THE MAN OF STEEL
A great introduction to Superman, this 6 issue mini-series from 1986 retells the man of steel's origin from Krypton's destruction to the first donning of the tights. Written and drawn by John Byrne, this saga relaunched the Superman comics from scratch, throwing out much of the old convoluted continuity of the 1970's and wiping the slate clean for a new era of Superman tales. Byrne gives us Superman's first meeting with Lois Lane, his first confrontation with Lex Luthor, his first team-up with Batman, and his first epic battle with Bizarro. He also reintroduced Jonathan and Martha Kent as staples in the Superman universe - previous versions of the story had the Kents dying before Clark ever became Superman, but here, they survive well into his adulthood.
FOR ALL SEASONS
In what could be seen as a companion piece of sorts to "Man of Steel," this mini-series fills in some more of the gaps in Superman's early career. Written by Jeph Loeb with art by Tim Sale, "For All Seasons" provides some more insight into Clark Kent's first forays as a superhero as he is just starting to become the icon that we know and love today.
In the second issue of John Byrne's relaunched "Superman" ongoing series, his greatest enemy makes a startling discovery. Lex Luthor knows that there is some connection between Clark Kent and Superman, but he can't quite put his finger on it. So, the villain uses one of his super computers to crunch all the data he has on the two men, and it comes up with a surprising conclusion - Clark Kent and Superman are the same person. What does Lex do with this information? ...He disregards it completely, declaring that no one with Superman's power would ever pretend to be a mere mortal. A great story with a great insight into how Lex Luthor's twisted mind really works.
THE DEATH OF SUPERMAN
The story that staggered a nation. What happens when the world's most invincible hero finally meets his match? In the mid 1990's, DC dared to kill off its most popular character. A relentless creature called Doomsday that lives only to kill beats Superman literally to death in this epic tale that made national headlines. Though Superman inevitably returned from the grave to carry on his neverending battle, this story of the immortal slugfest between Supes and Doomsday packs an incredible punch, and the final scenes of a stunned world mourning the death of their champion may just leave you misty-eyed.
ACTION COMICS #766
Lois Lane is missing, and Superman is suffering from kryptonite radiation poisoning. What choice does he have but to call in the world's greatest detective, Batman, to help him find his wife? Action Comics #766, written by Joe Kelly, provides the ultimate contrast between the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel. Their methods differ drastically, with Batman instilling fear, and Superman inspiring hope. When Batman fails to intimidate a group of townies at a country tavern, the locals practically fall over themselves trying to help a weakened Superman. This story exemplifies how well the two heroes can play off each other in the hands of the right writer.
ACTION COMICS #775
There's a new super team on the scene called The Elite - and they kill the super villains that they fight. The Elite quickly gain favor with the public, and Superman is falling out of fashion... even the kids on the local playground don't think it's cool to "play Superman" any more. When The Elite challenge Superman to a televised battle royale on the moon, the man of steel finds himself having to prove that deadly force isn't the answer, while still fighting for his life. The fight is a brutal one, with a battered and bloody Superman taking down each member of The Elite one by one, stopping just short of crossing that lethal line each time. Written by Joe Kelly, Action Comics #775 reminds readers why Superman is still the ultimate hero.
OUR WORLDS AT WAR
In a huge crossover event that rocks the entire DCU, the Earth comes under threat of annihilation by a cosmic being known as Imperiex. The mighty Justice League provides little resistance against the monster and his drones, as heroes fall left and right in the line of duty. Superman, under the command of President Lex Luthor, struggles to hold the line even as a portion of Kansas is wiped off the map in a huge mushroom cloud of destruction. The people of Earth must reluctantly ally themselves with Darkseid and the planet Apokolips to have any hope of beating Imperiex... but at what cost? By the time the dust settles after the war, the casualties will have left a distinct mark on the man of steel and his supporting cast.
In the future of the DC Universe, a new breed of "hero" has taken over - violent, reckless, and out of control, the superheroes of the day instill fear in the common man more than they inspire hope. And Superman? He's been in a self-imposed exile for years. In a tale written by Mark Waid and beautifully painted by Alex Ross, Superman makes his triumphant return to challenge the dark new heroes and restore peace... but the visions of a pastor named Norman McCay suggest that Superman's return may not be a good thing, but rather a sign of a pending apocalypse.
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