For this entry, it’s time to see how our elseworlds Man of Steel grew up alongside his immigrant parents and acquired his initial view on humanity. As such, let’s dig into…
Published on July 29, 2015, this comic gives us a look at how this last son of Krypton became the hero we would initially come to know of for the film. This time around, we have Justin Norman a.k.a. Moritat handling the artwork as he looks to bring Timm and DeMatteis’ story to life on the page. Meanwhile, our primary cover has Gabriel Hardman and Jordan Boyd showing Superman flying over a body of water with a battleship and a city (most likely Metropolis) in the background. For our alternate cover, Darwyn Cooke shows Supes foiling a bank heist has he threatens one of the thugs with the vault’s door. Now that the introduction is out of the way, let’s find out how Superman’s upbringing went.
We open with a young boy named Hernan Guerra waking up from a nightmare that involved him blasting off from his doomed home plant. Unable to return to sleep, he carefully heads outside making sure not to wake his sister. As he looks to the sky, his sister’s narration mentions how he’s had this particular dream before and that he’s never seen himself as a normal human.
As such, Hernan takes to the skies. After a moment of great relief and exhilaration, he flies around for a short while before heading back down.
After arriving back from his early morning trip through the skies, Hernan is confronted by his mother Rosa. Even though she’s perfectly fine with his recent action, she tells him that the world isn’t ready for his superpowered displays yet.
As the new work day begins, Hernan joins his family alongside a group of immigrant workers as they tend to their endless endeavor on the plentiful land. Just then, a crop duster flies across the field and begins releasing a compound onto the plants. However, it turns out that it also contains toxic chemicals that the immigrant workers would badly suffer from.
Fortunately, Hernan manages to save both his family and their fellow workers by using his super-breath to blow away the harmful compound.
However, an evening feud arises later that evening as his father Manuel scolds him for nearly exposing his superpowers. He knows that his son isn’t going to work in the fields for the rest of his life and wants him to have a well-educated future in America. However, Hernan is angry at both the United States for treating him & his family as second-class citizens and at his father for holding his superpowered actions back. Despite threatening to slap him, Manuel is far too kind-hearted to commit such an act as he hugs his adopted son.
Despite being told to hide his powers from the world, Hernan manages to rebel as his parents and the rest of their fellow workers arrive to see what he secretly did over the course of one night: harvest an entire field of crops.
Despite the looming hardship over his family life, he still manages to play alongside his sister Valentina. She dreams about being a successful teacher someday, but Hernan scoffs at that idea and promises to give her a more thrilling venture for her life. From there. he flies up to the top of a tree and dares his acrophobic sister to climb up after him.
Despite her humanly faults, Valentina continues to climb towards the top. However, Hernan starts to play around as he uses his super-strength to deliver a powerful slap to the years-old shrub. The incredible force is strong enough for Valentina to lose her grip and fall downwards.
After she painfully hits the ground, Hernan thinks that Valentina is playing with him. However, he starts realizing that his sister is badly hurt as he picks her up and flies off to get her medical attention.
Sometime later, Valentina is at a hospital as Hernan and their parents arrive and wait for her to be helped out. Her narration tells us that they never told their folks what actually happened and that he developed a level of guilt, even though Valentina knew that he didn’t mean to get her injured.
Several years later, it turns out that Valentina ended up paralyzed from the waist down. Meanwhile, Hernan starts getting heckled and teased by a fellow worker named Miguel.
Despite getting shoved and wanting to give his rude co-worker his comeuppance, he doesn’t strike back for fear of unintentionally hurting him. As Hernan walks away, Valentina sees the overwhelming guilt within his self-restraint and tells him not to blame himself for what happened. However, he doesn’t say anything and continues to walk away.
Hernan’s situation doesn’t improve as we cut to sometime later and see him alongside his earthbound family during a long drive. Just then, Manuel becomes aghast at what he has discovered up in the sky.
It turns out to be a plane that’s not only on fire, but also plummeting towards its doom. Manuel asks his son to go save the aircraft’s patrons, but Hernan refuses to comply since he’s been told by his father throughout his life to not use his powers. As such, the plane slams into the ground and kills everyone on board. Valentina and her parents can only watch in disbelief, tragedy and horror as Hernan completely loses touch with his humanity.
Sometime later, he wanders into town and attempts to drink his sorrows away. However, Valentina narrates about his kryptonian make-up countering the alcoholism and thereby, not calming his rage. Not long after, a small group of white men begin taunting him. Hernan says nothing and starts walking away, but one of the rude citizens decides to agitate him and throws a bottle at his head. Just as it shatters upon him, Hernan’s rage kicks in as he retaliates by firing his Heat Vision onto the man’s face.
Shocked by the realization of what he’s done, he runs home and tells his mother what he did. When Rosa tells him that it isn’t his fault that God placed this burden on him, Hernan blasphemes his name for beings “a heartless animal who delights in torturing people”. In response, she slaps her son. Shortly afterwards, Hernan asks for forgiveness, to which Rosa accepts with her motherly arms wide open. Just then, Manuel arrives and tells them that trouble is coming their way.
