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 the heart of DC's Dark Multiverse, one of DC's brightest heroes, the Superman from DC's New 52 reboot, just reemerged after an extended absence. Wearing his signature t-shirt and jeans, the New 52 Superman teamed up with Sideways, a dimension-hopping teenage hero, in Sideways Annual #1.
When the New 52 reboot started in 2011, DC re-envisioned Superman as a working class hero who defended the oppressed in stories inspired by Superman's early appearances from the late 1930s and 1940s. While he was a big part of the New 52's early days, this young, brash Superman and his adventures were seemingly wiped out of existence when he merged with the Pre-New 52 Superman in 2017's "Superman Reborn" crossover. That story left DC with a new, more traditional Superman. It also left the New 52 Superman without a place in the DC Universe, until now.
After being held captive in a Dark Multiverse pocket dimension, Superman escapes with some help from Sideways. In between fighting giant spider monsters and saving a dozen other superheroes, this Superman reveals some subtle details about his history that could help answer some of the DC Universe's most burning questions.
While talking with Sideways, Superman mentions several specifics aspects of New 52 continuity. As he's recovering from "K-Toxicity" after being exposed to kryptonite, he remembers George Taylor, the editor he worked with at The Daily Star before moving to The Daily Planet. He references a few other key points from New 52's Superman's history, like dying, coming back to life and being named Superman by Lois Lane. He even mentions the Kryptonian ship that brought him to Earth in an image that homages Andy Kubert's cover to 2012's Action Comics #5.
While recapping his life's story, Superman also mentions that he spent time working in a general store while he was growing up.
While that was part of Superman's origin in the 1950s and 1960s, his family's general store has been a relatively obscure piece of trivia for decades. On Earth-One, Clark Kent grew up working in the Kent General Store when he wasn't flying around Smallville as Superboy. After Jonathan and Martha Kent sold the family farm, they moved into Smallville proper and opened up the store. While it's not totally clear what happened to the general store after Superman left Smallville, it's rarely been mentioned since the Earth-One timeline was destroyed in Crisis on Infinite Earths, the seminal 1986 crossover that rebooted and reshaped DC's multiverse.
The general store hasn't been a firmly established factor in any of Superman's subsequent origins, but it was mentioned near the start of the New 52. During a Sholly Fisch and Chriscross flashback story, "Baby Steps," in 2012's Action Comics #7, Jonathan Kent joked about mortgaging the family farm and opening up a general store. That never happened in the New 52, and the Kent family stayed on the farm until Clark was in high school. After Martha and Jonathan died in a car crash, Clark gave the farm to a family friend when he went off to college.