"All his traditional powers are gone," editor Joey Cavalieri said. "Instead of the living solar battery he's always been, Superman is now an energy being. Superman doesn't exactly fly any more; he zaps from place to place like a bolt of lightning..."
Dan Jurgens reinforces the significance of the change. "Superman's new powers are a very drastic change from the powers he previously had. For example, though bullets would bounce off him in the past, they now pass right through him." Of course, changes of this magnitude also force Superman to "re-learn" his superheroic role.
The entire storyline continues from DC's Final Night series from late 1996; however, Dan Jurgens points out that this major change actually predates that series. "This was planned about a year ago," Jurgens said. "Final Night has nothing to do with this, although it did work in with the changes very well. Final Night wasn't even conceived of before this was all worked out."
The new powers fully developed in Superman #123, (released March 12th) by Dan Jurgens, Ron Frenz, and Josef Rubinstein. Not only does Superman have new powers, but he also has a new costume and a new symbol. The landmark issue, featuring a new Superman logo, also featured a special glow-in-the-dark cover on stiff paper stock.
"We thought it was time to make things a little tougher for Superman," said Joey Cavalieri, "And since we've already killed him, it seemed the way to do it was to get him powers he was unfamiliar with and have him learn how to walk again."
Since the first appearance of Superman in 1938, the Man of Steel has been through numerous alterations. However, past changes were temporary. This time, the popular icon has undergone a major transformation that contains long-lasting effects in perhaps the biggest comic storyline since 1992's The Death of Superman.
"Comics is a visually symbolic medium," said Louise Simonson, writer of Superman : Man of Steel. "When you make a big change in a character, people need to recognize that a big change has been made just by looking at that character. That's part of the reason for coming up with the idea to change the costume."
Though Superman's powers have changed, Superman will still derive then from solar energy.
Many people have argued for the old Superman to remain, but times change and apparently so does Superman. "He's still Superman," said Cavalieri. "He still has the 'S' and it seems to me if you're going to do a story like this, you should really go all the way. It's a hell of a visual and when you see how he flies, you won't even miss the cape."