Some of the biggest superheroes across DC and Marvel are getting up there in age, like Superman, who debuted in 1938. Over time, things change for these characters, whether that is something substantial that affects their identity or new people take on the moniker. For the Kryptonian, his iconic catchphrase is about to change. It originated in a 1940s radio show and claims that he stands for “truth, justice, and the American way”. This is getting altered to take out the final three words.
The publication of Superman: Son of Kal-El #1 by writer Tom Taylor has struck out “the American way.” This is not an alteration to Clark Kent, but to his son, Jonathan Kent, who is doing things differently from his pops by changing the catchphrase to “truth, justice, and a better world.” He makes these changes when he dons the blue suit and red cape, giving him the responsibilities of his father, who has gone missing. The comic shows Jonathan fighting crime with Damian Wayne, Bruce Wayne’s son. The two young heroes talk about the struggles of their position, especially the young Superman, who has a lot to prove. Damian asks his friend what he wants the S on his chest to mean to himself. That is when Jonathan says the new line.
The original statement for Superman dates back to 1942. It was meant to boost morale and patriotism for the United States during World War 2.
It is not the first time that the connection between Superman and America has been challenged. In 2011’s Action Comics #900 by writer David Goyer, Clark Kent renounced his American citizenship. In the story, the character reasoned that he was over having his actions tied together with U.S. policy and that the planet is “too small” and “too connected” for this.
The changes to Superman and him being used as a symbol for America have been controversial. Dean Cain, who was the character in the 1990s series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, criticized the movement of altering the catchphrase. He has not commented on what Tom Taylor has done recently, but last year he caught backlash for his comments during an interview with Fox News where he criticized a piece from Time magazine that called to reexamine superheroes. More recently as of this year, he slammed one Captain America comic, which he later admitted to not reading instead only read a report on it from a conservative publication.
Tom Taylor is joined by artist John Timms and colorist Gabe Eltaeb for their Superman comic. The debut has been a huge success despite the controversial change to the catchphrase. The first issue sold out, and a second is currently in the printing process for the reprint that is set for a September release. It shows the future is bright for this take on the character as Jonathan Kent takes on the responsibilities of his father. Taylor released a tease of what to see with a look at the reprint’s new artwork from Timms, where the iconic DC superhero is flying over Earth.