I like Superman but have never read that much comics with him, and usually, they were minis or OGNs. I’m interested in comics available here (so no JMS’s Earth One, unfortunately) more runs than minis and, most importantly, things that were part of continuity, not Elseworlds. And from Bronze Age to today, because I know what to read from ages before.
Here’s what I read:
Bendis (hated it. Kill it with fire!)
All-Star Superman (one of the best superhero comics I’ve read)
Morrison’s AC run (worse but good)
Superman 2016 (a few issues, I want to check out the rest)
Secret Identity (loved it)
Man of Steel (loved it and I already want to check out Byrne era of Superman)
American Alien (liked it as an Elseworld)
Birthright (really liked it)
Secret Origins (was ok)
Wolfman’s 100pg Spectacular (loved it)
Red Son (loved it)
For All Seasons (really liked it)
Action Comics #1000 (overall ok…)
Thanks in advance for all the cool recs!
I’m not quite as good with my Superman continuity as I am with some other stuff, but:
Byrne’s Superman and Action are mostly good. Byrne in general is hit-and-miss, and when he hits, he really hits, but when he misses, he really misses. Still the definitive modern Superman.
The Death of Superman is a good story, but heavily padded in the Doomsday and Funeral for a Friend arcs. It doesn’t really pick up until Rein of the Supermen. That said, for a popcorny, long-winded '90s event, it’s got surprising emotional weight.
@BatJamags Oh, I forgot. I had a trade where the story ended when Superman died. I hated that so much. It was like 8 issues of punching one another. But I heard a lot of good things about Funeral for a Friend and forgot about it. I will definitely check that one out.
Regarding Byrne’s post-Crisis run, I will recommend his work on the 1987 Superman series (#1-22) over his parallel run in Action Comics (#584-599). In the latter case, he seemed to be trying to imitate DC Comics Presents, but I’m not sold on his crossovers with other heroes. Granted, three of them (#586, 591, & 595) are necessary reads. Wolfman’s tie-in run on Adventures of Superman (#424-435) isn’t a bad read, but the book becomes a little more relevant when Bryne takes it over for a short time (#436-444). Then Roger Stern and Jerry Ordway do a great job keeping the train going after Byrne departs.
Now, here’s where I’ll undoubtedly get some disapproving looks. I’d say that you can confidently keep going in the 80s/90s Superman titles at least until Clark reveals his identity to Lois, and if you still like what you’re reading, you can keep on trucking until they actually get married several years later. (He dies in the interim, which kinda delays their plans.) At that point, though, STOP. You don’t want to wander into Blue Suit territory.
In fact, I’m going to suggest that you jump straight to Superman #650 and Action Comics #837. That’s the beginning of the One Year Later era that immediately followed Infinite Crisis, and it’s when I feel that the books finally got back on track. Infinite Crisis allowed them to do a soft reboot, and everything from this point on assumes Geoff Johns’s Secret Origin as its backstory instead of John Byrne’s Man of Steel. (If you want recommendations for stories written between 1997 and 2006, I’m sure you can find people on here who enjoy that era enough to give you some more helpful advice than my “nuke the site from orbit” perspective on the period.)
You can keep reading until Action Comics #870 and Superman #680. Proceed into the subsequent New Krypton arc at your own risk. Then be sure to pick back up with Action Comics #890-900. After that, it’s time to jump into the recent Rebirth era.
I’ve seen a lot of love for the “Triangle Era,” where all the Superman writers would coordinate on continuous stories, and so they adopted a secondary numbering system that would tell you which order to read all the different superman books (displayed in a little triangle beneath the issue number), and would reset at the beginning of each year. That ran from like 1991 to 2002 or so. We’ve got some awkward gaps because digitization on Superbooks is bizarrely spotty even well into the modern age (when other, far less well-known books have their entire runs available), but most of it should be there. I’m still catching up on the Byrne Era, so it’ll be a little while before I make it to the Triangle Era. Death of Superman was one of the Triangle Era’s earlier stories, but several of the creators worked through substantial chunks of it, so if that’s indicative of the quality, I’d say it’s pretty solid.
AlexanderKnox’s recommendations seem pretty sound based on what I’ve read and heard. I will say that Superman Annual #11 makes more sense in the context of the time. It’s a subtle but eloquent criticism of Superman’s Krypton-obsessed characterization in the Silver and Bronze Ages. Byrne’s Superman is sort of the reconstruction to Moore’s deconstruction, making Superman more humanized and grounded on Earth. Byrne’s take has become the predominant characterization ever since, so Annual #11 can feel like it’s attacking a strawman from a modern perspective.
I love Bendis, it’s awesome!
I second the triangle years. That’s what originally brought me into the Superman comics. It’s a great LONG story
Anything from the Triangle Era (1991-2002). Yes, anything. It was one of Superman’s best eras and is packed with stories that run the gamut from silly (good silly), to heart-wrenching, thrilling, sweet, badass and just plain FUN.
People complain about comics being too serious. If you want something that’s pure, unadulterated fun, that will make you smile and be very glad that you applied your time and effort towards it, you’ll likely find it in the Triangle Era Superman material, which officially began in Superman (1987-2006) #51.
BatJamags gave a nice summation on the Triangle Era. While there are portions of it that aren’t yet available digitally, I’d say 90% or so of the overall package is here, with Superman: The Man of Tomorrow being the one Triangle Era ongoing that’s here in its entirety, while Superman: The Man of Steel is a close second in terms of digital availability.
Also, check out DC Comics Presents (1978). It’s a ton of fun, and offers great Superman team-up stories.
For Superman content that stars someone other than Superman, give the following a whirl:
-Action Comics #'s 890-900