DC: Rebirth #1 hit newsstands today, heralding a new era for the DC Universe and its menagerie of characters, as the story of the New 52 comes to an end. However, before that era truly can begin, some heroes’ stories have to come to their conclusion.

One of those characters is the New 52 Superman, whose impending death has been chronicled in the current storyline “The Final Days of Superman.” In Superman #52, on sale today, we see the Man of Steel face off against a man who has absorbed Clark’s powers and memories and threatens to destroy everyone in his way. Before death can claim him, Superman is determined to stop this menace, with a little help from his friends and the pre-New 52 Superman.

I spoke with writer Peter J. Tomasi about Superman #52, the meta-commentary behind having some many Supermen in one book, and the responsibility Mr. Tomasi felt concluding the story of the New 52 Superman.

FreakSugar: There’s a lot of talk about who the “real” Superman is within the pages of issue 52, with the New 52 fighting a pretender and the pre-New 52 Clark making an appearance. Is there any meta-commentary going on about the various iterations of the Man of Steel?

Peter J. Tomasi: It’s cool that you picked up on that. That was definitely a purpose of the book, having all three Supermen in the book at the same time. It was fun to explore, how each has a distinct personality unique to them. It was fun to show how those personalities contrast with one another. It was key to have all these Supermen on stage so that when there’s just one, there’s a feeling behind it.

It was a watershed moment as head to DC: Rebirth. We have the last one standing, the one who’s now front and center of the Superman book Pat Gleason and I are doing. It put it right there, front and center.

FS: The New 52 Clark dies at the end of the issue. You’re responsible for rapping up the story of this Superman, who’s been around about five years since the New 52 first launched. What kind of responsibility do you feel closing out this Superman’s last battle?

PJT: A big one. Nobody is as hard on me as a writer as I am on myself. I spent a lot of time trying to make sure I got it just right. Since I was given the opportunity to write a story like this, I wanted to make sure I gave the character his due and make it emotional for people connected to him.

When the New 52 started, I saw a big change in the age ranges who were coming to the comic cons and coming up to the table: 10, 12, 15-year-olds reading comics for the first time. They hadn’t read any comics prior to the New 52. They were literally reading comics for the first time. This was their Superman.

So I wanted to make sure I served these readers in a respectful way, too. I wanted to make sure they got a great story at the end and treated with the respect he deserves and went out in an emotional, heartfelt way. The responsibility was definitely on my shoulders as I was writing it.

FS: The New 52 Clark, while similar to the other versions of Superman, had his own unique attributes. With this version of Superman dead, what do you think his character’s legacy will be, both in the DC Universe and how we look at the Superman mythos?

PJT: I’m not sure. I don’t know if I can speak to that. I think readers look back and decide how he fit into the scheme of things and the mythology of the Superman titles and family as the years have gone by.

He brought a youthful impetuousness sometimes in my mind. That’s how I wrote him in Superman/Wonder Woman also. He reacted a little bit quicker, he punched a little bit quicker. He was a younger Superman who had less experience under his belt, but, at the same time, had all those qualities you admire about the character. He was someone who was hopeful and did the right thing.

He was put up against it, with his identity being revealed and other battles during the course of the New 52. I think, in the end, each reader who embraced the New 52 Superman will reflect on what they liked about him as we move on to the next era with Rebirth.

Everyone has their own era of Superman that they look to. Joe DiMaggio was asked why he played so far and he said, “Because every baseball game, someone’s coming to the stadium for the first time to see me.” That’s how I look at it.

FS: The post-Crisis/pre-New 52 Superman was the Superman I started reading heavily, but I came to embrace the New 52 version of Clark. Seeing them both together one last time was bittersweet.

PTJ: Because everybody brings their own perspectives and history and ideas of Superman when they come into it. And that’s one the great things about the character and his stories.

Superman #52, the final issue of the series and the concluding chapter of “The Final Days of Superman,” written by Peter J. Tomasi with Mikel Janin on art, is on sale now from DC Comics.

From the official issue description:

“The Final Days of Superman” epic concludes in one explosive fight as the new master villain uses Superman’s own solar super flare power against everyone. Can even two Supermen, Supergirl, Wonder Woman and Batman be enough to stop this onslaught? And how will the tragic outcome of this battle change the life of one of the Lois Lanes forever?