Man of Steel takes a look back at Superman's past, revisiting the destruction of Krypton and Superman's life as a super hero as he confronts a mysterious villain who may or may not have major ties to Krypton's destruction. Meanwhile, something has happened to Superman's wife Lois and his young son Jon... their fates known only to the Man of Steel. The series has a small prelude in the landmark Action Comics #1000 (among other stories), as well as DC Nation #0.
Following this series, Bendis took over the Superman titles with a brand new Superman #1 and continuing with Action Comics #1001. As well, Supergirl (Rebirth) resumed with its previous numbering, picking up where this series leaves off.
Man of Steel features examples of these tropes:
- Aborted Arc: When last we saw Jor-El, he was attempting to destroy humanity, before revealing that he was being controlled by a mysterious force called "Mr. Oz," before that force ripped him out of the arms of his screaming son and abducted him to parts unknown. Then he shows up in Clark's kitchen, with no explanation asked or given.
- An Axe to Grind: Rogol Zaar wields a massive, double-headed axe.
- Bash Brothers: Several images◊ have shown Superman and Supergirl fighting the new villain in tandem.
- Bar Full of Aliens: Rogol Zaar is in one in "the far end of the Vega System" where he sees a barmaid wearing a Superman logo on her necklace and finds out that a Kryptonian survivor is living on Earth.
- Batman Can Breathe in Space: Rogol Zaar travels on a space motorcycle with no breathing apparatus.
- Big Bad: Rogol Zaar, a deadly alien who passionately hates Kryptonians.
- Bittersweet Ending: Rogol Zaar is safely away in the Phantom Zone, but Superman is totally alone as Kandor is destroyed and Supergirl is off to find answers about Rogol and his hatred against Kryptonians and he is unable to contact Jor-El to get his wife and son back ASAP. Even worse, a little kid claims that Superman is behind the arsons that have kicked up in Metropolis.
- The Cameo: Ambush Bug shows up in an alien dive bar as an entertainer.
- Chekhov's Gun: In the fifth issue, Supergirl mentions in passing that she salvaged a functioning Phantom Zone Projector. In the next issue, the Projector is activated to send Rogol into the Zone.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Rogol Zaar makes short work of Superman and Supergirl in issue 4, though Superman believes this is because Rogol might be solar-powered like he is and Supes is also trying to not ravage Metropolis.
- Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Superman provokes Rogol Zaar by claiming to pity him for being such a misguidedly hateful person.Superman:' You know... It's the sincerity that gets me!
Rogol Zaar: I'm sorry?
Superman: You're very sincere in your hate for me just because of who you think I am. The sincerity. I feel sad for you.
(Rogol stares at him before charging savagely)
- Driving Question: There are a few:
- Drop Ship: When Lois questions travelling in such a small ship, Jor-El says his ship is just transport to a larger ship.
- Emergency Services: A new character, Melody Moore, a Metropolis firefighter with a crush on Superman, is introduced.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good:
- When the Guardian, Appa Ali Apsa, informs Rogol Zar that the "Circle" has turned down his suggestion towards genocide, Zaar accuses Apsa of taking bribes from the Kryptonian government.
- Rogol Zaar believes that Earth people calls Superman "Superman" because he has them fooled. Apparently, it's impossible that the Kryptonian is called Superman because he is a good person who does good.
- "Eureka!" Moment: As Superman and the Justice League are trying to figure out why Rogol Zaar was attacking everyone, Batman mentions that if his belief that cleansing everything about Kryptonians is answer and destroying Krypton was how he did, Superman suddenly gets a Oh, Crap! look and takes off into the sky with Batman getting an Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap! look as they both realize the same thing: Rogol is planning to destroy Earth because the Kryptonians are there.
- First-Episode Twist: Rogol Zaar was involved in Krypton's destruction and Jor-El asks Jon to come to travel across the galaxy with him. Jon agrees, as does Lois, leaving Clark alone on Earth.
- Foregone Conclusion: Lois and Jon are fine in Doomsday Clock, which takes place a year ahead of all other running titles.
