While it is still not technically confirmed, merchandise and toys seem to be indicating that Superman will return from the dead in Justice League while wearing a black costume with a silver "S" on the chest.
That costume, which first appeared in 1993's "Reign of the Supermen!," has fascinated fans since it first appeared and has been riffed on, experimented with, and redone a couple of times since, in spite of the fact that it was created for a single, specific story.
The actual costume, which was designed by then-Superman: The Man of Steel artist Jon Bogdanove, first appeared in Action Comics #689, featuring art by Jackson "Butch" Guice.
"We were always looking for big stories to do with Superman and those usually involved the idea of changing up the status quo in some way," Jurgens told ComicBook.com during an interview in March. "We had discussed the general idea of a costume change...back when we brought him back from the dead, of course. That was part of the inspiration for the all-black costume."
At the time of its debut, it featured not Superman's iconic "S" glyph but what looked a bit like a field of TV snow, and it featured a white, ruffled look on the sleeves familiar to John Byrne's reinvention of Kryptonian wardrobe in The Man of Steel.
Where did it go from there? Well...!
Reign of the Supermen!
Following his death at the hands of Doomsday, Superman was briefly replaced by four men, each jockeying to become Metropolis's new #1 hero. At the time, there were four, monthly Superman titles and each character occupied the lead role in one book.
One of those characters, called at the time the "Last Son of Krypton," turned out to be not Superman but The Eradicator, a Kryptonian AI whose function was to preserve the "sanctity of Kryptonian life."
It was The Eradicator who has constructed Superman's Fortress of Solitude, and who would steal the hero's corpse away to the Fortress and place it inside a giant, glowing egg called a "regeneration matrix."
That all happened off-camera, though, and until a black-clad figure stumbled out of the regeneration matrix, readers were supposed to assume that the "Last Son" believed himself to be Kal-El.
Once Superman was back from the dead, the writers took care not to explicitly spell out that he was the real Superman until Superman: The Man of Steel #25 (which featured the caption "The Real Steel Deal!" on the cover), but also made little attempt to hide that in all likelihood, this powerless character wearing a black suit was Earth's greatest hero.
After riding a giant Kryptonian battle robot across the ocean floor to Metropolis, Superman teamed up with three of the four would-be Supermen to battle the fourth, a villain who had murdered millions in order to destroy Superman's reputation.
Throughout the remainder of "The Reign of the Supermen!," Kal-El continued to wear the black costume (occasionally referred to as a regeneration suit), which by the time of his arrival in Metropolis had eschewed the adornments on his arms and replaced the generic pentagonal glyph with a silver Superman logo. That silver logo would be burned away in the story's final chapter, when the evil Cyborg Superman attempted to kill Superman by firing a stream of Kryptonite radiation at him. Instead, the Kryptonite passed through the body of The Eradicator, who somehow transformed it into something that could revitalize Superman's powers and help the heroes win the day.prevnext
In early 1997, as the Superman titles built to a major status quo shift that would see the hero get a radically different look and power set for a brief period, his heroes started to act up.
It started with the DC event series The Final Night, in which a semi-sentient cosmic storm known as a "Sun-Eater" tried to destroy the Earth's sun. Given that the sun is the source of Superman's powers, and that he had been going more or less non-stop since his fight with Doomsday years before, Superman completely exhausted his powers during the storyline and was briefly without them, around the time of his wedding and honeymoon.
This gave the audience a few things: Clark was able to cut his (invulnerable) hair in time for the wedding and return to his classic, boyish good looks; he was able to be rescued by a badass Lois during some fun, non-poweres stories; and it explored what made that relationship work beyond just everyone loving Superman.
After the smoke cleared, though, Superman began to worry about why his powers had not returned after he spent some time in the sun. Realizing that it had taken him up until he was a teenager for his powers to start manifesting the first time, and that Earth probably couldn't go without Superman for that long, he tried several things to restore his powers, one of which being an attempt to get as close to the sun as possible while wearing another Kryptonian regeneration suit.
This codified an idea that had been glossed over in-story and then debated among fans -- that the suit itself was part of his revival (and possibly of his ability to absorb a shocking amount of "purified" Kryptonite) as much as the regeneration matrix itself.prevnext
When the world of Batman Beyond decided to introduce the Justice League, Superman wore a black costume with a white shield (stylized quite differently than the traditional Superman glyph).
This Superman had the same life experiences as the canonical Superman who had existed in the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths DC Universe (and presumably had died and come back), so it is distinctly possible that the "Beyond" version of Superman built his black-and-white ensemble around the black-and-silver look of the '93 suit.prevnext
When Andy Diggle and Tony Daniel were set to join the creative team of Action Comics in the waning days of The New 52, promotional art for the run featured Superman wearing a variation on the black costume, with a silver glyph on the chest, a cape, and the red belt seen in the New 52 Superman's costume design.
That version of the costume would pop up briefly in the "Return to Krypton" story.prevnext
Lois & Clark
In Superman: Lois and Clark, the pre-Flashpoint Superman returned.
Having spent a year in the limbo of a pocket universe created by Convergence, the pre-Flashpoint Superman had been powerless and used that time to start building a family, with Lois Lane's pregnancy and the birth of their son being probably the most talked-about moment in Convergence.
The popularity of that storyline and struggles facing the New 52 Superman led to that Superman, Lois, and their son being introduced into the main DC continuity shortly before the events of Rebirth. In Superman: Lois and Clark, a bearded Superman wore a black suit with a white (or silver, depending on the artist) shield that resembled a hybrid of the Kingdom Come Superman logo and the Superman Beyond logo. He was acting largely incognito.
In "The Final Days of Superman," the story that ended The New 52's volumes of Superman and Action Comics, the New 52 Superman died and the pre-Flashpoint Superman stepped up to fill the void.prevnext
In Other Media
The black costume proved popular with fans and has appeared in various other media, from toys and games to cartoons and, yes, even in Man of Steel.
The whole "Death and Return of Superman" mega-arc was a phenomenal best-seller, and so it was more or less a given that DC would churn out toys. That has happened at least twice based on the comics, and a third time based on Superman: Doomsday, an animated movie that (very) loosely retold the story.
In the Krypton of Man of Steel, some social castes on Krypton seem to wear the black bodysuits by default, and when Superman has a fever dream about the danger he presents to the world, he is wearing a version of the black suit that looks very much like the one depicted in The New 52.0comments
Toys and even a statue based on the scene in Man of Steel were easy to come by.
It also appeared briefly in Countdown, but the less said about Countdown, the better.prev