We all know that Christopher Nolan -- the director of dark and gritty Batman flicks "The Dark Knight" -- will be working on the next Superman movie. Will that mean a darker color palette, a darker history, and a Kal-El who growls at wrongdoers? There's no way for us to be sure.

Or is there? There been some hints in regular comics continuity that Clark Kent is turning dark on us. Sprinkled in with the usual punch n' pose action covers, there are some grim looks. Let's start by looking at the cover of "Superman" #699 this month.

Not too bad. The guy is on fire, after all. If anything, he's taking it pretty well. This wouldn't be the time to ask him to pose for a picture, though.

The next issue out is "Superman" #700, which has a sweet cover of Lois and Clark flying through the sky and a "56-page extravaganza full of tales celebrating the Man of Steel's past, present and future," inside. Order is restored. No problem, right?

Unless you look at the next issue:

Those are not friendly eyebrows. The blank-eyed horde of zombies behind him, all red-tinged and stricken-looking, do not help make that face any friendlier. That's not the cover of a Superman book. That's a propaganda poster for a cult leader.

But that doesn't prepare us for the real horror, the one that's coming up in November. In the initial discussion of Superman: Earth One they used this image to promote the book.

Recently, we found out that the actual image is going to be this:

Good. God.

I believe a scans_daily commenter summed it up best with this quote: "It is a well drawn picture, but Superman kind of looks like he's about to straight up murder a dude."

'Murder a dude,' if you're lucky.

As a dispassionate observer, I like all the different art on the covers. The first cover gives Superman a clean bulk that I think works for the character. The second is simple and dramatic, with wonderful coloring. It's guaranteed to stand out. The fourth, while not as iconic-looking as the earlier, more heroic cover, has great detail work on the face. It uses only a few lines to define not just features, but the entire shape of Superman's face.

But at the same time, it is supposed to be Superman's face.

The first cover is the face of a guy I wouldn't want to bother. The second is a guy I would cross the street to avoid.

The last cover -- well that's a guy that would make me freeze in horror as he stood eight inches away from me at a bus stop, whispering obscenities and putting matches out on his tongue.

Although, come to think of it, Bale's Batman voice might actually work for someone like that.