With all of the context from the recent Superman titles in the back of my mind, the mix-and-match of different versions of Superman, the fan reactions and debates from this year and back ten years and more, I read JL #17 this week and thought: "This is it. This is Superman."
All told, it's just a few speech balloons, but the tone seems to me to be exactly right. Right in a way that Joe Kelly hit 200 issues of Action ago in #775.
The big bad (with good intentions), Tempus, has Superman captive…*seemingly so…*with a lot of drones swarming Superman, who is losing power in red sun, and as Tempus tells Superman with conviction that Tempus will overpower him and discard him in order to achieve his goals, and that "I will use whatever force is necessary," Superman says…
Superman: "That's what they all say. That's YOUR choice. You're asking me to choose between my friends and my family."
Tempus: "For you, there IS no choice."
Superman: "You're right. There ISN'T. Here's my choice – here's my line in the sand. I'm going to stop YOU, save my family, save the world, and save my friends. Whatever force necessary? I'm going to SHOW you what that means."
I say kudos to Bryan Hitch. This is just the talk that precedes action, but that right there in that dialogue is Superman, and it sketches, in those few words, why the marriage and family work just fine. He's not choosing, not deciding which one he values more. He values it all "more" and he's going to do right by all of them.
Six years ago, I laid out what I think Superman needs to be. What the fans, over the years, have shown (with their decision to buy or not to buy) what they need Superman to be. And I think Bryan Hitch has hit the nail on the head. That's Superman. And next issue, we'll see the action to back it up.
My essay on who Superman needs to be: