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Reign of the Supernovas: A Real Mystery in Real Time

December 15th, 2006 by | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

That’s a damned good question, Michael. First appearing in the pages of 52 Week 8, Supernova’s since been a mystery. Where does he come from? What exactly are his powers? What is his role in the grand scheme of things? And just who is this guy?

First, let’s take a look at Supernova’s various appearances up to this point:

Week 8: Over the course of several days, we see the first appearances of this red, white and blue stranger. On Day 3, he appears before an old woman and her grandchild, glows real bright and brings them across the street before they can be crushed by a falling monorail. The next day, he appears among firemen who are about to get crushed by falling debris. Glowing brightly once more, the new hero makes the debris vanish. The next day we get reports of him cleanly shearing a gunman’s rifle in half, as well as saving one woman’s daughter from a riptide. Booster Gold, whose image has just been destroyed a week earlier, rants about this new character in front of one Clark Kent.

Week 10: Clark Kent, having just been fired at the Daily Planet, sees Supernova flying around the city. With sudden inspiration, he hops out the window and freefalls. Supernova swiftly catches him, assures him of his safety and asks if he’s okay. Clark pulls out a tape recorder and asks for an interview. As Clark later explains to Lois, they didn’t get too far before seeing Bahdnesian terrorists stealing a military all-terrain vehicle. Supernova puts down Clark and uses his glowing power (which Clark describes as “peculiar eyebeams”) to take away the pavement under the vehicle, locking it into the ground. Supernova poses and answers a couple questions from Clark, trying hard to conceal himself. He sees a child almost walk into the hole in the ground, teleports in a bright light and appears in front of the child. The way he responds to the boy shows that he has some semblance of a personality under the mask. Clark tells Lois that he believes that Supernova’s on the level and that he has an air of experience about him. Elsewhere, Booster is growing more and more frustrated, while Skeets admits that even he doesn’t know who Supernova is from his historical files.

Week 15: The big one. Booster takes on a giant sea monster in the middle of Metropolis. He fails pretty badly, including a bit where he causes a massive power outage. Supernova flies in, soars to the monster and with a bright blast, zaps him away. Supernova offers his hand to Booster and makes a comment about Booster not caring about the people he saves. Noticeable frown under the mask. Booster snaps and tackles Supernova. The two brawl, showing that Supernova is at least strong enough to trade fists with Booster. Supernova’s only use of powers are to momentarily blind Booster. Supernova highly disapproves of Booster, saying he’s too pathetic to be considered a joke. Skeets mentions a radiation leakage. Supernova wants to stop it, but Booster sucker-punches him and tries to stop it himself. Beaming at his return to greatness, Booster saves everyone, but is engulfed in an explosion. Supernova, shocked, flies upwards and catches Booster’s body. To the horror of Clark and the noticeable surprise of Skeets, Booster Gold is just a skeleton in futuristic tights.

It’s worth noting that there were two alternate endings to this issue. In one ending, Booster turns to dust upon landing in Supernova’s arms. In the other, there is no radiation leakage. Supernova tries to teleport Booster back a few feet. At the same time, Booster turns on his force field. The result causes Booster to be cut in half. A horrified Supernova swears he didn’t mean for it to happen and Clark Kent believes him. Supernova covers one half of Booster with his cape while Clark uses his jacket on the other half.

Week 19: The Weather Wizard tries to get revenge on a bank manager that testified against him by flooding a bank in Metropolis. Supernova flies in to rescue the people. He grabs a couple citizens under his arms and yells at others to keep climbing. Outside, Wonder Girl appears and takes care of the Weather Wizard. Supernova returns, saying that the flood has been averted. He introduces himself to Wonder Girl, admitting that they haven’t officially met. Wonder Girl thinks that Supernova is Superboy, but Supernova obviously doesn’t recognize her. He acts very serious, telling her to respect his personal space when she gets too close. He thanks her for the help and takes off. Wonder Girl holds onto the idea that it’s Kon-El.

Week 20: While the radio announces news of Batwoman, Supernova is shown hovering around the Batcave in search of something. Everything is covered in a white cloth. He comes across some of the Penguin’s umbrellas and the memorial to Jason Todd, but neither is what he’s looking for. The scene ends as he finds Lex Luthor’s gauntlet, containing various samples of kryptonite.

