13 Superman Stories You Should Read

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13 Superman Stories You Should Read.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! It’s a Superman reading list!

While many people complain that he’s too powerful, Superman is a well developed character with a rich mythology. As a result Superman can be written terribly as some writers are not sure how to handle the characterization or the large set of powers. Although, when written right, he’s is a wonderful character to read – fleshed out with human aspects, great adventure and heroism – making the reader aspire to do good or see the world in a more positive way.

I have put together a selection of 13 Superman stories you should read, many of which achieve that goal, and are seen as some of the very best. Most of these stories are fan favourites and critically acclaimed and explore different interpretations and tones of the Man of Steel while staying true to his core.

Enjoy!

Superman Birthright TPB cover by Leinil Yu.

Superman Birthright

Written by Mark Waid and drawn by Leinil Yu.

This is essentially a Superman origin story, although this one takes all of the previous interpretations and combines them in a fascinating manner. not only does it act as an origin story but at the same time as a tribute to the stories of the past.

Superman Birthright was told in Superman Birthright #1 -12 and is now collected in trade paperback as Superman Birthright.

The Death of Superman cover by Dan Jergens.

The Death of Superman

Written by Dan Jurgens, Jerry Ordway, Louise Simonson and Roger Stern with art by Dan Jurgens, Tom Grummett, Jon BogdanoveJackson Guice, Brett Breeding, Doug Hazlewood, Dennis Janke, Denis Rodier and Rich Burchett.

The Death of Superman was a big event storyline that went over all of the Superman titles that where being published all the time. a murderous monster or pure rage known as Doomsday is heading towards Metropolis with the only person who can stop him being Superman. While Superman is able to stop Doomsday he has to give his own life in the process. This story is high drama and when it happened it was a very big deal with it even making the mainstream news.

The Death of Superman is told in Superman: The Man of Steel #17-19, Superman Volume 2 #73-75, Adventures of Superman #496-497, Action Comics #683-684 and Justice League America #69 (1992) but is collected all together in trade paperback in The Death of Superman.

A World Without A Superman. Funeral For A Friend

Funeral for a Friend

Written by Dan JurgensJerry OrdwayLouise Simonson and Roger Stern with art by Dan JurgensTom GrummettJon BogdanoveJackson GuiceBrett BreedingDoug HazlewoodDennis JankeDenis Rodier and Rich Burchett.

Funeral of a Friend is the aftermath story of the Death o superman as the world comes to grips with the Man of Steel’s death. It is a touching story that sees the reaction from everyone in his life from not only the superheroes but also the people of the world. Can the world live without Superman?

Funeral for a Friend was told in Justice League America #70, Adventures of Superman #498-499, Superman #76-77, Superman: Man of Steel #20-21, Action Comics #685-686 and is collected in trade paperback in World Without A Superman.

The Return of Superman TPB Reign of the Supermen

Reign of the Supermen

Written by Dan JurgensJerry OrdwayLouise Simonson and Roger Stern with art by Dan JurgensTom GrummettJon BogdanoveJackson GuiceBrett BreedingDoug HazlewoodDennis JankeDenis Rodier and Rich Burchett.

Reign of the Supermen, continuing from The Death of Superman and Funeral for a Friend, shows the rise of four new mysterious Supermen. A man in a steel suit, a clone of Superman, a Cyborg and an energy powered alien. Things take an epic turn when it happens to be that one of them is evil. The story also shows that it is not that easy to kill superman as the original returns to save the day. This tale is huge in scale with some big action heroism. It also guest stars Green Lantern.

Reign of the Supermen is told in Action Comics #687-691, Adventures of Superman #500-505, Green Lantern Volume 3, #46, Superman Volume 2 #78-82 and Superman: The Man of Steel #22-26 and collected in trade paperback in The Return of Superman.

Must there be a Superman? Superman #247 Guardians of the Universe 1971 Curt Swan.

Must There be a Superman?

Written by Elliot S! Maggin and drawn by Curt Swan.

Is Superman helping Earth or is he stopping it developing in a way that allows it to fend for itself? That is the question that is raised up in this story by the Guardians of the Universe. The question doesn’t give you an answer, but instead is left up to the reader to decide. This idea has been used many times since but in 1971 was very fresh.

Must There be a Superman? was told in Superman #247 and is collected in trade paperback in Superman: Greatest Stories Ever Told vol. 1.

All-Star Superman TPB cover by Frank Quitely.

All-Star Superman

Written by Grant Morrison and drawn by Frank Quitely.

This maxiseries, set in its own continuity, tells the story of Superman who knows that he has only one year to live, due to the hands of Lex Luthor. Knowing that he has only one year to live Superman goes off to do as much good as he possibly can. Grant Morrison attempts to reference as many eras of Superman as possible and does so successfully. This critically acclaimed story spotlights characters like Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Lex Luthor and even the Bizarros.

This is personally my favourite Superman story and one that I tell people to read often.

All-Star Superman is told in All-Star Superman #1-12 and is collected in various trade paperback, hardcover and Absolute editions as All-Star Superman.

Superman: Secret Identity TPB cover cover by Stuart Immonen.

Secret Identity

Written by Kurt Busiek and drawn by Stuart Immonen.

Secret Identity is a very different Superman story in that it focuses more on the Clark Kent aspect of the character. We see how Clark Kent grows up and how he deals with the discovery of his powers and learns the values of the Kents.

Secret Identity is told in Secret Identity #1-4 and collected in trade paperback as Superman: Secret Identity.

