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The 75 Greatest Superman Stories of All-Time! Nominees #21-30

In celebration of Superman’s 75th anniversary on April 18th (Action Comics #1 came out on April 18, 1938), you’ll be voting for the Top 75 Superman Stories of All-Time. With such a big list, we can’t expect everyone to know all the best Superman stories over the years offhand, so we’ll be providing you a list of 100 nominees over ten days (ten a day) that you’ll be choosing from on April 15th (basically, you’ll get 100 choices and then you’ll be putting them into order from #75-1). This is not the final list, these are just the stories that you’ll be voting on later on.

Here is the next batch of ten nominees (they are not in any particular order)!

21. “What’s So Funny about Truth, Justice & the American Way?” Action Comics #775

Joe Kelly used this “anniversary” issue to take on the idea that perhaps Superman’s ideals were out of date in the 21st century. He did this by pitting Superman by a new superhero team called The Elite who were recklessly killing bad guys and causing widespread damage but were gaining a good deal of popular acclaim in doing so. They mocked Superman and repeatedly challenged him to fights before Superman finally agreed to take them on and in doing so, gave them a taste of their own bitter medicine. The art was by Doug Mahnke, Lee Bermejo and a host of inkers.

22. “The Supergirl from Krypton!” Action Comics #252

Otto Binder and Al Plastino introduce us to Superman’s teenage cousin, Supergirl!

23. “The Double-or-Nothing Life of Superman!” Superman #296-299

Cary Bates and Elliot S! Maggin wrote this compelling character-driven arc where a mysterious villain robs some of Superman’s powers, causing him to be powerless when he isn’t wearing his Superman costume. Supes feels that this is a mental thing caused by himself to make him choose once and for all between his Clark Kent identity or his Superman identity, so there’s an issue where he is only Clark and there’s an issue where he is only Superman. The Clark issue, in particular, is quite notable in how Clark romances Lois Lane. In the end, obviously, things go back to normal, but we still learned a lot about the two sides of Supes’ personality.

24. “The Jungle Line” DC Comics Presents #85

A Kryptonian fungus has a disastrous effect on Superman, causing him to try to get away from civilization. He ends up in the swamp where he encounters Swamp Thing, who tries to cure Superman of the Kryptonian virus, even as a delirious Superman attacks ol’ Swampy. This story, written by Alan Moore and impressively drawn by Rick Veitch and Al Williamson, is a compelling tale of how sometimes the most important fights are the ones you don’t fight with your fists.

25. “The Origin of Superman!” Superman #53

Bill Finger put together all the various aspects of Superman’s origin that we had learned over the years to provide the first cohesive origin of Superman (although while omitting his time as Superboy for some reason). The art was by Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye.

26. “22 Stories in a Single Bound” Superman Adventures #41

Mark Millar’s final issue of his run on Superman Adventures is a wonderfully clever collection of one-page stories drawn by a variety of artists (including Darwyn Cooke!).

27. Superman Birthright #1-12

Mark Waid, Leinil Yu and Gerry Alanguilan retold Superman’s origin in a fascinating combination of various Superman origin stories of the past. I especially love Waid’s tributes to Elliot S! Maggin’s stories.

28. Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man

Gerry Conway wrote this historic meeting between DC and Marvel’s biggest heroes. Ross Andru, Neal Adams, John Romita and a host of inkers handled the artwork.

29. “Three Supermen from Krypton!” Superman #65

William Woolfolk and Al Plastino for the first time had Superman encounter fellow Kryptonian survivors, as he meets three villains who were suspended in animation and hurled through space (basically the plot of the film Superman 2).

30. “Brainiac” Action Comics #866-870

Geoff Johns, Gary Frank and Jon Sibal re-introduced the villainous Brainiac by making him a greater threat than ever before. Superman takes on Brainiac but things are so tough that he is unable to prevent a tragedy that hits him very close to home. A powerful story that set up DC’s New Krypton storyline.