Week 22: Mr. Strauss, working for Lex Luthor, shows him some of the footage from Supernova’s meeting with Wonder Girl. Once Supernova figured out he was being watched (by a satellite hundreds of miles away), he used his power to make it vanish. Using some other resources, Strauss finds a recording of Wonder Girl calling him Kon-El. Luthor fires Strauss, as Superboy doesn’t have telescopic sight. Supernova makes a silent appearance outside of Luthor’s window with a stern, crossed-arms look. Luthor points out how Supernova gives away who he is by that pose. Supernova is Superman, says the bald master villain. Strauss asks why Superman would start wearing a mask and Luthor says he’s just toying with him.

Week 31: For over two months, there has been no notable appearance of Supernova in 52. Ralph Dibny, the sometimes-crazy Elongated Man, talks to Wonder Girl. Wonder Girl believes that Supernova is Superboy. Ralph is sure that he isn’t, but doesn’t have the heart to tell her. Instead, he meets Supernova on a rooftop and reveals that he does know who Supernova is through sheer reasoning. The name isn’t given, but Supernova does reveal that Ralph is correct. He’s curious as to how Ralph figured it all out.

“The clues were there. Once I used my head, the who made perfect sense. The powers threw me, but when I saw them from the proper angle, I sussed out the one device that could tie them all together. Superman being out of the picture was the key. One of two keys, if you want to be cute about it.”

Ralph isn’t sure about why Supernova is doing what he’s doing and Supernova won’t explain. He’s afraid that they’re being watched, so he leaves with the insistence that they should not meet again. They briefly mention Wonder Girl again and Supernova shows that even with his cover blown, he’s unfamiliar with Wonder Girl. He takes off and wishes Ralph good luck.

As of this writing, that’s all we know. Speculation is all over the place, so I think it would be a good idea to look at our suspects and introduce possibilities you, the reader, may have missed. Though first, I have to look back at Ralph’s mention of keys. Prometheus, the anti-Batman, used to use a special key that would take him to the Ghost Zone (his pet name for the Phantom Zone). After some bullshit with Hush, Prometheus lost his key and it was last seen in the JSA museum. A device like that could easily be what Supernova uses to toss around matter with only light.

Maybe he meant something else. We won’t know for quite a while, I’m afraid.

THE UNLIKELY

We’ll start with some dark horses.

DOCTOR LIGHT (Arthur Light)

Supernova’s powers are light-based and Dr. Light is all about those kind of powers. Could there be some kind of reason why he’d be fighting as a hero? Maybe the coming of Lady Styx is worth fighting against and an excuse to put the bank-robbing and lady-raping aside?

Yeah, right. Like Ralph would’ve been that constrained.

Though now that I think about it, perhaps Dr. Light’s suit could be the device in question.

BIZARRO #1

I heard this brought up, so I figured I’d waste some text on it. Superman/Batman shows that when hit with blue kryptonite, Bizarro becomes sane and rational. Of course a clone of Superman could be confused for both Superman and Superboy. Then again, blue kryptonite also makes him die if he gets too much exposure. That, and there’s the lack of presence in the series.

SUPERMAN ROBOT

Yeah, I guess that could make someone confuse Supernova with Superman. But wouldn’t Clark Kent have some idea about this? Would a Superman robot really want to waste his time bitching out a lesser superhero? No, this one’s too silly.

TRIUMPH

We’re getting a little bit warmer. Triumph, for those who don’t know, is the original Sentry. After the Crisis on Infinite Earths storyline, Triumph took Superman’s place in history as the hero that helped found the Justice League (much like how Green Arrow and Black Canary replaced Batman and Wonder Woman). Due to some time-rift mumbo jumbo, Triumph was gone for years and everyone forgot about him existing. He came back years later, angry that he was cheated out of his recognition.

