"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Film, Comic Books
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 that you’ll be choosing from at the end of 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)!
There was a delay while I waited to see what you folks thought as to the “Include Superboy stories or not?” question. You voted “Not.”
51. Superman: Red Son #1-3
Simply put, what if Superman landed in the Soviet Union instead of the United States? That’s the question that Mark Millar, Dave Johnson, Kilian Plunkett, Andrew Robinson and Walden Wong try to answer in this Elseworlds mini-series that also sees a Soviet version of Batman and also a taste of what Lex Luthor would be like if the rest of the United States was actually on his side!
52. Infinite Crisis #1-7
This epic series by Geoff Johns, Phil Jimenez and Andy Lanning saw the return of the Golden Age Superman as he finds that the heroes of Earth have wasted the sacrifice that he and others made during the Crisis on Infinite Earths. He and his compatriots Alexander Luthor, Golden Age Lois Lane and Superboy Prime want to make a fresh start with Earth, even if that means wiping out everyone on Earth to start over again!
53. “Superman and Spider-Man” Marvel Treasury Edition #28
The slightly less known sequel to their original meeting is still quite good, with a great creative team of Jim Shooter (with Marv Wolfman giving an assist), John Buscema and a host of inkers. Just seeing John Buscema draw Superman was a rare treat!
54. “The Miraculous Return of Jonathan Kent” Action Comics #507-508
Cary Bates, Curt Swan and Frank Chiaramonte shocked the comics world by seemingly having Jonathan Kent return to Superman’s life. Remember, this was before the Man of Steel reboot made the Kents a regular part of Superman’s life, so this was quite out of the ordinary. It was a very touching story, examining just how much of an impact the Kents had on Superman but also how much he meant to THEM. The way the story finished was quite clever, as well, I thought, as we learn that Jonathan had made a wish years earlier to one day see his son as an adult. So some aliens made it come true. Sadly, the visit had a time limit and no one else remembered what happened once Jonathan returned to the afterlife.
55. It’s a Bird…
This one is a bit of a stretch as a “Superman” story, but I think it works. This brilliant work by Steven T. Seagle and Teddy Kristiansen is based on Seagle’s own experiences writing the ongoing Superman comic for a brief time in 2003. In this story, “Steve” initially turns down the assignment, feeling that he cannot relate to Superman. As the story goes on, though, and Steve deals with a number of dramatic issues in his own life, mostly his father’s disappearance, his worries over his family’s history with Huntington’s Disease and his girlfriend’s desire to have children, he sees how Superman, or at least the various ideas that Superman represents DOES relate very much to his life. Kristiansen depicts each of these different takes on Superman in a variety of artistic approaches. This is a striking work of comic art.
56. “Absolute Power” Superman/Batman #14-18
In this storyline, written by Jeph Loeb with artwork by Carlos Pacheco and Jesus Merino, a group of mysterious time-traveling villains (hint: they’re featured in another story in this section) go back in time and essentially adopt Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne when they are children. They raise them to be the rulers of the world and that’s where we find ourselves when the series begins, Superman and Batman rule the world with an iron fist. A small group of rebels try to take on Superman and Batman, but can they possibly match up against the World’s Finest tyrants? And even if they get through to them and make them realize the error of their ways, how can they possibly turn things back to the way they belong?
57. “Superman’s Big Brother” Superman #80
Many elements of this Edmond Hamilton and Al Plastino story showed up in the later introduction of Mon-El. A man shows up, seemingly from Krypton, gives Superman the brief appearance of him finally having a relative to share Earth with. However, it turns out that this man is not from Krypton at all, but from a whole other planet entirely.
58. “The Legion of Super-Villains!” Superman #147
In this Silver Age classic by Jerry Siegel, Curt Swan and Sheldon Moldoff, Lex Luthor teams up with the Legion of Super-Villains, a group of adult supervillains from the future, to take on Superman. Outnumbered, Superman enlists the help of an adult version of the Legion of Super-Heroes. This is the first appearance of the adult Legion.
59. “The Supergirl Saga” Superman Volume 2 #21-22, Adventures of Superman #444
Superman is called back to the Pocket Universe (an alternate reality where there once lived a “Superboy” who sacrificed his life to save the Pocket Universe) by a woman calling herself Supergirl. As it turns out, a trio of Kryptonian villains were let loose in the Pocket Universe and are killing pretty much everyone in the Universe. During the battles with the bad guys, it is revealed that Supergirl is some sort of shape-shifting alien. Anyhow, this story is best known for the fact that once they’re done killing everyone in the Pocket Universe besides Superman and “Supergirl,” Superman strips the villains of their powers and then uses green kryptonite to kill them. This decision haunts Superman for quite awhile. This was John Byrne’s last major work on the Superman titles (he left soon after, although his general plans for the books were continued by incoming writers Roger Stern and Jerry Ordway until they ran out of Byrne’s plots). He wrote and drew the Superman issues in the arc while he wrote the Adventures of Superman issue with art by Jerry Ordway and Dennis Janke.
60. World’s Finest #1-3
Dave Gibbons, Steve Rude and Karl Kesel gave us a brand-new look at the Superman/Batman team. Steve Rude’s art, in particular, is just amazing. But really, Gibbons hits all the right notes, especially with the first Post-Crisis team-up of Luthor and the Joker.
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