This is rapidly becoming the all-Superman blog, but what can I say? I'm a little obsessed.
Anyway, rumor had it a week or so ago that the reason for the creative shakeups on Action Comics, and the reason that Paul Cornell's (yay!) first arc would be focusing on Lex Luthor, was because J. Michael Straczynski had laid an exclusive claim to Superman for the eponymous series. According to Bleeding Cool:
[T]he Man Of Steel is going to drop his Superman identity in an attempt to be a better man and to better relate to humanity. The story will follow his journey as he walk from one side of the USA to other other, trying not use his powers.
Now, JMS's comics work has been a really mixed bag, in my opinion. His Spider-Man oscillated between excellent and terrible, his first arc on Fantastic Four was simply awful, but his Thor run was pretty damn great. I've got some severe trepidation about his upcoming run, but I'm optimistic. His initial comments showed a good understanding of the character1 (though, sadly, not so much for Wonder Woman), and there's a mythic quality about Superman that fits well with the sort of stuff JMS did with Thor and attempted with Spider-Man.
On the other hand, that quality is more present in Wonder Woman, and it looks like he's just destroying Paradise Island again.
Anyway, my initial reaction to this rumor was to roll my eyes. Superman doesn't need to better relate to humanity, he is human, just a little more indestructible. He's just spent the last year or so trying to bring that humanity to an alien culture. And a Superman book where Superman tries not to use his powers is at least as bad a concept as a Superman book without Superman in it.
That being said, the core idea of Superman abandoning one or both identities and traveling across the country, righting wrongs and so forth as he is wont to do, and mingling with normal folks from Metropolis to Star City? That's actually pretty intriguing. It's been done before, to varying degrees, but with Superman, what hasn't? I'd be interested in reading that story. Failing that, I'd be interested in writing it.
Sadly or thankfully, depending on your perspective, Straczynski burst that rumor bubble:
It is absolutely and unequivocally untrue that I insisted “that Superman only appear in the Superman book he’s writing.”
It is absolutely and unequivocally untrue that Superman is “going to drop his Superman identity.”
It is absolutely and unequivocally untrue that he “not use his powers.”
All good things, though Straczynski notably doesn't mention the bit about walking cross-country to reconnect with humanity. Again, I'd like to see that...though I could also see it easily going off the rails. That kind of story is rife with opportunity for well-done little morality plays and episodic tales, which JMS has apparently been doing rather clumsily over in Brave and the Bold. As long as it's not totally overwrought and poorly-thought-out (like, say, Zatanna and Wonder Woman taking Barbara Gordon out for a night of dancing before she gets paralyzed), it could be great. My biggest fear is that it's going to be spun as Superman trying to regain something he's lost (i.e., his connection to humanity) as opposed to just taking the time to savor his home and his people, since he's been gone so long. This should be Superman taking the time to (figuratively) visit his favorite restaurants and say hi to everyone, since he's been away so long--not kicking around moping because "you can't go home again" and so much has changed while he's been away.
In other words, Superman's Walkabout would work best if done not out of guilt, but out of love.
But in any case, I'm curious to see where it's all going. If nothing else, Paul Cornell's "Action Comics" is going to be unequivocally awesome, so there's good reason for a Superman fan to be excited, even if he's not tying his cape into a bindle.
1. Geeky nitpick: the S-shield has been established--rather recently, in fact--as the Kryptonian pictogram for "Hope," not "No Limits," though the concepts are admittedly related. I just wish people would keep the details straight. Also, I am a colossal nerd.