Flashpoint Superman was a government hostage used to create militarized metahumans, and his sullen appearance reflected his far less sunny existence.
In most versions of the DC Universe, Superman is usually one of the biggest beacons of hope around. Several stories have played around with this recently, and modern alternate universes have given the Man of Steel a darker disposition in his adulthood, but one continuity, in particular, made almost his entire life a lot less appealing.
The world of Flashpoint was a disjointed dystopia in which former friends and allies were now bitter enemies, with traditional heroes being given totally different lives. The Flashpoint Superman was a government hostage being used to create militarized metahumans, and his sullen appearance reflected his far less sunny existence. Now, here’s how the road to the New 52 gave Kal-El his darkest incarnation yet.
How Flashpoint Changed DC History
Flashpoint came about when Barry Allen tried to reverse the modern day retcon of Reverse Flash killing his mother, with the resulting time alteration drastically changing the world as he knew it. One major change was how and where Superman came to be known by humanity. Instead of landing in Smallville and being found by Jonathan and Martha Kent, he landed in Metropolis and caused massive damage when he spaceship crash-landed. Found by the United States government, the alien Kal-El becomes part of an American super-soldier project in Scott Snyder, Lowell Francis and Gene Ha’s Flashpoint: Project Superman #1.
Dubbed Subject One, he was the face of Project Superman, with the intent being to create a metahuman soldier capable of defending America against all threats. Other members of the experiment included the Kryptonian dog Krypto as well as the enhanced human Subject Zero. Krypto was one of the few friends that Kal-El had, as he was kept in heavy containment. This exposure to only the bare minimum of solar energy by virtue of being on Earth kept Kal-El from developing into his usual robust form, instead giving him a sickly, skinny physique. Another huge change in this world was that General Sam Lane, instead of being antagonistic toward Superman, was more of a father figure to him.
The series of tragedies in his solemn life got worse when Subject Zero manipulated Krypto, resulting in his death and Kal-El’s grief. Later, after similarly manipulating Kal-El to release him, Subject Zero almost killed General Lane and his daughter Lois. Kal-El was able to fend him off, but Subject Zero’s true defeat only came because General Lane trapped himself and Zero in the Phantom Zone. Losing his surrogate father and kept on an even stricter lockdown afterwards, Kal-El would draw a picture of Lois in his cell with his heat vision, having become close to her beforehand.
Years later, Kal-El would be freed from Project Superman by Cyborg, Batman and the Flash, with that trio hoping for his help to end the war between Amazons and Atlanteans. Before he does so, he flies off to England to reunite with Lois, who herself is smack dab in the middle of the war. Kal-El’s release from the project also released Subject Zero from the Phantom Zone, and the villainous metahuman chased him to the United Kingdom.
Defiant to stop his rival, Kal-El killed the overloading Subject Zero by punching him in the torso. Unfortunately, Lois dies from injuries sustained from Zero, dying in Kal-El’s arms in an image evocative of The Death of Superman. Inspired by her and her father to become a protective hero for the people, Kal-El becomes Superman and fights both Wonder Woman and Aquaman, Before their battle could go on too far, however, the Flash changed history once again, restoring a version of the original continuity. A version of Flashpoint Superman returned in the Convergence, but his continued history in his own continuity remains to be seen.
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