The 10 Greatest Superman Stories Ever Written
The 10 Greatest Superman Stories Ever Written

The 10 Greatest Superman Stories Ever Written

VOICE OVER: Adrian Sousa WRITTEN BY: Nicholas Miller
These moments are more than Super. For this list we'll be looking at the greatest moments in the long running story of Superman. Do you have a favorite story? Let us know in the comments!

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Top 10 Greatest Superman Stories Ever Written

These are the greatest adventures of the Man of Steel. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today, we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 greatest Superman stories ever written.

For this list, we’ll be looking at iconic story arcs from the pages of various Superman comics. No film, television or video game narratives will be considered. Please note: there will be spoilers.

#10: “Brainiac” (2008)

Written by Geoff Johns, 2008’s “Brainiac” story arc revitalized the villain in a big way, reintroducing the bottled Kryptonian city of Kandor, and returning the character to his Silver Age persona. The story is an epic and emotional struggle, with Supergirl playing a prominent role in stopping Brainiac from capturing Metropolis and destroying Earth. At the story’s end, Brainiac launches a final attack against the Kent farm in Smallville, causing Jonathan Kent to have a heart attack and die. It’s since become an integral moment in Superman’s long and tragic history. Character deaths can often feel like cheap marketing ploys in modern comics, but thanks to Geoff Johns’ excellent storytelling, it really hit the mark.

#9: “What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way?” (2001)

This 2001 single-issue story saw a fascist group of vigilantes called The Elite become prominent despite their brutal tactics, even garnering the support of some of the public. The group comes into conflict with Superman, so they transport themselves along with him to a faraway moon, planning to kill him and broadcast it live. Instead, Clark viciously takes the team apart to send a message about the horrors that can happen when vigilantism goes too far before revealing it was a ruse and everyone is okay. The story was based on the ongoing debate in comics about the brutality of heroes and is among the best stories to tackle the issue.

#8: “Last Son” (2006-08)

When a Kryptonian child crash lands on Earth, a group of villains are quick to follow, and chaos ensues in this fantastic story written by Geoff Johns and “Superman: The Movie” director Richard Donner. The story involves Zod and his usual squad of Kryptonian goons, along with several other Superman rogues. It turns out, the mystery child is none other than Zod’s son, and Superman is sent to the Phantom Zone as Zod’s forces begin attacking Earth. Superman escapes and starts fighting off the invasion alongside Luthor’s group, and just when it looks like hope is lost, Zod’s son surprises everyone by returning to the Phantom Zone in order to halt the invasion.

#7: “Superman for All Seasons” (1998)

Following up their seminal take on Batman in “The Long Halloween,” Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale brought a seasonal theme to the Man of Steel in this 1998 four-issue series. Each issue of the series takes place over the course of a season at different points in Superman’s career, and each is narrated by a different member of the hero’s supporting cast. The result is a gorgeous and moving treatise on who Superman is and what he stands for; what he means to the people at large, those closest to him, and even his greatest enemy. Like most of their work at both DC and Marvel, this Loeb and Sale collaboration is required reading.

#6: “Kingdom Come” (1996)

Perhaps best known for its gorgeous visual work by legendary artist Alex Ross, “Kingdom Come” is an engaging story of generational conflict between heroes, with an older Superman at the tale’s center. The four-issue series deals with religious and end-of-the-world themes, applying them in interesting ways to the genre as heroes new and old deal with an impending apocalypse brought on by the misguided younger heroes. Eventually, Lex Luthor emerges as the series’ main antagonist, and a giant showdown occurs outside the Justice League’s newly built prison. The conclusion is a thoughtful comment on power and modernity that deserves to be read by fans of Superman or comics in general.

#5: “Red Son” (2003)

Many of the stories on our list feature alternate versions of mainstream continuity Superman, but no other version of the Man of Steel on our list is quite as different as this one. “Red Son” imagines what would’ve been had Kal-El’s escape pod landed in the Soviet Union. In the story, Superman becomes a symbol of communist power in the Cold War, and America pressures Lex Luthor to come up with a response. The narrative is dark and thought-provoking, and much more political than most Superman tales. It’s a new and refreshing take on the DC universe, and one we’d be interested in revisiting again someday!

#4: “For the Man Who Has Everything…” (1985)

Shortly before revolutionizing the industry with “Watchmen,” Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons delivered this incredible Superman issue. The story sees Superman attacked in the Fortress of Solitude by Mongol using a plant that puts Superman in a coma. The plant supposedly puts the victim in a dream of their “heart’s desire,” but Superman’s dream quickly goes from idyllic family life on Krypton to intense political terrorism. Outside of this dream, Batman and Wonder Woman battle Mongol, trying to save Clark. This excellent issue was one of the first to dive into Superman’s psyche, and, memorably, the entire issues takes place on Clark’s birthday.

#3: “The Man of Steel” (1986)

In 1986, writer John Byrne was tasked with providing Superman with a new origin after DC’s recent continuity reboot. Over the course of his six-issue mini-series, Byrne brought Superman into the modern era, and changed much of his history in the process. The story introduced a number of meaningful alterations to the character, such as moving Clark’s birthplace from Krypton to Earth, removing Superboy from continuity and turning Lex Luthor into a corporate villain rather than the evil mastermind he had been portrayed as before. “The Man of Steel” served as Superman’s official origin for more than 20 years until it was eventually replaced.

#2: “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” (1986)

Another Alan Moore story, this two-issue arc served as a goodbye to the Silver Age Man of Steel, whose existence was coming to an end alongside the rest of pre-”Crisis on Infinite Earths” continuity. The issues serve as a dark love letter to the character from Moore, every bit as dense and emotional as you’d expect from the iconic writer. The story fits in homages and memorials to many of the character’s prior adventures and supporting characters, and ends with Clark giving up his powers after accidentally killing Mr. Mxyzptlk, assuming a new identity and retiring to live out his days as a family man.

#1: “All-Star Superman” (2005-08)

In Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s highly-regarded 12-issue series, Superman finds out he only has one year left to live after being exposed to fatal amounts of solar radiation. This out-of-continuity story sees Superman coming to terms with his death as he tries to do much as he can for humanity before he goes. Superman eventually succumbs to his radiation just before Lex Luthor attacks Metropolis, but finds he has the ability to rejuvenate himself as a being made of solar energy. He stops Luthor before flying off into the sun, protecting it after it was damaged by an ally of Luthor’s, living out his existence as a solar god. It’s personal, epic, and a celebration of Superman’s history and everything he stands for.