Obviously, we're talking Superman: Rebirth #1 spoilers here, so proceed with caution.
In the waning days of the New 52, DC ran a storyline called “The Final Days of Superman,” which — as you may have guessed — again killed off the Man of Steel, who's been buying the farm in pretty much every form of media these days.
However, with DC’s Rebirth upon us, it wasn’t exactly clear what would happen with the state of that storyline. Would it be erased? Would some deus ex machina (or nude blue god) come down from the heavens and bring him back to life? Would DC actually keep this version of Superman dead for good? Well, it seems like we have our answer today in Superman: Rebirth #1, by writers Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, with art by Doug Mahnke.
In it, we see the Pre-Flashpoint Superman (who I will just refer to as Superman Classic) attempting to revive the New 52 Supes (this issue is ungodly confusing for new fans, by the way) with the help of Lana Lang. You see, Superman Classic is the Man of Steel you pretty much grew up with — the one that was killed by Doomsday in the ‘90s and revived through the use of the Kryptonian Regeneration Matrix.
He’s been living in secret on the New 52 earth, until his existence was exposed during the whole Convergence debacle. Think of him as a relic of DC’s old continuity living among its newer slate of heroes.
Unfortunately, the New 52 Superman doesn’t have one of those Regeneration Matrix devices handy, and Classic pretty much lost his, so it's impossible to bring 52 back from the dead. Also, since 52 was never killed by Doomsday (which came as news to readers), there's no way of knowing how to bring him back without the Matrix. Shockingly, it really looks like the New 52 Superman is a thing of the past — at least for now.
For fans of the New 52 Superman (and there were plenty, despite what snarky message board posts would have you believe), he actually does get a nice sendoff, with his death coming full circle with the tragedy of Ma and Pa Kent from earlier in Grant Morrison's Action Comics run. It's a little rushed for such an iconic character, but it's not like he gets the Poochie treatment.
So, where does that leave the state of Superman in this Rebirth world? The last page pretty much confirms what everyone’s been thinking: Superman Classic is going to retake the mantle of the Man of Steel, leaving the New 52 Superman in the ground and reestablishing the Post-Crisis version that everyone loves.
What happens to his version of Lois Lane and the child they have together? What happens to New 52's supporting cast?
We don’t quite get those answers yet, but Superman: Rebirth #1 is such an intriguing read that, for the first time in a long time, the Last Son of Krypton feels worth following again.