Comic Book Questions Answered – How Many People Has Superman Killed?
Comic Book Questions Answered – where I answer whatever questions you folks might have about comic books (feel free to e-mail questions to me at email@example.com). Here is a link to an archive of all the past questions that have been answered so far.
After reading my Movie Legends Revealed column about whether Batman actually killed anyone in the comic ic book that Zack Snyder used as the basis for Batman killing people in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, reader David R. wrote to me to ask a similar question about Superman, namely that he heard people talk about Superman’s history of killing people and wanted to know what was the comic book basis for that. Interesting question, David! Read on for what i could come up with! (NOTE: I won’t be counting alternate universes like Injustice: Gods Among Us or Imaginary Stories like Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow…although, to be fair, all comic book stories are imaginary, wocka wocka).
Clearly, the most famous example of Superman killing occurred in Superman #22, the last issue of John Byrne’s Post-Crisis run on Superman. Superman resorted to flat-out killing three Phantom Zone villains who had just wiped out an entire pocket Earth (BILLIONS of people)….
In the issues to come, new writers Jerry Ordway and Roger Stern would have Superman suffer a nervous breakdown and a split personality over what he had done, adopting the Gangbuster identity…
And then Superman would exile himself into outer space…
And that was the plan from the beginning. Note the last panel in Byrne’s last issue…
So while people point to this storyline a lot to show Superman’s willingness to kill, do note that it messed him up BIG TIME. So it wasn’t like this was just thing he did and it was no big deal to him.
Okay, so that’s the major example, but there have been others.
Golden Age Superman wasn’t necessarily a killer, but it’s clear that he didn’t particularly give a hoot if people died. That isn’t to say that he killed them himself. In this bit from Action Comics #2/Superman #1, Superman makes a war profiteer change his ways by bringing him to a war.
Superman hurtles a torturer and sure looks like he kills him…
And Superman knocks down a plane and we see no parachute….
In Superman #2 (by Siegel and Shuster, as well), Superman accidentally exposes a dude to poison gas and doesn’t save him. I think this pretty much counts as killing the dude…
Go to the next page for some more modern examples…
July 23, 2016 at 10:49 am
Something about the title isn’t quite right.
July 23, 2016 at 11:06 am
Oops, that was actually fixed, but it takes awhile for the cache to catch up.
July 23, 2016 at 11:39 am
JLA 9, first series. Superman breaks down a diamond creature into coal,apparently killing it. Jokes about it later.
July 23, 2016 at 11:42 am
Re: the Cyborg Superman- in the Hunter/Prey series, Darkseid seemingly kills the Cyborg (but of course didn’t and is just plotting to use him in some evil scheme), and Superman objects, claiming that when he destroyed the Cyborg’s body before he knew his consciousness would survive.
July 23, 2016 at 12:17 pm
Superman : It’s a bird , it’s a plane, nope it’s Super Killer …,
July 23, 2016 at 2:23 pm
Sentient robots absolutely count, and it is absolutely shameful to see you endorcing silver-age Superman’s robo-racism.
July 23, 2016 at 7:27 pm
In Jeff Loeb’s Superman/Batman team up comic, fairly early on they killed a lot of people using the excuse that they’d fix it with time travel.
July 23, 2016 at 8:03 pm
I remember, when I was young, seeing a very old serial of Superman(maybe from the 40’s-I’d watch anything superhero related as a kid even if it was 35 years before I was born) and he was fighting people on top of a skyscraper and had no problem throwing them over the edge. I was shocked and horrified seeing him do that.
But then again he did leave 2 people stranded on top of a mountain to protect his secret identity in the 50’s TV show. I remember seeing that one as well and thinking “WTF did I just see?”
July 23, 2016 at 8:34 pm
Why did Supes need an oxygen mask while exiled in space?
July 23, 2016 at 8:39 pm
Byrne’s Superman couldn’t breathe in space.
July 23, 2016 at 11:00 pm
Ah, the Supergirl Saga. I still can’t parse my feelings about it completely, because part of me loves it and part of me hates it, and both just as intensely. The whole “pocket universe Earth” was to explain away the history of Superboy in the continuing LoSH continuity, right? I thought it was sort of clever.