Superman: Reborn is a four-issue Superman family crossover story arc that was published in 2017. It was told in the Superman (Rebirth) and Action Comics books, with Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason and Dan Jurgens as the writers. It was the first major Superman story arc in the DC Rebirth event.
Ever since the pre-Flashpoint Superman's return, he has been haunted by a mysterious man claiming to be Clark Kent, a Clark who was hidden away by The New 52 Superman but returned after his death at the end of The Final Days of Superman. However, things went completely dark when Lois Lane, attempting to discover the deal with this Clark, ultimately blew him off when he attempted to propose marriage to her. The strain of it all has caused him to snap and remember who he was and he'll take everything the real Clark has...
The story encompassed the entire March 2017 Superman titles with aftermath effects through other titles. The "Aftermath" storyline in Action Comics in particular focuses on it.
Also present in the story is the mysterious Mr. Oz, who has shown an awareness of Superman's place in the DCU and of the wider mystery regarding the New 52's creation. His subplot is dealt with in "The Oz Effect".
Superman: Reborn contains examples of:
- Actually Pretty Funny: Jon thinks the reason Superman forgot about Mr. Mxyzptlk is because he thought Mxyzptlk had honestly got over his playful habits and grown up. Mxyzptlk laughs at this and responds he will always be a child at heart.
- Adult Fear: Though we know Jon isn't gone gone, a mysterious blue flame takes him and the Kents' home away. This is inverted when Jon suffers the fear that his parents don't know who he is anymore.
- Arc Villain: The second Clark Kent, referred to by DC as "Nu-Clark Kent", revealed to be Mr. Mxyzptlk
- Arc Welding: It's revealed that Mxyzptlk of all continuities - Silver Age, Post-Crisis, DCAU, Bizarro, LEGO - is the same Mxyzptlk. Previous stories had also established Mxyzptlk was aware of his existence as a fictional character. Interestingly, Word of God is quite mum if the Mxyzptlk that showed up during Action Comics (New 52) is the same Mxy or not - the "Who is Mxy?" feature specifically gives his origin there a Shrug of God.
- Becoming the Mask: Mr. Mxyzptlk deliberately erased his own memory in order to impersonate Clark down to the last detail, such as his job at the Daily Planet and his love for Lois.
- The Bus Came Back:
- Mr. Mxyzptlk, especially his classic version, hasn't been seen since the end of Countdown to Final Crisis, where he opted to abandon Earth and stay in the 5th Dimension after Superboy-Prime's abuse. Justified because it's the same character, no matter the continuity or the medium.
- In the Superman Reborn Aftermath, the Superman Revenge Squad is recruiting for members once again.
- Call-Back: The aftermath shows a timeline of Superman's now canon career, which annihilates the whole "five years" rule the New 52 universe had. That same week, Blue Beetle went about wasting it as well. The New 52 universe seems to be receding, and this makes sense when you consider that Infinite Crisis said that all things in the DC Universe originate from Superman. His continuity changing means the universe's continuity changes.
- Came Back Wrong: The Red Energy rejoining with Lois and Superman seemed to accidentally reset them back to their New 52 personas.
- Came Back Strong: Jon ends up finding the Blue Energy and uses them to help fully restore his parents.
- The Cameo: In the lead-up, Tim Drake makes a brief appearance, gloating to Mr. Oz.
- Cosmic Retcon: When the Red and Blue Energies finally fuse into one, it resets not only Superman and Lois, but changes their history and by extension, the history of the DCU. Shown is Clark revealing his identity to Lois, The Death of Superman and Superman: The Wedding Album back into continuity, the events of Convergence: Superman are undone as Clark and Lois gave birth in the Fortress and not the Flashpoint Batcave and restoring villains such as Imperiex and the Hank Henshaw Cyborg Superman. Action Comics #977 ends up putting Superman: Secret Origin back into continuity and removing the Superman/Wonder Woman romance. The birth of Jon now taking place within the main DC Universe also removes the "five years" time span, as Jon specifically states that he's 10, and Clark did quite a bit before he was born. An upcoming Wonder Woman annual will address the doing-away of the Superman/Wonder Woman romance.
- Covers Always Lie: While the covers pretty much explain what's behind the two Supermen, it also lies. The covers, when merged to form one image as intended, imply that Mr. Oz was behind the two Supermen being split.
- Darker and Edgier: While not en Eldritch Abomination like he was in What Ever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow, Mxy here is deliberately Off-Model to look like the offspring of Mxy and The Grinch.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Before the events of story arc, Mr. Oz trapped Mxyzptlk, a Reality Warper who regularly breaks the fourth wall into a special dimension that nullifies his powers. However, it crosses over into Did You Just Scam Cthulhu? as Mr. Oz admitted he had to get Mxy into a Power Nullifier area where his abilities were dampened.
- Distressed Dude: Jon Kent, mysterious disappearing by the second Clark's attack.
- The Dreaded: It becomes pretty clear that Doctor Manhattan has become this to anyone who knows of his existence.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: For both the New 52 Superman and Lois Lane, after the crap they've went through both in-universe and from the fans, they're reunited and a happily married couple with an amazing son.
- Fleeting Demographic Rule: Nearly every decade since the 60's someone writes a "Superman is split into two twins" plotline. Examples include The Amazing Story Of Superman Red And Superman Blue (1963), Two for the Death of One (1983), Superman Red/Blue (1997)...
- Foreshadowing: In the issue of Superman just before the event, John explores a supposedly haunted house. As he does so, he catches a glimpse of someone watching him from afar, lit only by their Scary Shiny Glasses. It's the other Clark, who followed Lois back to the Kent's house.
- Fun Personified: Mxy, according to Word of God. This is why he was kidnapped and not around for The New 52. In fact, in the series, Mxy is constantly surrounded by candy and toys, even to the point of being Nightmare Fuel.
