Daniel Kendi ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Editor
This month, the highly anticipated Superman film Man of Steel will be released in theaters. The film, directed by Zach Snyder and starring Henry Cavill, will retell the origin of Superman for a new generation. Superman is an American icon who has been in thousands of stories since his introduction in 1938. In anticipation of the upcoming film, here are our picks for the top ten Superman stories.
10. The Death of Superman – Dan Jurgens and Brett Breeding
The Death of Superman questions Superman’s invulnerability by introducing Doomsday, a killing machine from his home planet Krypton. The story is widely acclaimed for both the character of Doomsday and the actual death of the Man of Steel. While Superman didn’t stay dead for long and was brought back in Reign of the Supermen, the story is a huge turning point in the character’s comic book history. The full storyline, The Death and Return of Superman has been made into a DC Universe animated movie entitled Superman: Doomsday.
9. Luthor – Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo
Why does Lex Luthor hate Superman? This is the idea behind Luthor, a story that explores Lex Luthor’s inner mind and relationship with Superman. Azzarello and Bermejo expertly showcase this legendary rivalry by posing Luthor as the protagonist of the story. The comic was very well received and inspired Azzarello and Bermejo to later write another villain-centered story: Joker.
8. Superman for All Seasons – Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale
After finishing their Batman “holiday” storylines, the duo of Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale moved onto Superman and the theme of “seasons.” The comic is known for Sale’s powerful two page spreads and Loeb’s use of narration. Each of the issues takes place durring a different season and is narrated by a different character. This narration shows how other characters like Lois Lane and Pa Kent view Superman. The comic received high praise and helped inspire the television show Smallville.
7. Superman: Birthright – Mark Waid and Leinil Francis Yu
While there are many origin stories of the Man of Steel, Birthright is the most acclaimed and accepted. The twelve issue story reintroduced Superman’s origin to a new generation and set the groundwork for stories that would follow. The story also explained the “S” on Superman’s chest, which is the Kryptonian symbol for “hope.” This story was a large inspiration for Zach Snyder’s Man of Steel.
6. Superman: Secret Identity – Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen
Secret Identity is a non-canonical story that takes place in a world where superheroes can only be found in comic books. Clark Kent is a writer who was named after the fictional character of Superman. He resents this name and the mockery he receives because of it, until he himself gains Superman’s powers. The story explores what it would be like for Superman to suddenly exist in the “real world.” The comic is highly acclaimed for its originality and strong portrayal of Clark Kent.
5. Superman: Brainiac – Geoff Johns and Gary Frank
In this comic Geoff Johns explores the character of Brainiac, and his part in the destruction of Krypton and the capture of its capital Kandor. The story follows Superman and Supergirl as they try to stop Brainiac from making Earth his next target. By showing the connection between Brainiac and Superman’s origin, Johns creates a brilliant story with fantastic art by Gary Frank. Recently the storyline has been made into a DC Universe animated film entitled, Superman: Unbound.
4. Kingdom Come – Mark Waid and Alex Ross
This elseworlds story depicts a future where superheroes are in conflict with each other and the line between hero and villain is blurred. Superman and most of the Justice League have retired from crime fighting which has led to a new generation of dangerous metahumans. When Superman tries to re-establish the Justice League he starts a conflict between the League, Batman’s Outsiders, Lex Luthor’s Mankind Liberation Front, and the deadly Magog’s Justice Battalion. Throughout the story, Superman tries to inspire the new generation of what it’s like to be a true hero. This story was very well received and is considered on of DC Comic’s best storylines.
3. Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? – Alan Moore, Curt Swan, and George Pérez
This two part story is a non-canon final tale of the silver age Superman before the character’s reboot in Crisis on Infinite Earths. Lois Lane, recounting the story to a Daily Planet reporter, tells of Superman’s final days as a superhero and the troubles he faced. The comic is considered one of the most memorable Superman stories ever and is praised for its masterful wrap up of Superman’s silver age continuity. Alan Moore’s story also influenced many future comic book writers.
2. Superman: Red Son – Mark Millar and Dave Johnson
What if Superman’s rocket landed in the Soviet Union instead of Kansas? This question is the basis of Mark Millar’s Superman: Red Son, a story that explores a world where Superman fights for the USSR, and Lex Luthor is President of the United States. Raised in a country of communism, this Superman works closely with the Soviet government and fights for Stalin, socialism, and the Warsaw Pact; not truth, justice and the American way. This story received a lot of praise and also includes Soviet versions of other popular DC Comics characters like Batman and Wonder Woman.
1. All Star Superman – Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely
This highly acclaimed alternate continuity comic tells the story of a dying Superman who has been poisoned by solar radiation and has a year left to live. Master storyteller Grant Morrison shows readers how Superman would spend his final days, and brilliantly showcases his relationships with Lois Lane and Lex Luthor. This alternate universe story is very popular and has even been made into a DC Universe animated film.
These comics and graphic novels can be found at your local comic book store. Man of Steel releases in theaters on June 14.