Warning: Major spoilers ahead for Superman #51, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, and likely for DC Universe: Rebirth.
Those are the words that one of DC's most iconic heroes speaks in the first page of a comic book released today.
In Superman #51, as we revealed in our review for the issue, a major clue seems to have been dropped as to the reason for the conspicuous absence of the New 52 Superman in the post-Rebirth titles: he's dying.
In the opening pages of the issue, it's revealed that Superman is dying. His body has not been able to recuperate from the high-speed beatings he's taken from his battles on Apokolips and against Rao with the Justice League, along with his Kryptonite-fueled battle against Vandal Savage and his armies. Quickly, our hero realizes that he can't allow himself to become frustrated with the hole he leaves behind but must instead focus on how to best prepare the world for the loss of Superman.
Would DC kill their main Superman? Well, as we've seen in the past, that's not a real problem for them. The pre-Flashpoint Superman died following a battle with Doomsday -- as did his movie counterpart in last month's Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Then, though -- as with most superheroes -- he returned from the dead.
This time, it's entirely possible we're looking at the possibility of the post-Flashpoint Superman -- who has been the publisher's flagship hero since 2011 -- passing away and not returning from the grave, being replaced instead by his pre-Flashpoint counterpart, who will move from Superman: Lois and Clark into Superman and Action Comics following the events of the currently-ongoing Super-League storyline.
Peter Tomasi, who is writing Super-League and so scripted today's Superman #51, will take over Superman on an ongoing basis in June. His first issue's cover depicts the pre-Flashpoint Superman ripping open his Lois and Clark costume (a black bodysuit with a silver belt and a silver "S" shield on it) to reveal a modernized take on the classic Superman costume. Dan Jurgens, who wrote and drew Superman #75 in 1992 -- the issue in which Superman died -- and created Doomsday, is going to be writing Action Comics.
If all of that seems to draw a pretty neat picture, there's still some hope for the Man of Tomorrow: During DC's recent WonderCon presentation, Jurgens teased a Superman title where Clark Kent and Superman are actually two different individuals. What if, rather than die from all of the recent weirdness with his powers, Superman merely had to surrender those powers (and with them the identity of Superman) in order to survive?
Usually, a hero like Superman would rather die to serve the world than rob the world of Superman to save himself. Even in Superman #51, he says that he's consoled by the fact that what's killing him is what allowed him to save thousands of people recently.
...But with another, more experienced Superman waiting in the wings? Would Clark Kent be willing to save himself if he knew the world would still have a protector? That's what we'll find out soon.