The 75 Greatest Superman Stories of All-Time! Nominees #91-100
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 last batch of ten nominees (they are not in any particular order)!
91. “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” Superman #423/Action Comics #583
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.
92. “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
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!
93. Man of Steel #1-6
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.
94. “The Living Legends of Superman” Superman #400
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.
95. “The Girl in Superman’s Past” Superman #129
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.
96. “The Leper From Krypton” Action Comics #363-366
For reasons we won’t get into right now, Superman is tricked into poisoning himself with a rare Kryptonian disease that will not only kill him, but before it does it might kill all life on Earth! So there is this tricky sequence where he tries to cure himself while also keeping himself from killing everyone else on Earth. There is touching funeral for Superman and Supergirl enlists the Justice League into pretending like Superman is still alive even though they all saw his space coffin go into the sun. Luckily, while paying tribute to the fallen Superman, the Bizarros unwittingly cure Superman of the disease. Leo Dorfman wrote it and Ross Andru and Mike Esposito drew it.
97. “Must There Be a Superman?” Superman #247
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).
98. Superman for All Seasons #1-4
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.
99. “The World’s Greatest Heroine!” Action Comics #285
After a series of adventures, Superman finally decides that Supergirl is ready to meet the world (for over thirty issues, Superman has insisted that she stay a secret as his sort of back-up plan that no one else knows about – at the same time, he’s also training her for when she can become a public hero). This issue by Jerry Siegel and Jim Mooney allows the world to celebrate Supergirl joining her cousin as one of the world’s defenders.
100. “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
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.
Okay, that’s the list! Soon I’ll have the poll up so you can all vote!
April 16, 2013 at 4:05 am
Some of my faves there. In many ways, because I was 16 when it debuted, The Man of Steel is the debut of “my” Superman. I loved that incarnation and I was so impressed with the way Byrne managed to give a complete history of the new version of Superman in just 6 issues. And I loved Reign of the Supermen which remains to be my benchmark of a brilliant stunt in comics. (And I have a real soft spot for the Simonson/Bodganove Man of Steel version). And there really is nothing to say about Whatever Happened… that hasn’t been said. It’s such a brilliant piece of storytelling.
I love Superman 400 even though I think the idea of it is better than what actually transpired. (The best chapter for me is the one where an archaeologist announces he’s discovered the identity of Superman… by finding old films from Earth-Prime of the George Reeves TV series! Frank Miller rocked on the art too). But the idea of getting artists who had never worked on Superman to draw either chapters or pin-ups was really inspired (Julie Schwartz apparently just called them up…and so you get Will Eisner, Frank Miller, Marshall Rogers and Jim Steranko all contributing material). The Moebius picture of Superman cradling a tiny star in his hands is one of my favourite images of the Man of Steel (and introduced me to Moebius in the process!)
April 16, 2013 at 4:49 am
Man, this poll (or the build up to it) has completely re-invigorated my love and appreciation of Superman. I want to go and buy trade paperbacks of all of these stories now.
Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin
April 16, 2013 at 5:13 am
Hm, am I seeing this right? Are there no nominations of the Joe Casey run?
April 16, 2013 at 5:18 am
Casey is on there a few times, just not his solo run. I actually meant to mention it during the discussion of Rucka’s run. Casey’s run was great, but it has never even been collected (and DC collected a lot of Superman stuff from those years). So while I personally loved it, it just wasn’t going to ever make the final list so I felt it better to give the spot to a title that had a legitimate chance of making the final list.
April 16, 2013 at 5:22 am
Having Rucka’s run on there as one chunk is kinda weird. It was the most well written run on any of the Superman books during that time period (e.g. mid-2000s pre-Infinite Crisis), but it just isn’t something that I’ve ever thought of in terms of being one single “story” nor have I even heard of anyone discuss it in that context before (regardless of the accuracy of referring to it as such).
April 16, 2013 at 10:11 am
Question about Action #689: The cover is apparently an homage (it’s signed “Gammill/Guice after Hannigan), but does anyone know what original it is an homage to?
April 16, 2013 at 10:19 am
Maybe it just means that some dude named Hannigan did a sketch and then Gammill/Guice finished it?
April 16, 2013 at 1:31 pm
Yeah Ed Hannigan did a layout for the cover and Gammill penciled it with Guice inking.
April 16, 2013 at 3:59 pm
Well, maybe. But that’s not what “After . . . ” usually means. Usually it’s used when the artist wants credit the source of an homage.
April 16, 2013 at 4:09 pm
Frequently it means an homage, but here it is, indeed, an instance of Hannigan doing bare bones layouts and then Gammill actually drawing the piece based on Hannigan’s layouts (Hannigan’s cover design skills are pretty legendary). This is how they did most of the covers for Action Comics at the time. Hannigan would do layouts and Gammill would then draw the final cover (with inks by Guice, who was the interior artist on the book at the time). Eventually they skipped the middle man and Guice began doing finishes over Hannigan’s layouts himself. By #698, Guice was allowed to do the whole cover himself.