When it comes to comic book deaths, many feel Jean Grey reigns as the character that has died and come back the most. In some ways, you could actually give that honor to Jonathan and Martha Kent, otherwise known as Ma and Pa Kent.
It was Ma and Pa who found Superman as a baby when he first arrived on Earth. In the different versions from the Golden Age, Silver Age, Modern Age, etc, they have both lived and died at different points in Kal-El's life.
Over the years, we've seen one or the other and sometimes both have a strong influence on shaping the man who would become Superman. With tweaks and changes occurring as part of DC's 'The New 52,' we're seeing yet another interpretation of Superman's life with or without his adoptive parents.
With each version that we've seen, how much of an influence do they have on how great of a hero Superman will be? (There might be some tiny spoilers if you haven't read Action Comics #2).== TEASER ==
In Action Comics by Grant Morrison, we've been seeing a younger Superman. He's young, but not Superboy-young. He has been seen living on his own in Metropolis. We haven't seen or heard any mention of Ma and Pa in the 'New 52,' except for some information given in the 'extra features' section at the end of the issue.
He's a kid who's been set free from Ma and Pa Kent. Both of them are dead, and suddenly he thinks, 'I'm the most powerful thing on the planet. It's time to start cleaning up!'
With that, Grant Morrison revealed, not in the actual story, the fate of Ma and Pa.
This does explain his behavior in Action Comics. He is a little more reckless. He takes matters into his own hands. He does what he feels is right. We don't know how long he's been on his own or how long Ma and Pa were able to instill a positive outlook on life.
From the past versions of the Kents, it's the way they raised Clark that made him Superman. They taught him how to be compassionate and to always give himself completely in trying to save the lives of others. They taught him to be humble and what being human was all about. He no longer has that tether to Earthlings.
We have to assume they were successful in raising him properly to some extent. He is acting as a hero. In Action Comics #1, he is going after the untouchable bad guy the police are unable to go after. When a train full of passengers goes out of control, he literally throws himself in front of it to try to slow it down. He is a hero. It's just his methods are a little...rougher than what he would've had if he was raised by the Kents longer.
There's been some criticism over his early costume: a Superman t-shirt, jeans, work boots and a small cape. In past versions, it was Martha that made the costume from blankets found in his ship. Based on the jeans and boots, we can come to the conclusion that Martha was unable to make him a proper full length costume.
Not only were the Kents responsible in raising Superman to be a hero, they also were there for other heroes such as Superboy and, to some extent, Supergirl as well. The Kent farm in Smallville was second to Superman's Fortress of Solitude in a place he could go to get away from the responsibilities and drama of being a hero. With the Kents dead and Clark living in Metropolis, the farm is likely to be long gone.
What about the Death of Superman? In Swamp Thing #1, Superman mentions to Alec Holland he knows what it's like to have died. When Superman died battling Doomsday, it was seeing Pa, after he had a heart attack, that gave him the reason to return to the land of the living. If Death of Superman still happened, what was the reason that made him fight his way back from death?
Ma and Pa were more than just the couple that raised Superman. They have been a crucial element in making him a hero rather than a selfish alien with the power to take over the world. They were there for other heroes as well.
We're seeing the early days of Superboy. What's going to happen once he becomes free of current residence? He may be learning what it's like to be a teen in his virtual reality sessions but not having an actual home with people that care about him will leave him cold.
The same can be said for Supergirl. We know Superman will have some part in her life but how much warmth and compassion will he be able to offer? From what we've seen in Superman and Justice League, he's not the friendliest and cheerful guy around.
The worst part is we weren't able to see their deaths. There's bound to be flashback stories coming but each time there was a death, Superman's reaction and the coping of the loss is what showed us he was human.
If we see Superman deal with the deaths in a flashback, it won't be the same. We won't have a chance to get to know this version of Ma and Pa. More importantly, without parents to keep him in line, Superman is going to simply be a socially awkward hero without the heart of the hero that we've seen over the years.
Superman has proven his worth as a superhero to the DC Universe countless times. Let's hope what little time he might've had with Ma and Pa was enough for him to one day become that hero once again.