James Gunn’s New Superman and DC’s Modern Man of Steel Retellings

by Matt Tuck

122122D-1024x536 James Gunn's New Superman and DC's Modern Man of Steel RetellingsHenry Cavill is out, and a younger Superman is coming to James Gunn’s all-new, all-different DCU. With a massive reboot in sight, it begs to reason that the new cinematic Man of Steel could come straight from his modern retellings.

Whether it’s crying themselves to sleep or demanding to be brought the head of DC Studios’ co-chairs, the fandom is clearly going through the stages of grief. There’s still the denial that the Snyder-verse will pull a Phoenix and rise from the ashes thanks to the #RestoretheSnyderverse campaign. Who knows? With so many different Superman in the DC Comics Multiverse, we could yet see Cavill again. 

Right now, it’s time to let go of the Justice League 2017 cast and see the bright spots for the future plans. That goes double for collectors because the recent news gives you new key issues to target, and they may come from an unexpected place.

Back in 2011, Geoff Johns spearheaded the effort to completely reset the DC Universe. Using Flashpoint as his catalyst, the clock was dialed back on all the characters, and the creators were basically given a clean slate for the mythologies. Dubbed the New 52, it has gone down in infamy with comic fans as one of the most polarizing periods in DC Comics. It was later wiped away with the DC Rebirth storyline.

Gunn has said that his Superman script, while not an origin story, will focus on a young Clark Kent in his early days in Metropolis. That just so happens to coincide perfectly with the New 52 Superman created by famed writer Grant Morrison. However, there’s other iterations from which Gunn could draw inspiration.

ACTION COMICS, VOL. 2, #1 (2011)

Action-Comics-1-2011-New-52-195x300 James Gunn's New Superman and DC's Modern Man of Steel Retellings

Sporting jeans, work boots, a short-sleeved Superman t-shirt, and a makeshift cape, the New 52 Superman came across as closer to Conner Kent rather than the classic Clark Kent. Then again, the idea was probably to create a hip, younger Superman, so it makes sense. 

Like Gunn’s upcoming flick, we meet the New 52 Clark after he’s moved to Metropolis, this time working as a blogger rather than a traditional newspaper reporter. He’s much younger and more impulsive than the classic Man of Steel, but this Clark was growing into the Superman role, which is what Gunn is aiming to do as well. 

With the similarities too similar to ignore, this will be the first issue to get the DCU boost. So far this year, the graded 9.8 has averaged $51, and August saw one sell for a year-high of $69.


Superman-Earth-One-200x300 James Gunn's New Superman and DC's Modern Man of Steel Retellings

In 2010, J. Michael Straczynski and Shane Davis teamed up to give another modern reimagining of the Man of Steel. Taking place under the Earth One banner, which coincided with Batman: Earth One around the same time, this story was always meant to be more self-contained than the New 52. It’s an emotional and more personal retelling of Superman’s origin. What’s particularly interesting is Martha Kent’s explanation of why Superman never wore a mask, telling him that once he puts on a mask, he’ll be wearing it the rest of his life.

These were published as trade paperbacks and hardcover editions, neither of which will cost you much on eBay, with both the first and second volumes selling for around $5.


Superman-Year-One-234x300 James Gunn's New Superman and DC's Modern Man of Steel Retellings

Although this comic is only three years old, Frank Miller’s take on a younger Man of Steel has mostly been forgotten. While it didn’t necessarily garner rave reviews, this could be another source of inspiration for Gunn’s upcoming Superman movie. That would have an immediate impact on this issue, which is currently earning about $45 for a graded 9.8 for the standard edition.


From a collecting and investing perspective, there is so much potential with Gunn’s take on the DCU. He’s already getting the brand more attention than it’s had in years. While not everyone will agree with his coming decisions, the end product will write the final verse. Although Zack Snyder’s main casting choices for the JL was perfect, the current DC product didn’t help many of those key issues. Gunn simply posting a picture of Lobo lit a fire under Omega Men #3. It’s not common for buyers to get so excited about a DC key, and it’s great to see it happening. 

000052721D-1-Footer James Gunn's New Superman and DC's Modern Man of Steel Retellings*Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not represent advice on behalf of GoCollect.

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TJ December 30, 2022 - 9:59 am

I believe part of MCU’s success was consistent actors/characters. This allowed fans to watch the evolution of said characters, but also maintain a clear continuity and timeline. DC is all over the place. Multiple iterations of characters, multiple tones of movie (i.e. action, dark/gritty, comedic), lack of clear path, and the list goes on. I believe they could have had great success in establishing characters and actors and sticking with an overall quasi-realistic tone (i.e. Pattison’s and Bale’s take on character). Instead we have a hodge podge of crap…random stories, no background, no flow…no wonder they’re failing miserably..

Steve December 30, 2022 - 10:12 am

There is no Superman spec for anything published after 1974. Any money spent chasing any of the books listed is wasted.

Nick Lundy December 30, 2022 - 9:38 pm

Byrne’s Superman of the mid-1980s is the one that DC keeps coming back to, and it really is the best iteration of the character. While influenced by the Christopher Reeve Superman, it does away with the goofy Clark Kent. I feel like the Man of Steel is probably still your best bet for a “young” Superman story.

That being said, the idea of “young Superman” feels ripe for a Legion of Super-heroes story here. I’d add the Johns/Frank Superman Legion story arc to the list.


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