SPOILER WARNING: The following contains spoilers for "Action Comics" #870, on sale now.
The NY Daily News website revealed in an item posted at 4:00AM EST this morning that in this week’s new issue of “Action Comics,” Jonathan Kent, the adoptive human father of Superman, perishes while saving his wife from an attack by the villain Brainiac.
Midtown Comics employee Ted Alexander told Daily News Staff Writer Ethan Sacks, "I read the issue this morning and I was shocked.” Doubtlessly, many New York-based “Action Comics” fans wish they could say the same.
The Daily News item is the latest in what appears to be a new trend whereby superhero publishers endeavor to draw new readers’ attention to major storylines by spoiling the endings to those very things in mainstream news outlets. Superman publisher DC Comics revealed earlier this year to The Daily News the return of Barry Allen, the long-dead Flash of the Silver Age, in an apparent effort to promote “DC Universe Zero,” and Marvel Comics famously announced the death of Captain America in numerous outlets, including The Daily News, on the same day the landmark “Captain America” #25 hit stands in 2007.
Opinion is divided as to the effectiveness of this kind of strategy, which targets new readers at the potential expense of existing fans' enjoyment of these stories. Although the Captain America announcement yielded incredibly high sales, fans and commentators have questioned the Barry Allen reveal, given its and the “Final Crisis” story’s relatively arcane nature, even amongst superhero fans. Similarly, the death of Jonathan Kent may not even be news to many new readers — as this morning’s Daily News piece notes, both of Superman’s parents were dead for most of the character’s history, and Pa Kent’s death was a memorable scene in the hugely popular “Superman: The Movie,” which for many is the definitive story of Superman.
Written by Geoff Johns with artwork by Gary Frank and John Sibal, “Action Comics” #870 concludes the popular creative team’s “Brainiac” storyline, which reintroduces the classic villain to modern audiences.
Of Jonathan Kent, Johns told The Daily News, "If baby Kal-El had fallen in the hands of a lesser man, the world would be a lesser place," and added, “It was probably the most difficult scene I've ever had to write. That's why there's no dialogue in the scene, there's nothing left to say."
“Action Comics” #870 is on sale now from DC Comics.