The 75 Greatest Superman Stories of All-Time Master List
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.
Go to the next page for #25-1!