For over 80 years and a thousand issues, Superman has held a titanic legacy in fiction, using his incredible powers to fight a never-ending battle for truth and justice. He’s been a champion of the oppressed, a reporter, an alien, an immigrant; countless forms that have coalesced over the years into an image that’s practically synonymous with the American myth itself. But what happens when someone takes this icon and its countless forms, and breaks it down to its base elements? And how do those base elements change when they collide with other conflicting plans?
In 2011, DC Comics announced The New 52, a publisher-wide initiative that reset its ongoing continuity and relaunched every title set in the fictional DC Universe. Spearheaded by then-Chief-Creative-Officer Geoff Johns and Co-Publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio, the initiative was meant to both streamline the company’s superhero line for new readers and give a roster of all-star creatives the opportunity to reshape and modernize the characters as they saw fit. It was here that superstar writer Grant Morrison–fresh off a 7-year run on Batman–and artist Rags Morales would collaborate to bring this new version of Superman to life, crafting a story that celebrates the character’s place in fiction while introducing a more modern, conflicted take on the hero. While the run was widely regarded as a misfire, characterized by the many production and creative struggles that would define the rest of The New 52, it’s also a coda to all of Morrison’s thoughts on Superman, pulling from every iteration of the character to forge an all-new future for the Man of Tomorrow.