17 Comments

#22 & #29: Classic 50s/60s Supes stories. I’d forgotten about these for some reason.

#24: The odd thing about DC Comics Presents is that it was arguably the best Superman ongoing during its time. It gave us multiple fights between Superman and Captain Marvel, bizarre crossovers with Santa Claus and He-Man, Superman going back in time to fight in WWII (!!!) alongside Sgt. Rock/Easy Co. and the Blackhawk Squadron, team-ups with nearly ever DC character you could think of (including two oddballs where Superman teams with Clark Kent, obscure match-ups like Supes and Amethyst or Vigilante, and even one where he pals up with the Joker!), introduced characters like Mongul and Ambush Bug (who would appear in the series several times), and featured work by everyone from Alan Moore to Keith Giffen to Jack Kirby (his last for DC). What a fun series!

#25: No matter how many times DC tried to retell it, this will always be the quintessential Superman origin.

#26: This being Millar’s swan song on the title didn’t sound right to me, so I double checked and Millar is listed right on the cover of issue #52 (apparently the only issue he did after #41).

#28: Still the second greatest intercompany crossover of all time easily (Archie Meets the Punisher is first of course).

#30: Johns really produced some outstanding stories during his run. Up Up and Away!, Supes and the Legion, Last Son, and this one are all in the top 100 Superman stories of all time, as far as I’m concerned (I dunno if I could say the same about the rest of his run though).

DC comics presents is criminally underrated. Supes works better for a team up book than a certain Gothamite.

I really, really hope that Action #775 ranks pretty high up there. It is the best answer to the question “Is Superman really still relevant at all today?”

I don’t have a lot of stuff from the first 20 years, but I’m choosing more that are over 20 years old than I’d expected.

The Mark Millar stories are underrated. Smart, funny, all-ages adventures, without a hint of cynicism and snarky self-indulgence that would affect the rest of Millar’s superhero work. Mark said he didn’t know much about Superman and had to do a lot of reading, but you couldn’t tell he wasn’t a longterm fan the way he perfectly gets these characters. At least two of his stories will be on my list, the Brainiac two-parter, and the Lex Luthor focused one. Aluir Amancio is with Mark for most of these stories, and you miss when he’s not there, he is equally fantastic at bringing the DCAU Metropolis and it’s citizens to life. Kinectic action storytelling, lively character acting and expressions, nice clean style. It’s just great!

#23: I’m not actually doing this list, but if you asked me what I thought was the greatest Superman story I read, I’d say this one in a heartbeat. I wouldn’t even need time to think. It’s a great look at not only Superman’s psyche, but of dual identities in general.

I think the spam filter just gave up and died.

Someone in the comments section of another post said this is happening on other unrelated blogs, too, and that it started at approximately the same time. Can anyone confirm this?

My blog was overrun with similar spam yesterday too. The type that the spam filters usually catches.

action 775 is awesome all the way – a modern classic.

I may be in the minority, but I enjoyed Birthright. It was a lot more fun than the bland Man of Steel.

” I really, really hope that Action #775 ranks pretty high up there. It is the best answer to the question “Is Superman really still relevant at all today?” ”

If that’s true, there’s no good answer, because all it did was take the Authority and turn them into pathetic strawmen so Superman could look better by comparison.

Action Comics #775 is my favorite Superman story.

all it did was take the Authority and turn them into pathetic strawmen so Superman could look better by comparison

I see this complaint all the time. The story really has nothing to do with The Authority and everything to do with what they represented.

Maybe it’s one of those things where “you had to be there” to really appreciate it.

Am I alone in preferring the second Superman/Spider-man crossover to the first one? I hope it’ll show up among the later nominees.

I strongly disliked “What’s So Funny about Truth, Justice & the American Way?”, which surprised me as a fan of Joe Kelly and someone who likes Superman. I thought it was awful.

Action #775 should be compulsory Superman reading. In fact, skip the next Action issue “written” by Tony Daniel – we all know its gonna suck dogs balls – and instead pick up 775!!! Trust me :)

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