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Best Superman Stories of All Time

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We’re continuing our focus on Superman here at Comics Back Issues by counting down the top 25 best Superman stories of all time.  We’ll be using our methodology used for other Top 25 lists, that is scouring the web for the most lists we could find and compile an aggregate listing for the most definitive list out there.

Top 25 Superman Stories Overview

No story is off limits, as we include Golden, Silver, Post-Crisis an Elseworlds stories in this list.  In fact, alternate reality stories tend to rank disproportionately on these lists.  Though one thing you may not expect is the sheer number of Golden and Silver age stories on this list.  You won’t find a gaggle of modern grimdark stories here like our Batman list.  These stories tend to play up the original more playful ideal of Superman, and less of the cinematic Superman ideal.  Though really, more than any other list, this list does span across the various interpretations, giving something for any fan.

If you’re looking at being truly efficient with your purchases, you can simply buy the two volumes of the best superman stories, Superman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told: V. 1 and Superman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told, Vol. 2

Top 25 Best Superman Stories : Fringe Candidates

This first list of best Superman Stories have far less consensus than the next batch.  While some fans out there found them great, they aren’t universally praised.  If you are a new fan looking to get convinced, skip over to the next batch.

25. DC One Million

Best Superman Stories 25Age: Post-Crisis

Creators: Grant Morrison, Val Semeiks

Heroes from the future start to appear in the present day DC Universe.  This is one of the few crossovers that is praised as being well executed.  It is, however, only partially a Superman story.  Get the tie-ins to get more of that Superman slant to the story.

Best Superman Stories Issues
DC One Million #1 (BUY)
DC One Million #2 (BUY)
DC One Million #3 (BUY)
DC One Million #4 (BUY)

Superman Related Tie-Ins
Action Comics One Million #1 (BUY)
Adventures of Superman One Million #1 (BUY)
Resurrection Man One Million #1 (BUY)
Superman One Million #1 (BUY)
Superman Man of Steel One Million #1 (BUY)
Superman Man of Tomorrow One Million #1 (BUY)
JLA One Million #1 (BUY)

Collected In
DC One Million TPB
Or
JLA One Million TPB

24. Return of Jonathan Kent

Best Superman Stories 25Age: Bronze

Creators: Cary Bates, Curt Swan

Penciled by the legendary Curt Swan, this fun Silver Age story has an interesting take on Superman’s adoptive father, Jonathan Kent, who in the Silver Age had died early on.

Best Superman Stories Issues
Action Comics #507 (BUY)
Action Comics #508 (BUY)

Collected In
Superman in the Eighties TPB

23. The Secret Revealed

Best Superman Stories 23Age: Post Crisis

Creators: John Byrne, Terry Austin

The answer to the question as to why a simple pair of glasses keeps people from recognizing Clark Kent as Superman!

Best Superman Stories Issues
Superman vol. 2 #2 (BUY)

Collected In
Superman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told, Vol. 2

22. Action Comics #1

Best Superman Stories 23Age: Golden

Creators: Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster

The first appearance of the most iconic superhero, not to mention the most valuable comic book ever.

Collected In
Superman in the Forties

21. Luthor/Superman Showdown

Best Superman Stories 21Age: Silver

Creators: Edmond Hamilton, Curt Swan
An exemplary Silver Age Superman story that tended to place Superman in unlikely situations on the cover.

Best Superman Stories Issues
Superman #164 (BUY)

Collected In
Superman in the Sixties

20. Modern Superman meets Golden Age Superman

Best Superman Stories 21Age: Bronze

Creators: Marv Wolfman, Rich Buckler

Talk about being “Meta”.  It’s as if the issues in this list got jumbled and spawned one story.

Best Superman Stories Issues
DC Comics Presents Annual #1 (BUY)

19. Last Days of Superman

Best Superman Stories 9Age: Silver

Creators: Edmond Hamilton, Curt Swan

The Death of Superman was not a new concept during the highly publicized event in the ’90s. The Silver Age was a treasure trove of “What If…” Superman stories, and the few issues that dealt with Superman’s death were always interesting.

Best Superman Stories Issues
Superman #156 (BUY)

Collected In
Superman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told: V. 1

18. Superman Earth One

Best Superman Stories 18Age: New 52

Creators: J. Michael Straczynski, Shane Davis

Perhaps the most recent addition to this list, this modern re imagining Elseworlds-like story is a great story for new readers. Being so new, it didn’t have the chance to get as many votes from older, updated lists in forums, so time will tell if this story rises in the list or falls off.

Best Superman Stories Issues
Superman Earth One #1 (BUY)

Collected In
Superman: Earth One

Top 25 Superman Stories – Strong Praise

This next batch of stories are much more praised, but aren’t at the top of many lists.

17. Superman : Secret Identity

Best Superman Stories 17Age: Post-Crisis

Creators: Kurt Busiek, Stuart Immonen

Another “Meta” story, in which this Elseworlds-like story sees a boy, Clark Kent, named after the comic book character Superman, sees his moniker become reality.

