The 75 Greatest Superman Stories of All-Time Master List
In honor of Superman’s 75th Anniversary, we put together a list of 100 nominees for the Greatest Superman Stories of All-Time. You all picked out your 75 favorites and put them in order! Here is the master list of your top 75 Greatest Superman Stories of All-Time!
75. “Supergirl From Krypton” Superman/Batman #8-12 (2004)
Jeph Loeb and Michael Turner introduced Kara Zor-El into the DC Universe for the first time Post-Crisis in this epic five-parter that sees young Kara arrive on Earth along with a whole boatload of Kryptonite. Batman doesn’t trust her and Wonder Woman trains her with the Amazons. Darkseid becomes interested in her and attempts to sway her to the, you know, dark side. Ultimately, she breaks free of his control and embraces the lifestyle of her older cousin and decides to become a new hero known as Supergirl.
74. “22 Stories in a Single Bound” Superman Adventures #41 (2000)
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!).
73. “Phantom Zone: The Final Chapter” DC Comics Presents #97 (1986)
This story by Steve Gerber, Rick Veitch and Bob Smith served as both a sequel to Gerber’s Phantom Zone mini-series as well as the conclusion to the Pre-Crisis Superman. This story gave a fascinating origin for the Phantom Zone (Jor-El originally planned on using the Phantom Zone as a place where the people of Krypton could go to survive the explosion of Krypton) as well as a “everything goes crazy” second half of the story as Bizarro World is destroyed and the Phantom Zone villains take control of Mister Mxyzptlk to take the fight to Superman one last time.
72. “The Mightiest Team in the World!” Superman #76 (1952)
Edmond Hamilton, Curt Swan, John Fischetti and Stan Kaye made the historic decision to not only have Superman and Batman team-up for the first time (outside the JSA and the Superman radio show) but to also learn each other’s secret identity!
71. “The Cosmos-Quaking Origins of The New Luthor And Brainiac!” Action Comics #544 (1983)
Both creative teams of the Superman titles at the time, Cary Bates, Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson and Marv Wolfman and Gil Kane celebrate the 45th anniversary of Superman by revamping Superman’s two deadliest foes, Lex Luthor and Brainiac. The former gets a new battle suit while the latter is completely changed into a robotic visage.
70. “Mighty One” Kamandi, The Last Boy on Earth #29 (1975)
Jack Kirby (with plotting by Steve Sherman) tells this fascinating story of how Superman still inspires people even after the APOCALYPSE and he is long dead.
69. “The Miraculous Return of Jonathan Kent” Action Comics #507-508 (1980)
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.
68. Speeding Bullets (1993)
J.M. DeMatteis and Eduardo Barreto ask the question, “What if Kal-El was adopted by the Waynes and raised as their son and then watched his parents die in front of him just like Bruce Waye?” The answer likely would not surprise you, but the execution of the answer is still very impressive comic book work.
67. “How Superman Would End The War” Look Magazine February 27, 1940
Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster clearly took a look of glee out of showing how Superman would end World War II in the time before the United States entered the war. Their solution was bizarre but certainly memorable!
66. “The Girl in Superman’s Past” Superman #129 (1959)
Make sure that your heartstrings are in good shape before reading this Bill Finger, Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye classic tale of Superman’s first adult love, the mermaid Lori Lemaris. It is a brutal tale of two lovers separated by, well, you know, one being a dude and one being a mermaid.
65. “Absolute Power” Superman/Batman #14-18 (2004-05)
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?
64. “The Living Legends of Superman” Superman #400 (1984)
Elliot S! Maggin teamed up with a variety of top-notch artists (Joe Orlando, Al Williamson, Frank Miller, Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin, Wendy Pini, Mike Kaluta and Kelly Adler and Klaus Janson) to tell a variety of short stories where people reflect on what Superman means to them. It begins in the present and slowly goes further and further into the future until we get the point where Superman has basically become a religion. Fascinating stuff. I especially like the one bit where two college professors in the future debate whether Superman ever actually existed.
