Superman remains the most recognizable and revered member of the superhero pantheon. Although he has the most prolific history of any comic book character, many of his biggest stories are one-off issues or sprawling year-long story arcs. When looking for accessible superhero comics, book-length stories presented as graphic novels are usually the best way to get into a character.
Unfortunately, with Superman, most graphic novel lists contain the same old entries like Superman All-Star, birthright, and Superman for all seasons. While these classics are worthy of their accolades, there are often overlooked Superman graphic novels that any fan of the character should seek out and get their hands on. These are stories about the Man of Steel that may not have changed the character forever, but help remind readers why he is so beloved.
ten Superman: The Power Within explores hero worship
Curt Swan is easily one of the most iconic Superman artists of all time. Swan’s work on the Man of Steel began in 1948, and the artist would spend almost forty years drawing the adventures of Superman, both in comics and comics. After DC’s 1986 reboot, Swan lost his usual penciling job and only worked sporadically. The silver lining was that he had more time to produce his art, meaning comics from this era feature Curt Swan at his absolute peak.
Superman: The Power Within, written by Roger Stern and made in the style of a serialized Sunday Newspaper comic strip, tells the story of a dangerous cult that has grown up around Superman. This story contains some of Swan’s best work in the medium.
9 Superman family adventures are heartfelt fun
Art Balthazar and Franco Aureliani took DC Comics by storm when they created the all-ages comic Tiny Titans, which injected the classic DC property with a Cartoon Network-style sense of imagination and humor. In Superman Family Adventures the creative duo transferred that formula to the Man of Steel and seamlessly integrated elements of Superman’s mythology and mediascape.
The graphic novel primarily features single-issue stories, delineated by a serialized narrative. The duo also produced a shorter all-ages graphic novel called Smallville Superman. Both books are an ideal introduction for young readers.
8 Superman: Strange Attractors documents Lois and Clark navigating into adulthood
Acclaimed comic book writer Gail Simone only got one good crack at Superman during a brief action comics run in the mid-2000s. The series consisted of several one- and two-issue stories connected by overarching themes and plot development.
The collection of graphic novels, Strange attractors features many epic moments such as a showdown between Superman and Black Adam, an odyssey through a Kryptonian fairy tale, and plenty of Lois Lane kicking and scooping. The art is by John Byrne, returning to a character he revitalized afterCrisis and update his art style for the occasion.
seven Superman: the force is both classic and modern
Scott McCloud is perhaps most famous for his seminal book, Understanding comics but he also had a notable association with Superman. McCloud had a year-long run on The animated series related comic, collected in Superman: The Adventures of the Man of Steelwhich is another great book for all ages with short, fun stories.
McCloud then teamed up with a colleague Adventures artist Aluir Amancio on Superman: Force. Amancio manages to channel his inner Jack Kirby in this goofy sci-fi story filled with resonant social issues and a cheeky sense of humor.
6 Superman: Kryptonite Nevermore Was A Fascinating “Reboot”
In 1971, longtime Superman editor Mort Weisinger resigned. Julius Schwartz, the man who kicked off the Silver Age of comics and helped create the versions of The Flash and Green Lantern we all know and love, has been tasked with updating the Superman family for the new decade. Schwartz immediately decided to found Superman by taking him back to his Golden Age roots, and he cast the writer who helped him do the same to Batman, Dennis O’Neil, as the man. to do it.
The experience did not last very long, but “Sandman Saga” in nine issues (collected under No more kryptonite) feels fresh exactly because he does things that look out of place in a Superman comic book. Curt Swan updated his style to feel more detailed and cinematic, breathing new life into the book, and Neal Adams’ covers are iconic.
5 Superman: Doomsday is a superior sequel
Doomsday was the beast that did the impossible; he killed Superman. But when he did, at the crossover event The Death of Superman, it was basically just a slugfest. In fact, the deepest stories came after the epic battle, like Funeral for a friend and The Reign of the Supermen explored the impact Superman had both in-universe and in the real world.
Given this, creator of Dan Jurgens’ space epic Doomsday Superman: hunter/prey of the end of the world really is where the hulking superman villain gets his due. And the scale is really grand, you could even say “Apokoliptic”.
4 Superman: For Tomorrow forced the hero to stare into the abyss
Perhaps the most publicized and controversial book on this list, For tomorrow was supposed to be Jim Lee’s sequel to his blockbuster Batman: Hush. While that story left Lee wild in the Batman universe, Brian Azzarello’s darker, more introspective tale wasn’t quite as accessible or fun. Azzarello is a writer who is arguably too cynical even for Batman, and his take on Superman wasn’t the most sympathetic portrayal of the character.
However, this tension creates a Superman story that presses serious, resonant themes that are authentic to the character and the mythology. Meanwhile, Jim Lee’s art, driven towards horror, shadows and religious symbolism, has never been richer.
3 Superman: Phantom Zone is a horror-adjacent superhero tale
Another Superman book that taps into dark themes, Superman: Phantom Zone, Illustrated by legendary horror comic artist Gene Colan, is a dark tale involving escaped super-criminals from the prison dimension known as the Phantom Zone.
The story is written by Howard the Duck, co-creator and confirmed Superman fan Steve Gerber, whose respectful but radical take on the Man of Steel would probably have been too difficult for DC to try on a month-to-month basis. It’s a Superman graphic novel that has more in common with DC’s Vertigo books like hellblazer and Swamp Thing than he does with the usual Superman adventures.
2 Superman: Time And Time Again is a fun time odyssey
In the years leading up to Crisis on Infinite Earths, Superman comics weren’t quite mainstream, but Superman: Over and Over taps into that sense of Bronze Age adventure perfectly. During the ’90s, creatives like Roger Stern, Dan Jurgens, and Jerry Ordway essentially turned all of the Superman single-player titles into one weekly comic book series, and the extra space gave them room to tell stories. epics and develop various subplots and additions to the mythology.
Superman: Again and again is one of the most easily accessible stories of this era. It’s a fun adventure in which Superman jumps through different time periods, from the prehistoric age to the 30th century, as he tries to get home.
1 Superman: Return to Krypton Mixes Silver Age and Modern Age
At the turn of the century, the Superman books needed an overhaul, and writers like Joe Kelly, Jeph Loeb and Joe Casey, alongside artists like Pasqual Ferry and Ed McGuinness (to name a few ), were given the task. .
While this era produced several hit stories and is notable for making Lois and Clark’s marriage honest and entertaining, as well as making Lex Luthor President of the United States, this crossover, Back to Krypton is the most self-contained and critically acclaimed story produced to this time. The first third of the race is also collected in Superman: The City of Tomorrow Vol. 1 and Flight. 2.
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