The Comics Classroom: Superman’s Shifting History

I can’t even begin to get into the discussion on DC firing their co-publisher Dan DiDio yesterday, but I do want to touch on a topic that was sparked by recent discussions about DC’s Generations and how its establishing things, such as making Wonder Woman the first hero that appears in the DC Universe, a lot of people are starting to assume that this development must mean that DC is giving the shaft to Doomsday Clock, which went about setting up that Superman was the central focus of the DC Universe.



Except, they’re not. If people had read Doomsday Clock all the way to the end, they’d see that the limited series actually made it very clear that Superman’s first appearance (and his landing on earth) has always been shifting forward and our universe changes around him. Ergo, his original 1938 appearance is no longer an accurate marker. Furthermore, this means that there were other superheroes before him.


In 1985, DC relaunched Superman and many other DC titles, following the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths. So much had changed, and yet so much remained intact. And in the case of Superman, he was moved to the present day, but interestingly they kept the JSA’s history the same. This confirms that there were heroes before Superman, but the Man of Steel was definitely the first in a new age of heroes!



And this is how it’s been ever since. Superman was no longer the first hero, but was instead the start of a new age. That is until we got to the Nu52 reboot. In THAT relaunch, Superman WAS the first (public anyway, Batman was secretly around before him) and that meant there was no more Justice Society of America, and no more “Golden Age” heroes. There were many fans, my self included, that certainly did NOT like that retcon!


So what’s going on with Wonder Woman now being promoted as being the first DC hero? Well Post-Crisis, without Superman around, the title of the “Superman of his day” was given to Alan Scott’s Green Lantern. Changing it to Wonder Woman fits the same bill here. She’s the first hero, and the focus for the past, but once Superman shows up, he definitely takes the spotlight.


Class is now in session.


Lessons From the Multiverse: Superman's Shifting History

Robert Willing

Young man who loves all sorts of media and finally wants to let it all out before he explodes! Follow me on Twitter @staredcraft or join me on my Patreon for exclusive content!