63. “The Team of Luthor and Brainiac!” Superman Volume 1 #167 (1963)
Edmond Hamilton (from a plot by a young Cary Bates), Curt Swan and George Klein deliver the first team-up between Superman’s most notorious rogues. The Luthor/Brainiac team would be a major recurring threat in Superman stories for years to come.
62. “The Last Days of Superman!” Superman #156 (1962)
Edmond Hamilton, Curt Swan and George Klein go to the “Superman is dying” well with this classic Silver Age tale where Superman believes (erroneously) that he is dying from a rare Kryptonian virus. Supergirl gathers his allies to cross off the items on Superman’s proverbial bucket list.
61. “Emperor Joker” Superman Volume 2 #160-161, Adventures of Superman #582-583, Superman: The Man of Steel #104-105, Action Comic #769-770 and Superman: Emperor Joker #1 (2000)
In this crossover, the Joker usurps the power of Mr. Mxyzptlk and uses it to do…well, some really bad things. Superman is able to fight off Joker’s warped view of the universe and then he and his allies must find a way to stop the now-ominipotent Joker. The story was by Jeph Loeb, Joe Kelly, J.M. DeMatteis and Mark Schultz with artwork by Ed McGuinness, Kano, Doug Mahnke and many more artists.
60. “The Battle with Bizarro!” Action Comics #254 (1959)
Otto Binder and Al Plastino transfer the Bizarro concept to the Superman titles (after first debuting in the pages of Superboy) as Lex Luthor uses the duplication machine to create Bizarro. Bizarro quickly falls in love with Lois Lane. Bizarro quickly became a very popular part of the Superman mythos, even gaining his own WORLD!
59. Superman Earth One (2010)
J. Michael Straczynski and Shane Davis reboot Superman for a new generation, as we see a young man with great powers struggling to find a place in this world to use those powers. It definitely evokes classic Marvel-style adventures as young Clark learns that with great power comes great responsibility.
58. It’s a Bird… (2004)
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.
57. “Camelot Falls” Superman #654-658, 662-664, 667 and Superman Annual #13 (2006-07)
Kurt Busiek’s run on Superman began with a touching story with Clark and Lois celebrating a cute anniversary. It is a strong examination of how hard it is to have a marriage when one of the couple is, you know, SUPERMAN. Similarly, Busiek does a wonderful job re-introducing Lana Lang into the cast as the new CEO of Lexcorp. The strange nature of having a relationship with Superman is born out with Superman’s interactions with Lana. There is so much unsaid in their interactions, as she can’t reveal to him that she still has feelings for him, but at the same time, Superman can read her like a book easily but he doesn’t know how to handle things. The main conflict of the arc is when Superman is told of a great tragedy that is coming – if Superman and the world’s heroes fight it off, it will only grow in power and wipe EVERYone out. If he lets it attack now when it is weaker, millions will die NOW but more will live in the future. So what do you do? That’s just one of the fascinating questions that arises during Busiek’s run (another is the age old question of Nature versus Nurture when Superman meets a super-powered being who had almost the polar opposite of Superman’s childhood). The artwork is by Carlos Pacheco and Jesus Merino and it is excellent.
56. “The Origin of Superman!” Superman #53 (1948)
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.
55. “The Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite” Superman Volume 2 #49-50, Adventures of Superman #472 and Action Comics #659 (1990)
Mr. Mxyzptlk gives Lex Luthor red Kryptonite, which Lex uses to cause havoc with Superman’s life. The biggest development in this story, though, is that Clark proposes to Lois! Jerry Ordway, Dan Jurgens and Roger Stern wrote it, with art by Ordway, Jurgens, Art Thibert, Bob McLeod, Brett Breeding and Dennis Janke.
54. “Superman Returns To Krypton!” Superman Volume 1 #61 (1949)
Bill Finger and AL Plastino have Superman discover his origin for the very first time as he is also exposed to green kryptonite for the first time.
53. Superman: The Wedding Album #1 (1996)
All the then-regular writers on the Superman titles (Dan Jurgens, Louise Simonson, David Michelinie, Karl Kesel and Roger Stern) combine with an all-star lineup of Superman artists from the past and present (Gil Kane, John Byrne, Stuart Immonen and much, much more!) to finally tell the wedding of Clark Kent and Lois Lane!
