Wednesday Comments – Underrated Superman Stories

In honor of Superman’s triumphant return to the big screen, I figured I’d devote this week’s column to the Man of Steel. It’s his time and he deserves to shine.

So, this week I’m going to focus on some of my favorite Superman tales. Ok, I’m going to fudge a bit because they aren’t all “Superman” stories, but you’ll see the connection.

Also, I’m going to shy away from popular picks. No slight to All-Star Superman, Action Comics #775, “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow” or Man of Steel, but everyone always names those as the best Superman stories. I love them too, but I’m going to go a different route.

World of Krypton was one of the first books about Superman that truly captivated me. It’s not about Superman, but it really explains a lot about where he came from. It’s a genuine sci-fi story and it actually gives Krypton some depth that it never had in the Silver Age. Byrne and Mignola create an alien world and give it a history and culture. Krypton never felt more real.

Along the same lines is Starman #51. It’s the issue where Jack Knight meets Jor-El and it really lays the foundation for Kal-El getting to Earth. It’s a great story because it shows not only the affect Superman has on Jack Knight, but the affect that Jack has on Superman.

While we’re on the subject of Krypton, “Day of the Krypton Man”, to me, is one of the most underrated Superman arcs. It’s a story about The Eradicator, an artifact assigned to preserve Kryptonian culture, corrupting Superman and making him more Kryptonian. It’s a great example of showing the impact of The Kents had by raising Superman. Krypton Man is what Kal-El would be like as an unfettered alien on Earth.

Team ups often showcase the best of Superman because of the contrast between him and who he’s teaming up with. But in Legends of the DC Universe #6, Superman and Robin meet for the first time. It’s one of those great stories where you get to see Dick Grayson as a kid and witness how Superman impacts him.

A great follow up is Nightwing #30, where an older Dick Grayson and Superman team up again. We get to see how Dick has matured, but also how being around Superman brings out the best in him. Seeing how the subtle differences in their relationship is great. It’s also nice to see how Superman treats Dick better, in some ways, than Batman does.

Starman #75 is another team up issue. Actually, I guess it’s more of an issue guest starring Superman. It’s an issue of sons talking about their fathers, Jack’s having just passed and Superman asking about Jor-El from someone who’d actually him. Both characters are wonderfully vulnerable and provide each other with a bit of what they each need. It’s really a beautiful issue.

My final under the radar Superman story is Superman #400. It’s a great issue not only because it’s an anniversary issue that celebrates the landmark accordingly, but because it ruminates on the importance of Superman. It’s packed with all star creators telling stories about the impact of Superman on society, spanning future generations. It’s a Pre-Crisis issue, but it’s still pretty relevant today.

Of course there were other stories that I loved (The Supergirl Saga and the subsequent Exlie) but to me those stories showcase Superman at his best.

Well, that does it for this week. It’s Wednesday, go out and buy some fresh new comics. And if you want a great Superman book on the stands currently, pick up Adventures of Superman #1. It’s a comic that will make you believe in Superman again.

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