The Death of Superman

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"The Death of Superman"
Cover of Superman vol. 2, 75 (Jan 1993). Art by Dan Jurgens & Brett Breeding.
Publisher DC Comics
Publication date Over three arcs:
"Doomsday!"
October 1992 - November 1992
"Funeral for a Friend"
January - June 1993
"Reign of the Supermen!"
June - October 1993
Genre
Main character(s) Superman
Eradicator
Superboy (Kon-El)
Steel
Cyborg Superman
Lois Lane
Justice League
Doomsday
Supergirl (Matrix)
Lex Luthor
Green Lantern (Hal Jordan)
Mongul
Creative team
Writer(s) (All 3 arcs)
Dan Jurgens; Louise Simonson; Roger Stern
(Arcs 1 and 2)
Jerry Ordway
(Arcs 2 and 3)
Karl Kesel
(Arc 2 only)
William Messner-Loebs
(Arc 3 only)
Gerard Jones
Penciller(s) (All 3 arcs)
Jon Bogdanove; Tom Grummett; Jackson Guice; Dan Jurgens
(Arc 2 only)
Dennis Janke; Denis Rodier; Walt Simonson; Curt Swan
(Arc 3 only)
M. D. Bright
Inker(s) (All 3 arcs)
Brett Breeding; Doug Hazelwood; Dennis Janke; Denis Rodier
(Arcs 1 and 2)
Rick Burchett
(Arc 2 only)
Mike Machlan; Ande Parks; Josef Rubinstein; Trevor Scott; Walter Simonson
(Arc 3 only)
Romeo Tanghal
Editor(s) Mike Carlin
Collected editions
The Death of Superman ISBN 1-56389-097-6
World Without a Superman ISBN 1563891182
The Return of Superman ISBN 1563891492
The Death and Return of Superman Omnibus ISBN 1401215505

"The Death of Superman" is a 1992 comic book storyline that occurred mostly in DC Comics' Superman titles. The completed multi-issue story arc was given the title The Death and Return of Superman.[1]

In the story, Superman engages in battle with a seemingly unstoppable killing machine named Doomsday in the streets of Metropolis.[2] At the fight's conclusion, both combatants apparently die from their wounds in Superman (vol. 2) #75 in 1992.

The crossover depicted the world's reaction to Superman's death in "Funeral for a Friend," the emergence of four individuals believed to be the "new" Superman, and the eventual return of the original Superman in "Reign of the Supermen!".

The storyline, devised by editor Mike Carlin and the Superman writing team of Dan Jurgens, Roger Stern, Louise Simonson, Jerry Ordway, and Karl Kesel, met with enormous success: the Superman titles gained international exposure, reaching to the top of the comics sales charts and selling out overnight. The event was widely covered by national and international news media. The storyline was loosely adapted into a 2007 animated film, Superman: Doomsday.[3]

Origins[edit]

The story of The Death of Superman's conception goes back to the 1985 crossover Crisis on Infinite Earths. Following that event, DC Comics rebooted their continuity and relaunched the Superman character with the miniseries "The Man of Steel", written by John Byrne. However, due to disputes with DC, Byrne left the Superman books and was replaced by Roger Stern. While the stories continued from Byrne's revamp, sales slowly dropped. In an effort to attract female readers, the Lois Lane/Clark Kent/Superman love triangle, in place since 1938, was changed. In a development based on events in Byrne's revamp, Lois was already falling in love with Clark Kent, rather than with Superman. In a story arc titled "Krisis of Krimson Kryptonite", Clark proposes to Lois; she accepts. Although the road was set for the marriage of Lois and Clark, an unforeseen event would change these plans.

Viacom had cancelled the Superboy television series produced by Alexander Salkind (Salkind produced the first three Superman films starring Christopher Reeve, as well as the Supergirl movie). Warner Bros., the owner of DC Comics, created their own Superman television series, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, premised upon a romantic relationship between Lois Lane and Clark Kent/Superman. One of the ideas that arose during production was the wedding of Lois Lane and Clark Kent/Superman. Warner Bros. learned that DC Comics was planning a similar plot line in the Superman comic books, and as a result DC, Warner Bros., and the Superman writing staff came together and reached an agreement: the Lois and Clark wedding arc in the comic book would be put on hold, to resume once the Lois & Clark TV show reached its wedding episode.

With the original storyline set aside in the comic, an original event was needed to replace it. According to a documentary on Superman: Doomsday, the Superman writing team members were miffed at having a year's worth of story planning put aside, and flustered for ideas. At the end of one meeting, Adventures of Superman writer Jerry Ordway suggested, jokingly, "Let's just kill 'im." The joke became a running gag in story meetings, but eventually gained traction with Superman group editor Mike Carlin. In the documentary film Look, Up in the Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman Carlin states: "the world was taking Superman for granted, so we literally said 'let's show what the world would be like without Superman'."

Storyline[edit]

Doomsday![edit]

Superman dies in Lois Lane's arms.

On the last page of several comics prior to Superman: The Man of Steel #18, a gloved fist is shown punching a steel wall, accompanied by the caption: "Doomsday is coming!" In that issue, Superman fights the Underworlders while a hulking figure in a green suit rampages through a pastoral field, deliberately killing a trusting songbird -and later a deer. This marks the first of seven issues in the "Doomsday!" story, which would continue through all four of the Superman books at that time, and one issue of Justice League America, before culminating in Superman (vol. 2) #75.