52. “If Superman Didn’t Exist…” Action Comics #554 (1984)
Marv Wolfman and Gil Kane pay tribute to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster by having Vandal Savage manage it so that Superman is erased from history. Only two young boys (based on Siegel and Shuster, of course) know the truth and they do their best to create Superman to save the day.
51. “The Einstein Connection!” Superman #416 (1985)
Superman and Lex Luthor share a surprisingly touching moment together when Superman realizes why Luthor keeps committing odd crimes on the same date every year, March 16th. Elliot S! Maggin wrote it and Curt Swan and Al Williamson drew it.
50. 60. World’s Finest #1-3 (1990)
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.
49. “The Legion of Super-Villains!” Superman #147 (1961)
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.
48. “Superman Takes a Wife!” Action Comics #484 (1978)
Cart Bates, Curt Swan and Joe Giella celebrated Superman’s 40th anniversary by finally marrying Superman and Lois Lane…well, A Superman and Lois Lane, that is.
47. “The Mysterious Mr. Mxyztplk!” Superman Volume 1 #30 (1944)
Jerry Siegel and Ira Yarbrough introduce one of the most memorable Superman villains of all-time
46. Panic in the Sky! (Action Comics #674-675, Adventures of Superman #488-489, Superman: The Man of Steel #9-10 and Superman #65-66) (1992)
Brainiac takes over Warworld and comes to invade Earth. Superman must lead Earth’s heroes in retaliation to defend our planet. Dan Jurgens, Roger Stern, Louise Simonson and Jerry Ordway wrote this crossover story with pencils by Jurgens, Bob McLeod, Jon Bogdanove and Tom Grummett.
45. “The Showdown Between Luthor and Superman!” Superman Volume 1 #164 (1963)
Likely the first notable example of the “humanize Luthor” trope that we have seen a number of great examples of over the years. Here, Edmond Hamilton, Curt Swan and George Klein bring us a battle between Luthor and Superman on a planet where Superman’s powers do not work. Surprisingly, Luthor ends up becoming a hero to the people on this planet, allowing us to see another side to the mad genius and, for the first time, get the repeated idea of “If there was no Superman around for him to attack, would Luthor actually be a good guy?”
44. “The Jungle Line” DC Comics Presents #85 (1985)
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.
43. “The Supergirl Saga” Superman Volume 2 #21-22, Adventures of Superman #444 (1988)
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.
42. The Phantom Zone #1-4 (1981-82)
In this four-issue mini-series, Steve Gerber investigates the idea of the Phantom Zone (along with its history) while simultaneously trapping Superman in the Zone while the villianous inhabitants of the Zone are let loose on Earth. Great art by Gene Colan and Tony DeZuniga.
41. “Time and Time Again” (Adventures of Superman #476-478, Action Comics #663-664, Superman #54-55) (1991)
In this charming adventure story, Superman is thrust into the timestream where he bounces around different eras while trying to get his way back home. In essence, though, it was just an excuse for Dan Jurgens, Roger Stern and Jerry Ordway to tell great “done in one” stories of Superman in different time periods, including the past (World War II), the PAST past (Superman versus dinosaurs) and the future (Superman teams up with the Legion of Super-Heroes at two very different points in their lives). The art was by Jurgens and Brett Breeding, Bob McLeod and Ordway and Dennis Janke.
40. “Superman and the Fiend from Dimension 5″ Action Comics #1-18 (2011-13)
I would like to split Grant Morrison’s Action Comics run up into smaller pieces, but the fact of the matter is that the whole idea of his run is that the whole thing is one non-linear tale, as Superman takes on the fiendish Vyndktvx all over the space/time continuum. Of course, along the way we get to see Morrison handle all sorts of different look-ins into the life and times of the newly revamped Superman, from his origins to his progression into the modern version of Superman to the travels to the future to the Superman of Earth-23. The stories are almost intentionally haphazard as they jump around in time and space. Rags Morales and Brad Walker are the two main artists on the run, but a number of artists did fill-in issues here and there, including Brent Anderson, Andy Kubert and Gene Ha.
