let me get this straight.  Because Clark didn’t make the effort in 5 years to express his feelings for Lois (remembering Action 12 and Superman #2 where he wished things could be different) and he didn’t know she had a boyfriend (Superman #1), he’s ticked Lois doesn’t pine and has moved on from his passive aggressive self?   In Superman #1, the boyfriend is supposed to make Clark feel more dejected and alienated.  But why didn’t he know about Jonathan in the first place?  Again, the character seems to be fumbling through his life.  So then he kisses Wonder Woman feeling lonely and desperate cause humans can get hurt and the ‘elitist’ superbeings supposedly can’t.  Yea, right.  And now he THINKS he’s moved on.

Morgan Edge, Clark’s literary nemesis, tells the reporter he knows everything everyone does on the Planet’s equipment and that he owns Clark.  Kent stands and gives his fellow workers a truth, justice, and American Way (bravo!) speech and realizes they want to keep their jobs – so he quits the DP and storms out of the building.

Cat Grant follows in his footsteps, figuratively and literally.  She’s the entertainment reporter – the one with the infotainment stuff he’s been railing about.  She wants to help him with his blogging.  Lobdell does not give Cat a brain, she’s a bubblehead and Clark basically mocks her.  This is not the polite, give everyone a chance (or second chance) Clark Kent.  He has bought a hot dog – we know he doesn’t HAVE to eat, but apparently after losing his source of income, he can indulge in another human oriented ritual.  Can he taste it?  Feel it in his mouth?

He hears a disturbance in the force . . er, a monster in Metropolis and takes off as Superman – while still thinking about Lois and how she’s moving in . . . moving on.  (She moved on before you did, because YOU DIDN’T MAKE A MOVE!  Why?)   At least he’s being introspective.  It’s better than pumping iron mindlessly for five days.  Clark asks the question.  “Am I being a hypocrite?”  And the resounding answer is YES!

So not only is the five year gap, and multiple writers not developing the character into any focused vision – but the bullship (JL power couple) has stalled development of Superman and his cast of characters and their stories.  AND THE HITS JUST KEEP ON COMING.  Superman is about to join in a crossover with Superboy and Supergirl called “H’El on Earth”  BUT according to Andy Diggle who will be taking over Action in March – there’s another crossover to come which will spin out of the H’El one.  This will involve Superman, Superboy, Supergirl and Action.  Since we see Superman wearing the black suit on the cover of Action 18 (Diggle’s first issue) and we saw him in that suit in Superman #0 where a Daemonite hornblower called ‘the Oracle’ – can we just hang our heads and sigh – Helspont is coming.  And that means alternate realities, another crossover for Superman – and where will his character development be then?

Helspont (better known in our circle of friends as Jabberjaw)  has gotten more character development than the Man of Steel since he’s been in multiple books over the past 13 months and has been hinted twice in the Justice League book as the next ‘big thing’.  That symbol that Steve Trevor recognized in Justice League 13 = Helspont.  Steve has been on Team 7 with Grifter (still playing out in a ‘in the past’ comic) who battles Helspont and will be in Justice League of America (after being dumped twice and fired by Diana from the Justice League) in February.

Possibly after the Helspont crossover then we get the Trinity War which is another crossover.  DC is placing us into crossover hell – so when are the characters supposed to be developed?  And dare I ask when will Superman be CONSISTENTLY developed across his multiple books?   Especially since he’s getting another author on Action and Scott Snyder is writing a third Superman book, which although seems to be in continuity (that word that editorial seems to think is toxic) it will have its own story to tell for a while.

Speaking of Justice League – they will crossover all the Geoff Johns’ authored books, Green Lantern and Aquaman in the next few months.  And Justice League of America will surely follow suit.  Johns recently said that Aquaman will have a focus (JL issues 15 and 16 crossing with Aquaman book) and then Wonder Woman gets a focus (possibly 17 & 18? Tying into Steve’s return in JLA?).   Crossovers are a means to sell more books, not necessarily to develop characters or tell good stories, at least ones with any pertinent foundation to individual books.

The Trinity War.  With the information we have currently, the Trinity War will end after someone open’s Pandora’s box.  If you are familiar with the legend, after all the icky stuff flew out, in the bottom of the box was HOPE.   We’ve learned that only the STRONGEST OF HEART OR THE DARKEST can re-open the box.  Superman fans had hoped that Big Blue would be the strongest of heart to do just that thing – bring hope back into this very dreary world of the new 52.  But at this time, he’s either ignoring his heart, not in tune with his life or has so many creepy crawlies inside his brain that he can’t develop into SUPERMAN, the one that is in the real world and movie going public’s consciousness.

Execution is key.  IF (big if) the writers can give us some character development and a sense of focus and vision for Superman’s storylines then it might work out.  But that is a HUGE IF since it will apparently be done in crossover Hell.

Who is Clark Kent/Superman in the new 52?  I’ve been reading the books – and I couldn’t tell you.  He’s like a fart in a windstorm.  A product to sell, not necessarily to develop.  He’s the New Coke to the beloved Classic Coke — and we all know how that turned out.

SUPERMAN FANS:   If you’re getting tired of trying to figure out the new 52.  Don’t buy the books.  It’s that simple.

If you want to read a Superman you actually know – read Bryan Q. Miller’s SMALLVILLE SEASON 11.  It’s not in the new 52 continuity, and maybe that’s why it’s the BEST, TRUE, REAL SUPERMAN DC Comics has to offer.  Younger than the new 52 Superman, this Clark Kent has his shit together.  He doesn’t have time to brain fart through his life.  He has to save the world from evil.  He knows his destiny and works hard at it.  This Clark loves humanity, enjoys showers, has deep loving relationships with friends, and Lois Lane.  Miller is a brilliant writer who can write multi-layered plots and story arcs which continue to develop the characters and move them forward.   Each digital-first issue is a bright spot in the Superman DC Comics landscape.   The first Wednesday of each month, the previous 3 digital-firsts are compiled into print.  $3.99 for 30-some pages of story.   Best bang for your buck.   Considering putting it on your pull list and also downloading the digital-firsts off Comixology  or dccomics.com.   That gives you 3 to 4 weeks of a great Superman story a month.

For a more in depth analysis of SMALLVILLE SEASON 11 and Superman 13, check out G2Factor this Sunday on talkshoe.

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October 27, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Announcements, Baudy's Reviews, BaudyBlahBlahBlah, Superman.

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