DC Comics has announced that world-famous hero Superman will be officially changing his name this year to become “SuperClark.” Combining Superman’s civilian name of “Clark Kent” with that of his costumed alter ego, the change will come into effect late 2021, and see the hero not just addressed as SuperClark but starring in a newly launched series of the same name.
Famously first appearing in 1938’s Action Comics #1, Clark Kent (also known by his birth name “Kal-El”) is an alien sent to Earth to escape the destruction of the planet Krypton, and subsequently found and raised by Jonathan and Martha Kent, who instilled in Clark the values that would later make him a hero. But recent comic stories have drastically redefined Superman’s relationship to his human name. In 2019, writer Brian Michael Bendis took the unprecedented step of having Superman reveal his identity to the general public; a move greeted with mixed reactions from both fans and his fellow heroes. More recently, during DC’s linewide Future State event, it was revealed that Clark’s son Jon would become Superman in the near future.
Now, it seems that passing of the torch will take an unexpected form, as DC Comics has revealed that Superman will merge his identities, casting aside both the “Clark Kent” and “Superman” names to become the unified SuperClark. It’s likely the Superman name will pass directly to Jon, allowing DC to begin a transition to a new generation of heroes while keeping the Man of Steel (a nickname SuperClark explicitly will be keeping) involved in ongoing stories.
While many fans will be up in arms about the change, it does seem intended to give readers the best of both worlds. The ongoing Action Comics series – from Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Phil Hester – has been hinting for a few issues that Superman may soon die, with his son Jon – who recently spent some time in the far future – informing his father that the day is coming very soon that accounts of the original Superman cease to appear in the history books. While Jon is concerned this will happen because of his father’s death, the change to SuperClark offers another explanation, as well as setting up some fascinating divisions in future stories.
One of the big plot threads still dangling from Superman’s identity reveal is the impact on his fellow costumed heroes. Superman: Heroes #1 revealed that Batman was enraged by Superman’s choice to cast aside anonymity, feeling he did not have the same option. Meanwhile, Infinite Frontier #0 contained a scene in which DC antihero Black Adam was referred to as “Shazadam” – it was a moment many took as a joke, but given Superman’s prominence and Black Adam’s upcoming film adaptation starring Dwayne Johnson, it’s possible DC is gearing up to apply this naming convention to a range of characters, potentially setting up a fracture between those who feel able to proudly acknowledge their civilian identities and those who feel forced to remain in the shadows.
DC’s reasoning will become clear in time, but what’s clear already is that come the end of 2021, the hero formerly known as Superman will be SuperClark. Love it or hate it, it’s a bold decision guaranteed to invite strong reactions from both sides, and mark a new era for the Man of Steel while offering a fun payoff to increasing speculation about whether or not DC intends to kill off one of their flagship heroes. Happily, whether as Superman or SuperClark, it seems the Kryptonian hero will remain a DC Comics icon for decades to come.