DC Comics’ latest initiative Infinite Frontier is minimizing Superman’s invincibility and portraying him as weaker than he’s ever been.
Warning! Spoilers for Action Comics #1029
DC Comics’ latest initiative Infinite Frontier is minimizing Superman’s invincibility and portraying him as weaker than he’s ever been. Although it might not seem like a big deal for the moment, it might imply something important about the new era.
As Infinite Frontier officially begins a fresh iteration of the DC Universe, with stories paying tribute to the company’s history, fans will likely have some mixed feelings. Although previous stories are being honored, with underrated characters getting more of the spotlight, there are also some changes being incorporated to key heroes. With the debut of Action Comics #1029, it seems even the most integral aspects of DC are being called into question. The issue was written by Becky Cloonan, Michael W. Conrad, and Phillip Kennedy Johnson with art by Michael Avon Oeming and Phil Hester.
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Following the publication of Future State, which saw Superman without his powers while on War World, Action Comics continues to give the Man of Steel new struggles. When an extra-dimensional monster comes his way in Action Comics #1029, it proves its strength and is able to legitimately hurt him. Usually, such a throwaway threat wouldn’t stand a chance against Superman given his reputation of invincibility. Even with reasons given for how the beast is able to harm Superman, it comes across like DC might be setting a new precedent regarding his power levels. Over the years, Superman has often been critiqued as a character for being indestructible, but given some evidence, this might be changing — potentially as a means to emphasize his son Jon Kent’s role.
In the past, some writers have depicted Superman as being less powerful than normal. This was a topic of discussion regarding Superman: The Animated Series, and additionally the animated Justice League, as Superman’s strength was clearly decreased in order to give other superheroes an equal contribution. Possibly as a way to draw attention to other characters explored in Infinite Frontier, such as Jon, it makes sense for Superman to take more of a backseat. Clark discusses his sudden loss of strength to Jon, who says that the threat they face are connected to Superman’s death that Jon learned about in the future. It appears as if their exchange and Jon’s revelation will define the trajectory of the current storyline in DC Comics.
This shift of focus to other characters makes sense, as the iconic trinity of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman won’t be the central figures in Infinite Frontier that they have previously been. The new Justice League doesn’t even include them on the roster. Not to mention, Wonder Woman is currently missing in the DC Universe. Arguably, the shift in Superman’s decreased abilities gives into criticism which called him overpowered. Fans of the character would be the first to know that such reasoning is essentially a copout, since several classic Superman stories feature a fairly powerful Kal-El. It has frequently been a quick solution for stories to avoid challenging Clark’s character, by throwing physical challenges at him instead. Regardless, this shifted dynamic might make sense if the intent in Action Comics #1029 is to lay a foundation that will help showcase underutilized characters throughout the Infinite Frontier era.
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