39. “Superman: Last Son” Action Comics #844-846, 851 and Action Comics Annual #11 (2006-08)
Geoff Johns is joined by Superman: The Movie director Richard Donner and artist Adam Kubert for this epic tale of the Phantom Zone villains and a young, mysterious Kryptonian boy that Superman tries to protect from General Zod. But what is the boy’s surprising connection TO Zod? And when the Phantom Zone Kryptonians attack Earth, who can Superman turn to that knows how to stop Supermen? Might his initials be LL?
38. “Exile” Superman Volume 2 #28-30, 32-33, Adventures of Superman #451-456, Action Comics Annual #2 and Action Comics #643 (1988-89)
Superman suffers a nervous breakdown, still reeling from his decision to kill the Phantom Zone criminals during the Supergirl Pocket Universe arc. He decides to exile himself from Earth. He comes into conflict with both Mognul and Warworld as well as the Eradicator, a fail safe from the planet Krypton. Eventually, he comes to grips with his guilt and returns to Earth. Dan Jurgens, Jerry Ordway, George Pérez and Roger Stern wrote it while Kerry Gammill, Dan Jurgens, Mike Mignola, Jerry Ordway, George Perez, Curt Swan, Brett Breeding, John Statema and Dennis Janke drew it.
37. “Dark Knight Over Metropolis” Superman #44, Adventures of Superman #467 and Action Comics #654 (1990)
Writers Jerry Ordway, Dan Jurgens and Roger Stern (with artists Ordway, Dennis Janke, Jurgens, Art Thibert and Bob McLeod) deliver this powerful three-parter with Batman bringing a little bit of darkness to the Superman titles. In the end, Superman and Batman’s uneasy alliance takes a big step forward when Superman entrusts Batman with the kryptonite ring, which became a major plot point repeatedly in the last twenty years.
36. Infinite Crisis #1-7 (2005-06)
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!
35. “Public Enemies” Superman/Batman #1-6 (2003-04)
After becoming President of the United States, Lex Luthor uses his power to brand Superman and Batman as, well, public enemies of the state. This leads to the eventual downfall of Luthor from the Presidency as Superman and Batman must clear their good name, stop Luthor AND stop a Kryptonite meteor headed for Earth all at the same time!
34. “The Supergirl from Krypton!” Action Comics #252 (1959)
Otto Binder and Al Plastino introduce us to Superman’s teenage cousin, Supergirl!
33. Superman/Batman Generations #1-4 (1998-99)
John Byrne did an excellent prestige format mini-series detailing the concept of “What if Batman and Superman and their casts aged in real time from when they first appeared?” and Generations shows exactly how this would come about. Along the way, Byrne naturally alters his style to reflect the era that each story is being told in. Great stuff.
32. Superman: Secret Origin #1-6 (2009-10)
Geoff Johns, Gary Frank and Jon Sibal gave their particular take on the origin of Superman, most notably they folded in the Superboy aspect of Superman’s life for the first time since Crisis.
31. “Kryptonite Nevermore!” Superman #233-238, 240-242 (1970-71)
Denny O’Neill joined Superman as the main writer in this dramatic storyline that did a few notable things. First off, it moved Clark Kent from being a reporter at the Daily Planet to being a TV anchor/reporter for Metropolis’ top TV news station. Next, all kryptonite on Earth was destroyed. Finally, a Sand creature created by the explosion that eliminated all of the kryptonite showed up with half of Superman’s powers. Superman stops the creature, but in the end he loses half of his powers. O’Neil intended the change to humanize Superman (and presumably also make him more of a Marvel-like character) but it lasted roughly about as long as O’Neil’s final issue, which was also the last issue of the story arc. Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson drew the story (with one issue inked by Dick Giordano).
30. “The Amazing Story of Superman-Red and Superman-Blue!” Superman Volume 1 #162 (1963)
Leo Dorfman, Curt Swan and George Klein gave us this Silver Age classic where we see an Imaginary Story where Superman splits himself into two beings (one with a Blue costume and one with a Red costume) and effectively solves all of the world’s problems (plus finally solves the Lois Lane/Lana Lang dilemma by just marrying them both!). This later inspired a late 1990s storyline where Superman also split into two beings.