The Justice League International (Guy Gardner, Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Maxima, Fire, Ice, and Bloodwynd) responds to a call from a smashed big-rig outside of Bucyrus, Ohio, and follows the trail of senseless destruction which leads them to a confrontation with the mysterious creature.[2] It systematically takes the team apart (throwing a tree trunk through their aircraft first), finishing by punching Booster Gold into the stratosphere. Booster Gold is caught in mid-air by Superman, and declares "It's like Doomsday is here", thus providing the monster with a name.

The Man of Steel arrives on the scene, having cut short a television interview with Cat Grant in Justice League America #69. He and the able-bodied League members follow the threat to the home of a single mother and her two children, where their battle with "Doomsday" destroys the house. The League attacks Doomsday with all their energy-projection powers; the only discernible effect is that much of his bodysuit is blasted or burned off. Doomsday again defeats the League, causes the house to explode into flames, and then leaps away. Superman follows, after saving the small family. Superman throws Doomsday into the bottom of a lake. After Doomsday escapes from the lake bed, he and Superman tear up a city street. Maxima then reenters the fray. Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen are sent to cover the battle for television, while Lex Luthor (then masquerading as his non-existent son "Lex Luthor II") dissuades Supergirl from joining the fight. The fight continues at a gas station, where Maxima rips a light post from the ground; the sparks from the wiring ignite the leaking gasoline and the station is destroyed in a huge explosion. Guardian arrives after Doomsday leaves, finding Superman and Maxima, and offers his aid.

Superman then follows Doomsday's trail of destruction (compared to that of a major tornado), waiting for an opportunity to attack. With the monster's rampage drawing closer, Lex Jr. convinces Supergirl that she's needed in Metropolis while Superman is fighting elsewhere. While demolishing an appliance store, Doomsday sees a TV commercial for a wrestling show being held in Metropolis, and after seeing a road sign for Metropolis, heads in that direction. Superman engages him and throws him in the opposite direction, where he lands on the mountain housing Project Cadmus. They brawl throughout Habitat, a living forest connected to Cadmus, bringing most of it down. When the superhero Guardian arrives, Doomsday knocks him down and leaps toward Metropolis.

Doomsday is driven below ground, where he ruptures gas and electrical mains, leveling Newtown, a large section of Metropolis. Supergirl goes to Superman's aid, but a single punch from Doomsday knocks her to the ground, her form destabilized. Professor Emil Hamilton and Bibbo Bibbowski, Superman's allies, fire a laser cannon at Doomsday, but it does not harm him. The local police open fire on Doomsday, but again, he is not harmed. Superman returns to the fight.

Superman and Doomsday lay into each other with everything they have. They strike each other with so much force that the shockwaves from their punches shatter windows. At the struggle's culminating moment in front of the Daily Planet building, each fighter lands a massive blow upon his opponent. The two titans collapse and moments later, in the arms of a frantic Lois Lane, Superman succumbs to his wounds and seemingly dies.[2] Jimmy, Ice, and Bloodwynd are also present at the end.

The climactic event happened in Superman (vol. 2) #75. The issue only contains 22 panels, and every page was a single panel, which was a structure building on the previous issues - Adventures of Superman #497 was done entirely with four-panel pages, Action Comics #684 with three, and Superman: The Man of Steel #19 with two. The entire story was immediately collected into a trade paperback and titled The Death of Superman.

Funeral for a Friend[edit]

DC Comics' casts pays tribute to The Man of Steel. Art by Dan Jurgens.

The funeral that followed featured many of Superman's fellow heroes and friends, including most of the Justice League of America, and a mausoleum was built in Metropolis in honor of the Man of Steel. During this time, every hero in the DC Universe (even Guy Gardner and Green Arrow, neither of whom had ever personally gotten along with him) sported a black arm band featuring the S-Shield logo. Some time later, Project Cadmus stole Superman's body from his mausoleum, which had been ironically provided by his longtime foe Lex Luthor, who said that if he couldn't kill Superman, then he at least wanted to bury him. It was hypothesized that they were attempting to clone him. The body was recovered by Lois Lane and Supergirl.

The stories after the funeral often dealt with the emotions felt by the general public as well as specific characters entwined within Superman's world, including Lois Lane, Clark Kent's parents, and even a number of supervillains. The contemporary real-life President of the United States and First Lady, Bill and Hillary Clinton, were also included in a scene during the funeral. With Superman gone, crime rises up again and the costumed heroes of Metropolis rise to fill in as protectors. Supergirl, Gangbuster, Thorn, and even Team Luthor, a Lexcorp-sponsored team, all tried but were not sufficient. Meanwhile, Jonathan Kent took the death of his adoptive son the hardest and as a result suffered a heart attack. At this point, all Superman comic titles went on a three-month hiatus.

The story was also collected into trade paperback form. Rather than using the banner title Funeral for a Friend, the title used for the collection was World Without a Superman.

Reign of the Supermen![edit]

Promotional images for Reign of the Supermen!

Following a three-month hiatus on the Superman titles, all of them were relaunched. Four new heroes emerged in Superman's place, one in each title, each claiming in some way to be Superman. The story of The Adventures of Superman #500 followed Jonathan Kent into the Afterlife. In a possible hallucination, he convinced Superman's soul to come back with him to the living. The only "evidence" that this was not a hallucination was the fact that shortly after Jonathan reawoke, four individuals arrived in Metropolis claiming to be Superman. This storyline was known as Reign of the Supermen!.

Each of the Supermen were designed with ideas taken from some of the monikers that Superman is often associated with. The four new heroes were:

  • The Man of Steel: John Henry Irons was an ironworker and an ex-weapons designer for the military who wears a suit of armor and wields a hammer. Of the four, he is the only one who did not claim the name of Superman, but rather that he represented the spirit of Superman and continued his legacy. Steel appeared in Superman: The Man of Steel, starting with #22. He later changed his name to just "Steel".
  • The Man of Tomorrow, also called the Cyborg Superman, arrived with augmented Kryptonian technology. He was scientifically "proven" to be Superman, but claims amnesia in explanation to his part-mechanical nature. The Cyborg Superman appeared in Superman (vol. 2), starting with #78. After he was eventually revealed as former NASA astronaut Hank Henshaw, he later became a major supervillain.
  • The Metropolis Kid, who hated being called Superboy, is a reckless teenage clone of Superman. This Superman appeared in The Adventures of Superman, starting with #501. Of the three Supermen with super powers, he was the only one that did not claim to be the real one. He is the result of the brief time Cadmus attempted to clone Superman. He later had a career as Superboy.
  • The Last Son of Krypton was a visored, energy-powered alien who dealt with criminals lethally. The Last Son of Krypton appeared in Action Comics, starting with #687. He claims to have the memories of the original Superman, but his emotional distance makes Lois uncertain. He later was discovered to be the Eradicator, a reformed Superman enemy.[4]

The first issue for each of the new heroes featured a cardstock cover and a poster of the new hero.

The first half of the Reign of the Supermen! story focuses on each of the Supermen “resuming” his duty as protector of Metropolis and gaining acceptance from the public. Of the four, the reader very quickly learns that neither the cloned Metropolis Kid nor the armored Man of Steel are the real Superman. The Cyborg Man of Tomorrow and the Last Son of Krypton were easily bought in by the people as the possible real Superman, since Lois questioned both of them, and both recalled memories which Clark Kent had. Cyborg was even tested by Dr. Hamilton who stated that the Cyborg appeared to be the real Superman.

In actuality, the Last Son of Krypton stole Superman's body and put it in a regeneration matrix in the Fortress of Solitude, drawing on his recovering energies to power himself, as bright light blinded him. It is revealed that the Last Son is, in actuality, the Eradicator, an ancient Kryptonian weapon, and the Cyborg is the deranged consciousness of Hank Henshaw, which used Superman's birthing matrix to create a physical duplicate of his body.[4]

Superman, Steel (John Henry Irons), and Superboy from the "Reign of the Supermen!" storyline, 1993. Cover to Adventures of Superman #504 by Tom Grummett.

The regeneration matrix broke open, and the original Superman emerged, greatly depowered, but alive. Meanwhile, the Cyborg helped Mongul destroy Coast City, believing he killed the Last Son in the explosion, and captured Superboy, holding him in Engine City, a towering construct erected where Coast City once stood. Superboy escaped and flew back to Metropolis to get the Man of Steel to help him fight the Cyborg. Before he could tell the whole story, however, an overbearing Kryptonian Battlesuit rose out of the harbor, and the two heroes attacked it. After suffering heavy damage, the suit opened, revealing a still-weak Superman, who had used it to walk all the way back from the Fortress of Solitude. Despite his weakened state, he quickly joined the other Supermen in defending Coast City, with some help from Supergirl. Upon his revelation, he acknowledged himself as the real Superman (the fifth person at this point to claim that title). When asked by Lois Lane what made him any different from the other Supermen, he responded with "How about... To Kill a Mockingbird?" (Clark Kent's favorite movie, and something he shared with only those closest to him). Though she remained hesitant, Lois mentally acknowledged that this was something only the real Clark Kent would know. During the battle of Coast City, the Cyborg launched a devastating missile at Metropolis, with the intent of destroying it and putting a second Engine City in its place. Superboy managed to grab onto the missile as it launched, riding it all the way to Metropolis, which he narrowly saved from destruction.

Green Lantern Hal Jordan had returned from space to find his hometown destroyed. He immediately attacked Engine City and fought Mongul, shattering the Man of Steel's hammer across his face. Meanwhile, the Last Son/Eradicator joined the fight after recovering in the Fortress, and shielded Superman from the Cyborg's lethal Kryptonite gas. The gas interacted with the Eradicator as it passed through and into Superman, returning his powers rather than killing him.[4] The Eradicator's body degenerated into a lifeless husk, and the Cyborg looked for Superman's body in the debris and Kryptonite mist. Superman blindsided him with an attack using his super strength, and he punched a hole right through the Cyborg. He destroyed his body, but his consciousness survived. Supergirl used the remnants of the black Kryptonian suit to recreate Superman's traditional costume, and the group returned to Metropolis. Later on, Superman, Supergirl and Lois collaborate to film Clark Kent's rescue, Supergirl using her shapeshifting powers to pose as Clark Kent and create the impression that Clark was trapped in an underground bunker in Doomsday's initial attack, able to sustain himself on supplies in the bunker but unable to escape until Superman returned and was able to contribute his X-ray vision to the rescue effort.

Again, like the previous two storylines, the collected edition of Reign of the Supermen! did not use its original title; DC Comics instead chose to use The Return of Superman.

Aftermath[edit]

Superman[edit]

During the time Superman spent in stasis recovering in the Fortress of Solitude, his hair grew to shoulder length. Even after reclaiming his title as the one true Superman, he kept his hair long and this was how he was depicted for much of his appearances in the 1990s comics. Before his wedding with Lois, he cut his hair.

Up until the Death of Superman event, DC Comics writers lived on a fixed set of rules when it came to how the post-crisis Superman's powers were portrayed. This was changed upon his return. The change could be traced to when the Eradicator transformed Kryptonite energy into something that would re-power the revived Superman (to a greater degree of powers than he had prior to his "death"). In a battle with Lobo, Superman discovered he could survive the vacuum of space indefinitely, something the post-Crisis Superman could not do before his "death". He also noticed his strength had increased. Although this was part of a subplot involving Superman's powers growing out of control as he absorbed too much solar energy, the depiction of his power was not as consistent as before.

The Surviving Supermen[edit]

The Metropolis Kid (who later accepted the name "Superboy") and The Man of Steel (whose name became simply "Steel") went on to become recurring characters in the DC Universe, each eventually getting his own monthly title.

  • Steel appeared as a character in the DC animated universe, as well as his own film, and became a member of the Justice League; he also briefly became a true superhuman, no longer relying on outside sources (i.e. the armor) to provide his powers, and somewhat of a scientist figure and fatherly figure for the also artificially empowered Infinitors, powerless again but able to provide counseling, technical expertise, and support.
  • The Eradicator became leader of a new team of Outsiders for a while and his current status is that he is allied with Markovia after Geo-Force (Prince Brion) declares an agreement was signed between himself and the Eradicator to be allies during the 'New Krypton/War of The Supermen' storyline, resulting in Markovia being shunned by the world at large as a result of New Krypton's recent actions, and its peoples holding protests from this result.
  • The Cyborg Superman becomes a recurring nemesis in the Superman and Green Lantern titles, leading and upgrading the former cybernetic patrol organization known as the Manhunters and joining the Sinestro Corps as a field officer, hoping to be rid of his immortality.

Supermen of America[edit]

The character Mitch Anderson was introduced during the Doomsday! arc. Originally a huge fan of Guy Gardner, The Man of Steel saved Mitch's family as Gardner was unable to do so at the time during Doomsday's rampage. He also befriended Jimmy Olsen and Bo "Bibbo" Bibbowski during Superman's funeral. After Superman's return, Anderson gathered survivors of Doomsday's rampage at the site where the creature first emerged to share their experiences through the Internet, which Superman also responded. The Man of Steel answered Mitch and other survivors of his experiences with the murderous creature along the details of Doomsday's origins to them. Mitch later developed a metahuman power of magnetokinesis and became the superhero Outburst. Desired to follow Superman's example as a way to return the favor to the Man of Steel, Anderson formed a superhero team Supermen of America, although the fate of the team hasn't been revealed after they were attacked by OMACs during Infinite Crisis.

Death in comics[edit]

Superman's deathlike manner set into motion a series of resurrections in the DC Universe. Green Arrow, Barry Allen, Jason Todd, Donna Troy, Elongated Man, Hal Jordan, Metamorpho, Batman, and others have experienced comic book deaths and resurrections. These events have been attributed to the door between life and death being kept open since Superman died.

As a Kryptonian, Superman's alien genetic material enables him to absorb sunlight and perform superhuman feats. Superman survived his death by entering into a hibernation-like state, and the Eradicator's use of him as a "conduit" by which he could absorb solar energy "restarted" Superman's body (Although sources such as Professor Hamilton and Batman have noted that available evidence suggests that the remaining solar energy reserves in Superman's body when he died would have actually "run down" before the Eradicator took his body, suggesting that other factors may have contributed to his resurrection).

A later encounter with a villainous sentient sun from the future known as "Solaris" would reveal a future where Superman is still alive approximately 83,000 years in the future, leading him to speculate that death may never come for him.

Jonathan Kent himself, during his near death experience, explained to Clark's soul how being a Kryptonian he could never die, or at least, die only after much more grievous injuries than a "simple" beating: he merely accepted his death because his human upbringing instilled in him a strong sense of human mortality, and conformed to it accepting his fate. Once he accepted and embraced his alien makeup, he was able to refuse death and lead his father back in the land of the living.

Emerald Twilight[edit]

The consequences of the destruction of Coast City in "Reign of the Supermen!" would in turn lead to DC Comics revamping Green Lantern. After an issue that established the fact that several key members of Hal Jordan's supporting cast had survived the destruction of Coast City (due to them being out of town helping Carol Ferris save her estranged mother), DC moved directly into the controversial storyline "Emerald Twilight". Emerald Twilight saw Hal Jordan have a complete mental breakdown after his attempt to rebuild Coast City with his power ring resulted in him being ordered to return to Oa for punishment for breaking the rule of using his power ring for personal gain. In response, Jordan would destroy the Green Lantern Corps and absorb the power of the Corps' Main Power Battery into himself, becoming "Parallax". This in turn would lead to the introduction of Kyle Rayner, as Hal's replacement as Green Lantern and Zero Hour: Crisis in Time!, which featured Jordan as the main villain.

The Wedding[edit]

Even after Superman had returned to life, plans for Lois and Clark's wedding took some time to develop. The relationship between the two became rocky, and for a time they separated. Finally in 1996, tying into the wedding of Lois Lane, and Clark in the Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman television program, Lois returns to Metropolis and rekindles her romance with Clark. The two set into motion their plans for a wedding and are married in Superman: The Wedding Album.

Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey[edit]

In the three issue miniseries Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey (1994), Superman journeys to Apokolips and Calaton to find Doomsday's body. Assisted by Waverider, he confronts Darkseid and Hank Henshaw, finds that his killer is still alive, and discovers the details of Doomsday's origin as a genetically-engineered life-form created by the Kryptonians of the distant past, inspiring the planet's interest in genetic engineering. In Superman: The Doomsday War (1998), Doomsday's mind is under the influence of Brainiac, forcing Superman to fight two of his most powerful enemies at once in order to rescue Lana Lang's newborn child, Doomsday easily defeating the current Justice League before Superman is able to force Brainiac's mind out of Doomsday and trap him in four teleporters locked in a perpetual loop to prevent him being integrated enough to think of a way to escape.

Wonder Woman #111-115[edit]

Doomsday was brought back, in clone form, during John Byrne's Wonder Woman run. During the arc, a mad scientist who has access to a wide variety of DNA from dead heroes and villains, tries to create a new body for his son, who had died and who's consciousness was preserved inside of a computer. After creating unstable clones of Sinestro and the Barry Allen Flash for his son to possess, the scientist puts his son inside the body of a clone of Doomsday, which then is fought and ultimately destroyed by Wonder Woman. During the story, Superman is aware of the creature's rampage, but does nothing to help Wonder Woman fight him due to him thinking Wonder Woman was up to the task of fighting Doomsday.

Superman: Man of Steel #75 [edit]

Superman Man of Steel #75 served as a tribute/satire of the original Doomsday storyline. During a regular visit to Earth, Mr Mxyptlk is angered when Superman, now married to Lois Lane, introduces Mxyptlk to Lois and refers to him as a harmless villain. To prove Superman wrong, Mxypltk resurrects Doomsday and fights the monster, in a parody of the Superman #75 fight. Superman and Lois are forced to watch as Doomsday and Mxyptlk fight to the death, at which point instead of the afterlife, the fifth dimension imp ends up in the "real world", where he is met by DC Comics editor Mike Carlin and promptly returned to the comic world, where he is scolded by Superman for his action and forced to leave Earth, having "proven" his toughness.

Superman: Day of Doom[edit]

Superman: Day of Doom#4 (2003). Written and penciled by Dan Jurgens and inked by Bill Sienkiewicz.

Writer/penciller Dan Jurgens, with inker Bill Sienkiewicz revisited Superman's battle with Doomsday in the 2003 miniseries Superman: Day of Doom, exploring how the event affects those who knew the fallen hero, and introducing a new villain, Remnant. This dark tale is reprinted in trade paperback.

In the days before the anniversary of Superman's death, Ty Duffy, The Daily Planet's staff reporter, retraces Superman's cross-country battle with Doomsday; Duffy resents the assignment. During the investigation, a mysterious figure also follows Doomsday's cross-country path, and commits a series of murders and destructions along the way. Duffy discovers that many of Superman's rogues have claimed to have created Doomsday, and many survivors of Doomsday's rampage and Coast City's destruction he interviewed express hatred for the hero. He ultimately comes face-to-face with the Man of Steel himself and reveals to Superman that his father committed suicide because of losses suffered connected with the battle with Doomsday. Duffy reproaches Superman, telling him that thousands have died due to his battle with Doomsday but people rarely ever acknowledge their deaths as they 'prefer' to focus on Superman's revival, feeling that Superman's resurrection cheapened awareness of the others who died in Doomsday's rampage and the holocaust of Coast City. Although Superman disagrees, he carries considerable guilt over the deaths caused because he couldn't stop Doomsday earlier.

On his way home, Duffy is kidnapped by Remnant, who wishes to show the world that Superman is evil. He intends to stage terrorist acts at the locations where Doomsday rampaged, including The Daily Planet, by planting a bomb within a van parked on the exact spot where the battle ended. Superman rescues Duffy, along with Perry White, who was also captured by the villain, and the building. Despite the victory, flyers announce that Superman is not a messiah, but rather the devil incarnate; the villain disappears. Superman approaches Duffy, and challenges him to not back off from the tough questions. The Man of Steel tells Duffy he will be waiting for the conclusion of his article, and also asks him another one; if Superman wasn't around, would there be fewer Doomsdays (monsters seeking to confront Superman) or more Coast Citys (a disaster that only happened because Superman wasn't there)?

Superman (vol. 2) #175[edit]

After the Imperiex War, Doomsday has evolved intelligence, and intends to kill Lex Luthor. Without any aid from his allies, Superman defeats the monster on the anniversary of his original defeat of the creature at Washington D.C., exploiting the fact that Doomsday's new intelligence also gives him a fear of death that he had previously lacked.

The Doomsday Protocol[edit]

Batman, with the aid of Superman, devised a measure made after The Man of Steel recovered from his first battle with Doomsday, that, when the Justice League or any other superhero groups encounter a Doomsday Level Threat, a group of heroes, authorities, and military forces would contain it within a proximity after clearing all civilians within it. If Superman and the rest falls, the Doomsday Protocol, which is a dimensional projecting bomb, will commence by sending the threat to the Phantom Zone after detonating it.[5] Despite Doomsday and other powerful individuals such as Superboy-Prime's recurring appearances, Batman's measure has yet to be used.

Batman: Under the Hood[edit]

In a Batman storyline,"Hush," implied that Batman, whose life has been defined by tragedies, has become obsessed with the possibility of resurrection since Superman's returns, which later another storyarc "Under the Hood" confirms it. With more allies such as Green Arrow and later his protégé Jason Todd also return from their graves, Batman seeks to learn how to bring back the dead in hope he may be able to resurrect his loved ones.

Infinite Crisis[edit]

During Infinite Crisis, Batman told Superman that the last time he inspired anyone was when he died.[6] Later, the Golden Age/Earth-2 Superman, Kal-L, fought and defeated Doomsday alongside the modern Superman during the Battle of Metropolis, after the villains rescue Doomsday specifically because they wish him to lead the assault on the city.[7]

Legion of 3 Worlds[edit]

In Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds, Superboy (who had been killed battling Superboy-Prime) is resurrected in the 31st Century by the Legion of Super-Heroes using the same regeneration matrix that resurrected Superman.

Blackest Night[edit]

During the Blackest Night event, the anniversary of Superman's original battle with Doomsday has become a day of remembrance honoring the deaths of superheroes and those they have failed to save. During the Black Lantern Corps' universal invasion, the demon Nekron, the Lord of the Black Corps, reveals that he allows the Eradicator's success of reviving the Man of Steel so that the demon would have a sleeper agent with other resurrected individuals. Because of Superman's previous status as a deceased, it allows Nekron's black power ring to transform Kal-EL into an undead Black Lantern under the demon's commands. Superboy (Kon-El) (who also has a previous status as a deceased resulted from his battle with Superboy-Prime) also becomes a Black Lantern with Kal-El.[8] Superman and Superboy are eventually freed subsequently by a white ring.

The Tomorrow Memory[edit]

In 2010, Dan Jurgens revisited The Death of Superman saga once more on a Booster Gold storyline, involving Booster Gold attempts to thwart a time-traveling assassin, Sondra Crain, of murdering Hank Henshaw before he becomes the villain he's destined to be. Even though the hero successfully saved Henshaw, Booster also questions himself if he should have left him to die in order to save the lives he would eventually murder. Elsewhere, Booster's sister, Michelle, is in Coast City at a point in the past before Henshaw's future self's city-wide attack and Booster is forced to had Michelle abandon her lover on orders from Rip Hunter, Booster's future son.[9]

Justice League: Generation Lost[edit]

"The Death and Return Of Superman" storyline was evoked by writer Judd Winnick in Justice League: Generation Lost to justify/explain away JLI financier Maxwell Lord's descent into villainy. In the series, it is revealed that Max's mother (with whom it is revealed that he had a quasi-incestuous relationship with) was living in Coast City when the city was destroyed, causing him become bitter and ultimate be the reason behind the betrayal of the super-hero community and the Justice League.[10]

Reign of Doomsday[edit]

In the 2011 Reign of Doomsday crossover, Doomsday returns and attempts to hunt down and capture the four Supermen who were created in the aftermath of Superman's demise. Prior to facing off against Superman, Doomsday battles Supergirl and the Justice League, a situation that editor Eddie Berganza noted resembled the initial The Death of Superman issue where Doomsday fought the League before his confrontation with Superman.[11]

The New 52[edit]

In 2013's Action Comics #16, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen meet at Superman's memorial statue (now depicted in his updated costume), per Clark Kent's request. It is known that three years ago, Superman died on what is known as "Doomsday" before returning from the dead to defeat the enemy that had killed him. The day was remembered due to the red sun radiation in the air and a rainfall of blood. Even though the story itself never names the enemy that killed Superman, it is implied the day itself is known as Doomsday, and the creature and/or enemy that killed Superman is nameless. The book ends with the appearance of Superman's new nemesis, Super-Doomsday, a creature formerly known as Superdoom that is also sharing his name with the day he appeared, as anointed by the "Little Man".

Audience and media response[edit]

The Death and Return of Superman storyline sold exceptionally well and, since it was intertwined through numerous different comic series (including Action Comics, Superman, Superman: The Man of Steel, and Adventures of Superman, among others), brought in millions of readers to DC Comics. Superman's creator, Jerry Siegel himself, who in 1961 had predicted the Man of Steel's death in an "imaginary story," met with then Superman editor Mike Carlin to tell him that he was very impressed by his version of it.[12] The first five installments of "Reign of the Supermen!" were the top five best-selling comic books for the month.[13]

The cover of Superman (vol. 2) #75 (shown above in infobox) became an iconic image: Superman's tattered cape wrapped around a pole, marking the spot where Superman died. (Certain prints of Superman #75 contained a black armband with the familiar "S" symbol adorning it.) DC shipped between 2.5 and 3 million copies of Superman #75, with most stores selling out of the issue on the day of its release.[14]

Criticism[edit]

Although Superman #75 became a bestseller for DC Comics, some contend it also helped bring about a decline in the comic book industry.[15] Many readers felt ripped off when Superman did not stay dead for even one year before being brought back to life. Fans were disappointed with what they saw as a mere publicity stunt and did not stick around for the obligatory return. A large part of the sales from Superman #75 were from non-fans who wanted the issue as a collectible investment. Due to the massive number of books printed (except for the platinum editions), it is unlikely to ever be valuable. Once buyers realized that this, and a number of similar or even more egregious "collectible" issues, were not going to pay off, the speculative bubble of comic books as investments burst.[16]

Read order[edit]

  • Doomsday! (Act 1)
    • Superman: Man of Steel #18 (Part 1)
    • Justice League America #69 (Part 2)
    • Superman Vol. 2 #74 (Part 3)
    • Adventures of Superman #497 (Part 4)
    • Action Comics #684 (Part 5)
    • Superman: Man of Steel #19 (Part 6)
    • Superman Vol. 2 #75 (Part 7)
  • Funeral for a Friend (Act 2)
    • Justice League America #70 (Tie-In)
    • Adventures of Superman #498 (Part 1)
    • Action Comics #685 (Part 2)
    • Superman: Man of Steel #20 (Part 3)
    • Superman Vol. 2 #76 (Part 4)
    • Adventures of Superman #499 (Part 5)
    • Action Comics #686 (Part 6)
    • Superman: Man of Steel #21 (Part 7)
    • Superman Vol. 2 #77 (Part 8)
    • Superman Vol. 2 #83 (epilogue)
  • Reign of the Supermen! (Act 3)
    • Action Comics #687 (Part 1)
    • Superman: Man of Steel #22 (Part 2)
    • Superman Vol. 2 #78 (Part 3)
    • Adventures of Superman #501 (Part 4)
    • Action Comics #688 (Part 5)
    • Superman: Man of Steel #23 (part 6)
    • Superman Vol. 2 #79 (Part 7)
    • Adventures of Superman #502 (Part 8)
    • Action Comics #689 (Part 9)
    • Superman: Man of Steel #24 (Part 10)
    • Superman Vol. 2 #80 (Part 11)
    • Adventures of Superman #503 (Part 12)
    • Action Comics #690 (Part 13)
    • Superman: Man of Steel #25 (Part 14)
    • Superman Vol. 2 #81 (Part 15)
    • Adventures of Superman #504 (Part 16)
    • Action Comics #691 (Part 17)
    • Superman: Man of Steel #26 (Part 18)
    • Green Lantern Vol. 3 #46 (Part 19)
    • Superman Vol. 2 #82 (Part 20)
    • Adventures of Superman #505 (Part 21)

In other media[edit]

Television[edit]

  • The Bruce Timm animated series Justice League has an episode entitled "A Better World", in which the Justice League was tricked and captured by the Justice Lords, who took their place. At the same time, Doomsday arrives from outer space in a meteor. In one scene, both the Justice Lord Superman and Doomsday punched each other out at the same time, resulting in a shockwave which destroyed several buildings. However, this did no damage to Doomsday and only nearly knocked out the alternate Superman. In the end, alternate Superman used his heat-vision to lobotomize him, parodying the Death of Superman storyline much like the "Bane" episode of Batman: The Animated Series had done with Knightfall.[17] In the episodes "Hereafter (Parts 1 and 2)" (written by Dwayne McDuffie and directed by Butch Lukic), Superman is sent into the future by a device of Toyman's, only to wake up to a red-sunned Earth populated by giant bugs, mutant wolves, and Vandal Savage.[18] This was, in all intents, an adaptation of the comic story "Under the Red Sun" (one of Timm's favorites). However, since Toyman's device looks like it disintegrates Superman into nothingness, the first half of the two-part episode deals with Superman's funeral, and it takes some direct elements from the Death of Superman storyline, such as the memorial statue, Batman watching Superman's funeral procession from the rooftops, and the wearing of black armbands by other members of the Justice League.

Film[edit]

  • By the time The Death of Superman hit the newsstands, Warner Bros. had gained the rights to produce a fifth Superman film from Alexander Salkind. The studio selected Superman's death as the storyline for the film, and Jon Peters came in as producer, following the success of the Batman franchise, which he had also produced. From 1994 to 1998, projected film adaptations of The Death of Superman storyline faced numerous problems with the script process. Writers proposed major changes to the character, including the absence of the Superman costume, and the lack of the power of flight. One of the writers, Kevin Smith, said, "The thing that bothered me about [writer] Greg Poirier’s draft: they were trying to give Superman angst. They had Clark Kent going to a psychiatrist at one point. Superman’s angst is not that he doesn’t want to be Superman. If he has any [angst], it’s that he can’t do it all; he can’t do enough and save everyone...Batman is about angst; Superman is about hope."
  • Superman Reborn, retitled Superman Lives, was slated for release on July 4, 1998, directed by Tim Burton and with Nicolas Cage to portray Superman. However, following the box office disappointment of Batman & Robin, the project was scrapped.
  • At Comic-Con '06 Bruce Timm announced that he would produce the Death of Superman story as a Direct-To-DVD (or DTV) project, which was titled Superman: Doomsday, with Adam Baldwin as The Man of Steel, with Anne Heche as Lois Lane, and James Marsters as Lex Luthor. During an interview with Newsarama.com, Timm explained that the story would cover the entire trilogy of The Death of Superman, World Without a Superman, & Reign of the Supermen!. However, it was necessarily simplified since the film runs only 75 minutes. A trailer released in June 2007 showed a slightly altered animation style from that of the DC animated universe. Lois and Superman have a relationship, but The Man of Steel has not revealed his identity to Lois until the end of the film, even though she already knows. Some of the major changes and differences include the absence of Lex Luthor II and Supergirl in the film; the presence of a similar Lex Luthor to that of the post-Crisis version - the corrupt tycoon of LexCorp; the fight between Superman and Doomsday occurring at night (instead of during the day, as it did in the comics) Luthor creating Cyborg Superman as a clone; and fewer Supermen. The film was screened twice at the San Diego Comic-Con '07 as a special sneak preview on Thursday, July 26. Both reactions and reviews were well received. The DTV film was released on September 18, 2007. It made its U.S. broadcast premiere on the Cartoon Network Saturday July 12, 2008, at 9:00 pm EST.
  • While not present directly in The DTV film Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, it is alluded to at one point, where Batman tells Superman "It's your funeral", and Superman says he already had one.

Video games[edit]

  • The Containment Suit that Doomsday appeared in is featured as an alternate suit for him in Injustice: Gods Among Us. Also, as a hidden easter egg, under certain circumstances in the Fortress of Solitude stage, Doomsday as he appears in The Death of Superman can be seen in the background.

Board games[edit]

  • In August 2011 Wizkids (owned by NECA) released an expansion set of the collectible miniatures game Heroclix, titled Superman that contained a large variety of Superman related heroes and villains. As part of this set there were five game pieces that were directly related The Death of Superman storyline. A Doomsday piece was released that showed the first appearance of Doomsday in his green containment suit with one arm tied behind his back. There were the four Reign of the Supermen! pieces, Steel, Eradicator, Superboy and the Cyborg Superman, each of which were featured in their costumes from that storyline. Each of these pieces gains a bonus on the defeat of a piece named Superman in a game. Finally, among the many Superman pieces in the set, there was a piece that featured long hair, the black suit and the crystal matrix from the Reign of the Supermen! storyline.

Merchandise[edit]

  • In 1995, Kenner released an action figure line based on the Death of Superman era, called Superman: Man of Steel. This featured the first action figures of characters such as the long-haired Superman, Superboy, Steel, Doomsday, Conduit, and the ToyFare exclusive Eradicator. It also corresponded with the Legends of Batman collection, which was largely based on Batman Elseworlds and the Knightfall saga. Man of Steel ran for two series but was canceled in mid 1996 with various products showcased at Toy Fair '96 that would go unreleased.[19]

Music[edit]

Novels[edit]

Radio[edit]

  • Dirk Maggs produced an audio dramatization of the story for BBC Radio 5, entitled Superman: Doomsday & Beyond! (retitled Superman Lives! in the U.S.), featuring Stuart Milligan as Superman/Clark Kent/Kal-El & the Eradicator, William Hootkins as Lex Luthor, Lorelei King as Lois Lane, Vincent Marzello as Jimmy Olsen, Garrick Hagon as Jonathan Kent, Kerry Shale as Connor Kent/Kon-El/Superboy & Hank Henshaw/Cyborg Superman, Eric Meyers as Guy Gardner, Denica Fairman as Maggie Sawyer, Liza Ross as Supergirl, Burt Kwouk as Doctor Teng, and Leon Herbert as Dr. John Henry Irons/Steel with original music by Mark Russell.

Parodies[edit]

  • Around the same year when the Death of Superman storyline was occurring, Saturday Night Live parodied this in the style of a funeral. Attendees of the funeral were Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane, Perry White, Lex Luthor, Batman & Robin, Flash, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Hawkman & Hawkgirl, Penguin, Catwoman, characters from Marvel Comics (Mister Fantastic, Hulk, Spider-Man, and Storm) and an assortment of unfamiliar characters. When Green Lantern asks why Lex Luthor is at the funeral, Lex Luthor states that Superman was a worthy adversary even though he is glad that Superman is gone. Batman & Robin, Perry White, and Hulk (alongside Mister Fantastic and Spider-Man) were the speakers at the funeral. Black Lightning (portrayed by Sinbad) tries to enter the funeral, but no one knows him even though he claimed to have taught Superman how to fly. After the characters from Marvel Comics were done speaking, Jimmy Olsen takes the stand stating that he had heard from the Chief of Police that the Legion of Doom was attacking Metropolis Civic Arena and thinks that this would've been a job for Superman. Batman states that they will have to try to carry on without him as he leads those who can fly, those who have super strength, and anyone who can rotate the Earth on its axis into battle to do it for Superman. As the heroes leave, Black Lightning is seen pillaging some of Aquaman's shrimp as Lois wonders where Clark Kent is.
  • The Simpsons episode, "Worst Episode Ever", parodies the storyline when Nelson, holding a copy of a comic The Death Of Sad Sack (a parody of the World War II comic) says "This better not be another fakeout", parodying people's reaction's to the revival of Superman at the time.

Awards[edit]

The trade paperback The Death of Superman received the Comics Buyer's Guide Fan Award for Favorite Reprint Graphic Novel or Album for 1992. The storyline of The Reign of the Supermen! won the Comics Buyer's Guide Award Favorite Comic Book Story for 1992.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Superhero Wages Battle To The Deaths". Sun Sentinel. November 20, 1992. Retrieved 2010-10-16. 
  2. ^ a b c Greenberger, Robert (2008). "Doomsday". In Dougall, Alastair. The DC Comics Encyclopedia. New York: Dorling Kindersley. p. 108. ISBN 0-7566-4119-5. OCLC 213309017 
  3. ^ "Superman Doomsday DVD Official Site (DC Universe)". Warnervideo.com. Retrieved 2011-02-03. 
  4. ^ a b c Wallace, Dan (2008). "Eradicator". In Dougall, Alastair. The DC Comics Encyclopedia. New York: Dorling Kindersley. p. 116. ISBN 0-7566-4119-5. OCLC 213309017 
  5. ^ Action Comics #825
  6. ^ Infinite Crisis #1 (October 2005)
  7. ^ Infinite Crisis #7 (May 2006)
  8. ^ Blackest Night #5 (January 2010)
  9. ^ Booster Gold #28-29 (March April 2010)
  10. ^ Justice League: Generation Lost #20
  11. ^ "REIGN OF THE DOOMSAYERS: Eddie Berganza, Pt. 2". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 2011-04-02. 
  12. ^ The Death and Return of Superman at Superman Through the Ages
  13. ^ "Wizard Market Watch". Wizard (22). June 1993. pp. 134–5. 
  14. ^ Miller, John Jackson. "Nov. 17, 1992: A $30 Million Day — and the Days After," "The 1900s: 10 biggest events from 100 years in comics," CBGXtra.com (Dec. 12, 2005).
  15. ^ Rozanski, Chuck. "Death of Superman Promotion of 1992,"
  16. ^ "The Great Comics Crash of 1996" TV Tropes
  17. ^ Stan Berkowitz (writer); Dan Riba (director) (2003-11-01). "A Better World". Justice League. Season 2. Episode 11. Cartoon Network.
  18. ^ Dwayne McDuffie (writer); Butch Lukic (director) (2003-11-29). "Hereafter (Parts 1 and 2)". Justice League. Season 2. Episode 19 & 20. Cartoon Network.
  19. ^ Superman: Man of Steel Raving Toy Maniac. Retrieved 8-07-2014.

External links[edit]