Superman's Red Trunks Have Vanished From This Week's Issue...Almost

Superman's red trunks have been retconned from the New 52 continuity, before they ever had a chance to even really appear.

Early last month, ComicBook.com reported that preview pages released for today's Superman #32 featured the first DC Comics art by John Romita, Jr. -- and that he had apparently depicted Superman as having worn red trunks in newspaper clippings from the "death and return" era.

While the death and return of Superman still happened, the panel at top is taken from today's release of Superman #32 (now available on Nook)...and it clearly shows that the coloring has been altered to make Superman's trunks blue, in keeping with his known New 52 history.

(For reference, here's what the panel originally looked like in the preview pages -- not just at Entertainment Weekly but also in issues of DC Comics including The New 52: Futures End #3):

This isn't the first time something like this has happened; colorist errors can be caught before they go to press (as happened with Stephanie Brown being recolored to more closely mirror Barbara Gordon in an issue of Li'l Gotham) or after they go to press (a recent issue of Supergirl comes to mind, which also returned Superman's red trunks, but was fixed for digital and collected editions).

While there has been much fuss from fans about the lack of the trunks, creators and editors have consistently told the same story -- that it was a relic of the '30s which had been kept around out of fidelity to the original source material and that a rebooted universe was the perfect opportunity to update his costume to be somewhat more logical for today. Like it or don't, the explanation has been remarkably consistent since the launch of the New 52 (and, without actually having to agree with it, most people can see the logic in it).

At a guess (if there is, in fact, a particular image he was looking at), it seems likely Romita was using the cover to The Adventures of Superman #505  (seen at right) as an inspiration.

The Tom Grummett image featured Superman immediately following the events of Superman #82, when he came "back for good," with his powers restored and the last of his enemies vanquished from the Death and Return storylines. That was never a Daily Planet cover image, unless I'm misremembering, but that can be forgiven.

The colorist later provided fans with a "continuity repair kit," which was basically as funny as it sounds.

"Ha! Whoops. MY BAD," commented colorist Dave McCaig on our Facebook page at the time, adding, "I blame the vintage Superman statue next to my monitor for leading me astray."

"Sorry, internet! Here's a print and paste quick-fix," McCaig added later.

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Shortly after we pointed out the trunks in the online preview pages, a number of other sites noticed them in the published DC Comics titles, which probably led to the coloring change (although it could simply have been caught in editing; you'll notice above that there were some minor changes to the lettering in that panel as well). Ironically, though, it must have been a pretty quick touch-up job...since two panels later...

You can still see that behind Perry White, Superman's red trunks and yellow belt, reminiscent of his classic pre-relaunch costume, exist immortalized in the pages of the issue.