29. “The Secret is Revealed!” Superman Volume 2 #2 (1986)
This is one dark story. John Byrne (and inkers Terry Austin and Keith Williams) decided to deal head on with the idea of a man as brilliant as Luthor being able to figure out Superman’s secret identity. Luthor goes through some deplorable methods of finding out Superman’s secret but once he does, can he even believe it himself? Byrne explores Luthor’s motivations beautifully in this story as we see how Luthor applies his personal beliefs to Superman and the result is both humorous and depressing. Plus, Luthor’s disdain for women is hinted at with his treatment of the female scientist who helps him find Superman’s secret.
28. “Up, Up and Away!” Superman #650-653 and Action Comics #837-840 (2006)
Kurt Busiek, Geoff Johns, Pete Woods and Renato Guedes re-launch the Superman titles “One Year Later” after the events of Infinite Crisis and 52. It is a delightful throwback tale with great art by Woods and Guedes.
27. Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man (1976)
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.
26. Superman: Peace on Earth (1998)
Alex Ross and Paul Dini show Superman trying to do something about world hunger and realizing that it is not so easy to affect change on the world.
25. “Return to Krypton” (Superman Volume 1 #141) (1960)
Jerry Siegel, Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye came together to tell one of the highlights of the Silver Age for Superman comics, with the incredibly bittersweet return to Krypton. The story opens with Superman being sent to check out an alien creature and in a slight fracas, he is sent back in time. He ends up on a pre-exploded Krypton. Robbed of his powers by Krypton’s sun, Superman ends up getting involved as an extra in a science fiction film (where he catches the eye of the female star of the film) and then meeting his own parents, who had just gotten married. They set him up with the aforementioned actress and after a number of attempts to help his father save Krypton, Superman eventually accepts his fate and decides to live out the rest of his time on Krypton with his parents and his new love. This is not to be, of course. Such a beautiful tragedy. It is filled with such rich pathos for a Silver Age comic. One of Siegel’s very best works.
24. “Of Thee I Sing” Hitman #34 (1998)
Garth Ennis, John McCrea and Gary Leach tell this story of Tommy Monaghan, of all people, talking Superman out of feeling blue when Superman is going through one of the lowest points in his life. Ennis is not known for being a big fan of superheroes, but he clearly at least has an affinity for Superman a bit.
23. “Superman wrestles an angel” (JLA #6-7) (1997)
Grant Morrison clearly did not want to tell stories with Superman and his new energy powers, but damned if Morrison didn’t do a great job with it in this two-part JLA story that opens with Superman doubting himself and his ability to inspire now that he was so different in appearance and power set and closes with Superman, you know, wrestling an angel (not before he MOVES THE MOON!). Art by Howard Porter and John Dell.
22. “Must There Be a Superman?” Superman #247 (1971)
Elliot S! Maggin’s VERY FIRST comic book story is an utter classic (Maggin famously notes he got the idea from a young Jeph Loeb). The Guardians of the Universe suggest to Superman that his presence on Earth may actually be HINDERING the people of Earth rather than helping them (Marv Wolfman would later have Destiny tell Superman much the same thing). You know, “Give a man a fish, he eats for a night, teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime” style. It is a heavy trip for Superman and was definitely a mind-blowing concept for most readers of Superman at the time. The issue mostly leaves it up for debate and doesn’t actually firmly say one way or the other if Superman IS hindering social change or not, but just getting Superman (and readers) thinking is a powerful thing (although the Guardians don’t have to pat themselves on the back so much like they do in the issue).
21. 78. DC One Million #1-4 (1998)
In this epic time travel tale, Grant Morrison, Val Semeiks and Prentis Rollins have the Justice League of the 853rd Century come to our Earth to invite them into the future to celebrate the return of Superman Prime, who has been exiled inside the sun for 15,000 years. However, Vandal Savage and Solaris, a villain from the future, are trying to use this celebration as an attempt to destroy all their enemies, both in the present AND in the future! When Superman finally emerges from exile, though, things get a lot crazier.
