SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Sideways Annual #1, by Dan DiDio, Grant Morrison, Will Conrad, Cliff Richards, Ibraim Roberson, Dan Brown, Hi-Fi Colors, Travis Lanham, Dave Sharpe and Carlos M. Mangual on sale now.
In Dark Nights: Metal, the Batmen of DC's Dark Multiverse brought the DC Universe to its knees. In Sideways Annual #1, some of the Dark Multiverse's much-friendlier Supermen landed in the main DC Universe, and it looks like they're going to stick around for a while.
Over the past few months, Sideways, a dimension-hopping teenage hero, has been bouncing around the Dark Multiverse, a nightmarish plane of existence where unsustainable realities are constantly destroyed. In a stable pocket dimension called the Kingdom of Benevolence, he met the Unseen, relatively friendly but monstrous versions of Superman and his allies from various alternate realities.
The Unseen were being used as an energy source by the Perrus, the ruler of the Kingdom of Benevolence. When Sideways took issue with that, Perrus threw him in a dungeon, where the young hero met the long-lost New 52 Superman.
When the pocket dimension starts crumbling in this issue, Perrus gets crushed by debris, and Sideways sends the Unseen to the main DC Universe. While breaking into the offices of The Daily Planet, the Unseen realize that DC's main Earth is a stable, safe world where Clark Kent and Lois Lane are married.
With tentative permission from Tempus Fuginaut, a kind of dimensional doorman, the Unseen set up shop in a nearby abandoned castle, where they'll likely keep a low profile for now.
These bizarre members of the Unseen are all inspired by classic Silver Age Superman stories. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Superman and his friends went through a number of truly odd transformations. While most of these transformations only lasted for a single issue, they were given new life as the Unseen and redesigned for the modern age by artist Kenneth Rocafort.
Two members of the Unseen are twisted versions of Superman. The hooded Rant is based on the Red Ant Superman from 1963's Action Comics #296. In that Al Plastino story, Superman used Red Kryptonite to partially transform into an ant to help out some alien ant refugees. For Rant, the transformation was more permanent.
The ghostly Kentclark is a version of Negative Superman from 1962's World's Finest Comics #126. This villain was created when one of Lex Luthor's experiments malfunctioned in a story by Ed Herron and Jim Mooney. Although he originally worked with Perrus, Kentclark joined the Unseen and lived up to his namesake by keeping a uniformly pessimistic attitude.