The year was 1992. A gallon of gas cost just over a dollar. Batman Returns and Aladdin made blockbuster numbers in theaters. Bill Clinton won the presidential election by rocking a pair of shades, playing a saxophone, and not being devastatingly out of touch with modern Americans. But something else happened that year, too. That was the year that the world lost a Superman.
The Death of Superman was a big deal. DC knew exactly what they were doing, leaking details of the story (including the bloody “S” logo) months before it actually happened. Newspapers wrote obituaries for the character that described his 50+ year history. Some even wrote about him as though he were a real person, describing his valiant fight against a creature known as Doomsday. Metropolis — along with the rest of the world — was safe once again, thanks to the fallen hero who lay cradled in the arms of the woman who loved him.
On May 25th, Superman died. Again.
But it’s probably not the one you’re thinking of.
Back in 2011, DC introduced the New 52. It was meant to serve as a launching-off point for new readers and also to shake decades of continuity anchors that made writing and reading the titles a challenge. For many comic readers, it failed on both fronts. It completely restarted some stories while keeping other previous continuities in tact. Action Comics featured a Superman in blue jeans and a t-shirt, while Superman itself flashed forward five years later. This Superman was far less of a boy scout than the one most audiences were familiar with, often coming off as a jerk who was out of touch with the world he was trying to save. He was brash. He made mistakes. Collateral damage didn’t seem to matter that much to him.
And now he’s dead.
Where are the obituaries this time? The love letters to an American icon and a childhood hero?
Nowhere to be found.
The New 52 Superman’s death was trotted out with little fanfare. Devoted readers of the comic knew it was coming, as the series arc’s title, “The Final Days of Superman,” was less than subtle.
But this was not an event. The world didn’t take notice. Instead, this action seemed to be just one of many that DC is taking to fix a mistake.
And yes, that is Superman flying away in the last panel. But this is a different Superman—a Superman that existed before the New 52. Or—as many readers and fans will undoubtedly say—the real Superman.
“Superman” is dead. Long live Superman.