Triumph rejoined the Justice League for a while, playing the egotistical hothead role. During Morrison’s Justice League run, Triumph went insane and became corrupt. He was stopped mainly by Superman and Steel. Upon defeat, the Spectre froze him and prepared to destroy him. The Justice League had the Spectre spare his life, but kept the frozen body on the Watchtower. Considering the Watchtower was blown up in a later storyline, Triumph is likely dead anyway. Or is he?

With his Superman-like presence and his electromagnetic powers, which are amped to the point that he could indeed sense Luthor’s satellite, it could fit that Triumph is underneath the mask. Plus there’s the fact that this is a Morrison-written subplot. Yet, Triumph is too obscure to work. No matter the explanation, people will just stare blankly and ask, “Huh-what?”

And how the hell would Triumph know about the Batcave?

THE POSSIBLE

RAY PALMER

In a story structuring way, it would make sense. Ray Palmer, the Atom, first disappeared out of shame in Identity Crisis, the epic lead-in for the Infinite Crisis Saga. What’s a more perfect return than the epic follow-up to Infinite Crisis? As a guy who can shrink and get around a lot, I’m sure there’s all kinds of crazy stuff Ray could have uncovered since the time he found out his ex-wife is kooky. It would also add a little something to the latest scene. Ralph Dibny talking to Supernova. The Elongated Man talking to the Atom. The widower of Sue Dibny talking to the ex-husband of Sue’s killer.

Only a portion of the powers can be explained by this path. All the teleporting and vanishing? Merely shrinking. For all we know, Supernova may have made that sea monster molecule size. This still doesn’t explain the flight, nor how he can sense he’s being watched. The speed of how fast he moves is also put into question, especially if he’s really shrinking instead of outright teleporting. It wouldn’t be near instantaneous as when he saved that child from falling into a hole.

AMAZO

Too out of left field? Maybe. But this one just came to me. Amazo is an android that copies the abilities of the Justice League. The extent of how much he can copy or how he does it depends on the writer. That being said, why would Amazo be Supernova?

Professor Ivo, despite being a fairly big name in the mad scientist fraternity, is completely absent from the Intergang plot. Ivo’s always been more about building the physical aspects of his robots than the mental. His sometimes-associate T.O. Morrow takes care of things like that. If Morrow would write the code that would allow Magnus to bring personality back to his Metal Men, then could or would he add a few bells and whistles to Amazo’s mind? Could Amazo be Supernova, playing a major role in the kidnapped scientist subplot?

I admit this idea comes from Supernova getting rid of a satellite in space with a mere gesture, much like Amazo would do on Justice League Unlimited. There’s certainly enough build-up with the mad scientist subplot that it wouldn’t be an awful reveal, but I certainly wouldn’t put any money on it. Besides, how does the Superman stuff fit into it?

STEEL

Steel is a total bitch in 52. Total bitch. All he does is whine on deaf ears, watch his skin change and get yelled at by his mentally retarded niece. He saves lives too at points, but that goes without saying. Wouldn’t it be a great twist if this was a front for him to fuck over Lex Luthor with a second superhero identity? While everyone’s looking at those who are out of the picture as suspects, perhaps Supernova is there in 52 all along.

Ralph says that Superman leaving is key. It could be that the pattern of someone picking up the slack after Superman disappears inspired Ralph to think of Steel. Steel’s role in Reign of the Supermen is much like Supernova’s role in 52. At least, that’s what it seems at the moment.

There are other scenes that back this up. How did John Henry Irons first meet Superman? Irons fell off a building and Superman caught him. How did Clark Kent first meet Supernova? Exactly. Lex Luthor is close-minded in thinking that Supernova is Superman, but Luthor isn’t exactly an idiot. Could he be right that Supernova is one of his enemies trying to toy with him?

I’d love this one to be true. For the most part, it works out so well. The problem comes from Supernova’s size. Steel is a really big dude. No way is someone, especially Wonder Girl, going to mistake him for the noticeably shorter Superboy. Still, you never know.

THE ERADICATOR

On paper, the Eradicator makes the most sense. For one, Supernova looks like a cross between Eradicator and the old Superman Nova costume. Like I mentioned with Steel, Eradicator works as another famous Superman replacement who would be repeating history by trying to replace Superman. With his poorly-defined energy powers, as well as the Superman abilities he inherited during the Reign of the Supermen storyline, the Eradicator could definitely do the same kind of stuff as Supernova. Eradicator also has a lot of Superman’s memories, which explains his superhero experience and knowledge of the Batcave.

