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10 Coolest Superman Stories to Date
By Darius Washington
August 05, 2010
10 Coolest Superman Stories to Date
© Bob Trate
There’s a sentiment in comics today that Superman is an outdated character for modern times because he’s too powerful and incredibly moralistic, not wanting to use his considerable abilities to kill anyone. The thing about a character is that he’s only as good as the conflicts he’s written to face. Many folks like Batman more than Supes these days, but there’s a reason fans favor movie adaptation of The Dark Knight over Batman & Robin. Same characters, different takes.
DC Comics is about to re-launch their favorite Kryptonian under the direction of J. Michael Straczinsky. So we decided to look back at 10 good Superman comics you might want to check out some time.
10. Superman: President Lex
Fun storyline where Lex Luthor becomes the President of the United States. Superman's reaction is priceless.
9. Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali
Ok, aliens come to fight earth's greatest champion and our two protagonists duke it out to see who goes to the main event and who just gets the butt-whipping of a lifeteime. Not a great story by any means, but this was one of those ‘70s oversized formats with incredible artwork by Neal Adams, so it's good for looking at the pictures and hearing Ali's voice in your head if nothing else. Just check your brain at the door and let out your inner child.
8. DC Comics Presents Annual #1
Pretty cool pre-Crisis story involving the Supermen and Luthors of earths 1, 2 and 3. Definitely worth a read.
7. Superman/Batman: Supergirl
This was the second story arc written by Jeph Loeb with beautiful artwork by the late Michael Turner. In the aftermath of the Public Enemies storyline, The World’s Finest Team meets a woman claiming to be Kara Zor-El, Superman’s cousin. Bats is instantly suspicious and Krypto isn’t so certain about her either (but then the dog doesn’t like anybody). Still, the prospect of an impresionable Kryptonian is too good for the villainous Darkseid to pass up. Apparently, it was too good for Warner Animation to pass up either as they will be releasing an animated version of this story later this year.
6. Superman / Action Comics: Whatever Happened to The Man of Tomorrow?
Alan Moore wrote the closing chapter on the Silver Age Superman after the epic series Crisis on Infinite Earths changed the DC Universe forever. It was spread over two (then-final) issues of Superman and Action Comics, in which an aged Lois Lane tells about the Kryptonian’s final days in which all of his conflicts came to a horrific end for him and his friends. Which leads to our next recommendation…
5. Superman: The Man of Steel
John Byrne did a very good revamp of Superman's origins in the post Crisis DC universe. The story does a great job of showing who the main characters are and how they'd act for the next couple decades, by giving new meaning and depth to Clark Kent and reimagining Lex Luthor as a powerful businessman.
4. Superman: Red Son
In the past, there have been Superman comics done outside of continuity often referred to as “Imaginary Stories”, which had Superman placed in many strange situations such as splitting into red and blue incarnations so he could marry both Lois and Lana (long before the electric suit thing), as well as show what his life would’ve been like if his rocket had landed in Gotham City, or in a futuristic Metropolis. In the ‘90s, DC started a specific line of such stories though with decidedly more serious themes called Elseworlds. Our next two picks are a couple of the best regarding Kal-El.
Red Son examined how Superman’s life might’ve turned out if his rocket had landed in Russia near the advent of the Cold War, and Mark Millar’s excellently written storyline provides a well-thought scenario on how Kal-El would come to relate to the citizens and other DC heroes, not to mention America’s most capable scientist Lex Luthor.
3. Kingdom Come
Our other Elseworlds pick is a very grim tale illustrated and concieved by Alex Ross and written by Mark Waid in which Superman returns to action after retiring for 10 years due to the fact hummanity wanted heroes who were more ruthless and had less control of themselves. Although many other characters are involved to a lesser extent, it is Superman’s actions (along with Batman and Wonder Woman’s) which guide the terrible events of this story and lead to catastrophic results (not to mention a hellified fight against Captain Marvel). Eventually there was a pseudo-sequel to the story written into regular DC Comics continuity as a Justice Society of America entitled Thy Kingdom Come.
2. All Star Superman
Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly garnered massive amounts of fan and critcal accalim with their alternate take on The Man of Steel and his battles with Lex Luthor, with a rather interesting reimagining for Lois Lane as well. If you don’t grabe this entire series broken up into two trades, you’re missing out on something special.
1. The Death & Return of Superman / World Without A Superman
Yeah there was this lame story where Superman died fighting a big monster and everyone went to the comic shop to pick it up and make it a collector’s item (not that I'd ever do such a thing... >_> ). However, the follow up storylines ranged from pretty good to truly epic for The Man of Steel.
The World Without A Superman stories showed the effect this character had on everyone around him, which led to the Reign of the Supermen in which everyone was trying to figure out which one among four people claiming to be Superman reborn was the real one. This segment was well paced, action packed, and developed intriguing new characters, the aftermath forever altered Green Lantern’s life and brought Superman back to publishing prominence in terms of sales. Actually, unless you just want a big fight, we'd say skip the Death part, but the Return story was pretty cool and needs a decent starting point.