Superman and the Dangers of Aging Your Characters

Following up on the recent news that Superman was able to locate Krypton with the help of Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Superman has also now watched the destruction of his home planet. According to science,

The data from all of the telescopes are integrated and assembled by Superman to create images of Rao and Krypton. The images of Krypton’s tragic death have just reached the Earth, twenty-seven years after the event. Surrounded by astrophysicists, Superman witnesses the destruction of his home planet. In other words, Krypton was located on its final day of existence.

I’m not entirely sure how science is able to take images from the depths of space and turn them into 3D HD holographic movies. Maybe Superman has a Kryptonian projector with him.

DC has described the events that took place in Action Comics #14 as ‘game-changing’. But I’m not sure how that could be. Even people that know nothing about Superman know that Krypton blew up. The top five things people know about Superman: 1) He’s Clark Kent, 2) He’s crazy about Lois Lane 3) He’s vulnerable to Kryptonite 4) Lex Luthor hates him 5) Krypton blew up. How can this be anything other than more retreading of the Superman origin story? Can we maybe move on yet?

For me the biggest story out of all of this is dating the destruction of Krypton to 27 years ago. That in itself immediately dates everything that has to do with Superman. The old DCU was very careful never to date anything because it would age their characters. They simply used phrases like “many years ago,” or “Before” to tell you when something occurred, and that was it. I’m not creating a timeline of the DC Universe, I don’t need to know in what year Batman’s parents were killed in order to compare it to the arrival of Superman.

27 years ago means that Superman arrived on Earth somewhere around 1985. If all the titles pick up 5 years from when super-heroes started being a thing, than that means Superman started his career in 2007. You’re already dating the character immensely before he’s even off the ground. What happens in 20 years? He won’t be in his 40s. They’ll never come out and say he was born in 1985, but people can still do the math. There goes suspension of disbelief.

Captain America was from World War II, an era that is moving further and further from the minds of today’s generation, but he was brought to ‘the present’ (whenever that’s supposed to be) so he could be relevant again. Iron Man was originally rooted in the Vietnam War before his origin was updated. Comic book characters can’t age in real life because you’d only get 10 years of stories from them before they start getting old. The industry has used a sliding scale for their characters’ histories and it’s all worked fine. Comics set in the Cold War can still be in continuity 20 years later because no one cares. If it’s a good story, people remember it as a good story and leave it at that and they suspend their disbelief. If no one liked it then they just forget it ever happened. Comic books have never been permanently married to continuity. Things come and go.

If DC wants the New 52 to be around for another 50 years, what are they going to do when they’ve already established that Krypton blew up 27 years ago and that Superman is almost 30 in 2012. What’s he going to be in 2062? 28? I doubt it, and seeing as how unnecessary this whole thing has been I have to wonder why they would subject themselves to that type of restriction in the first place. I’ll just ignore this, like readers have been doing since the inception of continuity, but it makes me wonder what other stupid things they have planned for no reason.

3 thoughts on “Superman and the Dangers of Aging Your Characters

  1. DeanP.

    LOL while all of your points are perfectly reasonble – Marvel and DC have given up completely on continuity. Things like “aging” your character (which I totally agree with you) mean nothing to them. They’ll just REBOOT everything yet again.

    Why aren’t you complaining about something even MORE idiotic – like Superman benching 5000 Sextillion tons? It’s the *dumbest* thing I’ve seen in years next to Marvel’s OMD (which ended my 42-year long comic-collecting hobby until New 52). At least DC didn’t wait around to screw up. Back to reading indies…

    1. Jason Cohen Post author

      I agree. Continuity is a thing of the past, which wouldn’t be the biggest problem if they didn’t continue to pretend they care about it. Yeah, I saw that! It’s Superman! He’s so super that he can bench press imaginary weight!

  2. Stepan Garnaev

    love your blog, please update/replace pics under “other than more retreading of the Superman origin story”


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