Actually, looking back at some fairly recent Eradicator appearances, I do notice that when Superman disappeared and switched places with the Wildstorm Universe’s Majestic, Eradicator showed up to lend a hand. The dialogue here is very interesting.

Superboy: You’ll help?

Eradicator: I’ve been dormant too long. If I have a place at all, maybe it’s in a world without a Superman.

The “why” of Eradicator’s actions as Supernova aren’t all too hard to consider. Though understated, the Eradicator is a major herald for trouble. He always seems to know something’s up before anyone else. He knew about the coming of Imperiex, he was there for Coast City being destroyed, he knew a lot about a time-storm created by Brainiac and it’s arguable that he was aware of the Infinite Crisis. The plots with Intergang, Lex Luthor and Lady Styx are probably linked together in at least a loose way. If anyone would know the truth about it, it would be Eradicator, especially if he’s Supernova.

There is the thing about Supernova’s open contempt against Booster Gold. At first glance, this would be an argument against saying it’s Eradicator, considering the two have never met before. Here’s the thing. Up until the radiation leak, this fight strongly mirrors the meeting between Steel and the Eradicator from Reign of the Supermen. In that meeting, it was Steel who played the role of the disapproving superhero and Eradicator as the angry upstart who snaps and starts a fight. During the fight, Eradicator had a revelation based on how Steel carried himself and realized the very concept of heroism that he had been neglecting. The two left on good terms and Eradicator became less cold in his next appearances. Perhaps he was hoping for lightning to strike twice.

The problem here is mainly the lack of appearances Eradicator’s had lately. In a prelude to Infinite Crisis, Eradicator showed up and got knocked into a coma. Last mentioned, he’s under Steel’s care. Maybe the tie to Steel strengthens the claim that he could be Supernova, but it wouldn’t be the most satisfying payoff. Oh, I’d be thrilled about it. I love Eradicator. But everyone else would be kind of miffed.

THE PROBABLE

STARMAN

This is a popular one due to their similar appearances. Much like Supernova, the new Starman is a mystery. The costume and various hints suggest that he’s Thom Kallor, the Supernova of the later 21st century. A quick history lesson for those of you not versed in Starman:

Jack Knight, the main Starman back when his series was around, ends up in the future, where he meets Dannie Blaine, known as Starboy in the Legion of Superheroes. Blaine is knowledgeable when it comes to the history of the Starman mantle, including that of Thom Kallor. He is then horrified to discover that he himself is Thom Kallor. It is his destiny to one day travel back in time, change his name and take the mantle of Starman. The main reason this disturbs him is because he knows the exact day of his death. Later on in Jack Knight’s adventures as Starman, he comes across Kallor Starman. This Starman is traveling through time to thank Jack as he is one day away from the fateful battle that is destined to kill him. Removing his mask, Thom is old, scarred and content with his fate.

As he appears in JSA #1, the current Starman is very much schizophrenic. Is this the same man as Thom Kallor? Maybe. Maybe not. If he is, why is he so crazy? And where in his own history is he? Is this the beginning of his tenure as Starman or did something go wrong at the end? Keep in mind, as part of 52, time is screwing up all over. Maybe this history that Thom Kallor has spent much of his life anticipating is now tossed aside.

The device Ralph Dibny discusses could be whatever form of the Cosmic Rod (Jack’s old weapon) Kallor Starman uses. Ralph also resided in Opal City for a while as a friend of Jack, so it’s possible that he knows about this Starman.

It’s too iffy for me. Gluing two mysteries together doesn’t sound right. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s true, but I’m not holding my breath.

RIP HUNTER

Rip Hunter being Supernova makes tons of sense on a literal front. Rip – the guy responsible for Booster coming to the present in the first place – has yet to show his face in 52. Early in the story, we’ve discovered Rip Hunter’s lab, where he’s written all sorts of weird rantings over the chalkboards and walls. All the screw-ups in time are based on Skeets, but how and why have yet to be revealed. Skeets is searching for Rip to destroy him.