- Greater-Scope Villain: Mr. Oz sets the story arc into motion by capturing Mxyzptlk to prevent him from interfering with his plans.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Mr. Mxyzptlk became convinced that Superman would come and save him the moment he realized that he was MIA and became worried and upset when he didn't. When he found Clark with his son, he became convinced that he forgot him in favor of Jon.
- "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Jon pleads with New 52 Superman and Lois to trust him that he is their son, and to listen to the "blue energy" that is the other half of the real Superman.
- I Shall Taunt You: When Mr. Oz realizes someone's missing, Doomsday, Prophecy and Tim Drake are all in their cells laughing at him.Tim Drake: Someone got out! You hear me?! Someone got out!
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: When Mxyzptlk turned into the human Clark Kent, he deliberately brainwashed himself to protect Superman's secret identity. After he gets his memories back, he erases Lois' memories of Jon as revenge for Supes forgetting him. Lana seems to be suffering from the same thing, too.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: When Mxyzptlk suggests dumping Lois so Supes can play his game and refuses, he says that if those "tinkering busybodies" (re: the DC creators) couldn't keep them apart, why should he?
- Legacy Character:
- Invoked by Mr. Mxyzptlk that there has always been and always will be Superman and Lois Lane as a couple.
- He also shows there's only one Mxyzptlk in the entire DC Multiverse, and all of the incarnations are just him in different forms, including the Superman: The Animated Series version voiced by Gilbert Gottfried and his LEGO counterpart.
- Literal Split Personality: Mr. Mxyzptlk reveals that the pre-Flashpoint Lois and Superman and the New 52 Lois and Superman were actually two halves of the same actual pre-Flashpoint Superman, split into two beings each for some reason.
- Medium Awareness: Mr. Mxyzptlk knows he's a fictional character and has different forms in film, television, comics, and so on.
- Memory Gambit: Mr. Mxyzptlk pulled one of these, rewriting his own memories to make himself believe he was a human Clark Kent.
- Mythology Gag:
- The pre-Flashpoint Superman and Lois glow with blue energy. while their N52 counterparts glow with red energy, a clear reference to the Superman Blue/Superman Red era. That's because they are the same people, only separated.
- Mxyzptlk says his "hot girlfriend"note and "that little weirdo in the Batsuit"note will come looking for him. Both are drawn as their original comic models.
- Mxy also sees the original The Silver Age of Comic Books Superman Family, with the classic Superboy.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Mxyzptlk's actions only succeed in the creation of the complete versions of Superman and Lois, accomodating their corrected histories into the new DC Universe. Considering he leaves without causing further trouble when this happens, it's implied this is what he wanted all along.
- The Power of Love: As stated by Mr. Oz Lois and Clark's love (for the partner and for their son) is so strong that has repaired what was broken.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Outright invoked by Mr. Mxyzptlk, who states pre-Flashpoint Superman was "blue" energy, and New 52 Superman was "red" energy.
- The Reveal: The truth binding Superman, his family and the dead New 52 Superman is revealed in this story.
- The mysterious Clark Kent is revealed to be Mr. Mxyzptlk, who escaped being captured by Mr. Oz and, to prevent being recaptured, brainwashed himself into thinking he was Clark Kent. It wasn't until he saw Clark and his family that he remembered who he was.
- The pre-Flashpoint Lois and Superman and the New 52 Lois and Superman were actually two halves of the same actual pre-Flashpoint characters, split into two beings each for some reason. Mxyzptlk refuses to elaborate in favor of his sick and twisted game.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Mxyzptlk attempts to goad Jon into joining him and bailing so that a greater power than him won't notice and let Superman deal with it. Jon refuses and Mxy bails.
- Spiritual Antithesis: To One More Day. No really, think about it. Both mark the end of an era for their upstanding hero, but in vastly different ways. One More Day is a story about losing a marriage, a child, and is relatively simple in its execution of dealing with a supernatural being to accomplish this. Superman Reborn is about keeping a marriage and a child, and is pretty convoluted in its explanations with still a few questions left over after defeating a supernatural being to accomplish this.
- Spiritual Successor: To Alan Moore's 1986 "imaginary story" Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?, that Reborn is almost a partial revisit.
- Split-Personality Merge: At the end, the pre-Flashpoint and N52 versions of Superman and Lois combine into a single, complete version of Superman and Lois Lane; ensuring their integration into the new DC Universe.
- Technicolor Fire: The human Clark Kent uses blue fire that causes Jon and the entire Kent house to completely vanish.
- Trailers Always Spoil: Look at that picture up there. Based on that, what do you think is the story behind the two Supermen? Your first guest is probably right. And if you've got the other three issues, then you almost got the complete story (see above).
- Vagueness Is Coming: Before splitting, Mxyzptlk warns Jon that something big is out there and he's probably sensed what he's done. Even more so, as Mr. Oz laments the events, the final panels focuses on Mars...
- Villainous Rescue: Mxyzptlk justifies his impersonation of Clark as a way to protect Superman's secret identity after it was compromised in Superman: Truth.
- Walking Spoiler: Talking about Mr. Mxyzptlk reveals a huge chunk of the story.
- Wham Episode: Reborn wraps an entire year's worth of Superman stories in the Rebirth franchise by revealing some interesting facts about Superman and his world.
- Wham Shot:
- Superman #19 The Red Energy released by Lana Lang back in Superwoman #8 merges with Superman and Lois, transforming them back into their New 52 counterparts
- Action Comics #976 Getting a good look at the completely restored Superman, even showing a comparison between all 3 counterparts 2 pages later.
- Worthy Opponent: Mr. Mxyzptlk is amazed and even pleased that Jon managed to defeat him. He's still upset Superman "cheated".