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Welcome to the three hundredth and ninety-fourth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, we have the second of two weeks celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Death of Superman with a legend relating to the event. Was Neil Gaiman originally going to write the Death of Superman? In addition, we have two non-Death of Superman related legends. Did Lucasfilm allow a bootleg Star Wars comic adaptation finish up nearly thirty years after it began? And what was the deal with DC Comics’ so-called “Superstorm”?!
Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and ninety-three.
COMIC LEGEND: The Death of Superman was based on a Neil Gaiman and Matt Wagner pitch.
STATUS: Some Truth to it, but Basically False
I’ve written in the past about how the Death of Superman arose out of the Superman writers being disallowed from telling the story they ORIGINALLY planned for that time period (roughly Superman #75), which was the wedding of Clark Kent and Lois Lane. The debut of the Lois and Clark TV series forced them to push the wedding back and while Mike Carlin and his writers were trying to figure out something to put in the place of the “event” of the wedding, the idea to kill him off temporarily was developed.
Reader Ron, though, wrote in awhile back to ask about how he recently heard that the idea to kill Superman off actually came from a pitch from Neil Gaiman and Matt Wagner.
So, did the same guy who gave us Death…
almost give us the Death of Superman?
The answer is…sort of.
I asked Neil about it and he explained that he and artist Matt Wagner (here’s a nice Superman cover by Matt Wagner…
did, indeed, pitch Archie Goodwin on a prestige format mini-series. Here is how Gaiman described it:
It was going to look like the Fleischer cartoons. There would have a been a Fall, a winter (with a dead Superman) and a spring rebirth. It would have been outside continuity.
With Carlin and the Superman team, though, having their OWN Death of Superman story (which I believe was developed independently – I have seen the story of the development of the Death of Superman so many times consistently describe the genesis of it that I believe it), Gaiman and Wagner’s series was dropped in favor of the in-continuity Death of Superman.
As Gaiman noted:
It was killed by mike Carlin for the best reason possible… he wanted the regular Superman team to get Superman glory and royalties, not two guys who’d come in, do a story and go.
And I never minded that they were the ones who got to kill Superman.
Amusingly enough, Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale later did a prestige format mini-series starring Superman based on the seasons, Superman for All Seasons…
Thanks so much to Neil Gaiman for the information! And thanks to Rob for the question!
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