Superman #16 by Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, Tony S. Daniel, and Clay Mann
Tomasi and Gleason craft an emotionally powerful conclusion to "Multiplicity," reminding readers that hope burns brightest for Superman.
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Emotionally resonant
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SUPERMAN #16 completes the “Multiplicity” story arc with an action-packed and emotionally satisfying conclusion. The issue brings together every single Superman from the Multiverse in a rousing reminder of the value and integrity of Superman. As the 52 Supermen band together, their power as a symbol for hope elevates the story to a new level.

Superman #16

SUPERMAN #16 begins with Prophecy, a cosmic being, having just drained Superman of his powers. The Superman collector explains that he’s foreseen a threat to existence, and only by draining the Multiverse of its entire array of Supermen can he possess the power necessary to stop this threat. Superman is then thrown into a dirt hole with the rest of the drained Supermen, where they await their demise. All appears lost, but little do the other Supermen know that Superman has a plan. Justice Incarnate, watchdogs of the Multiverse, is building an Ultima Thule, a ship which uses music to travel between dimensions by vibrating reality. Through the construction of this musical gateway, Justice Incarnate and the re-powered Supermen launch an all-out assault on Prophecy.

READ: For a reminder of what makes Superman so heroic, see our analysis, SUPERMAN: The Bravest of Them All.

The “Multiplicity” arc has been remarkable for its ability to pack each issue with an insane number of characters, without making the comics feel overstuffed. With 52 Supermen, in addition to the members of Justice Incarnate, some characters were bound to be favored over others. But for those with dialogue, each Superman stands out with a distinctive voice and style. This issue in particular makes use of them all, as the Supermen band together to defeat Prophet.

SUPERMAN #16 accomplishes two major goals: One, it uses the epic team-up to hit home the importance of the Superman symbol. There’s an emotional unity between these Supermen, most powerfully demonstrated through the connection between Clark Kent and Kong Kenan, the New Super-Man. As the two primary Supermen we’ve been following in the comics, we have an innate emotional connection to these two characters. Their meeting was inevitable, and to have it take place in these dire Superman-hunting circumstances was a brilliant move by writers Pete Tomasi and Patrick Gleason. This meeting emboldens the foundation of Superman as a symbol of hope and bonding. As these two Supermen unite through their shared symbol, in the darkest of circumstances, the rest of the Supermen are empowered to rally behind them. With Kenan and Clark as our focal points, Tomasi and Gleason create an emotional bond, rippling through all the Supermen and ultimately restoring their powers.

Superman #16

The other goal this issue accomplishes is a plot which deftly ties into the other SUPERMAN titles, and the DC Universe as a whole. Early on, Prophecy reminds us that our Superman is an anomaly. Superman initially had not been targeted along with the rest of the Supermen, and now we learn it’s because Prophecy had not detected him. He’s powerful, and he looks like Superman, but on a bio-organic level, he’s not Superman. This tantalizing clue leads back to a hint we were first given in DC UNIVERSE REBIRTH, when the mysterious Mr. Oz tells Superman that he and his family are not who they believe themselves to be. The nod to that issue pushes us further to an answer about just who or what this Superman truly is – an answer we are likely to get in the upcoming “Superman Reborn” story arc. Another clever nod to the other comics is the appearance of Lois Lane as Superwoman. Her presence is subtly felt, but for readers of SUPERWOMAN, it provides an intriguing connection to the current story arc. These very clever tie-ins assist in expanding the scope of Tomasi’s SUPERMAN. Using legendary writer Grant Morrison’s Multiverse concept has proven to be a brilliant vehicle in pushing the story to address questions raised by the broader REBIRTH universe.

READ: The many Supermen of DC REBIRTH were the focus of our analysis article, DC’s SUPERMAN: Does He Still Belong Here

Rounding out the issue is the art by Tony S. Daniel and Clay Mann, who’s wonderful pencil work establishes unique and memorable designs for each Superman. The existing roster of Supermen from Morrison’s “Multiversity” here is utilized and expanded upon, with appearances from the Supermen of several other titles, such as RED SON and BATMAN BEYOND. That’s to say nothing of the unique designs of Justice Incarnate, which riff off of DC’s many other heroes, giving us unique amalgamations of the various Justice League members. All of this makes for dazzling eye candy when our heroes team up to battle Prophecy. The full splash pages boast such colorful, popping clashes of characters – it’s impossible to look away.

Overall, “Multiplicity” is a memorable arc that pushes the larger story forward while honoring the mantle of Superman. The entire DC REBIRTH approach to Superman has been to split his character in many different directions. With all the various SUPERMAN comics and the different men and women now wearing the mantle, it was the perfect time to return to Morrison’s fascinating Multiverse. Tomasi and Gleason have paid an excellent tribute to the “Multiversity” story while spinning it into a new mold that gives us tantalizing new information about the larger story unfolding in DC REBIRTH. Best of all, “Multiplicity” takes the concept of a Multiverse stuffed with many Supermen, and instead of running off the rails into chaos, brings the story back home, to a place that feels emotionally reassuring. It reminds readers everywhere of the importance, integrity, and heroism of Superman. As the Supermen hit their lowest point in the darkness of Prophecy’s domain, Superman reminds them that “It’s in places like this that hope burns brightest.”

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