The Superman of the New 52 has passed, and the original Superman takes his place in the first issue ongoing issue of the Rebirth relaunch.
During a visit to his alternate-timeline-self’s grave, Clark Kent bids farewell and takes up the mantle of the world’s greatest superhero.
The family has moved from Salinas, California, to a farm in Hamilton County, 300 miles north of Metropolis. Taking a new surname — the Smiths — the former-Kents try to live a life as normal as possible.
Things take a turn after a thunderstorm sends a bolt of lightning which lights the barn on fire.
Jon Kent becomes the lens through which we see the story for issue #1. Before they rebuild the barn, Clark sends his son to fill the corn harvester with gas, but Jon returns from his chores without his cat Goldie. Out in the fields, a hawk captured Goldie in its talons, causing Jon to shoot it down with eyebeams.
The Superman of Earth-Prime is gone, and the world comes to terms with the loss.
In Superman: Rebirth #1, Lana Lang and pre-Flashpoint Superman head to the New 52’s burial site to deal with his death in their own ways.
For Lang, it’s to keep a promise and have Kent’s body taken to Smallville, Kansas, to be interred next to his parents. For the original Superman, death is only another beginning. Having been reborn after being killed by Doomsday, Superman believes the same can happen to this timeline’s Superman — provided there’s a Fortress of Solitude with the proper resurrection tech.
Lang, who somehow gained the knowledge of the Fortress’ whereabouts when Superman died, leads the new (or old) Superman there. While they’re devastated to know that Superman cannot be resurrected, they honor him in their own ways.
Superman: Rebirth #1 seems geared as a primer — a way for new fans to jump in and for old fans to get caught up with the whole Rebirth thing going on. While, at best, it’s a moving tribute on the subject of existence if you can dig deep into it, the issue is rather cut and dry with an anti-climactic plot point that’s meant to establish more of the old continuity going forward.