Even for a hero as powerful as Superman, it helps to have friends in equal positions. Over the years, the Man of Steel has had several allies in his corner of the DC Universe, many of whom make up his “Superman family”. This has briefly resulted in one of DC Comics’ biggest missed opportunities.
At various points in the PostCrisis on Infinite Earths Continuity, the last son of Krypton created a national team called the Supermen of America. This “Justice League” of Superman allies has had two incarnations, neither of which ever took off. Given the timing of the team’s second version, this was perhaps Superman’s biggest creative loss to date.
DC introduced the Supermen of America team – twice
The first version of Supermen of America was created by Stuart Immonen and debuted in a special one-shot in 1999. The team was funded by Lex Luthor to operate in Superman’s absence when he was not around. Their leader was Outburst, who had once been rescued by Superman during the Doomsday rampage in Metropolis. Despite the name, none of them had any real connection to Superman, even lacking a similar power set or costume. They never attracted much attention, as most of the team died during the events of the Infinite Crisis.
The second version of Supermen of America debuted in 2011 superman #714 (by J Michael Straczynski, Chris Roberson and Jamal Igle), which was one of the last comic issues to be published before the New 52 reboot that changed the continuity. The theme crowned the controversial “Grounded” storyline, which saw Superman traverse America to reconnect with the people pledged to protect. The story’s conclusion was a renewed commitment to this mission, but also a realization that as much as the world needed Superman, he couldn’t be everywhere at once. So he formed a new Supermen of America with some familiar faces.
Superman family members Conner Kent/Superboy, Supergirl and Steel joined the team, along with a reformed version of the villainous Livewire and Iron Munro. Munro was a member of the forgotten Young All-Stars and his place in the continuity was used to cast him for Golden Age Superman. Unfortunately, the team was never seen in action together, as that continuity ended right after their introduction. Given how much the New 52 has changed, it was impossible to just pick up the pieces as if everything were the same.
The Supermen of America team has been consistently doomed
As for the original Supermen of America, the team never had much of a chance for long-term success. They had very little to do with Superman himself thematically, which was a problem that already plagued the non-Krypton versions of Supergirl. Therefore, it is not surprising that given their tiny importance, they were quickly abolished. Superman himself hardly seems to remember the team, and it’s possible Infinite Crisis and or Last Crisis deleted her from the continuity anyway.
The version that appeared just before the New 52 was also dead when it arrived. As mentioned, the continuity would be immediately rewritten from scratch, with the Superman family being fractured and Golden Age comic book characters like Iron Munro erased. It didn’t help that this incarnation came after “Grounded,” a storyline that was far more controversial than it was good. This probably lent an unnecessarily negative aura to the potentially incredible concept, since the Supermen of America allowed Superman’s mythos to thrive in the same way Batman’s did.
The connection with “Grounded” is probably why the Supermen of America have remained untouched despite the restoration of the Superman family in the post-Rebirth timeline. Ironically, it was the first version of the team to receive a somewhat cynical makeover in the hit series Superman and Lois, in which the army used a force of humans bestowed Kryptonian powers to protect America solely in the way Superman would . t. Given that this was perhaps the team’s biggest push, it’s likely that the Supermen of America will remain an aspect of the character’s mythos that is largely unrealized.