With “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” getting closer and closer, last week I told you about 5 underrated Batman stories, now it’s the big blue boy scout’s turn.
A list of 5 underrated Superman storis was a little bit tougher to come up with, since Superman hasn’t always been one of my favorites. I’ve read his book for a few months here and there, But after a while I’d turn my attention to something else. In fact, the last time I read the Superman line on a regular basis was way back during the “Our Worlds at War” mega event. Which was fifteen or so years ago now I believe.
Anywho, just like the Batman post, my underrated Superman story list features a few stories you probably missed when they first came out. But remember: Just like the previous list, these comic stories are by no means necessary to enjoy “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice” in theaters.
They’re just good comic stories you might enjoy before or after seeing the movie. And away we go:
Red Glass! (1991)
Adventures of Superman #479 and Action Comics #666
“Red Glass!” was written by James D. Hudnall, with art by Ed Hannigan and Willie Blyberg. In this three issue arc, Superman suddenly finds himself in a world where all his arch villains have been slain…by him. And the public at large lives in fear of what he may do next. Can the Man of Steel solve this mystery and find out what is happening before it’s too late?
I chose “Red Glass!” as one of the 5 underrated stories because this was the firs Superman solo story I ever read. It was the summer of 1991, and I was spending a few weeks on the Outer Banks of North Carolina (Nags Head to be exact).
Not far from the house my family rented, there was a gas station with a 7-11 attached to it. Right by the front door, there was a comic rack, so every morning I’d make the walk to the store for some comics. As luck would have it, on one of these trips I found all three parts to “Red Glass!” and scooped them up.
I read and re-read those three comics for the next two weeks. I took them to bed, I took them to the beach, when we’d go to a restaurant. You name it. I liked the story beacuse it was confussing, mysterious, and creepy. But mainly because you didn’t know what was going on until the very end. Now the payoff may not be a great one by today’s standards, but the memories “Red Glass!” gave me will never fade.
Superman: Speeding Bullets (1993)
One of the best Elseworlds tales of the 1990s came courtesy of writer J.M. DeMatteis and artist Eduardo Barreto. The creative team asked and incredible question: What if Kal-El had landed in Gotham City and was found by the Waynes?
In Speeding Bullets, Thomas and Martha Wayne raise Kal-El as Bruce Wayne, until Joe Chill takes their life one fateful evening in Crime Alley. Except this time, the murder of the Waynes is what sparks the appearance of Kal-El’s powers, incinerating Chill accidentally with his heat vision.
What really grabbed me about thes book was the cover featuring a flying Batman. But make no mistake, this is a Superman story about how even in different circumstances, the Man of Steel will find his way.
Superman For All Season #1-4 (1998)
Fresh off their Batman masterpiece “The Long Halloween,” writer/artist team Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale reconnected for a tale about Superman’s early years and gave the character a refreshing sense of grandeur and plety of old school Americana.
The 4 issue mini-series is structured around the four seasons and narrated by four key characters in Clark’s life – Pa Kent, Lois Lane, Lex Luthor, and Lana Lang. “Superman: For All Seasons” is basically a coming-of-age tale; it’s more the story of Clark Kent growing up and maturing and ultimately accepting his place in the world, both as Superman and as Clark.
But All Seasons is not an origin story of a superhero as it is the origin story of a man that happens to be a superhero. And for what its worth, I think the “Smallville,” tv show a took many inspirations from this mini-series.
The Man of Steel #3 (1986)
“One Night in Gotham City…”
Coming just a few months after “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” John Byrne’s “The Man of Steel” 6 issue series updated the saga of Superman for modern audiences, changing certain aspects of the character in the process.
The entire mini-series is worth checking out, but my favorite issue is the #3 which finds Superman in Gotham City and at odds with the brutal vigilante, Batman.
I bought this issue at a flea market for a dime. but little did I know how that dime would change my comic book life. For one thing, Man of Steel #3 introduced me to John Byrne, and whatever you think of the man now, dude can draw a kick-ass Batman. Also, I just loved seeing Batman out-think Superman.
And finally, even though Bats and Supes were best buds pre-Crisis, I felt like I got to witness the beginnings of a new friendship between DC’s biggest stars. A dime well spent I think…
Superman #68 (1992)
“Sins of the Father!” part 1
Written and drawn by Dan Jurgens, with inks by Brett Breeding. This issue of Superman guest-stars Deathstroke The Terminator (Slade Wilson), who is a wanted man all over the world. Metropolis P.D. tries to bring him down at the airport, but Lucy Lane is wounded in the shootout, and now the Man of Steel sets out to bring down one of the most dangerous men alive!
This was the first time I’d ever heard of Deathstroke. This one little issue sent me out to New England Comic to track down his battles with the Titans, and the the early issues of his monthly book. Of course the battle with Superman all over Metropolis helped fuel my Deathstroke addiction too!