5 Favorite Superman Stories

While admittedly I am more of a Flash fan, I do have a special place in my heart for Superman. It’s probably because Superman belongs to everyone. He’s one of those characters, along with Sherlock Holmes, that has transcended his literary roots to become a part of the culture at large. People who have never even touched a comic book before, can be seen sporting the emblem on everything from t-shirts to swim suits. Folks who are unfamiliar with the original four-color cast of characters have gotten to know them through film and television.* Our culture knows these characters, and we keep returning to them because they’re timeless.

After seeing Man of Steel, I was reminded of the character’s rich history in different media, but rather than do a review,** I wanted to return to the character’s roots and list some of my favorite Superman comics. For fans, non-fans and people who are just now becoming acquainted with the ‘man of steel’, here are five Superman comics that are guaranteed to highlight the character and what makes him so special.

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All Star Superman Vo. 1 & 2: Grant Morrison is known for doing some ridiculous and psychedelic stories, so when I first heard that he was taking on Superman, I was a little surprised. While this tale is a little difficult to wrap your head around at first, seeming to buck the traditional vision of Superman, Morrison and artist Frank Quitley craft a tapestry of 1950s science fiction and fantasy that gets to the root of what makes the ‘big blue boyscout’ so much fun. Filled with comedy and high adventure, All Star Superman also manages to tell a warm and heart-wrenching tale of a dying Superman putting his affairs in order.

Superman Birthright

Superman Birthright: One of the problems with superheroes is that the origin story gets told repeatedly. The question is, can a writer and artist retell the same story and make it fresh. In the case of Birthright, the answer is a resounding yes. Updating Superman’s origin, writer Mark Waid and artist Leinil Francis Yu update Clark Kent and Superman for the modern age. We learn of the friendship between a young Clark and Lex, we see Clark’s world travels as a reporter before finally taking up the mantel of the ‘man of steel’. We also learn why Lois and Lex are never able to tell that Clark is Superman, Spoiler: it’s pure ego. If you’ve never read a Superman comic before, this should be the first story you pick up.

supermaninfinitecity-close up

Superman: Infinite City: Some people are put off by the animated ‘cartoony’ style of this book’s artwork, but if you enjoy films like Iron Giant and Bruce Timm’s Batman the Animated Series, you should have no trouble getting on board. This one shot tale finds Clark Kent and Lois Lane in an abandoned diner in search of a futuristic weapons manufacturer. What follows is a bouncy and fun, multidimensional adventure that has aliens, super science and one hell of a reunion with Superman’s father, Jor-El.

General Zod

Superman Last Son of Krypton: If you’re a fan of Richard Donner’s classic Superman films*** (Superman: The Movie), you should check out this wonderful graphic novel co-written by the man himself, along with DC comics superscribe Geoff Johns and legendary artist Adam Kubert. Last Son of Krypton tells the story of The Phantom Zone criminals: Zod, Ursa and Non in search of a young Kryptonian child that has been adopted by Clark and Lois, as well as a follow up story featuring Brainiac, Supergirl and the death of Pa Kent. This is almost like a remake/sequel to the Donner films with Superman’s character modeled strongly after Christopher Reeve.

KingdomComeSuperman

Kingdom Come: This comic is a masterpiece. Written by Mark Waid and painted by Alex Ross, Kingdom Come details a future DC universe which pays homage to the characters classic roots while telling a story that is mature and timeless. We follow The Spectre as he shows elderly Norman McKay what has become of the world’s heroes, in particular, Superman. We learn that the ‘man of steel’ hasn’t seen action in a number of years and more importantly, we learn why. Kingdom Come shows us a grandfather-like Superman who has returned to serve humanity while struggling with escalating violence, the death of his wife (Lois Lane) and the philosophical question ‘does might make right?’

These comics are only some of my favorite stories featuring Superman. What are some of yours? We want to hear from you, leave your favorites in the comments.

*I Still have a huge soft spot for Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. Terri Hatcher’s Lois Lane remains one of my childhood crushes, her and Elvira Mistress of the Dark…which might reveal a little bit more about my psychological profile than I had previously realized.

**You can read two excellent Man of Steel Reviews already on Nerd Reactor. Click the names to read the two reviews. Laura Sirikulvadhana’s Review, Robert Galvan’s Review

***Taken over, redirected and developed as a comedic sequel by Richard Lester. For purists, there is always “The Donner Cut” DVD

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