Back in the early 90s there were only a handful of books I could claim to truly love. Spiderman, Batman, The Flash and Superman made up my primary reading list. I adored those characters, each for different reasons. Batman channeled that dark side, Spidey captured the essence of youth perfectly, the Flash never slowed down for anyone, and Superman was a symbol of everything right in the world.
And then DC decided to kill Superman, shattering everything right in the world.
It was a tough pill to swallow, and it was a difficult story arc to make it through. Back then, before the story had been released as a collected graphic novel, we all waiting weekly for the next chapter in the destructive saga. And as each week passed, the feeling that Superman was doomed (pardon the… eh, screw it) grew. Superman’s demise felt imminent. No matter what he, or any member of the JLA threw at Doomsday, it didn’t faze him. The monster just… kept… coming.
Throughout the 150-plus page story we, the reader, break down as much as our once trusty heroes. Knowing that there’s something alive in this universe capable of completely obliterating the forces of good was jolting. Knowing that the men and women who occupied this fictional world were no longer safe left a dark cloud hovering over the masses.
Of course we readers faced no danger… or so we thought.
The real danger we faced, unbeknownst to us, was the loss of a legend. Was it really possible that DC could kill off the greatest superhero of all time? What could possibly fill the void left by the one and only Superman? The whole scenario seemed like a bad joke. But it wasn’t, and the DC crew would indeed decide to kill Superman.
Of course, the DC gang would find a way to bring the Kryptonian back to us in decent time. But that stretch in which Superman was nowhere to be found, was an uncomfortable stretch to say the very least.
Nowadays DC is running a different ship entirely, having rebooted essentially all of their major titles a few years back, labelling the project the “New 52.” There are ups and downs in the new system, just as there has always been, but it’s cool to see Superman still doing his super thing in 2016.
But whether Superman made a triumphant return or not, one can never forget the brilliant story written by Dan Jurgens, Jerry Ordway, Louise Simonson and Roger Stern. And I’d be mighty neglectful if I didn’t tip my cap to Jon Bogdanove, Tom Grummett, Jackson Guice and, again, Dan Jurgens who all illustrated this tale. And finally, respect to a gang of amazing inkers: Brett Breeding, Rick Burchett, Doug Hazlewood, Dennis Janke and Denis Rodier.
Without these sharp minds and hands, the Death of Superman could have been an epic misfire. Instead, it ended up being epic, just plain epic… and tear-jerking. Still one of, if not the greatest graphic novels ever to be published, The Death of Superman is mesmerizing, engaging, depressing and abysmal. It’s memorable and it’s infectious. There’s a brilliant hardcover release of the book which also includes DVD and Blu-ray copies of Superman: Doomsday, and it’s relatively easy to get your hands on the collection for under $20. It’s a purchase you’ll cherish.