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Summary

Superman’s most iconic stories have shown all the reasons why he remains the top superhero in the world.
His time with The Legion of Super-Heroes capture the classic goodness and charm he’s famous for.
Modern stories like Superman Smashes the Klan and Birthright offer new perspectives on the iconic hero.

The one and only Superman has earned his place as the greatest superhero in the world today, not only thanks to his world famous superpowers, but to the decades of historic, acclaimed, and unforgettable stories told by DC’s greatest stars.

From his earliest days showing the world what “Truth, Justice, and the American Way” meant to the world, to bold and boundary-pushing stories that became instant classics, it’s almost impossible to choose the best (of the best). But for comic readers new or old looking to read singular Superman stories that show why the Man of Steel is still DC’s top dog, and a cultural icon to this day, we’ve collected the best Superman stories that stand out from the rest.

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10 Superman and The Legion of Super-Heroes (2007)

Created by Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, Jon Sibal, Dave McCaig, Rob Leigh, Nachie Castro, Matt Idelson

When Superman is pulled into an unfamiliar future by the childhood friends he inspired to heroism, Kal-El must reckon with the power of his legacy and what he represents, not just to Earth, but to the literal DC Universe as a whole. Modernizing some of the most beloved Silver Age aspects of the character, Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes proves definitively that Superman is for everyone.

Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes is a perfect encapsulation of my favorite aspects of the Man of Steel. This story reminds us that beneath all the power, Clark Kent/Kal-El is still that lonely kid who never wants anyone else to feel the isolation that’s core to his story. With pitch-perfect characterization from Johns and career-defining art from Frank and the rest of the team, this story is one of Superman’s most underrated gems.” – Tristan Benns, Comics Writer

9 Superman: The Black Ring (2010)

Created by Paul Cornell, BIT, Pere Perez, Pete Woods, CAFU, Sean Chen, Wayne Faucher, Brad Anderson, Joe Weems, Batt, P. Craig Russell, Ivan Reis, Oclair Albert, Richard Friend

Superman: The Black Ring sees Lex Luthor on a quest for godhood with just one obstacle in his way: his hatred for Superman. Lex’s true reasons for loathing Superman are laid bare on a whistlestop tour of the DC Universe, culminating in the arrival of a villain who makes Darkseid look like an insect.

“Luthor is the easiest Superman character to write badly, especially when it comes to his motivations. Black Ring embraces Lex as Superman’s actual ideological opposite, charting exactly where that pure, obsessive hatred really comes from, and how he has to see Superman to justify it. Achieving that with cannibal gorillas and cyborg Lois Lane is pure superhero comics.” – Robert Wood, Comics Editor

8 Hitman #34, “Of Thee I Sing” (1999)

Created by Garth Ennis, John McCrea, Garry Leach, Carla Feeny

Hitman was an irreverent comic series from creator Garth Ennis, best known for writing similarly dark and over-the-top comics, like The Boys and Preacher. Along with the lead character Tommy Monaghan trying to complete a hit in this issue, a surprise arrives when he runs into Superman on an isolated Gotham rooftop. From here, Tommy actually ends up helping Superman regain faith in himself after a rare failure to ‘save the day.’.

“The reason I love this comic is because Superman is a god-like figure with unbelievable amounts of power, which leads people to believe he can do anything. This comic directly addresses that belief by having Superman fail to save an astronaut, and end up having to face the fact: even with all his power, he can’t save everyone. It’s an intensely human moment for a character who is so much larger than life. Not to mention the beautiful speech where Tommy points out how Superman represents the best ideals of America, just as he did when he was first created.” – Dashiel Reaves, Staff Writer

The emotional and eloquent “Of Thee I Sing” would go on to win the 1999 Eisner Award for Best Single Issue.

7 Superman: The Warworld Saga (2021)

Created by Philip Kennedy Johnson, Ricardo Federici, Grant Morrison, Sami Basri, Adriana Melo, Miguel Mendonca

Superman: The Warworld Saga follows the Man of Steel as he teams up with the Authority to liberate the people of Warworld. However, with his powers fading under the planet’s red sun, a weakened Superman must use hope to inspire the people around him, while competing in the planet’s harsh gladiator games. Under the cruelty of Mongul II, Clark Kent becomes a rugged revolutionary figure.

“The Warworld Saga is a great story because it dispels the myth that there’s no personality to Superman, and that he relies too much on his powers. Here, we see a version of Kal-El that isn’t reliant on his Kryptonian abilities, but instead brings his boyscout ethos to a brutal planet, showing even the most oppressed and demoralized can find hope in his symbol. The story is the dark fantasy of Conan meets the otherworldly adventure of Flash Gordon, harnessing the best potential of his history.” – Ashley Land, Comics Writer

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6 Superman: Birthright (2003)

Created by Mark Waid, Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, Dave McCaig

When Mark Waid set out to tell a new, modern origin story for Superman, there were few comic writers more ‘up to the task,’ monumental as it might be. But combined with the talents of Leinil Yu, the result was an origin story that was gorgeous, timely, and emotionally resonant as it was necessary. Forging new connections to his Kryptonian culture and his adopted home planet, Birthright would end up as DC’s new canon origin, and a major inspiration for the Man of Steel movie reboot.

