By the time this is posted, I will have read Action Comics 1000. However, by the time of writing this we are a day away. I have already voiced my opinions on Brian Michael Bendis and his unfortunate control over the entire Superman family. That said, as this new era for Superman begins I would like to look back at some of my favorite Superman stories of all time. I doubt that anything out of Bendis’ run comes close to challenging this list, but I might be surprised. I probably won’t. With that said, here we go.
All Star Superman
This book is quite literally the best Superman book ever published and can challenge for best comic of all time. The animated movie failed to hit the mark (mostly because they cut 6 chapters of the book out entirely. It also is incredibly hard to translate Frank Quietly’s art into film. That isn’t really any fault of the film. This book is a master piece, that can’t really get its message across outside of the comic. That makes this book all the better. Look I could spend all day writing about this book. I really could, but give it a read for yourself if you haven’t. If you have, maybe read it once more to remind yourself the standards Bendis has in front of him.
Action Comics 775
The inspiration for Superman vs the Elite, a surprisingly good adaption of the story. This book answers the age old question, why shouldn’t Superman kill? While several decades old at this point, the book is still relevant today. Especially with the likes of Man of Steel, Dawn of Justice, and Justice League mucking up the collective conscious of the character. This book shows us what happens if Superman does cross that line. Needless to say, it isn’t a pretty picture. Unlike the films, this book does a 180 and shows that all of this was masterfully choreographed to show why Superman does what he does. Why he is what he is. This book brings about one of my favorite things about Superman. He is inspired by people. While the non powered society looks at him as the beacon of hope, he sees that beacon right back at us. That is why he protects us. And that is why he doesn’t cross that line. A truly beautiful story.
This book absolutely deserves to be in the running for best Superman story. It tops All Star as best on several of my friend’s list. While this book is fantastic in its own right, it is what it does different that sets it apart from the rest. Much of the Superman mythos is defined by Jor El. It wasn’t until Birthright that Lara achieved the same level of reverence that Jor gets. Turning is mom from a spectator into a bad ass in her own right. Truly something that should have done decades ago.
The Final Days of Superman
A new entry onto the list, and one that has now been written out with the Superman Reborn plotline. This book came out at the right time. Just before Rebirth, Superman was made the most relevant he ever was during the New 52. He was plagued by bad writing, and inconsistent approaches. Yet Peter Tomasi knew what he wanted to do, and made a modern day All Star. Any story that has Superman die apparently has to be made into film, and an animated adaptation of this is on its way already. This story is full of heart, character, and emotion. After years of languishing as a character, Tomasi finally gave him his own voice and readied readers for better times to come. I am still sad to see him go. He is almost single handedly responsible for the multiple years of success.
This story is famous for a lot of reasons. It ended the 90’s hyper extremism. It is another fabulous book by Mark Waid. It is impeccably crafted by Alex Ross. It also asks the question of what happens in a world with Superman. What happens if he just gives up. That answer is nothing good. This book explores Clark as he attempts to come to sense with the changing world. It demonstrates just what Superman means to the world, and manages to do so without killing him. I always point this book out to people who like an ‘edgier Superman’. This is as close as you get, and he still never once crosses the line. This book is just a masterpiece from top to bottom. Especially good, as it showcases an insane amount of DC’s pantheon of heroes.