20. “Funeral for a Friend” (Justice League America #70, Adventures of Superman #498-499, Superman #76-77, Superman: Man of Steel #20-21, Action Comics #685-686) (1992-93)
This touching send-off to the world’s greatest superhero was done over a couple of months in all of the Superman titles, by the same creative team as the Death of Superman (Dan Jurgens, Jerry Ordway, Roger Stern and Louise Simonson on story, Jurgens, Tom Grummett, Jackson Guice and Jon Bogdanove on pencils and Rick Burchett, Brett Breeding, Doug Hazelwood, Denis Rodier and Dennis Janke on inks).
19. “Brainiac” Action Comics #866-870 (2008)
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.
18. “Superman’s Race With the Flash!” Superman #199 (1967)
Superman and the Flash race for charity but soon get caught up in foiling the plot of some gangsters! Jim Shooter, Curt Swan and George Klein were the creative team on this one.
17. “Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes” Action Comics #858-863 (2007-08)
In this six-part arc, Geoff Johns, Gary Frank and Jon Sibal brought back the Levitz-era Legion of Super-Heroes as Superman finds himself on a futuristic Earth where the planet has been turned away from all aliens, including most of the Legion of Super-Heroes! Can Superman, an alien himself, turn the tide?
16. “Superman vs. Muhammad Ali” All-New Collectors’ Edition #C-56 (1978)
Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams, Dick Giordano and Terry Austin gave us this unforgettable team-up/match-up of Superman and the famed boxer Muhammad Ali, as the two must fight each other in order to protect the Earth from an alien invasion.
15. “Final Crisis” (Final Crisis #1-7, Superman Beyond #1-2) (2008)
I initially planned on including just the Superman Beyond part of Final Crisis, but I realized that that doesn’t make sense since Superman Beyond is just part of the overall Final Crisis story and a big part of Final Crisis is Superman essentially saving both the Multiverse as well as all the people on Earth, so I guess I should just lump them all in as one story. Grant Morrison wrote it and JG Jones and Doug Mahnke drew the Superman parts of the story.
14. “Reign of the Supermen” Action Comics #687-691, Adventures of Superman #500-505, Green Lantern Volume 3, #46, Superman Volume 2 #78-82 and Superman: The Man of Steel #22-26 (1993)
Superman is dead! Long live…Superman? And Superman? And Superman? And Superbo…Superman? In this epic tale by the entire Superman creative team (Dan Jurgens, Louise Simonson, Karl Kesel, Jerry Ordway and Roger Stern on the writing side and Jurgens, Brett Breeding, Jon Bogdanove, Dennis Janke, Tom Grummett, Doug Hazelwood, Jackson Guice and Denis Rodier on the art side), the seemingly dead Superman is replaced by four different mysterious men all claiming to be his replacement as Superman. A cyborg, a killing machine, a man in armor and a clone of Superman. They all take their place on the world stage but then things turn tragic when one of the four turns out to be eeeeeevil. Luckily, as it turns out, it takes a lot more than beating him to death to kill Superman!
13. Superman Birthright #1-12 (2003-04)
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.
12. “Death of Superman” Superman: The Man of Steel #17-19, Superman Volume 2 #73-75, Adventures of Superman #496-497, Action Comics #683-684 and Justice League America #69 (1992)
Dan Jurgens, Jerry Ordway, Louise Simonson and Roger Stern (writers), Dan Jurgens, Tom Grummett, Jon Bogdanove and Jackson Guice (pencilers) and Brett Breeding, Doug Hazlewood, Dennis Janke, Denis Rodier and Rich Burchett (inkers) all combined to tell one of the most famous comic book stories of all-time, as the murderous creature known as Doomsday comes charging towards Metropolis with only Superman able to stop him. We know Doomsday means business because we see him tear apart the entire Justice League. Only Superman can save his adopted city and the woman he loves and he finds a way to save the day and kill Doomsday, but in the process, he gives up his own life. You don’t get much more dramatic than actually killing off freakin’ SUPERMAN.
11. Crisis on Infinite Earths #1-12 (1985)
The (temporary) end of the Multiverse, Crisis on Infinite Earths was a particularly important story for Superman, as the Golden Age Superman and Lois Lane left reality with this story and Superman saw his cousin Supergirl sacrifice herself to save her cousin. Marv Wolfman, George Perez, Dick Giordano and Jerry Ordway were the creative team on the series.
