Twenty five years ago this month, DC Comics released “Superman #123,” introducing the world to the new Man of… Energy. Superman Blue!
While Superman’s powers had gone through a variety of changes over the years since 1938, the fundamental nature of the Man of Steel had always remained the same. That was no longer the case (officially) starting from “Superman #123,” which hit comic store shelves in March 1997. Everything you knew about Superman’s powers, abilities, and appearance became comic book history as DC brought us the new Superman – The Man Beyond Tomorrow!
At the time, editor Joey Cavalieri said, “All his traditional powers are gone. Instead of the living solar battery he’s always been, Superman is now an energy being. Superman doesn’t exactly fly any more; he zaps from place to place like a bolt of lightning…”
Dan Jurgens reinforced the significance of the change. “Superman’s new powers are a very drastic change from the powers he previously had. For example, though bullets would bounce off him in the past, they now pass right through him.”
The new powers fully developed in “Superman #123,” (released March 12th) by Dan Jurgens, Ron Frenz, and Josef Rubinstein. Not only did Superman have new powers, but he also had a new costume and a new symbol. The landmark issue, featuring a new Superman logo, also featured a special glow-in-the-dark cover on thick paper stock.
“We thought it was time to make things a little tougher for Superman,” said Joey Cavalieri at the time, “And since we’ve already killed him, it seemed the way to do it was to get him powers he was unfamiliar with and have him learn how to walk again.”
At the time many fans were unimpressed, arguing for the classic Superman to remain. “He’s still Superman,” said Cavalieri. “He still has the ‘S’ and it seems to me if you’re going to do a story like this, you should really go all the way. It’s a hell of a visual and when you see how he flies, you won’t even miss the cape.”
Superman Blue’s adventures were published for the entirety of 1997, and he was later joined by Superman Red in early 1998.
However on April 1, 1998 (in celebration of the character’s 60th anniversary), Superman was returned to his classic outfit and classic powers in the special “Superman Forever #1”.