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Man of Steel: How the Finale Sets up Superman's DC Comics Future

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Superman's struggles have only just begun.

Man of Steel #6 hit stores today, ending writer Brian Michael Bendis' first major Superman storyline. But while the first battle between Superman and Rogol Zaar is over, Bendis' plans for the franchise have just begin. Man of Steel #6 paves the way for Bendis to take over DC's monthly Superman and Action Comics titles and the return of Supergirl's solo series.

Scroll down for a recap of the big developments in Man of Steel and how Bendis is setting the stage for a new era for the Superman comics.

Rogol Zaar - Krypton's Destroyer?

Bendis' most significant addition to the Superman mythos so far is Rogol Zaar, a powerful new villain who claims to be responsible for Krypton's destruction. Whether Zaar is telling the truth remains to be seen, but he's already proven himself more than a match for both Superman and Supergirl on multiple occasions.

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Art by Jim Lee. (DC Entertainment)

As of the end of Man of Steel, Zaar has been imprisoned inside the Phantom Zone after nearly succeeding in destroying Earth. But the damage has already been done. The Fortress of Solitude has been destroyed, and the Bottle City of Kandor has gone missing. And though Zaar is contained for now, DC solicitations for future Superman issues make it clear he won't be gone for long.

Click here for a more detailed look at what we know about Rogol Zaar so far.

Supergirl's New Status Quo

Man of Steel is as much about setting the stage for Supergirl's future as it is Superman's. After going on hiatus for a few months, the monthly Supergirl series returns in August with new writer Steve Orlando and artist Kevin Maguire building on the framework established in Man of Steel. Kara is hungry for vengeance in the wake of Kandor's apparent destruction. Not just against Rogol Zaar, but against those who enabled his vendetta against Krypton in the first place.

Art by Terry Dodson. (DC Entertainment)

Art by Terry Dodson. (DC Entertainment)

The revamped series will follow Kara as she ventures into deep space (complete with a new costume and Rogol Zaar's axe) and seeks out the members of the Galactic Circle, a cabal made of various powerful aliens and gods who control the fates of entire worlds. With any luck, Kara's quest will finally settle the question once and for all of whether Rogol Zaar actually destroyed Krypton.

Superman's Missing Family

Another big development in Man of Steel is that Superman is alone again in a way he hasn't been since the New 52 days. Some fans feared DC was eliminating Clark's marriage to Lois Lane, One More Day style. But the truth is that Lois and Jon are still alive, just very, very far from home.

Art by Jason Fabok. (DC Entertainment)

Art by Jason Fabok. (DC Entertainment)

A series of recurring flashbacks in Man of Steel show that Clark and his family were approached by Mr. Oz, the enigmatic villain who was recently revealed to be none other than Jor-El. Oz is determined to take his grandson away from Earth and show him the universe. His hope is that he can help Jon get in touch with his Kryptonian side in a way he could never achieve on Earth. Neither Lois nor Clark were thrilled at this prospect, but they relented after realizing how badly their son wants this opportunity.

Ultimately, Lois decided to accompany her son and write a book about the experience (while also keeping close watch over a man neither she nor Clark trusts). This twist also explains why Superman suddenly switched back to his classic red trunks costume. He gave his DC Rebirth costume to Lois as protection against whatever dangers she might encounter in space.

This extended vacation is only supposed to last a few months. Unfortunately, the arrival of Rogol Zaar has complicated matters. The attack on the Fortress of Solitude also destroyed the communicator that Clark was using to communicate with his family. They're now completely out of reach and unaware of the danger posed by this powerful new villain.

Life at the Daily Planet

Bendis is writing both monthly Superman comics, and each series will carve its own territory in terms of cast and tone. Action Comics will focus a great deal on Clark's journalism career and his relationships with the employees of the Daily Planet. As Man of Steel has shown, this venerable newspaper has fallen on hard times (just like pretty much every newspaper in the real world).

Art by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. (DC Entertainment)

Art by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. (DC Entertainment)

Plunging readership isn't the only problem plaguing the Planet these days. Perry White fired his star reporter Lois after she informed him about her extended sabbatical, leaving her office empty and the paper's editor that much grumpier. Competition has sprung up among rival reporters eager to claim Lois' empty office.

One of those reporters is another new addition to the Superman mythos - an ambitious reporter named Robinson Goode. Goode seems to admire Clark in particular, though she may have a more nefarious agenda in mind. Bendis and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez's short story in DC Nation #0 ends with Goode telling a mysterious partner that she plans on owning the Daily Planet soon.

Exit Theatre Mode

A Fiery Mystery

Another subplot in Man of Steel involves a rash of mysterious fires cropping up across Metropolis. Superman suspects these fires are caused by arson, but so far he has yet to pin down a culprit. Fortunately, he has two allies in this investigation - Batman and a new deputy fire chief named Melody Moore.

Art by Ivan Reis. (DC Entertainment)

Art by Ivan Reis. (DC Entertainment)

Man of Steel ends without this particular mystery being resolved. However, it looks to be taking on more urgency in Bendis' upcoming Superman comics. The final page in Man of Steel #6 features a young boy approaching Melody and informing her that he saw Superman himself setting these fires.

Jesse is a mild-mannered writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter, or Kicksplode on MyIGN.