Many are the citizens of the DC Universe with a grudge against Flashpoint. The Batman Family entered the New 52 bruised and diminished but still the strongest power center in the rebooted world. The Green Lanterns likewise managed the transition to a new universe with relatively well. The children of Krypton, however, have been a study in tragedy. Superman is dying. Superboy has been a symphony of sour notes from the character’s first appearance in the New 52 to his last. And Supergirl — well, one can only surmise that DC Entertainment was caught off guard by the success of the CBS series. Which, to be honest, does not speak particularly well for the foresight and self-confidence of the Superman Office.
Nevertheless, DC is making a valiant attempt to make up ground. Superboy awaits Rebirth and the advent of Jonathan Samuel White, but with Action Comics #51 many themes and elements of the popular Supergirl series finally enter the world of comics.
As the book opens, Superman arrives in National City, determined to save his cousin from the Department of Extranormal Operations. Given his recent experiences, it is understandable that Clark assumes Kara is being held against her will. However, it turns out that she is cooperating voluntarily with the DEO in an attempt to deal with the backwash of Vandal Savage’s schemes which have affected her powers as well as Clark’s.
Peter Tomasi shows a deft touch in dealing with the interaction between Clark and Kara and exploring the affects on her of having Clark’s identity exposed. Tomasi is one of the masters of continuity at DC Comics, second only to Geoff Johns, and although his plotting and characterization can be heavy-handed, when allowed freedom of maneuver (a luxury he does not always seem to have) he can exhibit impressive understanding in terms of the needs of the shared universe and its master narrative.
While looking back to the TRUTH arc, Tomasi also lays the foundation for Rebirth and beyond. The plot concerning the attack on Superman launched from China continues as the mysterious scientist, now revealed to have the ominous (but not particularly Chinese) name Doctor Omen gathers a blood sample from the Man of Steel. Perhaps this will lead to Gene Luen Yang’s New Superman. And in Metropolis a new Clark Kent appears, the glowing criminal entity who now seems to have developed the ability to at least temporarily adopt a normal guise.
This is in many ways a transitional issue, but the transitions it contains are important for Superman, for the Superman Family, and, it is hinted, for the DC Universe. Tomasi largely avoids any sense of a countdown, choosing instead to dwell on Clark's urgent mission, his desire to assemble all the pieces of a succession for the inevitable day when he passes. By taking this route, Tomasi is able to balance the character drama against the intensifying plot. It is a difficult task. However, so far, he is proving that DC has chosen the right person to carry Superman and his family, and this entire segment of the shared universe, through the dangerous corridors of their next transition.