DC Changed Its Mind About Superman Aging
Keeping up with DC Comics continuity has always been a daunting endeavor -- especially when not even DC is sure what's going on. Just look at Superman. If you only follow the character as a casual fan, you've probably just learned that the current Superman is Jon Kent, Clark Kent's adult son who made headlines due to an important life decision.
And if you follow Superman as a little more than a casual fan, you've probably seen that the original Man of Steel now has greyish hair and less powers than usual, as seen in the much-hyped Superman and the Authority series written by famed alien abduction survivor Grant Morrison.
You might have also seen that Superman and the Authority starts with a younger Superman hanging out with JFK in the '60s before cutting to the present. Considering that DC recently had one of their periodic multiverse-destroying and/or multiverse-restoring crossover events, it isn't that hard to figure out what's going on: there's a new timeline where Superman debuted earlier, had a son, and now he's retired and mentoring other superheroes while his kid takes up the red cape (but not the undies). It's a pretty neat idea, actually. If DC is gonna let one of their heroes age, it should be the one who canonically lives to be about 85,000 years old. Pretty simple!
But DC is allergic to "simple," so this is not what happened. If you pick up the current comics, you find out that Superman only looks old and has less powers due to exposure to extradimensional energies, and he met JFK in the '60s after falling into a time vortex or something ... meaning that he's kind of a dick for not saying "Hey, uh, might wanna reconsider the convertible on that Dallas thing, Mr. President. Or wear a helmet."
As for Superman's son, he's an adult already because he fell into a black hole while traveling in space. Apparently, the Kents are so clumsy that they can't leave the house without tripping over some sort of cosmic phenomenon. Yes, there are currently two Supermen in the DC Universe, but there are also 7204 Green Lanterns, so we guess that's not so bad.
Of course, the real reason for all this tripping across time and space (we haven't even gotten into the fact that Superman and the Authority takes place in a parallel reality but with the same Superman) is that DC allegedly did plan to shake up their timeline so that every hero debuted on the actual year their first comics came out and aged in real-time, only to scrap the idea. Apparently, Morrison started working on their series while this was still the plan, and DC decided that making the other writers bend over backward while confusing the hell out of readers was easier than just asking a superstar creator to change their work.
Now, we're not saying this whole mess can't result in good comics. In fact, one of the best and most important Superman stories ever is the one where he's killed by a monster that comes out of nowhere and is replaced by four dudes, which only happened due to a series of last-minute changes. The DC Universe thrives on chaos and confusion. Maybe Morrison knows that, and that's why they orchestrated this. That's 4D storytelling, right there.
Top image: DC Comics