Chuck, an automotive mechanic, is struck by a meteor and finds himself developing new powers akin to that of Superman. He tells the one person he trusts more than anything and instantly knows that he made the right decision when she prompts him to help others in need instead of seeking fame and fortune at the expense of his powers. A caring and kind individual, he worries about how his family will get along as he works with the government to provide assistance when he can. Years later, he fights the one man who originally wanted to help him understand his powers and does it again and again throughout time, until he finally is tired of the monotony of it all and decides to help his arch-rival succeed in his one endeavor: the end of Chuck.
There are a lot of similarities between Chuck and Superman, including the red-and-blue costume and cape that are, at times, more flashy than functional. The backstory is different—probably to avoid an all-out accusation of infringement—but the power set that Chuck displays and many of his feelings seem to correspond to a lot of what I’ve seen in Superman comics and other media, especially concerning the ongoing feud between him and a brilliant, but mad, scientist. Chuck’s and Archie’s never-ending battle over the years is a great parallel to the ever-present game of chess between Superman and Lex, where brain is pitted again brawn, and yet the brawn often wins out despite how much intelligence the brain displays in his inventive and innovative attack patterns. Because of this somewhat blatant parallel to the man of steel, I find Never Ending to be a companion to the Superman mythos rather than a separate entity, and to me it reeks a bit of being unable to come up with an original design.
Because of this parallel, the comic explores some ideas that the mainstream Superman story can’t without alienating a substantial part of its core fanbase. Far into the future, after years of having the same fight with Archie over and over again, Chuck seems ready to pack it all in and leave life behind. Tired of seeing all those he knew pass away and seeing more and more of the world he once grew up in being replaced by technology and community standards that he doesn’t always understand, let alone enjoy, he feels his time has come. I can imagine that Superman would really have a hard time staying connected to all the new technologies that continue to develop on a seemingly hourly basis, and while I don’t want to say he’s dumb, he’s also not the sharpest crystal in the Fortress of Solitude. Constantly changing avenues of communication and innovation have to be frustrating to a person who solves most of his problems by hitting them with his fist.
As I said, I think this story does a great job of exploring the possible, far-off future in which a Superman-like hero has given up after years of doing the same thing over and over again, but we’ve also already seem how such a situation is possible with the Superman Beyond and Justice League Beyond digital comics from DC. The situations are quite different, as Superman has remained devoted to his mission of protection and service, but, again, the similarities are very strong and once more underscore just how much the story parallels the futuristic man of steel. All in all, I think it was an enjoyable read and I cannot wait to read #2, but I still can’t get past the obvious similarities to the original superhero of the Golden Age.