Since Superman’s swooped back down into the zeitgeist, it seems appropriate to talk about his sons. No, I’m not talking about Lois Lane’s love child from SUPERMAN RETURNS, nor all the super-progeny who’ve shown up in the likes of GENERATIONS and DC ONE MILLION... I’m talking about all the characters who’ve been created with a wink and nudge to this specific heroic archetype that was introduced in 1938.Let’s say we’re in some strange parallel world - - call it Earth S - - where the unthinkable happens. SUPERMAN ceases publication permanently. Of course, in this world, you Comic Vine maniacs still have an insatiable appetite for stories starring the man of steel; it's so great that you'll even accept stories about his analogs.
So, which one would you accept as substitute? Let’s go down the list of familiars, why not...? == TEASER ==
There have been many versions of both the villainous Squadron Sinister leader and the heroic Squadron Supreme leader, with many more alternatives showing up in the likes of EXILES, the EARTH X saga and SUPREME POWER. Generally, he’s meant to show what excesses Superman could be taken to if he were freed of the constraints of continuity. Often, that leads to megalomania. Other times, it simply means the answering of long-standing questions, like what kind of woman a man of steel could safely mate with (as we found out in one Mark Gruenwald’s classic maxi-series.)
Years before ALL-STAR SUPERMAN put a modern spin on the whimsical fantasia of the man of tomorrow’s Silver Age exploits, Alan Moore did just the same thing with his radical reinterpretation of Liefeld’s hyper-aggressive creation. Partly an apology for the infamous "grim and gritty" era that followed WATCHMEN, this run re-conceived the character as a pure-hearted pastiche whose mythos was filled with a comprehensive selection of creative stand-ins for the regulars of Superman's Pre-Crisis world like Krypto, Bizarro, the Legion of Superheroes and the Kandorians of that famous Bottled City.
Like Hyperion, this character explores Superman-related issues that could only be explored outside the confines of a title that's been running continuously for decades. Although, the angles taken on this Richard Gere lookalike are a lot less extreme and a lot more... everyman. For example, if Superman really were working double-shifts as a reporter and a solver of all wrongs in the world, his spread-thin experience probably would be comparable to that of your average over-worked bachelor. And he probably wouldn’t be able to enjoy even the act of flying anymore because he'd be in such a rush all the time. I especially appreciate this guy for the elegant Alex Ross costume design (although maybe that's redundant given how Ross has done portraits of basically every character on this list) and the chronal webbing in his arsenal makes for a unique gimmick..
Many writers have tried over the years to properly modernize the man of steel, and this veteran of Stormwatch and the Authority might be the closest success story. Not only is his minimalistic costume more in-line with today’s fashion, so too is his brutal and pro-active approach to crime fighting a better reflection of the times (perhaps.) And, of course, I’m sure his relationship with the Midnighter realizes many a slash fan fiction writer's fantasies about Supes and Batman.
Even though it’s been almost 60 years since a court ruled that Billy Batson’s alter-ego was a rip-off of Clark Kent’s, I think the jury of popular opinion is still out on whether that was actually so. Aside from similarities of costume, this character’s got enough of a unique mythology to distinguish himself as being more than simply Superman with a magical power-source. Fittingly enough (in respect to my early question about a character to replace Superman) Captain Marvel was actually the most popular character of the Golden Age, selling much more than Superman did back in the day.
Alas, these are all the analogs we have room for, here, but I'm sure you maniacs all know well that this is only a small sampling of an extensive fraternity that also includes the likes of the Sentry, Mr. Majestic, True-Man, Ultiman, Superior, Icon and the Plutonian. The club's membership is wide enough to even include analogs for other Superman analogs, such as Prime, Mar-Vell, Miracleman and Gladiator.
Once again, I put the question out - - which of these super guys would the Comic Vine community be O.K. with as a replacement on this fearsome Earth S? Which ones do you even prefer over Kal-El on this Earth?