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Why You Should Read: The Death of Superman

It may be a story full of gimmicks, but this story still holds up as a ton of fun.

Everyone has their "first story." Sure, we may have picked up a comic book here or there, but there's always that first story that really captivated us as a comic book reader. Maybe there's this iconic panel you have burned within your memories. Maybe there's a singular moment you can never let go of. Regardless of what it is, it's there for a reason. For me, my first collected story was "The Death of Superman."

This epic story line comes from the year 1992. A beast, later named "Doomsday," appears and takes on the Justice League, at that time made up of Bloodwynd, Maxima, Ted Kord, Booster Gold, Guy Gardner, Fire, and Ice. Doomsday is so powerful that he easily takes down the Justice League. It seems like nothing can hurt him. Superman comes in to save the day, but finds this beast to be a whole lot tougher than anything he's ever faced.

The battle between these two super-powered giants goes from the suburbs all the way to downtown Metropolis. Superman looks for a weakness, but there doesn't seem to be one. Other heroes, like Supergirl, try to come to Superman's aide, but nothing can stop Doomsday. Eventually, Superman gets the best of Doomsday, but at the cost of his own life. The book ends with a seemingly dead Superman in the arms of a crying Lois Lane.

If you're a comic book fan, then you know this story, and that's the reason why nothing is under a spoiler tag. It's common knowledge, even to non-comic book readers, that at one point in time, someone beat Superman so badly that he died. It's an ultra-iconic moment in Superman's history. Everyone was trying to get their paws on SUPERMAN #75, which is the last issue of the story arc. This book really stands out in people's minds, but after 20 years, does this story still hold up?

As a 10 year old, this book was epic to me, and rereading it now, I still get that sense of childlike awe while reading it. The Death of Superman is still a pretty epic and action filled book. It's literally people beating each other up, non-stop, over every single issue. This book was the first time I remember seeing splash pages as art because SUPERMAN #75 was 24 splash pages and 2 two-page spreads. That's 26 panels for a single issue of a comic, and this is the only time I could ever see that working because it really builds up to that through the previous issues of the story. It's emotional. Dan Jurgens' art during these scenes still stands out. It's great storytelling through single panel pages.

So, why should you read The Death of Superman? As far as Superman stories go, this isn't one of the best of the best, but what The Death of Superman has is a look back at some of the awesomeness of the 90s. Big, hulking creatures decimating everything in their path, with only one (or in this case, no) survivors. What I enjoy more than anything else about The Death of Superman is what it leads into: The Reign of Superman and the creation of Superboy, Steel, Eradicator, and Cyborg Superman. Sure, I could talk about Reign as a story for this piece, but Death is a much more important story in the Superman mythos.

This story has a few cooks in the pot, since the book ran through SUPERMAN, ACTION COMICS, SUPERMAN: MAN OF STEEL, THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, and JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, but there are two big stand outs here: SUPERMAN #74 and #75, both written and drawn by Dan Jurgens. His stories are fun and still a bit funny, although the topical humor isn't so topical anymore. However, you really need to read it all to get the full scope of the story.

Hakuna matata!

However, here's why you should REALLY read The Death of Superman. I find it to be one of the most fun Superman stories I've ever read, and sadly, a lot of that fun is unintentional. It comes off as very 90s in every way, and here's a bit of proof.

Anyone else want to watch Lion King right now? In case you didn't know, that's Lex Luthor. Most of us know Lex Luthor as Superman's bald baddie, but around this time, Lex got cancer and had his brain put into a new body, with luxuriously long, luscious red hair and a beard as red as Krypton's sun.

He spends most of the time in a room with monitors hanging out with Supergirl and refuses to let her help Superman for most of the story. Even this very cool looking Lex Luthor (cool by 90s standards) still wants to get the best of Superman, by doing nothing.

This story is also the introduction to one of my favorite Superman villains. Nope, it's not Doomsday, who is awesome in his own right. My villain of choice is a character named Mitchell Anderson, and super-angsty teenage jerk.

Although he would later become the super-hero Outburst, the Mitch we see here is a jerk. He hates Superman and is awful to his mom who is a single mother trying to raise Mitch and his little sister. Mitch even says to his mom "no wonder dad left you and wants a divorce" after his mother failed to stock the fridge with soda. What an Axl Rose wannabe. Some can argue he's even a bigger villain than Doomsday...

