Warning: spoilers for Action Comics #1044 are ahead.
As one of the most popular heroes in DC Comics, Superman has no shortage of allies, and now he can count on a character resembling “Laser Baby” from The Boys. While Superman’s circumstances in the DC Universe couldn’t be more different than Billy Butcher’s, they have both found protection from their enemies thanks to one horrifyingly powered infant.
Superman’s new ally comes at a crucial time his current arc in Action Comics. Stranded on Warworld, a cruel gladiatorial environment beneath the power-dampening rays of a red sun, Superman and his Authority team have launched an effort to free the enslaved people of Warworld and take down its villainous leader, Mongul, once and for all. Several of the Authority’s members, including Enchantress and Apollo, are hidden away in different parts on Warworld, making it difficult for Superman’s ragtag group of allies to rescue them. As two of the team’s most powerful members, Enchantress and Apollo are key for Superman and the Authority if they are to defeat Mongul.
In Action Comics #1044 by Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Riccardo Federici, Will Conrad, Lee Loughridge, and Dave Sharpe, Superman and the Authority rescue Enchantress from a being known as Mother, with the help of a new ally called the Orphan. The Orphan is a baby powered by the Source, or the energy that powers all life in the universe. When Superman gives Orphan an Orphan Box, a special device that can “transcend life and death,” Orphan becomes a formidable weapon as they fight to free Enchantress. Just as Superman and the Authority were about to be overwhelmed by Mother’s monstrous children, Orphan unleashed an explosion of power that nearly vaporized their enemies.
Orphan’s attack is reminiscent of “Laser Baby” from the television adaptation of Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson’s comic, The Boys. In season 1, episode 5 of the show (“Good for the Soul”), Billy Butcher and his team discover a group of babies being injected with Compound V, a substance that turns regular people into superheroes. To escape the hospital, Butcher grabs a baby and points it at the security guards at the hospital, killing them with the baby’s eye beams. The similarities between the two scenes are startling, considering that Superman has no powers on Warworld, just like Billy Butcher in The Boys, and both characters are leaders of underdog groups trying to defeat an evil, tyrannical force much larger than themselves. The fact that they have an immensely powerful infant on their side, however briefly, makes their momentary victory all the better.
The Boys has sought to satirize several elements of the superhero genre, but the television show’s “Laser Baby” scene proves that its adaptation has some creative uses for superpowers. While Orphan’s backstory is completely different from Laser Baby’s, their ability to take down Mother’s minions with the power of the Source and an Orphan Box is a refreshing victory for Superman and his allies. It has been fascinating to see Action Comics explore the meaning of Superman in a world where he has no powers, but it’s also unquestionably fun to see his story briefly veer into territory reminiscent of The Boys.
Next: Superman’s Most Iconic Power Didn’t Come From The Comics
Action Comics #1044 is available now from DC Comics.