Best Superman Stories Issues
Superman Secret Identity #1 (BUY)
Superman Secret Identity #2 (BUY)
Superman Secret Identity #3 (BUY)
Superman Secret Identity #4 (BUY)

Collected In
Superman: Secret Identity

16. Superman For Tomorrow

Best Superman Stories 17Age: Post-Crisis

Creators: Brian Azzarello, Jim Lee, Scott Williams

A great modern Superman story that doesn’t use a reimagining of his origin or killing him off as the featured event. This shows how Superman can be interesting despite his nigh-invulnerability.

Best Superman Stories Issues
Superman #204 (BUY)
Superman #204 (BUY)
Superman #205 (BUY)
Superman #206 (BUY)
Superman #207 (BUY)
Superman #208 (BUY)
Superman #209 (BUY)
Superman #210 (BUY)
Superman #211 (BUY)
Superman #212 (BUY)
Superman #213 (BUY)
Superman #214 (BUY)
Superman #215 (BUY)

Collected In
Superman: For Tomorrow

15. Death of Superman

Best Superman Stories 15Age: Silver

Creators: Jerry Siegel, Curt Swan

Uh-uh. Not THAT death of Superman. This is a Silver Age story regarding that subject, and many actually prefer “this” death story.

Best Superman Stories Issues
Superman #149 (BUY)

Collected In
Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told (1986)

14. Superman For All Seasons

Best Superman Stories 15Age: Post-Crisis

Creators: Jeph Loeb, Tim Sale

What’s a “best” list without an entry for the Loeb-Sale duo? A look at Superman’s earliest days.

Best Superman Stories Issues
Superman For All Seasons #1 (BUY)
Superman For All Seasons #2 (BUY)
Superman For All Seasons #3 (BUY)
Superman For All Seasons #4 (BUY)

Collected In
Superman for All Seasons

13. Must There Be a Superman

Best Superman Stories 13Age: Silver
Creators: Elliot S. Maggin, Curt Swan

Another often employed plot of having Superman go on trial.  This one features the Guardians of the Universe from Green Lantern.

Best Superman Stories Issues
Superman #247 (BUY)

Collected In
Superman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told, Vol. 2

12. Superman and the Legion of Superheroes

Best Superman Stories 12Age: Post-Crisis
Creators: Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, Jonathan Sibal

A time-traveling epic story by DC fan favorite Geoff Johns. Another great, modern Superman story that also shows how interesting this character can be even without the standard tropes.

Best Superman Stories Issues
Action Comics #858 (BUY)
Action Comics #859 (BUY)
Action Comics #860 (BUY)
Action Comics #861 (BUY)
Action Comics #862 (BUY)
Action Comics #863 (BUY)

Collected In
Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes

Best Superman Stories – Fan Favorites

The following group get mentioned in nearly every fans’ best-of list.

11. What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice and the American Way?

Best Superman Stories 12Age: Post-Crisis
Creators: Joe Kelly, Doug Mahnke

Answering the question of “Has the idea of Superman become outdated”? Another modern classic.

Best Superman Stories Issues
Action Comics #775 (BUY)

Collected In
Superman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told: V. 1

10. Kingdom Come

Best Superman Stories 10Age: Post-Crisis
Creators: Alex Ross, Mark Waid

While not exclusively a Superman story, his role is extremely important in the story, and does capture the best ideas of Superman. Another great Elseworlds story, and one of the best just plain comic book stories ever as well.

Best Superman Stories Issues
Kingdom Come #1 (BUY)
Kingdom Come #2 (BUY)
Kingdom Come #3 (BUY)
Kingdom Come #4 (BUY)

Collected In
Absolute Kingdom Come
Kingdom Come

9. Man of Steel

Best Superman Stories 9Age: Post-Crisis
Creators: John Byrne

From DC’s first real reboot, John Byrne updates Superman’s origin and status quo for the next few decades of stories, up until the New 52 came along. While other updated origins came and went, this still seems as the quintessential origin, and perhaps the one that most accurately portrays most peope’s idea of Superman.

Best Superman Stories Issues
Man of Steel #1 (BUY)
Man of Steel #2 (BUY)
Man of Steel #3 (BUY)
Man of Steel #4 (BUY)
Man of Steel #5 (BUY)
Man of Steel #6 (BUY)

Collected In
Superman: The Man of Steel, Vol. 1

8. Death of Superman

Best Superman Stories 7Age: Post-Crisis
Creators: Creators: Jon Bogdanove , Tom Grummett, Jackson Guice , Brett Breeding, Doug Hazlewood, John Costanza, Dan Jurgens, Jerry Ordway, Roger Stern, Louise Simonson

The first part of the Death and Return of Superman, which is perhaps the most publicized but the least acclaimed.  This story, though good in its own right, opens up the opportunity for some great storytelling afterwards. The final issue has some great details, as each page is a full panel, with each page gradually thinning the panel border to nothing. Also, the issue before it relied on two panels per page, the one before that three and the one before that, only four panels per page.

