Superman is the first comic book superhero and remains one of the most iconic, but his world (and I don’t mean Krypton) is about to get shaken up by new writer Gene Luen Yang and legendary artist John Romita Jr.. Yang previously wrote the acclaimed graphic novel ‘American Born Chinese’, which explored the themes of race and identity, and expect those themes to be further explored in ‘Superman,’ who is, after all, an alien. And along with this new direction comes a physical makeover as the Man of Steel gets a haircut and looses his famous S curl!
But that’s not all. The hero actually reveals his identity to a longtime supporting character– none other that his “Pal” Jimmy Olsen. And of course, he recently developed a new power, referred to as a “Super Flare.”
As Yang states, “He has this crazy new power that essentially strips him of his superpowers for an extended period of time after he uses them… But the second thing is this idea of identity, of his dual identity. And now that he’s revealed [his secret identity] to Jimmy, that’s just one aspect of what’s happening. We really want to make those the two core pieces of what we’re doing as we move forward.”
The writer further embellished the idea of Kal-El as an alien immigrant. “[Being an immigrant is] just an essential part of the character. And as I’m writing, what I’m expecting is that it will come out organically. Superman has been around for so long… what, eight decades now? And he goes through these different eras where different aspects of who he is get emphasized. I think at the core of him is the idea of the immigrant experience. His creators were two children of Jewish immigrants. And embedded in his origin story is this idea of negotiating between two cultures and trying to take two halves of himself and create something that’s whole and unified. I’m hoping what will happen is as we build our narrative, that aspect will come out organically.”
Superman has been seen as both all-American and as an outsider, so this new take is in keeping with his history, especially since the current continuity is only a few years old and is not connected to the “classic” Superman mythology. There’s room for an alternate glimpse at the iconic hero.
What do you think? Do you prefer a more integrated, all-American take or do you prefer to acknowledge his alien origins?