Warning! Spoilers ahead for DC’s Generations Forged #1 from Dan Jurgens, Robert Venditti, and Andy Schmidt.
A lesser known Superman just became a huge part of the history of the Superman in the DC Comics universe. Spinning out of the events of DC’s Dark Nights: Death Metal, time itself is being erased in Generations Shattered and now Generations Forged is seeing heroes from across time being assembled together to restore the timeline. While heroes such as Dr. Light, Green Lantern Sinestro, and the Batman from 1939 have all been gathered, this new team also includes a young Clark Kent when he was still Superboy, as well as the Superman known as Steel.
In Generations Forged #1 from Dan Jurgens, Robert Venditti, and Andy Schmidt, the villain known as Dominus (the mastermind behind time’s erasure) has split up the world’s heroes, sending them out to different points across the parts of time that still remain. While this is clearly not ideal, it does end up creating the opportunity for Doctor John Henry Irons (otherwise known as Steel) to spend some time with the boy who will grow up to become the man who inspired Irons so much, as Steel and Superboy find themselves marooned together for months in the prehistoric age of the alien planet Thanagar.
However, as time goes on (and begins to run out), Superboy desperately wants to know about his own future, though Steel continually refuses so as to not disrupt the passage of events more than they already have been. While he does concede by telling Superboy that he’ll become an inspiration to Steel himself, he doesn’t tell Superboy that his own rise as a Superman occurred after Clark’s eventual death and sacrifice at the hands of Doomsday. Furthermore, Irons ends up protecting and inspiring Superboy, creating a dynamic paradox in Generations Forged #1.
As the issue continues, Steel and Superboy manage to reunite with the rest of the heroes, and together they take the fight to Dominus. In one particularly epic portion of the battle, Superboy take Steel’s iconic sledgehammer to strike a massive blow to Dominus, but only after learning about sacrifice from Steel. Eventually, the heroes manage to find the img of the villain’s power and chronal energy, which they then disrupt in order to diminish his strength. This also restores time back to what it once was, which means that the time-displaced team’s work is done. As such, Superboy and Steel both go back to their own times, though much more connected to one another’s origins than ever before.
For fans of John Henry Irons’ Steel, it’s pretty cool to see him have such an impact of the very hero who will one day motivate him to become a hero himself. It’s a dynamic for Superman that’s only made possible by a time travel paradox, but it’s certainly a rather fun one to have in the DC Universe all things considered.