Explanation for the Weaker, Older Superman in Current Comic Books – Superman Homepage

The Ageing of Superman: An Explanation of the Older Kal-El in Recent Comic Books

By James Lantz

With all the recent focus on Jon Kent in the news lately, it’s easy to forget that his father Clark/Kal-El is still in full force in his own adventures. Now, there are most likely new and established readers who have been befuddled by Clark’s getting older in DC’s comic pages. A more aged Kal in such titles as Future State: Superman: Worlds of War and Superman and The Authority, while recent Action Comics issues and Batman/Superman: The Authority Special #1 have shown a younger Superman. This is especially confusing when one reads the aforementioned special after Superman and The Authority #4. Well, Superfans, this article will hopefully help make sense of the events in Clark Kent’s life that led to his aging and subsequent power loss.

We first see a gray haired Superman in Future State: Superman: Worlds of War #1-2. He looked similar to his counterpart from the Mark Waid and Alex Ross classic Kingdom Come to the point of even having his S-shield. Readers, myself included are led to wonder just how much time had passed between the Brian Michael Bendis Superman and Action Comics run and Superman: Worlds of War. While this is a valid inquiry, discoveries in Action Comics #1036, which we’ll get to shortly, bring forth the possibility that there isn’t too large of a gap between that issue and Superman: Worlds of War at all. To better understand what I mean, let’s look at the chronology of events. We’ll be mainly looking at most of Phillip Kennedy Johnson’s Superman related books and Superman and The Authority in order to make this comprehensive without being too lengthy. However, if there is something I missed in this article, do not hesitate to comment or send a message via the Superman Homepage Feedback Form.

Worlds of War #2

Warning: There are spoilers ahead. If you haven’t read the comic books mentioned, do not go past this point in the article.

For those that missed it, Action Comics #1036 revealed that Superman had been suffering from radiation poisoning since being injured by extraterrestrial invaders in Superman #29 and Action Comics 1029‘s “The Golden Age”. In fact, Clark is seen bleeding in that serial. Energy from a rift in space, which was opened by S.T.A.R. Labs and studied by Amanda Waller, effects his Kryptonian cells. Yet, Jon Kent is immune to it. “Warworld Rising” (Action Comics #1030-1035) and “The One Who Fell” (Superman #30-32) do not discuss Kal-El’s illness, but I do have a theory regarding this. We’ll discuss that later.

Moving on the Grant Morrison, Mikel Janin and friends’ Superman and The Authority mini-series, we see a gray haired Superman with the Kingdom Come S-shield whose power levels are not what they were. As with Worlds of War, we are misled to believe a lot of time has passed. Clark recruits various costumed adventurers – including Manchester Black, Enchantress, Apollo, Midnighter and Nat Irons – for a new team after the Justice League refuses to go with him to Warworld. This ragtag group is a new incarnation of Wildstorm’s The Authority. After banding together, they must work with Batman to stop a dark multiverse invasion while preparing for their trip to Warworld in Batman/Superman: The Authority Special, where we see a young and strong Superman.

Superman and The Authority leave for Warworld after they helped Batman. Action Comics #1036 shows them arrive on Mongul’s planet, and the ruse of a young and powerful Superman is lifted, revealing an aged Man of Steel. The magic of the Enchantress and Manchester Black’s mental trickery aid Clark in making those around him believe he is at full strength. That part was revealed in Action Comics #1036. Here comes the conjecture on my part. Only Lois and Jon knew the truth about the illusion before the first chapter of “The Warworld Saga” ended.

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