Superman Permanently Redefines His Symbol With New Meaning
It’s stood for ‘Superman’ and ‘hope’, and now with Action Comics #1049, the Man of Steel’s iconic emblem takes on a revolutionary meaning.
Warning! Spoilers ahead for Action Comics #1049!The iconic Superman symbol has just gotten a powerful new meaning in the wake of Clark’s liberation of Warworld. Action Comics #1049 shows how the Man of Steel’s sigil has evolved from one of hope to one of revolution and collective strength.
The shield of Superman is nearly as iconic as the hero himself. Everyone knows that the hero bears a large red ‘S’ on his chest, but more dedicated fans of Clark Kent know that this symbol is actually the family crest of Kal-El’s family, the House of El. While it’s gone through a few changes, the meaning of Superman’s symbol is one of hope, as established in the retelling of Superman’s origin story, Superman: Birthright. Considering that many people in the DC Universe look up to Superman as an inspirational figure, it makes sense that the hero’s emblem be intrinsically associated with hope.
But after Clark Kent’s recent actions on Warworld, the shield has taken on a new meaning in the DC Universe. In Action Comics #1049 by Phillip Kennedy Johnson, David Lapham, and Mike Perkins, Superman continues with the fallout of his recent mission to free Warworld. After defending the young Phaelosian Osul-Ra from being abducted by the New Gods, Superman returns to the gladiator planet he recently helped liberate from Mongul. Superman has come with news for the former captives that the United Planets has found their home worlds and is prepping to have them returned. But Superman gives a powerful speech where he notes how brave it was for the gladiators to adopt his shield, knowing it could get them killed. Clark freely gives his shield to the hardened warriors as a symbol of their courage in the face of oppression and tyranny.
Superman’s Shield Gets A Great Redefinition
After Clark was captured and forced to fight on Warworld for Mongul’s amusement, Superman took on a new name: Bahle’na Gahl, which means ‘Unblooded Sword’. Superman’s refusal to participate in the bloodshed that ran rampant on Warworld helped him become a legend among the imprisoned fighters, many of whom took up his crest in support of his mission. While Clark didn’t consciously turn his shield into symbol of rebellion, the gladiators united under Superman’s emblem in honor of the man who showed them change was a possible thing.
The images emblazoned on superheroes’ chests are like any other symbol and can transform over time. As mentioned earlier, the shield was originally just shorthand for Superman before becoming the House of El’s coat of arms or a glyph that meant hope. To the warriors of Warworld, the shield represents the power of a warrior willing to fight against absolute rule. It’s a symbol that stands for revolution in the name of justice and freedom. It’s no less hopeful than it was before, but now Clark’s shield is a powerful image that communicates the collective strength of a united front. Fans can see the change for Superman’s symbol themselves in Action Comics #1049 on sale now.
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