So, Superman is officially 75 years old. Superman, the first superhero, the character who started the whole thing, made his first appearance 75 years ago. That’s a pretty impressive feat.
My personal relationship with Superman goes back awhile and has some twists and turns.
I’m fortunate enough to have seen the Superman on the big screen in 1978. Or 1979. I was a kid and I wasn’t even in school yet, so I don’t remember specifics. But I do remember the experience. Seeing Superman in live action was the coolest thing ever. According to my mom I didn’t stop talking about it for days.
After that I sort of cooled on superheroes for a couple years. I’ve got no idea what happened but it probably had something to do with starting school and learning to read.
But then in 1981 I stumble across Justice League of America #200 at my babysitter’s house and it blows my mind. By this point I can read and the issue is spectacular. For those you who are unfamiliar with the issue here’s a taste of what it was.
Anyway that’s the issue that made me a fan of both Green Lantern and The Flash. The Batman tale was also pretty cool. But one of the most indelible images for me was the culmination of the battle between Superman and Hawkman. It’s a full-page panel drawn by Joe Kubert. It’s quite the image.
As cool as the image was, I fell for Green Lantern pretty hard and that’s who I began collecting. Superman just doesn’t do much for me at this point.
The next time I really notice Superman is during Crisis on Infinite Earths. Naturally Superman plans a big part in the event. One of my favorite scenes is the beginning of Crisis #11 when Kal-L thinks he’s on Earth-2.
Yet immediately post Crisis I’m still not reading any Superman titles regularly. But with all of the fuss about “the final Superman story” I do get “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow.” In fact I’m sure I’ve still got some ratty torn up copies somewhere.
Finally with Man of Steel, I begin reading Superman regularly. I’m reading Action Comics, Adventures of Superman and Superman. And it’s a crazy feeling to be in on the ground floor of Superman’s adventures.
Seeing Superman mythos unfolding on a monthly basis is an amazing experience. And seeing the nods to the Silver Age adventures is a genuine treat. I cannot say enough great things about that era of the Superman books.
I think I read pretty regularly until “Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite” and then I taper off for some reason. I come back for “Death of Superman” and stuck around until his return.
From there I pretty much stayed away. For me, Superman couldn’t compete with the Milestone books or the Image books or the other DC books I was picking up at the time. I pretty much stayed away from Superman for a decade after that.
I came back to the Superman books for “For Tomorrow.” I figured since I was coming on for Azzarello and Lee, I might as well read the entire line. Then I hung around until the end of Infinite Crisis.
Since then I’ve been reading pretty sporadically. I read the Geoff Johns/Richard Donnor run. And I even read the New Krypton books. But I wasn’t in love.
I think Superman is like a drug; your first experience with him is pretty eye-opening and world changing, but after that you’re sort of chasing that first experience. And nothing else can recreate that or top it.
Nothing has made me feel about Superman the way that John Byrne’s run did. And I don’t know if anything ever will.
Don’t get me wrong; Grant Morrison came close. Grant has been responsible for some of my favorite Superman moments in the past decade. Anyone who doesn’t love All-Star Superman isn’t capable of experiencing greatness. And I’m totally stealing Superman’s tombstone from Superman Beyond.
And that’s really the thing about Superman; when he’s done poorly, it’s easy to forget him. I dropped the current Superman title and never looked back. But every once in awhile he’s done perfectly and it’s like nothing else. It’s as good as comics get. It may have only happened a handful of times in my lifetime, but I’m really glad that I got to experience them.
At some point I’ll get around to sharing with you my favorite Superman stories or appearances with you. I wont’ bore you with them this week. In fact I’m going to end things here.
But it is Wednesday, so you could go out and grab some fresh new comic books! In fact, this week would be the perfect week to pick up that Superman trade that you’ve been thinking about getting for weeks.