10. “The Death of Superman” (Superman Volume 1 #149) (1961)
Possibly the greatest Imaginary Story, Jerry Siegel, Curt Swan and Sheldon Moldoff show Lex Luthor getting his final victory over Superman, although things do not end up going the way Luthor had planned in the end.
9. Secret Identity #1-4 (2003-04)
Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen take a different look at the Superman mythos by showing a man named Clark Kent who grew up in a world where Superman comic books existed but superheroes did not. So when Clark finds himself suddenly with super powers, well, things change in his life dramatically. He evens has his own Lois! This comic is touching and well-thought out and beautifully drawn by Immonen.
8. “What’s So Funny about Truth, Justice & the American Way?” Action Comics #775 (2001)
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.
7. Superman for All Seasons #1-4 (1998)
In this breathtakingly beautifully drawn series by Tim Sale, writer Jeph Loeb uses the seasons to depict different points in Supermans’ life. Along those lines, each issue is narrated by a different person who has a different take of who Superman is. Jonathan Kent, Lois Lane, Lex Luthor and Lana Lang all have wildly different views of Superman (especially at the various points in time that they tell their respective stories) but when you put them together you have a fascinating picture of Superman as a whole.
6. Superman: Red Son #1-3 (2003)
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!
5. Man of Steel #1-6 (1986)
John Byrne and Dick Giordano relaunch the Superman mythos in this excellent mini-series that re-establishes the entire Superman mythos ahead of the Superman titles all relaunching with a new status quo. What was so shocking about Byrne’s reboot was how much he kept the same. Superman and his supporting cast were largely the same, with the biggest changed being Lex Luthor now as a respected businessman, no Superboy, Krypton was a cold and desolate place, Superman was no longer “born” until he landed on Earth and Jonathan and Martha Kent still being alive with Clark as an adult. Clark Kent, I suppose, also saw a change as he was no longer so mild-mannered. In each of the six issues, Byrne re-established some part of the Superman status quo. #1 saw Clark gaining his powers for the first time, #2 introduced us to Lois Lane, #3 has Superman and Batman meet for the first time (in a standout issue), #5 introduced us to Lex Luthor, #5 gave us Bizarro and #6 had Clark learn about his Kryptonian heritage.
4. Kingdom Come (Kingdom Come #1-4) (1996)
After a horrible tragedy sends him into seclusion for a decade, Superman is pulled out of retirement by the behavior of the “superheroes” of the DC future, but soon Mark Waid and Alex Ross are testing Superman’s very beliefs as he find himself acting more and more like the world’s “Big Brother.”
3. All-Star Superman #1-12 (2006-08)
Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely produced this epic maxi-series that opens with Superman realizing that he has just one year left to live. The series follows that year as Superman does as much good as he can before he dies. This series features call backs to pretty much every era of Superman comics, including acclaim spotlights on Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Bizarro and Lex Luthor (who is behind the plot to kill Superman).
2. “For the Man Who has Everything?” (Superman Annual #11) (1985)
Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons celebrate Superman’s birthday in style by having the villainous Mongul showing the Man of Steel a reality where Krypton DIDN’T explode and Kal-El is a middling bureaucrat. Can Superman’s visiting friends Batman, Wonder Woman and Robin help save him? And how will he react when he wakes from this fantasy (hint: he will be none too pleased with Mongul)?
1. “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” Superman #423/Action Comics #583 (1986)
Alan Moore helps close out Superman and Action Comics as the John Byrne reboot is about to commence. Along with artists Curt Swan, George Perez, Kurt Schaffenberger and Murphy Anderson, Moore reveals the final days of Superman and his allies in this tragic, but clever and heartfelt story. There are so many cool moments in this two-parter that I can’t even list them all here. I’ll pick one – Jimmy Olsen and Lana Lang giving themselves powers for one last time so that they can go out and help defend their friend Superman from a siege of supervillains, claiming to the world one last time that they held a special place in Superman’s heart – “Nobody loved him better than us. Nobody!” So great.
That’s the list! Agree? Disagree? Let us know!
Happy 75th Anniversary, Superman!