A seemingly throwaway scene in the latest issue of Superman: Son of Kal-El has some fans wondering whether DC's new Superman will be making an even bigger aesthetic change to the character's classic costume. Today's Superman: Son of Kal-El #5 ends with Jonathan Kent -- son of Clark Kent and Lois Lane and now the acting Superman in DC's main publishing line -- taking off his cape and handing it to his boyfriend, promising that he will be back for it before charging into action. While the action could be as simple and symbolic as "I'm leaving something important with you, so that you know I'm coming back," there's a little more to it than that.
Bleeding Cool, who called attention to the change this morning, had seen the issue early, and teased a change to Superman's look. This is also a version of Superman for whom the cape may not have the same emotional weight it does for most people.
Crisis-level events and merging timelines notwithstanding, Jonathan Kent's childhood as we have seen it was mostly on a farm, where his father was secretly a hero who wore a version of the costume that did not feature a cape. Jonathan himself was featured in the Future State: Justice League story as a version of Superman who did not wear a cape. and Clark himself has made the cape optional at best in his new, Kingdom Come-inspired look for the Warworld Saga and Superman and the Authority.
Jon's Superman costume is patterned after his costume from Super-Sons, in which he wore a zip-up sweatshirt with his logo on it, and red shoulders that attached to a cape. Without the cape, the costume retains the red shoulders, and looks a bit like an updated version of the Superman costume worn by Conner Kent in the period after he ditched his '90s leather jacket, but before he simplified his costume down to just a t-shirt and jeans. Conner wears a version of that costume now, but the jacket is back, too.
There are a number of upcoming issues solicited with art that features Jonathan wearing a cape, which may lend credence to the idea that this could be a false alarm -- but it's equally plausible that those covers included the cape specifically so as not to spoil the reveal.
Of course, if they actually have left the cape behind, it likely won't last long. Remember how it went when they decided that Clark's Superman didn't need red trunks anymore?
Currently, Jonathan Kent -- who has made national news twice in short order by updating Superman's "truth, justice, and the American way" motto to a more globally-inclusive "truth, justice, and a better tomorrow," and by coming out as bisexual -- is starring in Superman: Son of Kal-El, while his father is appearing in Action Comics, in which he is facing off with Mongul for the fate of Warworld.