The latest Superman storyline is similar to Spider-Man’s worst story, even referencing it. However, one simple change makes it even better.
Warning: Spoilers for Action Comics #1050!A new Superman storyline takes a moment to take a jab at a Spider-Man storyline and in the process manages to vastly improve it. The Spidey story in question is none other than the much-maligned and controversial Spider-Man: One More Day. For those who haven’t read it, One More Day arrived at comic book stands in 2007 at a point where Peter Parker was in the middle of a loving marriage to Mary-Jane Watson, as well as the fallout of Civil War where he reveals his secret identity to the world.
As a result of the latter, he and his loved ones are immediately put on the radar of Spidey’s rogue’s gallery, including the Kingpin who sends a henchman to shoot Peter dead, only to hit Aunt May by mistake. To save his aunt’s life, Spider-Man makes a deal with Mephisto to save May in exchange for his marriage. By proxy, erasing Peter’s marriage to MJ from both history and their memory (as well as erasing the world’s knowledge that Peter Parker is Spider-Man) puts a hard reset on the franchise as a whole. The attempt to reboot Spider-Man was met with immense backlash from critics calling the move a step backwards for a character who has spent decades maturing as a person, forced to start over again.
Why Superman’s Storyline Works Where One More Day Doesn’t
If this storyline sounds remotely familiar, it’s because DC Comics recently took a similar route with Action Comics #1050 by Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Tom Taylor, Joshua Williamson, Mike Perkins, Clayton Henry, and Nick Dragotta. In it, Superman’s nemesis Lex Luthor is able to send a telepathic shockwave around the world that forces everyone to forget the Superman family’s secret identities. The act of even trying to remember would kill them. The book’s creative team seems aware of the similarities, seeing as Lex has a line that appears to reference One More Day. The difference here is that while everyone including Spider-Man was forced to forget the ordeal, Superman, Lois Lane, Ma and Pa Kent, his son Jon Kent, and Jon’s boyfriend Jay Nakamura were exempt from the memory wipe due to the force field surrounding the Kent farm.
This may be reason enough for why no one’s complained about these new developments compared to One More Day’s reception. By keeping the memories of the core cast intact, it doesn’t feel like DC is going backward with its key characters as much as it did with Marvel’s story. When Spider-Man’s life was reversed and erased, so were decades of character development that suddenly became unlearned from its main character, making fans feel cheated that their time and investment were wasted.
Meanwhile, while Superman’s life as Clark Kent returns to the status quo, he and his family retain the memories, along with the character development and lessons learned after years of his secret identity being public knowledge. That way, DC’s storylines can still progress and reboot without undoing every single thing that’s happened. As much as Spider-Man’s worst story has been universally panned, the latest developments for Superman at least show how that storyline could’ve worked.
Action Comics #1050 is available now from DC Comics