Top 10 Superman stories

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  • supes man of steel logo

    See also our Review of "Man of Steel" and our Short, Ignominious History of General Zod.

    Top 10 Superman Stories

    If all you know about Superman is Christopher Reeve in a spandex jumpsuit and a lot of hair gel, you’re missing out. The Man of Steel has been the most iconic comic book character in the world for 75 years, with all of the silly misadventures, pointless reboots and odd plot lines that come with a long career. We distilled the Last Son of Krypton's canon down to 10 stories that will help show you see that Superman’s impact comes from more than his fists.

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    Written by Brian Azzarello; art by Lee Bermejo

    10. Lex Luthor: Man of Steel

    You can’t understand Superman without understanding his arch-nemesis Lex Luthor. Luthor sees Superman as a hindrance to humanity, an alien who holds back the forces of evolution by essentially creating a super-powered nanny state where people expect to be rescued instead of pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps.

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    Written by Mark Millar; art by Dave Johnson, Killian Plunkett

    9. Superman: Red Son

    In this Elseworlds story — DC Comics’ version of a “What If” moment — Superman lands in Russia instead of Kansas, resulting in a communist uber-man who makes Marxism work by becoming an almost omniscient totalitarian overlord. And, no surprise here, Soviet Batman is awesome as a rebellious worker.

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    Written by Mark Waid; art by Alex Ross

    8. Kingdom Come

    A landmark series by two of comics’ most lauded creators, “Kingdom Come” jumps into the future of the DC Comics universe, where Superman has become a hermit who is coaxed back into the world in order to help rein in a new generation of reckless superheroes with the help of his old pals and a few super-gulags. Not surprisingly, Batman plays spoiler here, as well.

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    Various writers; various artists

    7. Death of Superman

    This landmark story managed to kill Superman and mark the death of a ballooning comic book industry. Still, it’s difficult not to tear up when Doomsday pounds Superman into the pavement and ends his life, or when the rest of the DC heroes try to take up his mantle. Spoiler alert: He comes back from the dead.

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    Written by Jeph Loeb; art by Tim Sale

    6. Superman: For All Seasons

    This look back at Superman’s formative years avoids Superman’s origin story but illuminates scenes from the life of a young hero, as well as the people who helped form his character. Tim Sale’s beautiful and nostalgic illustrations are a huge part of the book’s success.

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    Written by Kurt Busiek; art by Stuart Immonen

    5. Superman: Secret Identity

    Not a Superman story per se, this tale is set in our own world, about a kid named Clark Kent who is teased and taunted but eventually discovers he has powers similar to the fictional Man of Steel. It’s a sweet, engaging and slightly sappy look at what Superman means in a world without super heroes.

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    Superman Annual #11 (1985). Written by Alan Moore; art by Dave Gibbons

    4. Superman: For the Man Who Has Everything

    Another Alan Moore tale, this one has Superman under the effects of an alien plant that shows him his heart’s desire. In this fantasy, Kal-El lives his life as a typical Kryptonian, surrounded by family and friends, content, only to realize what’s happening and force himself to say goodbye to his son and free himself from the wonderful illusion.

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    Written by Alan Moore

    3. Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow?

    Penned by the legendary Alan Moore as a summation of the Silver Age of Superman, it’s a darker look at the iconic super hero’s legacy that still manages to bring the zany adventures of the Man of Steel’s past into the modern era.

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    Written by Mark Waid; art by Lenil Yu

    2. Superman: Birthright

    This official retelling of Superman’s origin brought the 75-year old Man of Steel into the modern age. It manages to bring back the moral center of Superman’s core values and also allows Kal-El a scene where he is able to say a final farewell to his parents (thanks to Lex Luthor).

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    Written by Grant Morrison; art by Frank Quitely

    1. All-Star Superman

    This story by the brilliant Grant Morrison breaks all the rules of a comic book that is meant to be a reboot (of sorts) of a major hero. Instead of modernizing the character and changing aspects of the story, Morrison instead explores the mythic nature of Superman in a tale that manages to be touching, exciting and illuminating. The first page — in which Morrison covers the Man of Steel’s entire origin story — is worth reading all by itself.