Sunday, June 25, 2017
Home  >  Features  >  SUPERWEEK: SUPERMAN for Non-Superman Fans

What Superman comics should you read if you think you hate Superman? As part of SUPERWEEK on MightyVille, B.J. Morgan brings us his Superman Comics for Non-Believers list and tells it just as he sees it. So, read on if you dare... [WARNING: Man of Steel spoilers within!]

 

What Superman comics should you read if you think you hate Superman? As part of SUPERWEEK on MightyVille, B.J. Morgan brings us his Superman Comics for Non-Believers list and tells it just as he sees it [Editor's Note: B.J.'s views are his own and not necessarily reflective of the entire MightyVille community]. So, read on if you dare ... and let us know what you think and what your list for non-believers would be in the comments section below!

[SPOILER WARNING: There exists a big, fat Man of Steel spoiler below. You've been warned. You can skip down to the "All-Star Superman" section to avoid it.]

 

I’m not a huge Superman fan. In fact, up until recently I would easily describe myself as quite the opposite. I kind of, sort of, hated Superman. You hear all the reasons why Superman isn’t that great of a character bandied around all the time. He’s too powerful. He’s too much of a boy scout. Nothing ever changes for Superman. He wears his underwear on the outside.

I get all of those reasons and could point to many adventures and examples of how Superman exemplifies each of them. Having many decades worth of baggage has given Superman both positive and negative weight. My admittedly negative perceptions of the character held me back for years.

I’m not saying I have had an epiphany about Superman, either. I firmly believe that Superman is poorly done more often than not. Creative types feel like they have to be slavish to the core that has been built up around Superman. Don’t believe me? Ask a hardcore Superman fan about their feelings towards what happens to General Zod at the end of Man of Steel. I’m patient. I’ll wait...

 

 

Was that good for you? You've just had an hour of your life whittled away because of the perceived lack of respect the filmmakers displayed. I humbly believe it was a brave decision to kill off Zod. You see, some people never want Superman to change. There are certain segments of the fan and creative population that believe Superman shouldn’t be about innovation and that he should never change. There is an admirable side to that argument, but it’s also a  very dull stance. That’s always been Superman’s problem: he can be incredibly dull.

But I’m not here to denigrate the Man of Steel. I’m here to celebrate him.

I am a Marvel fan at heart. I haven’t gotten into that much here at MightyVille, but I have a Marvel fanboy streak that runs at least several Galactus-miles wide. As a non-believer when it comes to DC, I tried to educate myself on the ways of the opposite side of the aisle. I dabbled in a little bit of everything, Superman was one of the easy targets to pick up on because he is so iconic. He’s everywhere in the DC Universe. Much to my surprise, there are a few comics that dare to do new or different things with Superman.

 


Where should someone start who doesn’t really like Superman? Let’s get cheesy for a moment and say that you have to start by letting Superman enter your heart. Yes, Superman is kind of hokey and maybe a little overpowered. Just accept that about him and move on. Believe me, the Marvel Universe is full of cheesy and ham-fisted characters.

Once you get over your issues with Superman, dig in. What follows is a list of (mostly) Superman comics that I think are good based on my educational journey through DC. These comics had an aura of authenticity that is often found lacking in the absolute glut of Superman comics out there.

All-Star Superman

 

 

Arguably the crown jewel of Superman comics, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely crafted the perfect Superman story for DC’s defunct All-Star line. Intended to be a somewhat-but-not-quite answer to Marvel’s Ultimate line, All-Star featured only two titles: All-Star Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder and All-Star Superman. While the former was possibly one of the worst (and tardiest) comics published by DC, Superman soared above everything else. The premise is that Superman finds out that he is dying after being intentionally inundated with solar energy. Determined to make the best of his last year, Superman has cool adventure after cool adventure. He’s put through the ringer, but finds a way to bring about victory in the face of defeat. It’s a special story that should be on every comic collector’s shelf that represents twelve issues of perfection.

Action Comics #0

 

 

Grant Morrison’s return to Superman in the New 52 has to rank as one of the biggest disappointments of the company-wide reboot. The story was all over the place. While there were slight twinkles of brilliance here and there, it never really coalesced into anything near as riveting as All-Star Superman. However, the zero issue was a spectacular story. Superman inadvertently loses his cape while fighting some thugs. A boy steals it off an unconscious Superman. The twist? He’s being abused by his father and somehow summons the strength to stand up to him. It’s a touching story that brings out the human side of Superman. Artists Ben Oliver captures every moment perfectly. The “Superman stops a train bit” has been used many times, but it’s never been drawn so beautifully. As solo issues go, you can’t get much better than this.

Son of Superman/JLA: The Nail/Red Son

Superman’s story has been done to death. There are thousands of comic books out there that cover near identical ground when it comes to the character. Getting some distance from the familiar confines of his story is always a plus. Fortunately, the Elseworlds imprint has delivered some fine Superman stories by skewing the view of the Man of Steel. Elseworlds allowed creators to flex their creative muscles without having to rely on the tropes that sometimes weigh down Superman creatively.

 



Son of Superman gives just that: Superman’s kid. Having disappeared some years ago, Superman’s son takes up the mantle of his father and tried to find the truth about his disappearance. This story seldom gets talked about despite having a killer creative team. It’s a tale written by the dynamic writing team of Howard Chaykin and David Tischman featuring art from J.H. Williams III and Mick Gray. Chaykin always brings a skewed element to any project he’s working on.

 



JLA: The Nail gives us a world without Superman by asking the question, "What would have happened if Superman had never been found by the Kents?" Superman isn’t in the book much, but his absence weighs heavily on every page and drives home his importance to the DCU. It features yet another killer creative team with Alan Davis and Mark Farmer helming.

