With the new Superman hitting theaters tomorrow we’d thought we’d suggest a few little nuggets of joy for comic fans that want to read some Superman’s tales. We’ve got plenty for you, so take a look inside…
We’ve organized some Super-reading material for you. It’s broken down into three categories: the first are books that explore similar themes to those in the new film, the second are a group of “Elseworld” tales (sort of “What If?” stories based in alternate realities), and the final lists some Man of Steel reprinted collections. Enjoy!
The “Superman Returns” theme is strong in Kingdom Come. After the death of Lois Lane by the hands of the Joker, and the public praising a new hero’s brutal retaliation winning public approval, Superman removes himself from a society he no longer understands and the old guard follow suit. As the story opens the next generation of heroes is out of control and heading towards a final conflict. Superman returns with the heroes of yesteryear to battle the newbies and has one of the best knockdown drag-out fights in comic history with Captain Marvel. Mark Waid’s story is brought into brilliant clarity by the beautiful artwork of Alex Ross. The graphic novel is available in softcover ($19.99); it’s also available in novel form, and soon to be released into DC’s new Absolute Line. One of the best graphic novels of all time; a must have.
Contrary to popular belief Superman IV: A Quest for Peace didn’t kill Superman, but DC Comics did decide to do just that in the 1990’s. The Death of Superman chronicles Superman’s fight against the unstoppable Doomsday in a planetwide battle that Superman wins, but not without paying the highest cost possible. The follow-up, World Without a Superman, examines the world and Metropolis getting on with their lives without the Man of Steel. Both are available in paperback ($9.95) and ($7.50).
Superman Returns: The Prequels is a joint conjunction with director Bryan Singer and co-screenwriters Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris and DC Comics in an attempt to retell the tales of the movie Superman from the first film to the events that unfold in Superman Returns. The book will explain events leading up to Superman’s leaving Earth and the effect of his absence on the likes of Lois Lane, Martha Kent, and Lex Luthor. You’d think the release would be timed with the film, but strangely enough, it won’t be available until October (way to drop the ball marketing tie-in people!), but you can pre-order it online if you are interested. It will be available in softcover ($12.99).
Elseworld tales take DC Comics heroes (usually Superman or Batman) and place them into a reality similar yet different from that of their current origin. What if Superman didn’t crash land in Kansas and was found by someone other than the Kents? How would his life and the DC Universe be different?
Speeding Bullets rewrites history placing baby Kal-El’s spaceship crashing in Gotham rather than Smallville and it is Thomas and Martha Wayne who find and adopt young “Bruce.” Interesting combination of DC’s greatest heroes that involves young Bruce witnessing the death of his parents, burning Joe Chill alive with his heat vision, and growing up to become one very scary super-powered Batman. It’s out of print and a hard find but worth it if you can locate a copy.
Several others have followed similar themes: in Red Son Superman grows up in the USSR during the height of the Cold War, in a more humorous take True Brit finds him landing in Britain, and in JLA: The Nail the Kent’s flat tire means they are too late and he is raised in seclusion by an Amish couple. All three are currently available in softcover: both True Brit and Red Son Red Son for $17.99 and JLA: The Nail for $14.99 (and its sequel JLA: Another Nail is available for $12.99).
The other tale I’ll mention here isn’t actually an Elseworld title per se, at least not when it was written. In 1986 DC gave Superman to writer John Byrne to revamp, but before he did writer Alan Moore wrote the end to the previous Superman line which was the last Superman story ever told (at least for that continuity). Since DC didn’t care what was going to happen in those final issues Moore was allowed to do basically anything he wanted and so we get Alan Moore’s vision of what happened to Superman. Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? Its a thin grapic novel ($6.95) that you might be able to find in your local comic book store if you’re willing to look hard enough.
Many of Superman’s earlier comics are available in DC Comic’s Archival Collections. The Superman Archives is now up to seven volumes chronicling his first adventures up to his WWII saga. All are hardback and are available for $49.95 each.
World’s Finest collects the 10-issue miniseries that recounts the first 10 years of the uneasy alliance between DC’s two biggest heroes – Superman and Batman. Each issue brings the characters back years later to commemorate a tragic event and shows how they two heroes, and their relationship, has evolved. It’s available in softcover for $19.95. And the World’s Finest Archives reprints some of the original Silver Age team-ups with Superman and Batman and Robin. They are available in hardcover for $49.99 each.
There are also volumes like Superman in the Fifties (and Superman in the Sixties, etc) that reprint a collection of adventures from a various decade of Superman. Each volume is softcover and is available for $19.99.