DC starts from scratch with Superman

A reinvented Superman loses Lois Lane, but might rediscover the American way

Published July 18, 2011 8:20PM (EDT)

Superman's new look.
Superman's new look.

What happens when you strip away all identifiers of an iconic superhero? That's what DC Comics wants readers to ponder this September when it reboots Action Comics, the serial that first introduced the world to Superman. Action Comics No. 1 will find Superman without that red underwear over his tights, which is as close to blasphemy as one can get without telling us he's no longer faster than a speeding bullet.

Perhaps even more alarming than the costume change is the news that Superman and longtime girlfriend Lois Lane are "DUNZO," according to a report by TMZ. (I like to imagine that Harvey Levin's tabloid empire has a couple of paparazzi staked outside the Fortress of Solitude for just this type of scoop.) She might even have a new boyfriend!

I wouldn't be too worried, though: Considering Superman's 1938 debut saw a sad-sack Clark Kent being rebuffed by Lois, I'm sure these two crazy kids will find a way to love again. By starting the series from scratch to create an alternative history -- what is known as retroactive continuity or "retcon" in geek circles -- it actually doesn't make sense to say that Superman and Lois "broke up." They just haven't gotten together yet.

Scottish graphic novelist Grant Morrison, who has written for "All-Star Superman" (as well as "The Invisibles," "New X-Men" and "Animal Man"), will lead this new treatment of the boy from Krypton. As he told the New York Post:

We felt it was time for the big adventures of a 21st-century Paul Bunyan who fights for the weak and downtrodden against bullies of all kinds, from robot invaders and crime lords to corrupt city officials.

More tellingly, this reboot comes on the heels of the last Action Comics (No. 900) in April, in which Superman renounced his status as an American citizen after a personal visit to Iran was taken as a sign of American aggression. "I'm tired of having my actions construed as instruments of U.S. policy," said Kal-El, an illegal immigrant himself.

Small wonder DC wanted to start from scratch: This way it returns its franchise cash-cow safely to Metropolis and he can save us from robot invaders instead of being mired in another morass in the Middle East.

By Drew Grant

Drew Grant is a staff writer for Salon. Follow her on Twitter at @videodrew.

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