Reign of the Supermen #419: Aaron Diaz' Superman

Source: (2011)
Type: Unsolicited redesignAs the DCU was being rebooted, a number of fans and artists jumped on the bandwagon and attempted the exercise for themselves. In Superman's case, while most are happy with Morrison's retelling of Superman's early days in Action Comics, the verdict is far less positive when it comes to the present-day Superman (only 5 years on) with his undrawable Kryptonian armor. But at least Superman was really rebooted, which can't be said of the entire DCU. Personally, I'd have been happy with a complete reboot, or no reboot at all. The middle ground just puts me off.

Comic Alliance did a nice piece last year on Aaron Diaz's (Cyborg-inclusive) Justice League reboot and he's got the right idea when it comes to handling reboots. His three key directives:
1. Make the characters appealing to new readers, not just old ones
2. Create new story opportunities while staying true to the core themes
3. Update, correct and redesign where necessary

But has he gone too far by making Krypton a truly alien planet and merging Superman's concept with the Martian Manhunter's? Here's how Aaron describes his rebooted Supes:

Origin: The Kryptonian civilization once spanned hundreds of worlds, their technology and knowledge unrivaled in their corner of the galaxy. Kryptonians had long since advanced to a point where technology and biology were indistinguishable, making them virtually immortal and omnipotent in the eyes of less developed races. Over time they grew overconfident, and wished to introduce their technology to undeveloped worlds, in direct violation of the most important rule of the galactic community: the Omega Law. In an attempt to assimilate the natives of the planet Mars, Krypton finally gained the attention of Colu, enforcer of the Omega Law, and was marked for extermination. A Kryptonian Scientist named Jor-El, specializing in passively and remotely observing nearby Earth, witnessed this and rapidly set a plan forward to save his infant son, Kal-El, from their fate. By sending him in a conventional rocket toward the backwater planet Earth, he guaranteed Kal-El's safety from Colu. The rocket took over a thousand years to reach the planet, and upon reaching the surface, restructured Kal-El's body so he would appear as a human. Raised by simple farmers, Kal-El (now called Clark Kent) eventually learned of his heritage when examining a recorded message from his rocket. His father informed him of his fate, and that he must never dominate the planet with his immense power, as it would warp the fate of all life on Earth. Not content to passively observe humanity, though, Clark decides to inspire others through his actions as Superman. Superman has declared that he fights for those who cannot defend themselves, owing no allegiance to a particular government (though still obeying their laws). He has particularly targeted corporate corruption and the military-industrial complex as enemies of human progress, his most prominent opponent being billionaire industrialist Lex Luther [sic] and his company, LexCorp.

Powers: Superman can "shed" his human form and appear as a Kryptonian, though he chooses not to, as to avoid violating the Omega Law. He possesses superhuman durability and strength, as well as the ability to move himself through the air. His senses are also much more sensitive than an average human's. Being a Kryptonian, he is actually capable of near-godlike feats, but for the safety of the Earth and his mission, Clark deliberately avoided learning of what he is truly capable.

Notes: I wanted to bring Superman back to his depression-era roots, where in the earliest stories he was mostly concerned with social justice more than representing specifically American ideals. It was only after World War 2 that he became a more "boy scout," authoritarian character. I wanted him to be closer to the Nietzschean "Superman" (the earliest inspiration for the character) whose morality can be independent of traditional ones. Visually, I wanted to have him look a little more working class, with the buttons suggesting the image of overalls and the sleeves appearing rolled up. With the cape and high boots, though, he still has the appearance of an adventurer. I wanted the overall look to be more of a friendly guy who wants to help people more than a demigod who watches over them. He's more of a fireman than a police officer. (Also, as an aside, Colu was the original home planet of Braniac, so I used that name for him instead.)

So there's something of Morrison's "working class hero" in there, but also potential for space opera elements and a grand Kryptonian mythology. Really, the only I don't care for is the renaming of Brainiac, bur nothing's stopping him from taking that name later. I doubt he's got "Brainiac" written on his birth certificate, but I do prefer Dox. But what do you think? Would fans have embraced such a radical redesign? Or should the NuDC have been as different from the OldDC as the Silver Age was different from the Golden Age?

I also encourage you to check out the rest of Diaz's Justice League at the linked article. Superman may actually be the most "on-model" character in there.


Jayunderscorezero said...

I love the champion-of-the-people Superman, but am wary of anything that focuses too much on his alien heritage.

Martin Gray said...

Interesting look, but I'm not impressed by the big tweaks to the backstory. The backstory is fine.

Anonymous said...

The guy is totally going too far. I say the core themes of Superman are public service and gratitude to an accepting world, not his alien-ness. Kryptonian heritage is there only to explain his powers, not to make him an outsider.

The legend of Superman could have told, for the most part, around any orphan of the storm who was found by loving foster parents, and grew up to be an outstanding member of his new community.


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