- Knight Templar: Rogol Zaar is a genocidal lunatic who wants to wipe out the entire Kryptonian species even at the cost of uninvolved, innocent planets. The best part is that Zaar deludes himself into believing his vendetta is noble.
- Mythology Gag:
- Looks at the third's issue cover◊ and compare with this◊. Looks familiar?
- Superman mentions several Kandorians like Van-Zee and his family, Lesla-Lar and other characters that hadn't been heard of since Crisis on Infinite Earths.
- Several streets of Metropolis are named after DC writers as Gardner Fox (one of the fathers of the Silver Age) and Mike Sekowsky (who wrote a long Supergirl run during the early 1970's).
- One Size Fits All: Superman gives Lois his costume to keep her safe and tells her to touch the inside of the belt buckle and it'll resize itself to fit her.
- OOC Is Serious Business: When Superman disappears to investigate a warning in the Fortress of Solitude, he leaves without saying goodbye to Melody or Batman. Batman tells her if the most polite guy in the galaxy leaves without saying goodbye, then there is a very good reason for this.
- Porn Stash: It's implied in the flashback that Jon has porn in his dresser drawer. This is very odd, considering he's only ten.
- Power of the Sun: Rogol Zaar gets superpowers from Earth's sun similar to Superman.
- Precision F-Strike: Uttered by Supergirl after Rogol is thrown into the Phantom Zone:Superman: Kara, we can't just toss everything we don't like into the Phantom Zone.
Supergirl: Not everything. But him? This monster? He says— he confessed to blowing up Krypton. Well that, according to Kryptonian laws, would sentence him to life in the Phantom Zone. Oh yeah, and he destroyed Kandor with his bare hands!! So on behalf of all Kryptonians... $@#$# him.
- Put on a Bus: Lois and Jon. Their disappearance is a Driving Question of the miniseries. It turns out Mr. Oz showed up at the Kent family home and asked Jon to go somewhere with him. Jon agrees, and Lois volunteers to accompany him, leaving Clark alone on Earth.
- "Rediscovering Roots" Trip: The series seeks to take a look back at both Krypton's destruction and Superman's past up to that point.
- Remember the New Guy?: Discussed in-universe when Superman wonders why he hasn't heard of Rogol Zaar when memorising Krypton's history.
- Sacrificial Planet: Zaar destroyed Krypton to wipe Kryptonians from the galaxy, he then tries to destroy Earth to get rid of the survivors.
- Sour Outside, Sad Inside: Perry White has been biting heads off all through the miniseries so far. It masks a deep depression brought on by what he perceives as the Daily Planet dying and his own profession being eclipsed by bloggers. This might be the driving reason as to why Lois agreed to go with Jon and Jor-El as Perry snapped and fired her for requesting a leave.
- Stepford Smiler: Superman seems to be the depressed variety of this. He puts on a very brave face to the world as both Superman and Clark, but inside, he's eating himself up over the incident that led to Lois and Jon's vanishing, continually replaying it in his mind.
- Subspace Ansible: Jor-El gives Superman a deep space communicator that's tuned to Jor-El's ship but it's destroyed when Zaar attacked the Fortress of Solitude.
- Tranquil Fury: Ask the League, and Supergirl looks cool and composed in Issue 5. Ask her cousin and she is burning with more rage than that time she was a Red Lantern.Superman: The others can't tell because she is so still. So calm. But I know her... I have never seen her like this. In an odd way, her rage makes me focus away my own.
- Trash the Set: Rogol Zaar does this to the Fortress of Solitude, including destroying the Bottle City of Kandor. In MOS#4, Superman finishes off the rest of it when provoked by Zaar.
- Unexplained Recovery: Zero attempt is made to explain why Jor-El is alive after "The Oz Effect".
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Rogol Zaar claims that his desire to kill all Kryptonians is out of a fear that they will pillage other planets for their natural resources. Though, it's implied that his reasons are more personal than he lets on.