It’s not entirely accurate to say that Super Here For… is DCComics.com’s Superman column. I mean, it is, but that’s not all it is. Super Here For… is traditionally a column about Superman and his adventures within the greater DC Universe. It’s a column that embraces and celebrates the continuity between the various Super-Family titles, and that seeks to highlight important events in the world of Superman that you might not be aware of if you’re not reading every book.
That’s what Super Here For… typically is, but as I don’t need to tell you, these aren’t typical times. There currently aren’t any in-universe Superman comics being published. However, that’s not to say there aren’t new Superman comics. You just won’t find them in print.
Superman: Man of Tomorrow is part of DC’s new wave of Digital First titles, meaning they’re released digitally before they hit comic shops. It’s written by Robert Venditti, who’s also currently writing Justice League (so in other words, Supes is in very good hands) and drawn by Paul Pelletier. And while it doesn’t tie in to what Brian Michael Bendis is doing with Superman and Action Comics, it has everything you love about the Man of Steel—large-scale action, witty Lois Lane banter, high stakes and a hopeful message. In short, it’s a great Superman comic that manages to stand alone quite nicely.
For someone who loves DC’s superhero universe and writes a column about shared continuity, I have a dirty little confession to make—I’m not always a huge fan of it. Don’t get me wrong, when done well, continuity is amazing. It feels like these stories we’re so invested in are part of something bigger and even more important. But it’s also a barrier to entry to new fans. The most recent issue of Action Comics featured a guest appearance by Young Justice. It was tons of fun for those of us who are familiar with the team and know that Bendis is also currently writing a Young Justice series, but it can be frustrating for newer or more casual fans who may only read Superman comics and who might not even know who Young Justice is. (And let’s be honest, friends, the fact that there’s a DC animated series of the same name that has absolutely nothing to do with the comic doesn’t make things any easier to understand.)
To be clear, I’m not saying that having Young Justice show up in Action Comics was the wrong thing to do. Just that some of the things that speak to longtime fans may also turn newer fans off. Leaning too deep into continuity can make comics less accessible and harder for new readers to get into, and that’s really not good for anyone in the long term.
Which is why is why it’s great to have comics that can speak to both kinds of fans, and that brings me back to Superman: Man of Tomorrow.
If you want to get technical, I’m not sure the book is out of continuity, but it’s sure not tied to it all that much. Superman’s secret identity is still very much under wraps in the first issue. Lex Luthor looks human and none of the recent Apex Lex craziness seems to have taken place. The supporting cast is all pretty well known—Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Perry White and Lex Luthor. It’s all familiar territory to anyone who knows Superman, but it’s effective and best of all, it can be enjoyed by new fans or longtime ones in equal measure.
Plus, I couldn’t help but notice how well the story resonates right now.
In Superman: Man of Tomorrow #1, a famished Parasite drains power from all of Metropolis, causing a city-wide blackout. Citizens are scared and panicking, uncertain of what’s happening and how they’ll get through it, and Superman must come to grips with the fact that he can’t help them and also stop Parasite. But what he realizes, what he always realizes, is that when things are at their worst, the best people that a city can turn to isn’t a team of super-powered heroes—it’s themselves.
There’s one line on that page that really stands out to me, and I can’t help but apply it to right now. It’s Superman’s remark about how “if everyone looks after someone, then everyone will be looked after.”
It’s such a sweet, humane sentiment. We may not be in a blackout, but we’re in a crisis of a different sort and I’m reminded of how so many people right now are checking in on friends and family they haven’t seen or spoken to in a while, making sure they’re okay. We’re hearing about people delivering food to older neighbors. Landlords waiving rent. Small business owners forgoing their salaries to be able to pay their employees. Comic fans and creators raising money to keep their local comic shops afloat. In short, it’s a hard time and people are scared, but we’re looking out for each other, and we didn’t even need Superman to tell us to do it.
I’m not going to say that Superman: Man of Tomorrow is the perfect pandemic read or anything like that, but it’s a nice reminder of the good we’re capable of doing for each other. That’s a welcome message anytime, but now in particular. And coming in a standalone book that’s accessible to everyone, maybe a few more people who really need to hear that hopeful message right now will get to.
Sure, that’s aspirational, but that’s what Superman is, right?
Tim Beedle covers movies, TV and comics for DCComics.com, writes our monthly Superman column, “Super Here For…”, and is a regular contributor to the Couch Club, our weekly television column. Look for him on Twitter at @Tim_Beedle.