Best Superman Stories Issues
Superman Man of Steel #18 (BUY)
Superman #74 (BUY)
Justice League America #69 (BUY)
Adventures of Superman #497 (BUY)
Action Comics #684 (BUY)
Superman Man of Steel #19 (BUY)
Superman #75 (BUY)

Collected In
The Death of Superman

7. Funeral for A Friend

Best Superman Stories 8Age: Post-Crisis
Creators: Jon Bogdanove , Tom Grummett, Jackson Guice , Brett Breeding, Doug Hazlewood, John Costanza, Dan Jurgens, Jerry Ordway, Roger Stern, Louise Simonson

Also known as “World Without a Superman”, this weeks long crossover looked at life after Superman’s death. What makes this series great is that it takes the time to explore this world and the various stages of grief.

Best Superman Stories Issues
Justice League America #70 (BUY)
Adventures of Superman #498 (BUY)
Action Comics #685 (BUY)
Superman Man of Steel #20 (BUY)
Superman #76 (BUY)
Adventures of Superman #499 (BUY)
Action Comics #686 (BUY)
Superman Man of Steel #21 (BUY)
Superman #77 (BUY)

Collected In
World Without a Superman

6. Birthright

Best Superman Stories 6Age: Post-Crisis
Creators: Mark Waid, Lenil Yu

An updated origin to Superman, which is at times considered canon in the Post-Crisis era.

Best Superman Stories Issues
Superman Birthright #1 (BUY)
Superman Birthright #2 (BUY)
Superman Birthright #3 (BUY)
Superman Birthright #4 (BUY)
Superman Birthright #5 (BUY)
Superman Birthright #6 (BUY)
Superman Birthright #7 (BUY)
Superman Birthright #8 (BUY)
Superman Birthright #9 (BUY)
Superman Birthright #10 (BUY)
Superman Birthright #11 (BUY)
Superman Birthright #12 (BUY)

Collected In
Superman: Birthright

5. Reign of the Superman

Best Superman Stories 5Age: Post-Crisis
Creators: Jon Bogdanove , Tom Grummett, Jackson Guice , Brett Breeding, Doug Hazlewood, John Costanza, Dan Jurgens, Jerry Ordway, Roger Stern, Louise Simonson

The end chapter of the Death and Return of Superman trilogy is the most acclaimed, and introduced many  characters such as the modern Superboy, Steel and the Cyborg.

Best Superman Stories Issues
Adventures of Superman #500 (BUY)
Action Comics #687 (BUY)
Superman Man of Steel #22 (BUY)
Superman #78 (BUY)
Adventures of Superman #501 (BUY)
Action Comics #688 (BUY)
Superman Man of Steel #23 (BUY)
Superman #79 (BUY)
Adventures of Superman #502 (BUY)
Action Comics #689 (BUY)
Superman Man of Steel #24 (BUY)
Superman #80 (BUY)
Adventures of Superman #503 (BUY)
Action Comics #690 (BUY)
Superman Man of Steel #25 (BUY)
Superman #81 (BUY)
Adventures of Superman #504 (BUY)
Action Comics #691 (BUY)
Superman Man of Steel #26 (BUY)
Superman #82 (BUY)

Collected In
The Return of Superman

4. Red Son

Best Superman Stories 4Age: Post-Crisis
Creators: Mark Millar, Dave Johnson

What if Superman had landed in Soviet Russia instead of the heartland of America?

Best Superman Stories Issues
Superman Red Son #1 (BUY)
Superman Red Son #2 (BUY)
Superman Red Son #3 (BUY)

Collected In
Superman: Red Son

3. For the Man who Has Everything

Best Superman Stories 3Age: Bronze
Creators: Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons

As we wind down the list we continue to check the boxes of what makes a complete “best of” list, and it is no surprise to see an issue featuring the great Alan Moore and his Watchmen partner Dave Gibbons.

Best Superman Stories Issues
Superman Annual #11 (BUY)

Collected In
Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told (1986)

Best Superman Stories – Indisputably the Best

These last two entries are miles ahead of all other entries, yet score very closely for first place. In fact, one is cited more often, though the other gets more first place mentions. Both are great.

2. Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?

Best Superman Stories 2Age: Bronze
Creators: Alan Moore, Curt Swan

Two greats meet to pen this final Pre-Crisis era story. Perfectly sums up Superman in an efficient two-part story.

Best Superman Stories Issues
Superman #423 (BUY)
Action Comics #583 (BUY)

Collected In
Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? (Deluxe Edition)
Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?

1. All-Star Superman

Best Superman Stories 1Age: Post-Crisis
Creators: Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely

This stand-alone out-of-canon miniseries is for many the perfect representation of Superman. Brought to you from the mind of Grant Morrison, it can get confusing and open to interpretation, but it is its heftiness that makes it great.

Best Superman Stories Issues
All Star Superman #1 (BUY)
All Star Superman #2 (BUY)
All Star Superman #3 (BUY)
All Star Superman #4 (BUY)
All Star Superman #5 (BUY)
All Star Superman #6 (BUY)
All Star Superman #7 (BUY)
All Star Superman #8 (BUY)
All Star Superman #9 (BUY)
All Star Superman #10 (BUY)
All Star Superman #11 (BUY)
All Star Superman #12 (BUY)

Collected In
All Star Superman
Absolute All Star Superman

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