What do you do in comics when character mistakes have been made?
Well, you can reboot an entire universe if the mistakes are continuity wide.
Or you can simply ignore the mistakes and have a new creative team just start writing the character a different way.
Or you can 'soft reboot' things, change a couple of key events here and there to smooth out some of the rough edges.
Action Comics #976, the last part of Superman Reborn, does the latter. And I loved it.
There was much of the New 52 Superman that I didn't care for. Outside of Morrison and Pak, the tone just seemed way off. The usage of the supporting cast, especially Lois, was terrible. And we went from an 'I'm here to help' character to someone who mercilessly beat his helpless opponents. It was wrong.
Then Convergence and Rebirth came along and a new/old Superman and Lois were brought into the fold. Building on pre-Flashpoint continuity, the two were in love, married, and brought a more classic feel to the book. Everything seemed to be clicking.
Unfortunately, it meant you were stuck with two of each of the characters. The New 52 Superman and Lois were killed off to make things easier to follow. But how could the older Lois simply step into the younger Lois' life. How could Clark White live on a farm while no Clark Kent worked at the Planet? How did other people handle a 'new' Superman being in the ranks?
It was getting a bit confusing. Even my reviews had to say things like 'pre-FC Superman' and 'N52 Superman' and 'older Lois', etc. Things needed to be smoothed out.
That's just what Reborn has done. It might seem a bit fast. It probable will leave a lot of continuity reshuffling to the readers. And it didn't really answer the how's of all this. We still don't know who Mr. Oz is or who the mysterious 'he' who is doing all this is. But we have one Superman now, disguised as a mild-mannered reporter working for a great Metropolitan newspaper, in love with Lois, and acting as a hero. And for that, I'm happy.
I'll add that Doug Mahnke is on art on the issue and brings a nice insanity to the proceedings. Energy beings, 5th dimensional imps, decaying fantasylands ... Mahnke brings a vibrancy to it all.
Enough dawdling, onto the book.
Remember, last issue the New 52 Superman and Lois arrived in Mxyzptlk's crazy world. Unfortunately, it looks like at the same time Mxy destroyed Jon's parents, the pre-Flashpoint Superman and Lois.
See, it is already tough to write the review.
The red boots on Superman show that he is the New 52 version but I also like that the panels are bordered in red, like the 'red energy' we saw last issue which became this Lois and Superman. It is a subtle clue for readers about which pair we are dealing with.
And remember, these two weren't parents. They think that Jon has been traumatized by Mxy into believing he is there son. They don't know him at all.
And as Superman battles Mxyzptlk, Jon continues to try and convince Lois that she is his mother.
Listen to the New 52 Lois. 'Superman and I are friends, nothing much more than that.'
I read that line and felt a little sad. Lois shouldn't be so blase or cold about not having a relationship with Superman. It encapsulated what I thought was wrong with the New 52.
I understand that not everyone thinks the Clark/Lois stuff is special. But for me, it is.
Nothing much more than that - sad
But the environment is falling apart around them. Mxyzptlk wants to take off and take Jon with him. After all, this much destruction is bound to get 'his' attention, whoever he is.
Whoever he is, he is the architect of all this weirdness.
So Mxy didn't split Superman.
So who did.
Who is this architect?
I have to go back to the Dr. Manhattan guess, the hand behind the darkening of the DCU. I suppose calling him the 'engineer of this weirdness' would be too on the nose.
The 'red' Superman is ineffective against Mxy.
Jon ends up seeing blue energy floating around as well. They call out to him and take humanoids shape.
Somehow he can absorb the energy and then turn it against Mxy. Finally something works.
Realizing the 'architect' is coming and hurt by Jon, he simply leaves.
You really get the sense that whoever 'he' is, 'he' is powerful. Mxy is a near omnipotent magical being and he isn't sticking around.
It also puts Mxy part in this story to an end. I have to admit, he was something of a catalyst for the story, pushing this forward. He helped erase the 'secret identity' problem we saw in The Truth. And he is a bit more malevolent. You have to love magic characters! They can make things happen.
Interestingly, the New 52 feel how earnest Jon is and start to wonder if he is telling the truth. At that point, the blue energy Lois and Clark appear.
Jon pleads for them to become who they used to be.
And then there is a ... unification.
The New 52 Lois and Clark and the pre-Flashpoint Lois and Clark merge.
They remember Jon. They remember everything.
Superman says that Lois and Jon mean everything to him.
Big moments deserve big art. This hug merited a splash page. The New 52 is behind us. We have one Superman. We have one Lois. They are together.
This makes me happy!
While I applaud the move, it just made the big story a little more confusing.
Mr. Oz, watching the whole thing, can't believe that the super-family's love could unite the two timelines. Even 'he' didn't think that was possible.
So is Mr. Oz working for 'the architect'? Or is he a lone wolf, doing what he is doing with his own agenda? Did he imprison Mxy because 'he' told Oz to? Or did Oz himself want Mxy off the board?
And why would the architect want to split Superman?
Was the architect aware of the Convergence worlds? Did he make them??
So while the end of a united Superman is great, I am still scratching my head trying to figure things out.
And then we get this great double page spread which shows what the new timeline is like. There are classic elements. There are New 52 elements. Somewhere along the way Lois and Clark got married, moved in, and Lois had Jon. We see a clip from the Death of Superman. We see Imperiex. We see a classic Cyborg Superman.
What actually happened?
This is how I felt after Crisis on Infinite Earths with Batman. Which stories pre-Crisis happened post-Crisis? Whichever ones I wanted. Use your own filter.
The question is how this impacts everyone else. Think of the rocky relationship between Kal and Kara in the early New 52. Did that happen? Did this Superman let Kara go off on her own without being a friend? Will their be a new dynamic between the two cousins? I hope so.
How does this effect Lana? If the red energy was drained, does she still have powers?
And lets ask the big questions? Does anyone remember anything? Does Superman remember one life? Or both? Does Jon think he was raised by this couple who worked at the Planet? Or does he remember Hamilton? In fact, does the house in Hamilton still exist???
So hooray one timeline! But there is work to be done.
And even Oz wonders if it was Superman who bent the rules or did 'he' allow it?
And we see Mars.
Mars could mean Manhattan. I hope it doesn't mean J'onn.
Remember, the whole point of Rebirth was to get back to a classic interpretation of these DC characters. This fusing of the two Supermen and Loises does just that. But like any soft reboot (maybe this is a firm but not hard reboot), it opens things up to more questions. I'll be watching. I trust these creators. I think this will all work out.