Superman Just Died A Pointless Death

It's supposed to matter when Superman dies. This time, it totally doesn't. DC Comics has killed Kal-El again. Most devoted comic-book readers aren't surprised by this, since the publisher announced months ago that the latest version of Superman wouldn't be part of the post-Rebirth universe. And since he's the first-ever superhero character, this isn't the first death that Superman has suffered. It is, however, one of the most meaningless.

This version of Clark Kent is dying because of the cumulative effects of the last year's adventures, during which he absorbed energy from the fire pits of Apokolips and exposed himself to massive amounts of Kryptonite to try and get his lost powers back. Out this week, Superman #52 is the last entry in the eight-part "Final Days of Superman" storyline that's been running through various titles, showing the title character saying goodbye to Batman, Lois Lane, Wonder Woman and others. The latter half of the storyline has had Clark, Diana and Bruce working to track down and stop a delusional man imbued with remnants of solar flare energy released by Superman in a few big battles.

Part of the problem with this particular death-of-Superman storyline is that there's already another Superman waiting in the wings to fly up, up and away into the skies. He's the version that debuted after Crisis on Infinite Earths and wound up in the New 52 version of the DCU after last winter's big Convergence crossover. Married to an alt-universe Lois Lane and father to a young son, bearded-Clark shows up to help defeat the power-mad impostor.

This is the Last Son of Krypton that some fans have wanted to come back for a while now. But his very presence dilutes any drama from how New 52 Clark shuffles off this mortal coil:

I've liked a lot of Peter Tomasi's output over the years, including The Mighty, a great Nightwing run a few years back and even the recent Superman/Wonder Woman storylines after Clark lost his most of his powers. However, his writing on these books feels it's just dutifully hitting beats and moving pieces around for whatever comes next. There have been a few good moments in the "Final Days of Superman" stories — like Batman dealing very poorly with Superman's incurable, fatal diagnosis — but nothing that feels like it will stand the test of time.

Let's not forget this is a version of Superman that was initially shaped by comics legend Grant Morrison. The idiosyncrasy of Morrison's approach was a big part of what I liked about the New 52 Superman, which started off by hearkening back to the character's roots as social justice crusader.

The New 52 version of the Man of Steel wasn't any weirder than the iterations that preceded, with all the subtext-heavy Red Kryptonite transformations and secretly taped super-sex videos. But he had his charms. This was a Superman who had an intelligent emotive cosmic baby carriage that sung songs to infant Kal-El through hyperspace, went to sleep and waited for him to come of age as the champion he was fated to be. "Ha-la-la." I loved that.

This was a Superman who revelled in the taste of a burrito when he was no longer invulnerable…

…and wrestled other metahumans when he needed cash.

I've written before about how each era gets a different take on Superman. In the 1990s, the "Death of Superman" storyline turned into a huge media event, followed up by storylines clearly meant to milk the curiosity of newcomers and speculators thinking comics could be lucrative investments. This time, Kal-El's passing barely makes a ripple in the larger public consciousness. DC's latest crack at reinventing the Man of Tomorrow for a modern audience will be getting replaced by a previous version who's a married dad. It's telling that the curtain call for the New 52 version of Superman comes as DC tries to recapture the legacy it jettisoned years ago. The same old cycle continues, with a stubborn, naive hope that the next reconfiguration will do better.


Comments

    I don't know, I think his death in Batman vs Superman was more pointless.

      Haha. I was gonna comment "Almost as useless as his death in Batman vs Superman then.."

      Hey, his death wasn't pointless in Batman V Superman, even if it were a bit early it was a logical place to go that paved the way for the other characters to grow and evolve. It just happened to be part of a really bad movie.

        As someone who actually didn't mind the movie, I thought it was pointless because
        They showed 5 minutes later he wasn't actually dead (or rather, had revived).
        If they kept him dead until the next film at least it would've had a bit more impact.

        Last edited 27/05/16 5:57 pm

          I dunno. Who would have believed that they were actually killing him off for good? We all knew he was 'dead' not dead. I think it was better that they were honest about it rather than lying and then backtracking when it inevitably leaks when they start filming on the next movie he's in.
          For the record I don't actually have a huge amount against the movie. It's full of good stuff but like Man of Steel it's riddled with these nagging little things that drag viewers out of the moment. I walked out of it entertained enough but not excited about any future movies and I feel absolutely no need to see it again (I think the second time will be worse since I was able to tolerate their Luthor the first time under the assumption there'd be a shock reveal that he was just acting like an idiot to hide his true, sinister genius).

      Wow. Spoilers. Not that I have much interest in seeing it, but still.

      Well if they'd followed the Doomsday storyline better it should have happened *after* Justice League - since Doomsday tears apart basically everyone who gets in front of him. He kills a bunch of minor DC superheros, beats the hell out of most of the JLA - seriously injuring a bunch of them. It's literally only Supermans sacrifice that halts him. And not with a spear that he could have handed to Wonder Woman to let her finish the fight with no downside.

      So yeah they messed it up in the movie, but the comic they lifted it from actually made sense and had a feeling of heroic sacrifice. Just another reason to hate Snyder's movie :(

    He died to make way for the awesome rebirth. Thats reason enough.

      Yeah man! Read rebirth today... I'm actually really excited for everything!

        Yep, it was *damn* good. Has me excited, and that tease at the end for who is responsible for the whole New52 debacle...

        *WOW*

    It’s supposed to matter when Superman dies.
    No, no its NOT suppose to matter, it doesnt matter, and never will matter... cause he either didnt really die, comes back to life, or like above, there is another one already to take the mantle. Hell that one was hovering over his body as HE DIED.

    Supermans death is not a death, its a man flu... Krypton cry baby pretending he is mortal man, when he is an alien demi-god.

    headline "Superman just died a pointless death"

    inside article *spoiler warning*

    GG well done notaku

      In fairness, if you were planning on reading "The Final days of Superman" with the hope of a happy ending for Superman... well, maybe you didn't read the title properly...

        should have seen the shock i got when i read the death of wolverine. didn't see that one coming either.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now