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CBR Forum user Superlantern1987 asked for some Superman recommendations (midway through a thread on some post infinite crisis stuff) and I typed a little Superman starting list for him.

I think if you’re looking to read Superman, but aren’t looking to read everything (I’ll try to limit myself to 10 books/series near the start of superman’s career) this is a sort of good starting list:

The Superman Chronicles Vol. 1 – Where it all started – the other Chronicles are good, but only get them if you really enjoy the golden age. I did – but you might be satisfied after one book.

Superman For All Seasons – My favorite early supes book.

Superman: Birthright – Not bad, some awesome moments, but not the best either. I don’t tend to get as into Superman drawn like tom welling (versus the way he is drawn in all star or for all seasons, which I love).

Superman: The Man of Steel – Volume 1 – essential for understanding modern age (80s and 90s) superman

Superman: Kryptonite – I enjoyed this more for the art than the story, to be honest. But it’s good early reading and doesn’t require much backstory to understand.

Superman / Shazam: First Thunder – Often overlooked, this is an awesome supes story, though it might be more focused on captain marvel. They are one of my favorite team ups, though. It’s done extremely well here.

Showcase Presents: Superman Family Vol. 1 – This is a Jimmy Olsen book, really, but if you want to see what the 40s and 50s were like, this will show you. You can check out other showcase volumes if you want to catch up on Silver and Bronze age.

Superman The Man Of Steel Vol 2-6 – these can be read in succession without worrying about other books between them. Surprisingly, this is only 1987, for 5 books. Obviously DC produces a LOT of superman.

There are a lot of books between them that fill in the blanks, but if you are on a budget, you can probably skip to The Death of Superman, World Without A Superman, and The Return of Superman. Then you’re pretty much up to date on the 80s and 90s at least.

As a side recommendation, any of the Modern Age World’s Finest books are not bad. Superman and Batman, of course. Not that Superboy/Robin one, which was pretty standard fare.

These probably aren’t the most important Superman books, but it was the Superman I grew up with (especially the Death and Return, I must have read and re-read those issues a million times, but I never owned the ending of that saga until a couple years ago when I finally bought the trades! It was major nostalgia hit.) Besides that, I just really enjoy life early superman stories. I like him best when he’s still finding his footing, for some reason.

By the way – I’ll probably be making/tagging an essential superman reading order that contains the main books you HAVE to read, then if you start getting obsessed, like me, you can go back to the full list and fill in the blanks on your shelf. I want to wait until I’ve read a lot more, though, I’m honestly only caught up until 1996 – after that date I’ve only read random books here and there.

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9 Comments Post New »

  1. Daniel Davis wrote on at May 30, 2010 10:44 pm:

    Great List…

    The only huge thing for me that it’s missing is Kingdom Come. That’s the book that got me into DC (I grew up on Spiderman and X-men), the Alex Ross art never ceases to amaze, and it captures Superman (most of the DCU, for that matter) at his mythic best.

    Plus, despite starting as an Elseworlds book, it ended up being a major touchstone for subsequent continuity.

    And I’m totally with you on comparing For All Seasons and Birthright. I’m a big Mark Waid fan, but I’m not too keen on trying to bring in Smallville elements. For Al Seasons is the classic modern origin story for my money.


    Ian replied on May 30th, 2010 at 11:42 pm:

    I personally think that Kingdom Come is good for people with a little more continuity under their belt. I couldn’t imagine reading it without having grown up on DC in some manner.

    For this list I wanted to make a little set of titles that could be good for someone at any level of superman exposure.

    I guess if you’ve never read a comic at all before, Kingdom Come would be a pretty startling and eye opening introduction. But I’d be more likely to hand someone something firmly divorced from any comic book universe – like transmetropolitan or fables.

    There are at least three sides to supes that I enjoy, the humble beginings where he’s just starting to realize what he could mean to the world (my favorite), his mythic hero status, often used in crossover events, and then the kind of god on the periphery where he is almost even a jerk and everyone else in the story seems like they think he’s too high to touch. It’s a far cry from him fawning over lois, but I think Animal Man has a good example of that at one point.


    Daniel Davis replied on May 31st, 2010 at 12:07 am:

    Yeah, its funny you say that. My neighbor asked me to borrow a couple of trades; he’d never ready any comics before at all. So I loaned him Kingdom Come and The Long Halloween. On Kingdom Come he said “the art was amazing, but I really had no idea what was going on.”

    Personally, I fell in love with it when I read it without knowing the first thing about the DCU. I knew that I wasn’t catching the hundreds of references, but I loved the scope and scale of the world.

    This kind of list is a lot harder to make for Superman than for Batman, I think. Even though Batman has a legion of supporting characters, the stories tend to be a little more self-contained. It seems like every modern age Superman book has to have a 2 page “The Story Thus Far” section just to make it make sense, whereas a newbie could pick up something like No Man’s Land or War Games and get right into it without all the context.


    Ian replied on May 31st, 2010 at 12:11 am:

    It’s true, to an extent. Currently superman is almost the logo for the DC Universe Continuity. If something is effecting the DCU, he’s there.

    Batman is there too, but there’s been out of continuity/ read on their own batman books running since forever – from legends of the dark knight, to confidential, to the Kevin Smith OGNs coming out right now.

    Superman has a lot less in the way of early years books and ogns. But really, it seems like superman has a lot less books than batman PERIOD.

    There are probably actually around equal batman books that are super continuity heavy with a large caste of characters (just look at the bat family! It’s huge! How many titles contain gotham denizens as stars?)

    But if you look at the tags, just so far batman has almost 150 books more than superman! And that’s almost all books he’s starring in, I haven’t tagged much in the way of cameos yet for him.


    Daniel Davis replied on May 31st, 2010 at 12:19 am:

    Yeah you’re right about the Batman books — I go down to my local comic shop every Wednesday to pick up new trades/HBs as they come out. It seems that just about every week there’s a Batman family book to pick up, whereas it may be weeks between Superman books (to say nothing about Green Lantern or the Flash.)


    Ian replied on May 31st, 2010 at 12:22 am:

    yeah, it’s strange – honestly sometimes I don’t get how batman is so insanely popular, but.. well, it works somehow.


  2. David wrote on at May 30, 2010 11:51 pm:

    This is useful for me, the common man. Nice post.


    Ian replied on May 31st, 2010 at 12:06 am:

    Thanks David! You know, since you live here, you could borrow any of these whenever you want. Just let me know when you need the first book ;)


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