Yes, it’s been a little while since our last Great here for… column, but it’s a new year and we have a new man of steel, and it seemed like a good time to bring him back. (And yes, I realize that technically 2022 isn’t so new anymore and Jon Kent has been Superman for months. Let’s just imagine I was trapped in the Phantom Zone – or 2021, which was pretty much the same thing – and let’s go this to this.)
If you’re not following all of the weekly ins and outs of the DC Universe, I think the first question you’ll probably ask yourself when you hear there’s a new Superman is Why? Superman has been strong for over eighty years. That’s at least five different generations of readers who grew up reading and watching the adventures of Kal-El of Krypton. Millions of people around the world see him as a heroic ideal, the definitive superhero. You’re no more iconic than Superman, so why change that?
Well no. Let’s not forget that Kal-El is always very present. But with the original Man of Steel currently off-world, it’s up to his son, Jon Kent, to take over and serve as Earth’s Superman in his stead, and there’s good reason why that’s A very good news. for the character and for Superman fans everywhere.
Eighty years of comics is quite a legacy. This means that the vast majority of people living today have never lived in a world without Superman. He was there for us the day we were born and he will be there long after we are gone. While it’s not technically true to say that Superman is eternal, it sure does look like it from our limited perspective. But for things to last, they have to evolve.
If you have any doubts about that, just look at the men and women who create the Man of Steel comics. Once upon a time, all artists worked manually, lettering was done by hand, coloring was completed with dye or markers, and each page had to be physically delivered to the publisher. Today, if you came to DC (or any other comic book publisher) and said you wanted to hand-write and hand-color your comic, and on top of that you refused to send them files numbers by email, they would probably show you the door.
Change is part of life. Even when you don’t have Superman’s longevity.
Now, all of that said, Kal-El has done an incredible job of keeping up with the times. He’s come a long way since those early days of gunning down ordinary gangsters. However, even the best of us can benefit from a youthful perspective and that’s where Jon Kent comes in.
The minute Clark Kent and Lois Lane became parents, their story became a legacy. Superman, who never had a superhero sidekick like most of his fellow Justice Leaguers, finally had someone he could eventually pass the torch to. Jon is someone who shares Superman’s heroic beliefs and ideas, but brings a younger, more current perspective to justice.
It should come as no surprise to anyone with a window or an Internet connection that the problems today are very different from what they were in 1938, or even in the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s, when some of the saw the most acclaimed and popular Superman storylines first footprint. Whereas once the world’s greatest fears were the twin specters of fascism and nuclear annihilation – which, to be clear, are still very much with us – today’s issues are more complex and difficult. They cannot be addressed directly. In other words, you can’t heat vision global warming or freeze breathing misinformation. For Superman to effectively deal with threats like these will take a lot of thinking outside the box.
So if a fresh perspective is needed, it’s probably a good thing we have an all-new Superman to provide it. And given that he was directly raised and mentored by the original Man of Steel and his equally idealistic wife, we can rest assured that the heart and soul of what that iconic S stands for is still intact.
He may be a new Superman, but he is always Superman.
Now, that’s not to say Jon won’t make mistakes and find himself overwhelmed at times. We’ve certainly seen this happen more than once. It’s going to be a while before he’s really able to fill those red boots on his own, and it might not even be planned. His father shows no signs of retiring (although recent announcements suggest something far more ominous). But I’m thrilled to see Jon become his own, representing truth, justice, and a better future in his own way.
In the next few columns, we’ll discuss how it does it, as well as the seriousness of the threats it faces. Believe me, the giant kaiju are actually the easy part. But for now, let’s just say that with Jon lighting up the pages of Superman’s landmark title while his dad rocks the pages of action comics, Superman fans have plenty of reasons to feel excited and hopeful for the New Year. And after the stress of the past two years, when was the last time any of us felt like this?
Follow Jon Kent’s adventures as the world’s newest Superman in the pages of Superman: Son of Kal-El, available in print each month and on DC UNIVERSE INFINITE.
Tim Beedle covers movies, TV and comics for DCComics.com, writes our monthly Superman column, “Super Here For…”, and is a regular contributor to Couch Club, our recurring TV column. Follow him on Twitter at @Tim_Beedle.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of Tim Beedle and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.