It’s been mentioned that Rip Hunter is very secretive about himself, so he’s not to be attacked by those with the power to time travel. “Rip Hunter” isn’t even his real name, meaning nobody can go back in time, find the Hunter family in the phone book and punch his pregnant mother in the stomach. Supernova is also very secretive and paranoid about himself. If anything, the two are linked by the fact that Skeets knows nothing about either.

While I don’t have much doubt that Supernova could be Rip Hunter, I do think it’s what Skeets believes, based on the above logic. His attack on Metropolis during Week 24 was done to draw out who he was looking for. While Rip is incredibly talented as a genius, the havoc Skeets had unleashed isn’t exactly matched for that. To cause such a threat, he’d have to be pulling for someone on more of a Superman level. Or more on a Supernova level.

Time travel could be used to explain some of Supernova’s powers. Some. Flight and teleporting people from point A to point B need a bit more explanation. Not to mention Rip Hunter’s chalkboard in Week 6 asks the question, “Who is Supernova?”

With Rip Hunter’s unknown background, I could see it possible that Daniel Carter (Booster’s ancestor, doomed by Skeets’ treachery) becomes Rip Hunter at some point. I should also point out that according to a recent Wizard, there’s going to be a battle that spans time itself. Obviously, Skeets has to be the villain there. So who is his opposition? Rip Hunter? Daniel Carter? Supernova? Can all three be the same guy? Time will tell.

BOOSTER GOLD

I covered this one a lot with my own pet theory.

That theory is based on them being in love with continuity and we know that won’t work. With that out of the way, I still think Booster Gold is the most likely. There’s a good point that BSS poster and hater of yours truly d00gZ brought to my attention: Booster Gold’s downfall as a celebrity spokesman started because he bounced a check paying an actor to play Manthrax. Bounced a check? Booster Gold was huge then! He was wiping his nose with Benjamin Franklins and you mean to tell me that he couldn’t pony up the cash to pay a crappy actor?

Not only that, but Booster only became exposed after seeing Rip Hunter’s chalk ramblings. He never did tell Skeets what he saw and we were led to believe that it’s because Booster thought he himself was behind the time anomalies. There could be more to the story here. Once Skeets sees the Rip Hunter ramblings, he responds with, “He knows.” Does he have to only mean Rip Hunter? It could be that Booster has figured out that Skeets is the one behind it all.

Something else to think about. Supernova has been ravaging Batman’s personal museum and may have been doing the same to the JSA museum. Booster Gold got his powers by doing the exact same thing in the future.

Time travel helps explain how Booster Gold and Supernova can interact and fight. Hell, Morrison could probably come up with 50 different explanations as to how that could work.

There are other bits here and there that work. Booster Gold does know where the Batcave is, as shown in Infinite Crisis. Booster being Supernova would very much redeem him for a rather pointless and self-serving death that spit at years of character development. Then there’s the callback with Ralph. Booster and Ralph met up in Week 7, so bringing them back together in Week 31 adds a feeling of story development and accomplishment.

The problem as I see it – besides the annoying and mind-bending realm of time travel – is misdirection. Booster Gold has been the big suspect from the beginning. For a while, there haven’t been many suspects to distract you from him. That said, I still would put my money on Michael Jon Carter as being the man in the blue mask. I’d say that Booster is Supernova and Rip Hunter is feeding him historical information, much like Skeets used to do. The difference is that now, Booster is being selfless.

Those are the suspects, unless I’m missing anyone major. Is Supernova a time traveler? A robot? A villain? A lost hero? We won’t know for another three months, I guess.

A recent Wizard did say that Supernova would unmask himself after defeating a major villain towards the end of the series. Doomsday was going to be this villain, but Mark Waid nixed it. Callback to Death and Return of Superman, maybe?

Please be Eradicator… Please be Eradicator… Please be Eradicator…

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16 comments to “Reign of the Supernovas: A Real Mystery in Real Time”

  1. Another option… it could be Steel and Eradicator working together. :)


  2. My personal theory for Supernova has him being post-IC John Carter. The Booster we know has been “out of time” in regard to the post-CoIE continuity by virtue of being a time traveler. Once the realignment of the multiverse happened, a new version was created and traveled back.