While Death of Superman isn't the end-all be-all Superman story, it's a ton of fun to read. It's also a big piece of Superman's history and the introduction to one incredibly cool super-villain: Mitch Anderson... I mean Doomsday, of course. It's jam packed with 90's action, with punches being thrown left and right, and heroes left beaten on the ground. The Death of Superman is still a must read for any Superman fan, and can you name another worthwhile story that even features Bloodwynd? I think not.

Mat "Inferiorego" Elfring is a writer, comedian, and fan of the movie The Lion King. Listen to his podcast! Follow him on Twitter!

66 Comments
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Posted by Shazam78

Truly one of the best Superman story arc I read and it happened during my time. It actually revitalized my desire to read Supes again. The Funeral for a Friend story arc that followed was great really showed how his death effected friends, family and even everyday citizens. Not many people can say they take on the JLA with one hand tied behind their back.

Posted by jasmin_parl

until I looked at the check which said $4790, I have faith that my friends brother could actualy taking home money in their spare time on their apple laptop.. there aunts neighbour started doing this 4 only about eighteen months and at present cleard the mortgage on there home and bourt a gorgeous Bugatti Veyron. read more at, >>>>>>> WEP6.COM

Posted by wolverine1610

guy gardner having his face pounded so much that he had to be told where to point and shoot was hilarious

Edited by djrobe

it was one of the books that killed comics with their over printing

Posted by Betim1929

as Donna said I am impressed that a mom able to earn $4549 in 4 weeks on the computer. did you read this web page www.Blue46.com

Edited by Icon

I got the graphic novel as a Christmas gift from my aunt and uncle when I was 12 or 13. It was my first graphic novel. Good times.

Posted by The Lobster

Why You Should Read : Joe Kelly's Deadpool Run.

I think all the old school Deadpool fan out there trying to educate these youngsters would appreciate this.

Posted by Teerack

Death of Superman didn't kill superman it killed death, and forever harmed comic books as a whole.

Edited by rest_in_peace_Ted_K0rd

all superman fans and dc comic fans need to read it but i thought the dialogue was weak

Edited by Hawkguy

I remember picking this up when I was younger, my first real trade and superman story. I had always known about the man of steel but I was never too invested in him as a character. At the time I was oblivious to the fact that heroes came back so this really caught my attention.

As I said, I never cared for Supes but this turned me around. It hit me hard all the way through and it really made me want to read more Superman. It also reminds me now of Infinite Crisis when Batman tells Superman "the last time you inspired anyone was when you were dead" or something along those lines, such a powerful moment.

*sigh* Now I'm gonna go read those two books again... Damn nostalgia

Posted by HeraldofGanthet

@pokeysteve:

Damn, it HAS been 20 years.. Where the hell did the time go?

Posted by JoseDRiveraTCR7

I got the omnibus a while ago and I really enjoyed it. It had some problems, writing wise, but so do a lot of old/classic/popular comic books. I really enjoyed how they built up Doomsday. That's how you build up a monster.

Posted by devil leonx

I remember reading this and thinking it was Awesome but dumb at the same time Like Sups could have thrown Doomsday into Space instead of a Lake and save himself and everyone that got hurt on Doomsday's rampage. Course Maybe he did not want to kill him but still. With that being said I Still super enjoyed this arch and get a bit emotional reading it. Yeah Maybe I love Superman alot lol, but Seeing the built up to the last pages and then to the small bubbles reading:

"But its too late, for this was the day that a Superman Died."

It still hits hard to this day. It was felt at least to me as a kid like the President Died along with my parents all at the same....

Posted by Pokeysteve

@pokeysteve:

Damn, it HAS been 20 years.. Where the hell did the time go?

Time flies reading comics.

I remember reading this and thinking it was Awesome but dumb at the same time Like Sups could have thrown Doomsday into Space instead of a Lake and save himself and everyone that got hurt on Doomsday's rampage. Course Maybe he did not want to kill him but still. With that being said I Still super enjoyed this arch and get a bit emotional reading it. Yeah Maybe I love Superman alot lol, but Seeing the built up to the last pages and then to the small bubbles reading:

"But its too late, for this was the day that a Superman Died."

It still hits hard to this day. It was felt at least to me as a kid like the President Died along with my parents all at the same....

He actually tried to get him off Earth but Dooms was too fast. I agree completely with what you said about the bubbles. The build up to that last line cements that story in your memory.

Edited by clayscarface

I was only 4 years old when this was happening. I still remember my oldest brother (who was about 16) collecting the issues and refusing to let me read them because he wanted them specifically as collectibles and didn't trust me not to damage them (plus I think he found the story a little too intense for me). It's one that I've never gone back to read, but will always hold a special memory for me.