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Superman November 17 2008 02:52 AM

The Death of Superman: 16 Years Later
Here we are, almost at the twenty-year mark...

In 1992, I was a sophomore in high school. I had been reading comics since I was old enough to hold one, obviously just looking at the art until I could read.

I had been reading a lot of Marvel prior to Batman 89, which catapulted me into reading a lot of DC on a regular basis. Because of my brother's comic book collection, I was extremely well-verse in all of the DC and Marvel heroes, and while I had loved the Chris Reeve Superman movies and the old Super Friends TV show, by the time I was avidly reading comics, the "Grim n' Gritty Age" had gotten a hold of me.

In fact, before Superman died, I was reading a lot of Batman, The Flash, X-Men, X-Factor, Wolverine, both Punisher titles, Ghost Rider, Spawn, and reprints of EC horror stuff. I had become very dark and jaded at my young age, and held a character as "bright and corny" as Superman in some disdain.

These were the days before the Internet. My uncle comes to our house for Thanksgiving and brings a newspaper clipping with him. It's article about the Death of Superman. I was floored...I wasn't yet savvy enough to realize it might be a stunt like Jason Todd's death, which I had read as a twelve-year old years before. I actually thought this was the end of Superman, and being converted to the darkness as I had been, I was grimly interested in reading how it had happened.

My mother had been taking me to two comic shops before I could drive. I asked her if I could have the issues for Christmas. She called both shops, but to no avail, or at least she told me. They were sold out.

I was disappointed, but added the Superman titles to my already large pull lists at both stores. As the "Funeral for a Friend" storyline began, I forced myself to avoid reading them, hoping that I'd get some reprints at least.

Then Christmas came. I had received everything I'd asked for more or less, but then there was one more present, packaged in a white dress shirt box. I opened it excitedly to find the entire "Death of Superman" story...ALL FIRST PRINTINGS! My mom had actually bought them when the story hit the news, and had put some serious coin down for the issues, including two copies of both the standard and bagged Superman #75.

After rushing through dessert and saying goodbye to my visiting relatives, I retreated to my personal Fortess of Solitude. Reverently, I opened each bagged issue and read.

The Superman I thought I'd known, the one who was cool in the movies but whose pre-Crisis comics were very cheesy, was in no way a lame character. He was powerful, yes, but also, despite having no huge arsenal, adamantium claws, hell-fueld powers, leather, black capes and batarangs, or spikes, he was...a hero. THE hero. He put others before himself even to the extent of jeopardizing his own personal safety. And he did so without killing. Even in his final battle with Doomsday, which was the most epic battle I'd ever seen, in any media, he didn't try to kill. Instead, he gave all he had left in the hopes that his last blow would at least stop the monster after he died.

I was moved by Superman's sacrifice. I ravenously tore through "Funeral for a Friend" and every Friday, while other kids went off to parties and sporting events and "real lives," I went to my LCS and picked up my comics. But when I got in the car, the first comic I'd thumb through was the newest installment of "The Reign of the Supermen." And I'd hurry home and read that issue first, thrilling to the introduction of the four mystery Supermen and their adventures. My three best friends, who'd I'd hooked on comics through The Death of Superman (they only got reprints), went one afternoon to one of my LCS and met Jon Bogdonove, who signed our comics and our copies of the Death of Superman trade paperback.

Finally, Superman #82 saw the return of Superman, with longer hair to boot. Superman was back and slightly changed over a year later, and I had changed as well. I was now a Junior in high school and had gravitated away from the grim and murderous "heroes" I'd enjoyed previously. Sure, I still read Batman and Wolverine, and enjoyed flawed comics, but stuff like Spawn and other darker stuff was gone. Those stories and characters just didn't inspire me the way Superman and his adventures did.

I know a lot of comic geeks will lambast this story as just another (or perhaps, THE) 90s marketing stunt, but The Death of Superman still holds a place in my heart, and always will. It's epic and entertaining and fun, qualities absent from far too many comics today.

Anyone else love this storyline?


ncc71877 November 17 2008 03:36 AM

Re: The Death of Superman: 16 Years Later
I remember it with great fondness. It, and Batman: Knightfall, is what got me reading comics seriously. I had to get the Doomsday issues from QVC, so I don't have all first printings, but I still have Superman 75 in the black bag, and Adventures 500 in white bag. I've gootn every issue of Superman since, and Reign of the Supermen set up Hal Jordan's fall with the destruction of Coast Cty.

I sometimes think about the 90's comics market, and the gimmicks. Today it seems kinda cheesey but chromium covers were so cool!:lol:

The Death of Superman is a classic and still a great read.


Titus Andronicus November 17 2008 03:50 AM

Re: The Death of Superman: 16 Years Later
How could I forget this storyline? Superman 75 was the first comic I ever read, and Superman has been my favorite hero ever since then.

FalTorPan November 17 2008 04:08 AM

Re: The Death of Superman: 16 Years Later
I've never read the Death of Superman story, but my interest in Superman as a character was similarly revitalized in recent years, although for me it was driven by Superman Returns. I loved that movie. I don't read comics on a regular basis, but I have been keeping up with the Superman Chronicles trade paperbacks which reprint Superman's earliest adventures.

I used to be a Spider-Man fan, and while I still like the ol' web slinger, his once edgy angst has become cliche industry-wide, to the point where Superman, who in his purest form is a plain old "good guy," seems more edgy and different than the norm.

