You all voted, now here, as part of our celebration of Superman and Lois Lane’s 80th Anniversary, are the results of what you chose as the 40 Greatest Superman Stories!
20. “Must There Be a Superman?” (Superman #247)
One of Elliot S! Maggin’s VERY FIRST comic book stories is an utter classic (Maggin famously notes he got the idea from a young Jeph Loeb, who was the son of a vice-president at Maggin’s college that Maggin had befriended, so he would often have dinner with the Loeb family). 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 is drawn by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson and Maggin makes sure that Superman understands how twisted this concept is. He tells people to do stuff on their own, but he can’t just let them be destroyed by an earthquake if he can stop it, right?
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).
19. “Truth” (Superman #41-47, Action Comics #41-47, Batman/Superman #21-27 and Superman/Wonder Woman #18-24)
This epic storyline, split over the four Superman titles of the time, by writers Greg Pak, Gene Luen Yang and Peter Tomasi and artists Aaron Kuder, Ardian Syaf, Doug Mahnke and John Romita Jr. (plus a bunch of inkers) looks at what happens when Lois Lane feels that she is forced to reveal Superman’s identity to the world to protect the Man of Steel from a villain that is also feeding off of Superman’s powers.
So now he has to deal with a vast reduction in power AND his identity being revealed to the world!
A really cool moment happened when Superman was meeting with the President (and ARGUS head Steve Trevor) to see where Superman stood with the country during his new status quo, while meanwhile, Superman’s girlfriend at the time, Wonder Woman, was using her Lasso of Truth to get the truth of what Superman’s friends and acquaintances think about the truth of Superman’s identity being revealed…
The writers in this epic really used it to get to the heart of various aspects of Superman’s life. Good stuff.
18. “The Girl From 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.