Superman Just Gained a New, and Fitting, Protege

WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for Action Comics#1015 from Brian Michael Bendis, Szymon Kudranski, Brad Anderson and Dave Sharpe, on sale now.

As much as Superman is the all-American hero and a leader of the Justice League, he isn't typically viewed as a mentor, per se, the way Batman is. However, that aspect of the Man of Steel has come to the fore more recently, with Jon Kent and Supergirl looking to him for leadership because of the threat of Rogol Zaar.

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In the past, Superman didn't really take Superboy (Kon-El) under his wing the way the Dark Knight did with his Robins. But that's about to change with Action Comics, which finds Kal-El embracing the role of mentor to someone who fits his character perfectly: Naomi McDuffie.

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Naomi introduced the young superhuman from a mysterious Earth, created by Brian Michael Bendis, David F. Walker and Jamal Campbell. Her planet was showered by mysterious radiation, which empowered 29 humans, leading to a war that more or less destroyed it. Her parents were two of those individuals, but they tried to be as heroic as possible and fend off the impending doom. Their daughter, Naomi, the first superhuman born naturally, was set to Earth, safe from the tyrant Zumbado. He's more or less Naomi's Doomsday.

Naomi's solo title ended with the villain fighting her parents on her home world, only for her to be sent back to Earth in the mainstream DC Universe. With her adoptive father a soldier from Rann, we might have assumed Namoi would look to him as a mentor. But with powers growing out of control, Naomi wants to be taught by a more experienced hero.

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In Action Comics #1015, Naomi plummets through the skies of Metropolis and falls at the Daily Planet, where Superman meets her. She explains her story and he takes a leap of faith, even attempting to teach her to fly. Kal takes her to the Hall of Justicem where she meets the Wonder Twins and Batman, who runs tests to ensure she's genuine and also, to see what kind of help she needs. Given how much cosmic radiation she's emitting, she needs a lot. Superman recognizes that, and begins to consider mentoring her. They have so much in common, as Kal's parents sent him to Earth as well. Zumbado even comes off like Naomi's Rogol (who destroyed Krypton), made all the more intriguing when they last fought and he admitted to murdering her parents.

Superman's feeling sorry for her, but he's also seeing her potential. She needs someone a bit more than a human, especially as she already has her parents in Oregon. Batman is pretty cool with this idea because he knows they can't afford to let someone with her abilities go unchecked either, so it's a win-win for all parties. He even sees her rage as an orphan as something Supes can help channel the same way Batman did as the Caped Crusader.

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There's a sense of light, hope and optimism in Superman, however, and since her solo book, Naomi's been a fangirl, obsessing with how he protects the innocent. There's always the chance he could just leave her with the interns at the Hall to train or maybe someday Bendis could transfer her to his Young Justice book, but as it stands, a hands-on approach is needed. She isn't just looking to be a protege too, she wants protection for this planet as Zumbado made it clear he's coming to invade. In Kal, she'll have the shield and backup she needs, and given how Superman has treated tyrants like Rogol and Zod in the past, Zumbado will be making a big mistake. And luckily, in the process, Naomi will ultimately get to learn what it means to be a hero from the greatest of them all.

Action Comics #1016 goes on sale Sept. 30.

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