Jeffrey Taylor is a staff writer/moderator at The Superman Homepage, co-host of From Crisis to Crisis: A Superman Podcast, available at the Superman Homepage, iTunes and The Superman PodcastNetwork.You can find his new Man of Steel Countdown column here at Movies.com every other Tuesday.
It’s that time of year again when people all over the world are looking for the perfect holiday gifts for their friends and family. But if you have a Superman fan amongst your loved ones, you might need a hand finding the perfect item. So here are some of my favorite Superman comic collections and compilations, plus a few extra ideas.
1) Superman: Secret Identity
This isn’t just my all-time favorite Superman story, it’s one of my favorite works of fiction (and I’m a Shakespeare nut too). The irony is that Superman, at least the one we’re all familiar with, is NOT in this story. Set in the real world where the Man of Steel is a comic book character, young Clark Kent grew up in the Midwest and puts up with bullying thanks to the name his parents gave him as a joke. One night he wakes up flying and discovers he actually has all the powers of Superman. Should he seek fame and fortune with his abilities or try to live a normal life?
Follow Clark’s life from teen years to old age as he struggles through real world and family issues. There are no super villains or plots to destroy the world. There’s love, friendship and government intervention. Sadly the book is out of print, but used copies are not hard to come by. This is one of the few times when the four issues that comprised the collected edition may be easier and cheaper to come by, so look at the back issue sites like www.milehighcomics.com for those.
2) Death and Return of Superman Ombnibus
The Death of Superman is the best selling graphic novel of all time. Superman fought the mysterious and ferocious Doomsday until he finally fell to his death surrounded by Lois, Jimmy and other heroes. But the story didn’t end there. This oversized volume comprised of nearly 40 comic book issues follows the aftermath, the funeral, the four new Supermen who soon appeared in the skies over Metropolis and finally a hero’s return.
Alternatively, look for the three smaller volumes, “The Death of Superman,” “World Without a Superman,” and “The Return of Superman.”
And in a shameless cross promotion, I cohost From Crisis to Crisis: A Superman Podcast with fellow Superman expert Michael Bailey (available for free on itunes, www.supermanhomepage.com, and www.supermanpodcastnetwork.com) where each week we discuss the Superman comics from 1986-2006. Starting tomorrow we will begin our in depth coverage and commentary of the Death, so join the fun and try it out.
3) “Death and Life of Superman” novel
This was the epic novelization of the entire Death and Return comic book epic. Roger Stern did an amazing job piecing together years of story to bring the reader up to speed on the comic book progression. Who is Lex Luthor’s son? Why does this Supergirl have completely different powers from Superman? Why wasn’t Superman strong enough to defeat Doomsday? All of these questions and more are answered in only two places: this novel or six years worth of comic book reading. This is the ideal gift for any Superman fan asking those question or one who doesn’t care for comic books.
There is also a Young Adult version called “Superman: Doomsday and Beyond” by Louise Simonson. I just ordered a copy for $4 including shipping.
4) Man of Steel vol 1.
This has always been my favorite version of the origin story. It came out in 1986 and reigned as the official beginning of Superman’s tale for 20 years. It took the character in an entirely new direction and introduced the modern billionaire business mogul version of Lex Luthor. See how the unborn baby Kal-El was sent to Earth from a cold and loveless world of Krypton by parents who refuse to conform to the societal standards of emotionless life. This was also a strong basis for future Superman series like “Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman,” Superman: The Animated Series” and “Smallville.”
5) Superman: Exile
Hands down, this was one of the most impressive in-continuity Superman stories I’ve ever enjoyed. Before this, Superman had executed General Zod and two other Kryptonians after they decimated Earth in another Universe. Grief-stricken over his pledge to never kill anyone, he went mad and masqueraded as another hero without remembering it. He concluded that it would be unsafe for his human friends for him to remain on Earth any longer. So he exiled himself into space where he had some unique adventures, culminating in his capture by Mongul and being forced to fight gladiator-style on Warworld. Plus, along the way he learned the truth about the history and destruction of his home planet Krypton.
6) Dark Knight Over Metropolis
Sadly, this story has never been reprinted, but it is by far my favorite Superman/Batman team up. Batman tracked down a ring with a Kryptonite gemstone which led him to Metropolis and a team up with Superman. Full of mystery and intrigue, this story culminates with a famous scene where Superman bestows the ring, the only thing that can stop Superman if he ever goes out of control, to Batman, whom after many years, Superman has finally learned to trust.
Again, this is not available as a collection, but the individual issues are inexpensive and relatively easy to find. They are:
Part 1: Superman (vol. 2) #44
Part 2: Adventures of Superman #467
Part 3: Action Comics #654
All of which have a June 1990 cover date.
They can also be found at www.milehighcomics.com for as little as a dollar each.
This prestige format single issue story asked “What if Superman’s ship landed in Medieval England instead of modern day Smallville?” Follow the story of young Kal in feudal society as he becomes the best Blacksmith in the land, earns the love of Lady Louisse and fights against the evil Baron Luthor. And pay close attention to the final page for a fun moment that ties into well known medieval folklore.
8) Superman Chronicles (vol. 1-9)
Don’t have a million bucks lying around to snag one of the 500 existing copies of the most sought after and popular comic book in history? This volume includes Superman’s first appearance in Action Comics #1 from June, 1938 and more. DC Comics recently released a ninth volume and may continue. Currently they reprint every issue from the start through 1943. At $15-18 each, you can’t go wrong with this gift for the Superman fan in your life.
9) The Motion Picture Anthology
Every Superman movie and almost every television show is available on DVD, many of them at amazing prices. There are DVD and Blu-Ray boxed sets of every theatrical release of Superman including two versions of “Superman: The Movie,” two of “Superman II,” “Superman III,” “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace,” “Superman Returns” as well as “Superman and the Mole Men” starring George Reeves from 1951 and the 17 Fleischer animated shorts, plus hours and hours of special features. A must-have for fans.
This list was incredibly hard to pair down considering all the Superman materials that exist, but when in doubt (and I’m not getting paid for saying this), one of the best places to find Superman items for yourself or for gifts is here: http://astore.amazon.com/supermanhomepage
Do you expect any Superman-related gifts this year? What have you asked for?