Skywalker November 17 2008 04:10 AM

Re: The Death of Superman: 16 Years Later
God, was that really sixteen years ago? I feel old now. :(

Good Will Riker November 17 2008 04:15 AM

Re: The Death of Superman: 16 Years Later
I remember it was like "9/11 on the comic book world." :(

GalaxyX November 17 2008 04:20 AM

Re: The Death of Superman: 16 Years Later
I couldn't care less for comics, but your post actually peeked my interest to read "The death of Superman".

shivkala November 17 2008 04:23 AM

Re: The Death of Superman: 16 Years Later
It really was a fun time to collect comic books. In the years since I have to say, in some ways the internet added to my love of comics, but in others, such as the fan negativity and the spoilers, it has hindered it.

I read this "cold" without hearing specific spoilers or inside information about what was going to happen. I didn't read any posts with critical comments about it, pointing out the weaknesses and the "obvious" plot points.

It was and still is a good story, and I think it was the perfect time for it to come out. Now, I think the same story structure would not work well at all.

Brikar99 November 17 2008 06:54 AM

Re: The Death of Superman: 16 Years Later
I still reread my tattered collected version once or twice a year. I always liked it better than the "Reign of the Supermen" stuff - the idea was great, but I never felt like the four Supermen were really all that interesting.

msbae November 17 2008 06:58 AM

Re: The Death of Superman: 16 Years Later

Good Will Riker wrote: (Post 2300611)
I remember it was like "9/11 on the comic book world." :(

9/11 on the comic book world? I wouldn't compare a comic character's death to a real-life tragedy.

I didn't read comics back in 1993 but, I said to myself (and a comic-loving friend) "Why the Hell would they want to kill off an American hero?!"

I have a Trade Paperback of that story. I never have finished reading it, even after having it for several years. I know Superman comes back from the dead but, the thought of him dying is just too damn much...

You don't kill off American heroes. Period.

Savage Dragon November 17 2008 08:21 AM

Re: The Death of Superman: 16 Years Later
I remember it with a lot of fondness myself, but being a veteran reader of comics at the time I new it wasn't going to last and had to work hard to convince my Mom it wasn't permanent.

For me me this wasn't the ultimate in cheesy 90s marketing gimmicks by a long shot. For me it was Maximum clonage and that's when I pretty well stopped reading comics.

the Dagman November 17 2008 08:22 AM

Re: The Death of Superman: 16 Years Later
Of course I remember that story. I had collected all the Superman books for many years and have the entire run from when Byrne revamped him until around the time Superman II: Electric Boogaloo came out. Which at that time only combined with the general distaste comics were giving me then, what with Onslaught/Heroes Reborn, Spidey-Clone, the Parallaxed Hal Jordan, and then electric Superman I decided enough was enough and stopped collecting. I still follow what is going on in comics nowadays, but my days of collecting them are still over.

I too enjoyed the Death story. You knew it was coming. You could see that Doomsday was only powered by the mighty Plot Device. Yet still it came off as a powerful death.

Only, until this very day, I still assert Superman never actually died. Deep coma? Yes. Dead? No. Why do I say this? When STAR Labs was studying Superman's "corpse" they noted that all his wounds closed after he had "died". The dead do not heal. All they really would have had to do is leave his body out in the sunlight and he would have eventually gotten up all on his own. Too bad they had just gotten rid of the Will Payton Starman, as he could have healed and repowered Superman all on his own power.

Kolrad November 17 2008 09:50 AM

Re: The Death of Superman: 16 Years Later
This really brings back memories for me. The "Death of Superman" arc was really the only time I have ever followed comic books. I was in junior high, and my best friend was a big fan of Superman and his comic books. He even did one of his speeches for class about how Superman was a better hero than Batman-- a decidedly unpopular stance among comic-book fans our age!

He would bring new issues of the comics to school, and we'd read them at lunch and wonder what was going to happen. I liked the way the story unfolded gradually, with Doomsday's appearance gradually changing throughout the course of the battle as the suit he had been bound in was gradually destroyed.

The storyline featured a dizzying array of characters which I could not hope to keep track of. My friend explained something about who the young Lex Luthor was and how this Supergirl was not a female version of Superman but a shapeshifter with completely unrelated powers. I couldn't keep track of it all, but it was still an interesting story. I found it bizarre to learn that there was a "comic book" version of heaven and hell from which Pa Kent would have to retrieve Superman's soul.

It got really fun when the four guys all claiming to be Superman showed up, and my friends and I tried to decide which one was the real one. We ended up settling on Cyborg Superman :lol: since he was the coolest, and he did get rid of Doomsday, after all.

Superman November 17 2008 01:19 PM

Re: The Death of Superman: 16 Years Later

GalaxyX wrote: (Post 2300631)
I couldn't care less for comics, but your post actually peeked my interest to read "The death of Superman".

Wow...I take that as a great compliment.

If you're interesting in taking the plunge, even if only to read "The Death of Superman," here are some options:

Death of Superman, Funeral for a Friend, The Return of Superman.

There is a hardcover collection, but it makes too many cuts from the essential "Funeral for a Friend," which actually makes you care about Superman's death, and is not up to the quality of the trade paperbacks.

You'll find some of this stuff is dated, but there's still a great story there and tons of heart and fun.

Let us know if you decide to read them!


Spaceman Spiff November 17 2008 01:31 PM

Re: The Death of Superman: 16 Years Later
I enjoyed the lead-up and the aftermath, but I was kind of disappointed with the issue itself. More so after another 16 years of reading comics behind me.

Still, I can appreciate all of the effort that was put into it, and I miss that era of DC.

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