Action Comics #775 cover by Lee Bermejo.

What’s So Funny About Truth Justice & The American Way?

Written by Joe Kelly and drawn by Doug Mahnke and Lee Bermejo.

This single issue story takes on the idea that Superman’s value might be out of date in the 21st century. A new superhero teams known as The Elite is introduced who is more popular but does their “heroics” in a manner which causes death and destruction. Mocking Superman and his values they challenge him to a fight, in which Superman shows them that maybe his way of doing things is not so wrong.

What’s So Funny About Truth Justice & The American Way? was told in Action Comics #775 and is collected in trade paperback in Superman: Greatest Stories Ever Told vol. 1.

Superman For All Seasons cover by Tim Sale.

Superman: For All Seasons

Written by Jeph Loeb and drawn by Tim Sale.

Superman For All Seasons shows a very human side of the Man of Steel with telling done through the perspectives of other characters like Lois Lane, Johnathan Kent and Lex Luthor. Each character has drastically different perspectives on the character which all together piece an fascinating character piece, with issue representing a different season of the year. This series is beautifully drawn by Tim Sale and shows off fantastic emotion from each character.

Superman For All Seasons was told in Superman For All Seasons #1-4 and is collected in trade paperback as Superman For All Seasons.

Superman: Son Red cover by Dave Johnson. Soviet Superman.

Superman: Red Son

Written Mark Millar and drawn by Dave Johnson.

Before Mark Millar made the bigtime with creator-owned series like Kick Ass he was wrote this Elseworlds epic, Superman: Red Son. Essentially premise of the story is what if Superman crashed in the Soviet Union instead of Smallville? How would things be different? Along with this we see a Lex Luthor that has the United States on his side and even a soviet Batman.

If you’re looking for a different take on Superman then this is the story for you. You’ll get a bit more out of this story if you know the basic Superman origin. If you know nothing about it then here’s a quick summary to get you up to speed.

Superman: Red Son is told in Superman: Red Son #1-3 and is collected in trade paperback as Superman: Red Son.

Kingdom Come cover by Alex Ross. DC Comics

Kingdom Come

Written by Mark Waid and art by Alex Ross.

After experiencing a horrible tradgedy Superman disappears for 10 years. Although in that time the superhereos of the future have started acting in a way that Superman does not approve of. This brings Superman out of retirement. Superman has his beliefs tested like has never had them tested before as he finds himself acting more like a dictator of the heroes.

The story is another Elseworld tale, set in another continuity. Kingdom Come has a large cast of existing DC characters as well as a handful of new ones.

This story was told in Kingdom Come #1-4 and is collected in various formats including trade paperback and Absolute edition as Kingdom Come.

Superman Annual #11 cover by Dave Gibbons. For the Man Who has Everything

For the Man Who Has Everything

Written by Alan Moore and drawn by Dave Gibbons.

Batman, Robin and Wonder Woman visit the Fortress of Solitude for Superman’s birthday and find him in a coma state with an alien plant wrapped around him. It is revealed the Mongul that is responsible and that the plant is feeding Superman dreams of Krypton if it had never been destroyed. The story flashes between what is taking place at the Fortress of Solitude and Superman’s dream.

This issue was adapted into an episode of Justice League Unlimited in 2004.

For the Man Who Has Everything was told in Superman Annual #11 and is collected in trade paperback in Superman: Greatest Stories Ever Told vol. 1.

Action Comics #583 cover by Curt Swan. Whatever happened to the Man of Tomorrow

Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?

Written by Alan Moore and drawn by Curt Swan and inked by George Perez and Kurt Schaffenberger.

Published in 1986, What Ever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow was the final Superman of the continuity before Crisis on Infinite Earth wiped the slate clean. Seen as an imaginary tale, that may never actually happened, it was a good way to say goodbye to the Silver Age interpretation of Superman before John Byrne would reboot the character.

Superman’s identity is discovered which opened the doors for all of his foes to come and attack him. Once he defeated his rouges gallery Superman decides to retire.

Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? was told in Superman #432 and Action Comics #583 and is collected in trade paperback in Superman: Greatest Stories Ever Told vol. 1.

View More Should Read Lists.

Do you agree?

Have I missed any Superman stories that should be on this list? Let me know in the comments if you check out any of these stories.

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Trevor Van As

Trevor Van As is the founder of How to Love Comics and has loved comics all his life. When he's not reading or talking about comics he can be found eating frozen yogurt and dancing like no one is watching.

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Comments (4)

  • It’s “Red Son”, not “Son Red”… I’m sure this is some weird typo, but it happens all throughout your write-up of the story.

    • Yea, that’s my bad. For some reason I used to always get them around the wrong way. Even when it was right in front of me!

  • Why, why do people love All-Star Superman? It is so confusing for new reader and so badly drawn (terrible, uncanny-valley faces, bad body proportions, especially women’s legs-to-rest-of-the-body proportions), horribly written (bizarro chapters, for example), with idiotic characters and annoying plots! Ughhhhh I get so frustrated whenever I hear praise to this book or see it recommended, especially to people who never read Superman. It requires too much back-story knowledge of the character to even understand who’s who and what’s going on most of the time. That was my first exposure to Superman and it turned me off the character for a good while, it was so bad. Thankfully, Supes was redeemed for me by Mark Waid’s Birthright. But man, oh man, All-Star… So bad.

    • I don’t think you know what uncanny valley means, and as an artist the body proportions were spot on. Frank has a unique drawing style and is refreshing in a world of stale Jim Lee wannabe’s.