- Superman? He was over-rated, and too wrapped up in himself. He thought the world couldn't get along without him.
Synopsis for "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?"
In 1987, Superman melts down the giant key that opens up the Fortress of Solitude, Brainiac/Luthor shows up somewhere near the Fortress when they are joined by the Legion of Super-Villains, offering their help to defeat and destroy Superman. To that end, Brainiac/Luthor erects a force field that prevents any other superheroes from the outside to help Superman. Also, the Kryptonite Man's deadly radiation keeps Superman and his dog Krypto at bay from attacking them.
Seeing that Superman needs help, Jimmy Olsen and Lana Lang equip themselves with the powers they had when they adopted superhero identities, transforming themselves into Elastic Lad and Super-Lana as they take on the group of villains outside the Fortress. Luthor has Lana kill him so that Brainiac would no longer have any control of him, but the Legion of Super-Villains quickly destroy Lana afterward. Jimmy comes to avenge her death, but Brainiac resumes control of Luthor's body long enough to kill Jimmy and to launch a missile that rips a gaping hole into the Fortress. With the Fortress breached, Kryptonite Man enters, seeking to kill Superman, but Krypto attacks and gives his life to kill the radiating villain.
Superman carries Lois Lane and the trophy with him when he sees the Legion of Super-Villains inside his Fortress, gloating about the deaths of Lana and Jimmy. This makes Superman angry enough to attack them with his heat vision, causing them to retreat and return back to the future. Outside the fortress, Superman sees that Brainiac's head is losing control of Luthor's body as it succumbs to rigor mortis and detaches himself from it, vainly trying to crawl its way toward Superman before it goes completely dead.
It is at this point that Superman begins to consider that somebody must be behind all the villains turning against him, and so calls out Mxyzptlk's name. He appears unto Superman, revealing that he has grown tired of becoming a mere nuisance and is now deciding to become fully evil. Mxyzptlk also starts to change from his harmless impish self to a hideous dark creature intent on overpowering Superman enough to kill him. Superman then looks at the trophy, realizing that its Superman figure is holding a Phantom Zone Projector, and so goes to get the Phantom Zone projector to use it on Mxyzptlk. As he activates it, Mxyzptlk speaks his name backwards in order to return to his home dimension, but finds himself being pulled into two different dimensions and screams as he is being ripped apart.
Realizing that he has just broken his own moral code to not kill, Superman goes into the Gold Kryptonite chamber to strip himself of all his powers as Lois Lane sadly watches on. With the force field Mxyzptlk kept active now powered down, the heroes outside the barrier enter the Fortress to find dead bodies of all of Superman's friends except for Lois, Perry White, and his wife, still alive. They see that Superman has departed from the chamber through a secret passageway and is now wandering outside in subzero temperatures where presumably he will die.
In 1997, Lois Lane Elliot tells the reporter that any possible rumors of Superman still being alive after that are not likely to be true. As the Daily Planet reporter departs, Lois's husband Jordan Elliot brings their son Jonathan into the living room, where he plays with a piece of coal that he turns into a diamond. He and Lois both decide to relax with a pizza and a bottle of wine.
Appearing in "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?"
- Superman/Jordan Elliot of Earth-423 (Flashback and main story) (Also appears in a photo as Nightwing) (Final appearance)
- Lois Lane Elliot of Earth-423 (Flashback and main story) (Narrator) (Final appearance)
- Jimmy Olsen/Elastic Lad of Earth-423 (Also appears in a photo as Flamebird) (Final appearance; dies)
- Lana Lang/Super-Lana of Earth-423 (Final appearance; dies)
- Krypto of Earth-423 (Final appearance; dies)
- Perry White of Earth-423 (Final appearance)
- Alice White of Earth-423 (Final appearance)
- Batman of Earth-423 (Single appearance)
- Captain Marvel of Earth-423 (Single appearance)
- Green Arrow of Earth-423 (Single appearance)
- Hawkman of Earth-423 (Single appearance)
- Martian Manhunter of Earth-423 (Single appearance)
- Robin of Earth-423 (Single appearance)
- Superwoman of Earth-423 (Single appearance)
- Vartox of Earth-423 (Single appearance)
- Wonder Woman of Earth-423 (Single appearance)
- Lex Luthor of Earth-423 (Final appearance; dies)
- Brainiac of Earth-423 (Final appearance; dies)
- Kryptonite Man of Earth-423 (Final appearance; dies)
- Legion of Super-Villains of Earth-423 (Single appearance)
- Mister Mxyzptlk of Earth-423 (Only appearance; dies)
- The Flash (Barry Allen) (Cover only)
- Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) (Cover only)
- Curt Swan (Cover only)
- Murphy Anderson (Cover only)
- Julius Schwartz (Cover only)
- Jenette Kahn (Cover only)
- Legion of Super-Heroes
- Tim Crane (Final appearance)
- Legion of Super-Heroes of Earth-423 (Mentioned only)
- Bizarro No. 1 of Earth-423 (Mentioned only)
- The Prankster of Earth-423 (Mentioned only)
- The Toyman of Earth-423 (Mentioned only)
- Metallo (Roger Corben) of Earth-423 (Mentioned only)
- Rao of Earth-423 (Mentioned only)
- Phantom Zone Criminals of Earth-423 (Single appearance)
- Bruce Lee (Mentioned only)
- Jim Morrison (Mentioned only)
- Jonathan Elliot (First full appearance) (Final appearance)
- Dan Hodge (Mentioned only)
- Grandchildren (Mentioned only)
- Earth-423 (Final appearance)
- 30th Century (Mentioned only)
- Kandor (Mentioned only)
- Smallville (Mentioned only)
- North Pole
- Phantom Zone (On a TV or computer screen) (Cameo)
- Fifth Dimension (Mentioned only)
- Daily Planet Memorial Edition (Mentioned only)
- Fortress of Solitude Key (Destroyed)
- His Supreme Hour Gold Statuette (Final appearance)
- Luthor's Laser Gun
- "Magic" Lake Water (radioactive)
- Kryptonite (Mentioned only)
- Lori Lemaris (Statue only) (In ruins)
- Titano (Statue only) (In ruins)
- Phantom Zone Projector
- Gold Kryptonite (Behind the scenes)
- Brainiac's Skull Ship
- Brainiac's Ground Weapons (Destroyed)
- Force-Screen Generator (Destroyed)
- Time Bubble
- Wonder Woman's Invisible Plane
- Time Travel (Behind the scenes)
Synopsis for "Superman in Action"
A two page text piece on the history of Action Comics featured on the inside front and back covers.
Appearing in "Superman in Action"
- Appearances not yet listed
- This issue follows Superman #423.
- This issue was reprinted in DCU: The Stories of Alan Moore, Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?, and Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? Deluxe Edition.
- The two-part saga is intended to represent the "final" Superman story, but does not actually take place within canonical Earth-One history. This is evidenced in the second part by the appearances of Captain Marvel, who became part of the New Earth universe following the Crisis on Infinite Earths and the modern-day Wonder Woman, whose history was rebooted following what happened to her in Crisis on Infinite Earths #12.
- Superwoman's survey of the carnage in and around the Fortress of Solitude is another indication that this is not an Earth-One story as she had revealed that she was a direct descendant of Jimmy Olsen who had become a great editor like Perry White.
- Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? was originally published as an imaginary story, a story outside of regular continuity. In Crisis on Infinite Earths: The Compendium, it was retconned as having happened on another Earth, (Earth-423). It takes place in the year 1997.
- Regardless of DC's editorial intentions, this "final" Superman story was presented by DC as being an "Imaginary Story", a Silver Age convention, revived especially for this occasion, that served to tell "What If?" stories that would have been considered series-killers if they were to happen in the "real" continuity of the comic.
- Noticeably, Lois' husband Jordan Elliot is named for Superman's biological father Jor-El while their son Jonathan is named for his adoptive father Jonathan Kent.
- The cover art features four real-life figures at the head of the crowd waving Superman goodbye. From left to right, these are: Murphy Anderson, Curt Swan, Jenette Kahn and Julius Schwartz.
- The cover art was later recreated by Brian Bolland for the 2009 "deluxe" collection of "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" Bolland's version notably excludes Perry White, Lightning Lad and all the real-life figures apart from Schwartz.
- Superman Recommended Reading
- Action Comics (Volume 1)
- Action Comics (Volume 2)
- Adventures of Superman (Volume 1)
- Batman/Superman (Volume 1)
- Batman/Superman (Volume 2)
- DC Comics Presents (Volume 1)
- Superman (Volume 1)
- Superman (Volume 2)
- Superman (Volume 3)
- Superman (Volume 4)
- Superman (Volume 5)
- Superman/Batman (Volume 1)
- Superman Confidential (Volume 1)
- Superman: The Man of Steel (Volume 1)
- Superman: The Man of Tomorrow (Volume 1)
- Superman/Wonder Woman (Volume 1)
- World's Finest (Volume 1)
Links and References
- the Earth-One Jimmy first became Elastic Lad in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #31 and eventually earned honorary Legionnaire status with that guise.
- The Earth-One Lana acquired several power sets and aliases over the years, most notably Insect Queen, a member of the Legionnaire Reserve. In this story, however, she goes back to her "Super-Lana" identity and powers as previously seen in Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #17 and Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #21.
- DC Comics Presents Annual #2