The final installment of the SUPERMAN REBORN story hits the latest issue of Action Comics. Anyone who was hoping for more answers – myself included – on all that’s been going on with Rebirth may have to wait just a little bit longer.
Action Comics 976
Written by Dan Jurgens
Art by Doug Mahnke, Christian Alamy, Jaime Mendoza, John Trevor Scott and Wil Quintana
I have to say, I was a little disappointed with the end to the SUPERMAN REBORN story, but I think I probably should have known better that answers really wouldn’t really be given freely outside of a big event miniseries. Sure, we now know that the mystery Clark was Mr. Mxyzptlk, but all the other questions raised by Jurgens in the Rebirth issues of Action Comics are still hanging out there. We’re getting hints and we’re getting pointed in certain directions, but that could always be a misdirect.
The biggest development to come out of the story is that the Superman slate from the New 52 is somewhat wiped clean. Thanks to Mxy’s machinations, the world no longer thinks Superman and Clark Kent are the same person. But, because the essences of the New 52 Superman and Lois merged with the pre-Flashpoint versions, it’s hinted that Superman and Lois created a new reality featuring parts of both continuities. So, while living in this post-Rebirthed New 52 reality, people still have memories of the way things were pre-Flashpoint? Will Lois and Clark walk in to the offices of the Daily Planet the next day and no one will question why they have matching wedding rings or why they have a son together without the typical 9 month wait?
The merger of the two versions of Lois and Clark also seemed to put them in the bodies of their younger selves, so at least that’s explained away. And Lois gets to have her kid without the stress on her body. While the whole thing may be a bit convoluted, at the very least, it’s a better retcon than A) Superboy Prime punching a wall to change continuity and B) Spider-Man and Mary Jane making a literal deal with the devil to wipe away their marriage to save the 150-year-old Aunt May. So at least there’s that…
So, was Mxyzptlk the big bad here? Was he the one causing all of this craziness, splitting Lois and Clark and creating chaos and confusion? Well…
Mxy kept making reference to not wanting to gain the attention of HIM, making it clear that whoever it was that is actually behind all the weirdness that comes with REBIRTH is someone that he fears. And for an all-powerful imp from the Fifth Dimension that thrives on having fun, being afraid is a pretty significant detail. It’s also made clear that the person Mxy fears is NOT Mr. Oz, the mysterious man who has Red Robin Tim Drake, Ray Palmer, Doomsday and others trapped to “keep them off the board” because Drake and Palmer were getting too close to figuring out what was happening.
No, the last panel of the issue makes it pretty clear that the one behind all the confusion is exactly who we thought it was when the DC Rebirth special kicked off last year: Dr. Manhattan, from Alan Moore’s Watchmen. Of course, because the last page focuses on Mars – the location of Dr. Manhattan’s own Fortress of Solitude – it could ALSO be a misdirect and everything could be the fault of J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter, finally gone rogue after years of being either ignored or had really crappy stories written about him since the kickoff of the New 52. Maybe even longer.
I doubt it, though, that would be a pretty big swerve.
We’re coming up on the one-year anniversary of Rebirth, with a two-year timetable for this tale originally proposed. Who knows, though, when we’ll actually get some answers for what’s going on, but a four-issue Batman/Flash crossover focusing on the mysterious button discovered in the Batcave during the Rebirth special should shed some more light on things.