It’s the summer of Superman, as DC Comics celebrates the Man of Steel‘s 75th anniversary.
Oh, and there’s a movie about him that’s out right now… it seems to be pretty good. It also got us thinking about some of the quintessential Superman stories, for those of you interested in the movie but oblivious to the character’s comic history. So, without further delay, here are the Fanatical Five Superman Stories You Should Read.
What’s so Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way?
Man of Steel looks to, at least partially, answer how someone with Superman‘s unflinching morality and traditional values would even work in today’s society… something this story, found in Action Comics 775, addresses when Superman is confronted with a new team of “heroes” who cross all the lines and yet still see an atmospheric rise in popularity. If you can’t find the book, pick up the movie based on it, which does a very good job of retelling the story.
If “What’s so Funny” explores Superman fitting in with today’s world, All-Star Superman celebrates everything that’s absolutely ridiculous about Superman as a character. Grant Morrison’s 12-issue epic has Superman doing everything from arm wrestling both Samson and Atlas to building the sun a mechanical heart. It’s over the top, but also completely earnest, as Superman goes from feeding his “pet sun eater” one minute to talking a suicidal girl off a ledge the other.
While the story of Kingdom Come is more of a commentary on the increasing “shades of gray” morality that superheroes in the 90s were experiencing, there’s no doubt that Superman is at the heart of it. When the public turns against his anti-killing stance, Superman goes on a self-imposed exile, while the new generation of heroes promptly screw everything up, bringing Supes and the rest of the Justice League out of retirement to show everyone how this whole hero business works. Beautiful art and a compelling story mean this book belongs in your collection.
Superman: Red Son
What would happen if, instead of Kansas, Superman‘s rocket landed in the USSR? That’s what happens in the alternate-reality tale known as Red Son, and it gives us an interesting comparison between the Superman we’re all familiar with — Americana, wholesome, etc. — and the man who would not only rule Russia, but bring Communism to practically the entire world without having to fire a single shot. In the end, Superman‘s attempts to reach for power end up turning him into the same kind of evil he wishes to destroy. Some really good stuff.
Clark Kent’s origin story has been told over and over and over. Everyone knows it… that being said, this is probably the best telling of it, and it’s obvious that Man of Steel is based very closely on some of the themes in this book. Clark has strange and amazing powers. He could literally do anything he wanted… so what should he do? It’s in this story that Superman learns how to be the hero he’s destined to be.
If we missed your favorite, or you have any suggestions, sound off in the comments!