As such, the town sheriff has arrived outside the Guerra household alongside a small group of men as they intend to make Hernan “pay”. Manuel hopes to get the situation under control by talking with them while Valentina asks for her brother to come back inside.
However, any hope for a peaceful resolution is squandered as a gunshot lands dangerously close to the wheelchair-bound sister. As such, Hernan unleashes his inner rage again as he proceeds to attack the small group with his powers.
He easily beats up the opposing humans before he rips a tree out of the ground and prepares to finish them off permanently. Fortunately, Valentina arrives and tells him to stop. However, Hernan says that America has revealed its true form to them and that they’ll never be liked. Valentina then states that he can bring some much-needed change to the world. Convinced, he throws away the tree and calms down.
After scaring off the sheriff and his men, the rest of the Mexican immigrants emerge, wondering whether to view Hernan as their savior or not. Just then, an enraged Manuel demands that he leaves. Rosa tries to tell him that he didn’t mean what he said, but Hernan knows in his heart that he doesn’t belong among their fellow workers. As such, he takes to the skies and departs.
Over the next several years, he would travel around America and then the world. In his letters to his sister, he states about the good and bad that he’s come across in his journeys. Valentina’s narration also mentions how he’s worked himself up into a respectable man and discovered life’s high culture.
Eventually, Hernan’s travels would bring him to Mexico. However, he continues to find no purpose for his life. Just then, he hears a massive explosion. Upon seeing a building on fire, he learns that a school has come under attack and tries to find the person responsible.
Later, he would get his answer from a newscast. It turns out that the attack was from Juan Carlos Fuentes, a sociopath who’s also Mexico’s biggest drug cartel. He also has plenty of senators, lawyers, judges and P.R. experts that helped him evade the law’s grasp. It turns out that he attacked the school in order to kidnap a school girl who’s also the daughter of an opposing prosecutor. Not only that, but he also snatched up the sons and daughters of certain reporters and politicians. When seeing the picture of the kidnapped girl reminds him of his sister, Hernan finally discovers his own purpose.
We then cut to Juan’s secret military compound deep within the Mexican jungle. Hernan proceeds to easily beat up the opposing soldiers before he learns from one of them where the kidnapped children are.
From there, he manages to locate and rescue the kids. During this moment, the prosecutor’s daughter tells him that she believed that her rescue would come and shows him her Virgin Mother pendant. Realizing the religious ties with his original homelife, he decides to reunite with his family. However, it’s a somber scene as he discovers that his mother died during his years of traveling. Manuel reunites with his son and tells him that it was pancreatic cancer that did her in. As such, the two of them apologize for their past outbursts and reunite with a hug.
Sometime later, Hernan meets up with his sister Valentina. We find out that over the years, she got married, had a child and is working on her GED degree. She also tells him that despite the bad men that he harmed, she’s proud of his rescue operation and tells him that he can make a positive difference in the world.
And so, the comic ends with Juan Carlos Fuentes sharing some passion time with a woman named Angela in his private mansion. Suddenly, Hernan bursts in wearing his Superman outfit and takes care of the drug cartel off-panel as he begins to “change the world”.
For Hernan Guerra (who’s named here yet not in the movie), his tale of a “stranger in a strange land” would be set up for the movie. His cynical attitude towards the ignorant Caucasian side of America is established during the struggles towards his family life. Being seen as part of a minority gives him a low place to climb out of as his family (mostly his sister and mother) teaches him to be faithful towards humanity, despite his ruthless ways of dealing with foul people. With the talk of God woven into his character arc, it basically tells the reader to use religion towards making yourself a better person towards others. It’s challenged when his father doesn’t want him to use his powers in public when he was a child. If that wasn’t enough, the permanent injury to his sister added further restraint to his growth, both emotional and on the development of his superhuman skills. After hitting his lowest point by unleashing his inner rage on the spiteful humans, he wanders around the world without much purpose. Fortunately, his sister is still a strong influence since she ultimately becomes the inspiration for becoming a superhero when a local crisis occurs. This also demonstrates the importance of a stable family helping to guide you in the right direction on your lifelong path. Throughout the journey, it’s shown to us in an art style that seems muted, yet moody and fits the tone of its various scenes.
Overall, this is another great compliment to the movie. It explores Hernan’s early ventures on Earth, he’s never made completely unlikable from his actions and the various people he meets helps to mold him into the person he’ll become at the start of the film. He gains a respectful attitude towards his upbringings and justice-like values, yet he also has his weakness of not entirely trusting higher authority. Also, the other characters do their job well-enough since Superman’s the main focus, the artwork is very competent enough to present its tale and Hernan goes through a compelling character arc. Sure he’ll have more room to improve himself in the mini-series and eventually the film, but he managed to acquire a foundation for his main characteristics. It’s worth a read to see how Hernan’s life on Earth began his journey into the otherworldly figure we’ll eventually come to see.
Next Time: She abandoned the New Gods and fled after her people laid waste to their enemy planet in betrayal. Her inaugural journey on Earth will see her befriend a group of peace-seekers where someone among them as a different kind of plan. All will be revealed as we dig into “Justice League: Gods & Monsters-Wonder Woman #1”.
Superman (created by Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster), Justice League (created by Gardner Fox) and all related characters are owned by DC Comics.