Warning: Spoilers ahead for Action Comics #975, on sale today.
A close reading of Action Comics #975 may have lent some credence to one of our crazier theories in a while -- that the "Superman Reborn" storyline will somehow bring Superman and his New 52 counterpart together using some variation on the Superman Red/Superman Blue motif.
Twenty years ago this week, Superman #123 by current Action Comics writer Dan Jurgens featured a story titled "Superman...Reborn!" It was released on March 12, 1997 and introduced Superman's (in)famous "electric blue" costume.
(The storyline currently unfolding in Superman and Action Comics is also titled "Superman Reborn.")
After the Final Night storyline in 1996, in which Superman worked tirelessly to save people while operating without the rejuvenating benefit of yellow sunlight, the Man of Steel was briefly powerless. In his quest to restore his abilities, he tried a number of things, and the combination of experiments resulted in a change to his body and power set that lasted for about a year. His skin turned blue, he was forced to wear a "containment suit" that kept his energy-based form from dissipating, and his abilities shifted to more electricity-based ones with similar application to his traditional powers. Toward the end of the storyline, an attempt to destroy him resulted in the "electric blue" Superman being split in two -- one red, one blue, in a riff on the Silver Age story "Superman Red/Superman Blue" by Leo Dorfman and Curt Swan.
The "electric red" Superman costume and power set has shown up recently -- as the inspiration for Lana Lang's costume in Superwoman. Around that same time, the New 52 Superman had died, passing some of his powers along to Lois Lane and some to Lana. Meanwhile, the pre-Flashpoint Superman, Lois, and Jon Kent arrived, with Superman stepping in to replace his recently-deceased counterpart and then Lois eventually doing the same when Superman's powers killed New 52 Lois. This pair, of course, were just married when the whole "electric powers" thing happened and lived through it...albeit on another Earth.
A look ahead to the end of this month shows the final chapter of the current "Superman Reborn" story in Action Comics #976 -- and it features what appears to be New 52 Superman as "Superman Red" and the pre-Flashpoint Superman as "Superman Blue," complete with electric halos.
The fact that the solicitations for this story had promised the Superman would learn about his "true nature" seemed to lend some credibility to the idea that reuniting him with the New 52 Superman and revealing that the two were parts of a whole the entire time was plausible enough.
We had already established most of this, so what's new now?
Well, to be short, it's a seemingly-throwaway line from the issue's villain, the nigh-omniscient trickster Mr. Mxyzptlk. As he leaves Superman (and in so doing, wipes all of Lois's memories of life with her son), the ultra-powerful imp tells a desperate, flailing Superman "Ta-ta, Blue."
While he would be far from the first person to refer to Superman as "Blue" (usually an acknowledgment of the longer nickname of "the big, blue boy scout"), but given the trickster nature of Mxy, and the fact that it was his final word to Superman (amid a cloud of reddish energy), it seems like just enough information to at least re-evaluate and bolster the original theory, even if it would likely not be enough on its own to start a new theory over.
And, if true, it's kind of an ingenious little taunt from Mxy...!
You can check out Action Comics #975 at your local comic shop or pick up a digital copy here.
More Superman News: