Tag Archives: The Adventures of Superman

Today’s Super Comic — The Adventures of Superman #525 (1995)

Not every superhero needs a secret identity, but Superman absolutely does, as he’s reminded in The Adventures of Superman #525.

Superman’s identity was compromised in the previous storyline, prompting him to wonder if it’s time to retire Clark Kent for the safety of his friends and family. Fortunately, Lois Lane talks some sense into him, showing him how he’d have no real life he’s Superman all the time.

It’s nothing deep or profound, but it’s a charming issue as written by Karl Kesel, who often brought a nice sense of humor to his Superman issues and does so here (Lois’s encounter with the law makes for an entertaining comedic beat).

When DC rebooted Superman in the mid-80s, one of the most important revisions was reversing the Superman/Clark Kent dynamic. In the old days, Clark was the disguise for Superman. Since 1986, Superman has been the disguise for Clark Kent. It was a brilliant decision that enriched the character tremendously, and it’s reaffirmed in this issue.

Writer: Karl Kesel

Penciler: Stuart Immonen

Inker: Jose Marzan

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology

Appropriate For: ages 9 and up

Today’s Super Comic — The Adventures of Superman #517 (1994)

I should’ve posted this one on April Fools’ Day. Well, I’m writing it on April 1, so…good enough.

Someone played a cruel practical joke on Superman not long after he returned from the dead. In “Dead Again!”, a Superman corpse is discovered, leading to speculation about whether the living Superman is the real deal. After all, four imposters sprang up after Superman died, so the public’s skepticism is understandable. Fool me once, shame one you; fool me five times, you think I’m nuts or something?

Even Superman himself can’t be entirely sure. If it’s possible for him to come back from the dead, then it’s also possible he could be a clone or some other fabrication, even one with all the right memories. And as a journalist, he’s trained not to take anything at face value. The genetically identical corpse could well be a hoax, but he also has no proof it’s not. For all his strength, he’s not invulnerable to mind games.

So The Adventures of Superman #517 shows us Superman working through his existential crisis, and it also highlights the strengths of the Super-books’ structure at the time.

There were four Superman titles, but they functioned together as a single, nearly weekly series. Though each title had its designated creative team, they’d share the same stories, passing them down the line in a pre-planned round-robin fashion. It was almost like how television series are handled, but with the line editor serving as the showrunner.

While you had to read all four series to get the complete story, each individual issue provided a satisfying read with its own mini-story within the larger framework. In AOS #517, Superman works through his doubts while tackling an admittedly generic villain, though he remains rattled by the mysterious fake corpse. Superman overcomes some obstacle, but the tension still builds—and the next chapter hits the stands usually just one week later.

The structure gave the stories room to breathe and facilitated many solid Superman stories for readers young and old.

Writer: Karl Kesel

Penciler: Barry Kitson

Inker: Ray McCarthy

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology

Appropriate For: ages 9 and up

Today’s Super Comic — The Adventures of Superman #445 (1988)

One of the many things the Man of Steel movie got wrong was having Superman kill the bad guy, feel bad for a whole half a second, and then happily move on with his life.

In a late ‘80s storyline, Superman was left with no recourse but to execute three Kryptonian criminals who had destroyed an alternate Earth in a pocket dimension. His actions were justifiable—these powerful criminals would have no doubt turned their attention to the real Earth, they already had a track record of success in their genocidal pursuits, and there was literally no one else left in that other universe to mete out punishment. Still, while he did what he had to do, he knows he failed to be Superman in that moment.

The Adventures of Superman #445 is right after that storyline, and we see Superman appropriately wracked with guilt. There’s no tidy resolution yet—he’s got a long soul-searching journey into space still ahead of him before he comes to terms with his actions. For now, Braniac provides a distraction, though the battle shows how even a Man of Steel can fray.

I wouldn’t want a guilt-ridden Superman as the status quo, but the storyline showed us a different side of him while reinforcing one of his essential characteristics—his deep respect for all life.

Also, #445 shows how the Superman comics of this era made great use of the supporting cast. Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, and Cat Grant all are all involved in various plots and subplots (primarily Jimmy and Cat in this issue), and their presence keeps Superman tethered to humanity, which is also essential.

Writer/Penciler: Jerry Ordway

Inker: Dennis Janke

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues

Appropriate For: ages 9 and up

Today’s Super Comic — The Adventures of Superman #476 (1991)

Adventures_of_Superman_476Early ‘90s Superman comics probably won’t go down as among the all-time greats, but they sure are reliably fun.

The Adventures of Superman #476 kicks off a time-traveling epic called “Time and Time Again.” Superman has just recently revealed his secret identity to Lois Lane (they’re engaged at this point), and as they’re adjusting to this new dynamic in their relationship, special guest star Booster Gold literally drops out of the sky. Time for both Supes and Lois to get to work.

In trying to help out his colleague, Superman winds up flung through time, and his first stop brings him to additional guest stars who are always nice to see.

Time-travel is a useful device for pulling Superman out of his usual element, and it allows him to embark on an archetypal “hero must find his way home” story, which generally is a bit harder to facilitate with a flying, super-fast protagonist.

A good time for Superman fans young and old.

Writer/Penciler: Dan Jurgens

Inker: Brett Breeding

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; included in Superman: Time and Time Again (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 9 and up

Today’s Super Comic — The Adventures of Superman #472 (1990)

Adventures_of_Superman_472The early 1990s was not a stellar era for comic books, but Superman fared better than most, primarily because the writers demonstrated an excellent understanding of his character.

This shows in the “Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite” arc, an old storyline I’m just now reading for the first time thanks to a local comic store’s going-out-of-business sale. The story centers on a familiar trope—Superman loses his powers! Oh, no!—but the trope is used to reveal character as much as it’s used to create obstacles. What kind of man is Superman beneath all those amazing super-powers?

According to The Adventures of Superman #472, which is the second and most recent part of the story I’ve read as of this writing, Superman is a guy who will stand up to a rampaging, super-strong maniac, regardless of the personal risks. He’s a guy who isn’t too proud to ask for help. He’s a guy who still worries about his friends, despite his own major problem.

This Superman is just as super whether he has powers or not—which is exactly right.

The Christopher Reeve is strong in this one, and it’s a solid read for Superman fans young and old.

Writer/Penciler: Dan Jurgens

Inker: Art Thibert

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; included in Superman: Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 8 and up