Curated: A Beginners Guide…

….To Superman Comics

As a comic book lover in general, I’m often asked by non comic book readers for suggestions on material to get them into comics, or gift ideas for family/friends etc. I think this is fantastic, because it opens up new readers to some exceptionally fantastic materials within this medium, and it also gives me an opportunity to legitimately talk comic books with non comic book friends, and not feel like I’m holding them hostage in the conversation.

Digression: I generally avoid internet fandoms as some people take things a bit too personally, so I really have not had many people to talk comic books with since elementary school. That’s only really changed in the last couple years since I’ve met Jim.

However, it’s infrequent that I get someone ask about Superman specifically, since the default for the past couple decades is to read Batman. To each their own; Superman is my favourite, but both have rich mythos I adore. So, when I’m asked to do a Superman list, I get giddy. Not because I want them to read everything, but because it challenges me to provide the most bang for the buck, because I know this is a one-shot chance to really grab a reader.

I thought I would share not only a recent request for Superman, but my thought rationale behind each choice. This is not a simple “these are my favorites”, or “these are the best stories ever”. No, this curated list was a specific request; “give me recs for someone looking to get into Superman”.

My personal criteria was this: it had to show a strong facet of the Superman mythos, it had to be in print, it had to be trades (it’s cruel to have new readers go hunting for floppies right away), and value was weighed equally with material collected.

Originally, the list was this:

All Star Superman
Superman For All Seasons
Death/Funeral/Reign of the Supermen Trilogy
Superman: A Celebration of 75 Years
Action Comics: 80 Years

Realizing, asking someone to commit to seven collections, two of which are hardcovers seems a tad excessive. I would actually modify the list further to keep costs down even more, so here that is, with my rationale for each still intact:

All Star Superman or Superman For All Seasons – both beautifully sit within the mythos. All Star Superman takes a sweeping look at the Man of Steel’s career in a big, bombastic way, whereas Superman For All Seasons takes place during his first year as a year, is a quiet, somber and introspective affair, but no less powerful in its storytelling abilities.

Death of Superman/Funeral For a Friend (aka World Without a Superman)/Reign of the Supermen – you talk Superman storylines in the last thirty years, this is it. This made worldwide headlines in 1992. There are many affordable editions out there in soft cover, but they are condensed (but not so much that a casual reader loses the plot). There is also a very expensive omnibus, but that really is only for a mega fan like myself who needs to read every single tie-in.

Superman: A Celebration fo 75 Years or Action Comics: 80 Years of Superman

Both are fantastic showcases of Superman throughout the years. I’d recommend both equally, but Action Comics: 80 Years of Superman is more recent, and more likely to be in print (there is a couple issues of overlap between the two collections, notably Action Comics 1 & 2, but otherwise more or less separate). In addition to this, the Action Comics: 80 Years of Superman has been beautifully paired with Detective Comics: 80 Years of Batman in a slipcase edition, if you want to get two fantastic collections for a little less.

And there you have it; a broad strokes, beginner’s collection to Superman!