  3. It’s a clone.


  4. Three months? Don’t you mean three weeks? The blurb for Week 35 implies that Supernova’s identity will have been revealed by then.


  5. It’s clearly Tookie Williams. RACIST


  6. It could be Eradicator..I like his new design but also it is similar to supernova’s…

    it could be Palmer since no one has seen him since Identity Crisis…

    it could also be Booster……

    or DC (since it’s starting to be more like marvel thanks to Dan Dildo) will pull these 2 things:

    Supernova revealed as…Connor Kent a.k.a Superboy since he’s a…CLONE!!!!

    or

    Supernova revealed as…Dr Light… A vilian posing as a hero a la Thunderbolts.

    we shall all see in the end of 52.


  7. I have another theory – when Skeets sent Michael into a time loop, he actually ended up switching places with Booster on their trip back from the future – meaning that the capitalist ass Booster who turned up in 52 is actually Michael and not Daniel; his memories were messed up so he believed he was Daniel and he took on the role of Booster. Skeets had done such a good job preparing him in the future (ie when he met him) that past-Skeets didn’t think to check Booster was Daniel.

    Regular Booster, being displaced in time, arrived after the end of IC to find that he was apparently running around already – and being a complete tool. So he took up the identity of Supernova and the rest is history.

    As for the why of the Kryptonite glove, I haven’t worked that one out yet…or how Batman came to have it in the first place.


  8. Rich, I don’t know if you messed up the names of Michael (Booster Gold) and his ancestor (Daniel) but your explanation and convulations confused the heck out of me.


  9. See, my personal theory is that it was Jack Knight/Mikhal Tomas or the two of them working together.

    As you said, most of Supernova’s powers could easily be explained away by a cosmic rod…or Mikhal’s sonic crystal.

    Of course Jack is supposed to be retired and nobody has seen Mikhal since the JL-Aliens special where Superman tried to recruit him for a superhero team. Mikhal backed out, saying he wasn’t needed.

    The thing is, back when 52 was just starting, that Jack Knight would be showing up at some point. And right before he retired, Jack had a conversation with Superman about whether or not retiring was the right thing to do. So maybe he’s playing this whole angle as some sort of pay-back to Superman for that talk and talked Mikhal into helping out because – well, Jack’s a husband with two kids who is supposed to be retired. He can’t keep doing it full-time himself.

    And it would be a nice tribute to the Starman of 51 storyline where two different heroes adopt the same heroic identity.


  10. Gah – Mike, you’re right. rephrasing:

    I have another theory – when Skeets sent Daniel into a time loop, he actually ended up switching places with Michael on their trip back from the future towards the end of IC- meaning that the capitalist ass Booster who turned up in 52 is actually Daniel and not Michael; his memories were messed up so he believed he was Michael and he took on the role of Booster. Skeets had done such a good job preparing him in the future (ie when he met him) that past-Skeets didn’t think to check Booster was really Michael.

    Regular Booster, being displaced in time, arrived after the end of IC to find that he was apparently running around already – and being a complete tool. So he took up the identity of Supernova and the rest is history.

    That might make more sense…not guaranteeing anything though!

    Although Ray Palmer’s a pretty good guess too…


  11. Starman VIII history correction: Thom Kallor is the real name of Starboy, Danny Blaine is his Starman alias.

    Early on I guessed it was Mikaal, due to the glowing chest and the not disimilar build, and Mikaal’s powers weren’t too well defined. Of course he doesn’t have the connections or the recognition for the reveal to have much impact.


  12. Post-Crisis Mon-El comes out of fucking nowhere.


  13. Whomever Supernova is, I hope it’s someone we’ve seen in 52 allready, so the people who recently got back into comics due to the weekly experience (like me) can enjoy the reveal as well.


  14. Supernova is Batman.

    Just a hunch.


  15. I wouldn’t leave out Mister Miracle. It’s been commented that he doesn’t use the motherbox anywhere near to its full potential.


  16. No, I think right about now it would be wise to leave out Mister Miracle.

    You know… now that we know who Supernova is :)