 



Superman: Red Son goes probably the furthest away from the Superman mythos by giving us Superman in the Soviet Union. One would expect no less a tame concept from the always bombastic Mark Millar. Though alien, Superman has always been seen as American as apple pie, Coca-Cola, or being a Kardashian. Removing him from his American element was a good idea.  

Though far afield from your usual Superman story, these all display great sides of Superman that don’t often get the spotlight.

Supreme: The Story of the Year

 

 

What? This isn’t a Superman comic! Well... it sort of is.

While Elseworlds gives us a glimpse of Superman filtered through someone else’s imagination while still using the character, there are also some great Superman stories out there that don’t use the character by using a thinly veiled stand in for their stories. One such character is Supreme, originally created by the universally-loved Rob Liefeld... Sarcasm aside, the character really did suck. As archetypes go, Supreme started out to be a violent take on Superman, which didn’t really catch on despite the oft-quoted complaint of Superman being too much of a do-gooder.

Enter Alan Moore. The Grand Pumba of comic writing, Alan Moore is no stranger to Superman. He wrote another great book Whatever Happened to the Man of the Tomorrow?, meant to be the final send off for the pre-Crisis version of the character. (Yeah, as a Marvel fan, the whole pre/post-Crisis garbage is confusing.) Alan Moore was never really let loose on Superman. Given the chance to essentially write Superman through Supreme, he toned down the violence, threw everything out that had previously been established, and wrote his love letter to the Silver Age Superman of yore. Though there are collected editions out there, they do a terrible job of reprinting the comics. It seriously looks like someone went crazy with a photocopier. The single issues are out there to be found. I have nearly all of them now, but it took a great deal of searching.

 

 

The Man of Steel

John Byrne is one of the biggest curmudgeons (i.e., douchebags) of comic books. However, his miniseries from 1986 redoing the Superman origin story is a great read. Most of his retooling had been done away with well before the New 52 reboot, but that doesn’t diminish the overall joy that this comic book series is to read. Most of Byrne’s run on Superman was awesome. Any of his stories would be welcome additions to any collection, but if you’re looking for a solid origin story, look no further. Of course, there are collected versions out there, but this one is also super-easy to find as single issues.

Fin.

Superman can be a tough and, at times, tedious nut to crack, but these stories should get you started if you’re looking for something different than the same old boring stock you are used to reading. There are probably a ton of great “traditional” Superman stories out there. I’m sure they are well written and well meaning comics. Maybe I will get around to reading some of those someday, but I’m not ready for the boring life yet.

 

What are some of your favorite Superman stories? Let us know below!


More Superman on MightyVille:

SUPERWEEK: MAN OF STEEL - The MightyVille Review

SUPERWEEK: SUPER Comic Book Giveaway of STEEL

FEATURED VIDEO: Exclusive Nokia MAN OF STEEL Preview

 

Comments (2)
  • Joe_Kach  - A few more additions...
    Great write-up, B.J.!

    I had a few more additions:

    1. HITMAN #34: http://www.shwiggie.com/hitman/hm-34/00.jpg
    This issue won writer Garth Ennis an Eisner! This is probably my favorite single-issue Superman story of all time. Who knew it would appear in a non-superhero comic by a writer who does not like superheroes? Basically, after a rough mission, Hitman Tommy Monoghan has a heart-to-heart rooftop discussion about the ins & outs of superheroics. This issue is not to be missed!

    2. SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE Vol. 1 & 2: http://www.dccomics.com/sites/default/files/gn-covers/2012/05/SME1v2_HC.jpg
    Another retelling of Superman's origin, this one theoretically fitting into "our world". A Well-handled & touching storyline that combines both classic & modern elements, I'd recommend these be read together. They're still a good read on their own, but reading them back-to-back gives you a larger story.

    3. SUPERMAN: LAST SON http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/original/14/140003/2701678-last_son.jpg
    This story, co-written by SUPERMAN & SUPERMAN II director Richard Donner, re-introduces General Zod, Ursa, & Non (the 3 Kryptonian fugitives from the initial SUPERMAN films) to a modern audience. Bringing with them many more fugitives from the infamous Phantom Zone, this story highlights Superman's abilities to use his humanity against villains just as powerful as him. Another little wrinkle: Zod & Ursa have a child. Who is then adopted by Lois Lane & Clark Kent. How do you like them apples? Lots of gorgeous artwork from Marvel-mainstay Adam Kubert, including 3D portions.

    I'd also like to add Mark Millar's run on SUPERMAN ADVENTURES, based on the animated series. Some of the best Superman stories that no one read. Some were recently reprinted under the DC COMICS PRESENTS banner.

    --J.
  • bjmorga
    I'll check out Last Son and Adventures. The Hitman issue was fun.
Only registered users can write comments!
 

MightyVille Spotlight

 ImageFor MightyVille's newest Writer Spotlight, we talked to Sweet Lullaby writer and creator, A.J. Scherkenbach!

Mighty Poll

What will be the ULTIMATE Superhero Movie of 2017?

Be Our Friend

Mighty Tweets

Mightyville Looks like THE WATCHMEN are coming to HBO! https://t.co/Y1OGokWgjr
Mightyville Reginald Hudlin to direct the SHADOWMAN movie. https://t.co/tEVuLWh7v4
Mightyville Silicon Valley Comic Con 2017 - A MightyVille Photo Journal https://t.co/mwAELwHScE @svcomiccon #svcc2017

The Geek Speak Show

Comic Shop Locator

Main Menu

(C) 2016 MightyVille Enterprises. All rights reserved.