“As someone who never felt connected to the ‘all-American, Boy Scout’ Superman, I was the exact person Waid and Yu had in their crosshairs with their updated origin. From Ma Kent’s proud UFO fandom, to Clark’s quiet isolation, and the brilliant redefining of the ‘S’ insignia, every note was perfectyly struck. There is no question: Birthright is the reason I became a Superman fan, proving that one incredible comic can convert a non-believer into a lifelong fan.” – Andrew Dyce, Lead Comics Editor

5 Superman Smashes The Klan (2019)

Created by Gene Luen Yang, Gurihiru

By award-winning writer Gene Luen Yang and fan-favorite artist Gurihiru, Superman Smashes the Klan follows the Lee family as they move from Chinatown to Downtown Metropolis in 1946. Young Roberta may love being closer to her hero Superman, but the family has its own struggles, including the rise of the terrorist organization, the Ku Klux Klan, which targets the Lees. Can Superman take them down — with Roberta’s help?

“From his first appearance in 1938’s Action Comics #1, Superman has been known as the ‘champion of the oppressed.’ That moniker rings true in Superman Smashes the Klan, which is just as much about a young family overcoming vitriolic hate as it is about the hero himself. By embracing real American history and the inspirational nature of the character — for children most of all — Superman Smashes the Klan encapsulates everything I love about Superman.” – Kate O’Donoghue, Comics Editor

This comic series is based on the classic
The Adventures of Superman
radio serial story, “Clan of the Fiery Cross.” The 1946 tale was inspired by Stetson Kennedy, a human rights activist who had infiltrated the KKK and supplied the producers with intimate details of their organization.

4 Superman: Red and Blue

Created by John Ridley, Brandon Easton, Wes Craig, Dan Watters, Marguerite Bennett, Clayton Henry, Steve Lieber, Dani, Jill Thompson

Superman: Red and Blue is an anthology series with a limited color palette, challenging creators to find insightful Superman stories to tell in just a few pages. That sense of focus leads to some amazing vignettes, with Superman meeting Krypto, learning big lessons from the Kents, and facing his most iconic villains, with each adventure boiled down to its purest form.

“More than any other superhero – maybe any pop culture character – Superman is a statement about what human virtue looks like. Superman stories ask how the best person you’ve ever met would use absolute power – the principles they’d live by, the obstacles that would make them stumble. Superman: Red and Blue is a bunch of creators answering those questions with no frills, and I love their answers.” – Robert Wood, Comics Editor

3 Superman Annual #11, “For the Man Who Has Everything” (1985)

Created by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, Tom Ziuko

An iconic story by Watchmen creative team Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Superman Annual #11’s “For the Man Who Has Everything” sees Clark drawn into a heartbreaking fantasy. Mongul’s sinister Black Mercy plant traps the Man of Steel in a world where Krypton never exploded. But what happens when Superman’s greatest dream slowly becomes a nightmare?

“This isn’t a simplified ‘What if Krypton never exploded?’ tale. This is an honest examination into Superman’s heart. Superman’s lack of a connection to Krypton is always going to haunt some small part of him. Mongul’s perverse gift forces Clark to confront reality and accept that his homeworld would have been just and flawed and troubled as the world he lives in today.” – Justin Epps, Staff Writer

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2 Superman: Last Son (2006)

Created by Geoff Johns, Richard Donner, Adam Kubert, Dave Stewart, Rob Leigh, Nachie Castro, Matt Idelson, Stéphane Roux, Edgar Delgado

Superman: Last Son brings Geoff Johns and Superman film director Richard Donner together for a beautifully charming tale. When a Kryptonian child arrives on Earth, Superman takes it upon himself to be there for the boy as a father figure. But things spiral quickly when Clark discovers the boy has a connection to one of Superman’s greatest enemies, General Zod.

“’Superman: Last Son’ brings the Man of Steel into the next phase of his life by having him navigate fatherhood. The story is heartfelt and earnest, just like the Superman films made by co-writer Richard Donner. This was a crucial arc in Superman’s history, that ultimately proved the Man of Steel was ready to be a father and mentor in the comics universe full-time.” – Justin Epps, Staff Writer​​​​​​​

The lost Kryptonian child is given the name “Christopher Kent” by Lois Lane, in what is widely believed to be a tribute to the late Christopher Reeve, who portrayed Superman in Donner’s first two films (and its subsequent sequels).

1 All-Star Superman (2005)

Created by Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely, Jamie Grant

All-Star Superman, a 2011 12-issue mini-series by Grant Morrison, is a storyline that celebrates DC Comics’ greatest hero in the most emotional way possible. This story sees Clark Kent perform the 12 Labors of Superman after finding out he is dying from solar radiation and decides to make the most of his final year as a hero. As he keeps his disease a secret, Clark Kent prepares humanity for a world without Superman.

“People tend to have a hard time separating the invincible Kryptonian Superman from the nerdy farm boy, Clark Kent, raised by human parents with good morals. Grant Morrison gives fans a much-needed look into the good boy raised in Smallville who was taught that all life is sacred. He has unlimited power but chooses to forgive his enemies, comfort troubled teens, make time for his friends and family, and keep a smile on everyone’s face.” – Malcolm Searcy, Comics Writer

“}]] These are the very best Superman stories that stand out above the rest.  Read More