[Editor’s Note: This article is the second part of a 5 piece article by Mark Cormier.]
20) JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA: THY KINDGOM COME
Writer: Geoff Johns & Alex Ross
Artists: Dale Eaglesham, Fernando Pasarin, & Alex Ross
“I am Superman .. but not the Superman you know. I’ve come here from another world — another time — that is no more. I know this may sound crazy to you, but I feel that I’m responsible. I fear that I may doom this world by being here. And I wonder … how did I wind up being the bad guy?”
The Superman from Mark Waid and Alex Ross’s Kingdom Come (officially designated Earth-22) makes a prolonged guest appearance on the official DC Universe after a freak occurrence has thrown him across the multiverse. Seeing a connection between the villain Gog of this world and the vigilante Magog of his world, the Superman of Earth-22 and the Justice Society of America must work together to prevent this world from going the way of his.
Alex Ross has stated before the he did not intend for Thy Kingdom Come to be a sequel, since it would negate the purpose of the the original story. If anything, it’s more of a prequel. Even though the story revolves around alternate dimensions rather than time travel, the parallels between this universe and Kingdom Come’s universe that move the story forward.
The position of Thy Kingdom Come on this list may be tenuous, considering it is a Justice Society of America title. However, the central focus of the plot revolves around Earth-22’s Superman, whose presence and past experiences effectively make him an unwitting prophet of doom. This is a stark contrast to the more messianic role he plays in Kingdom Come.
Thy Kingdom Come is collected in three separate trade paperbacks, specifically Justice Society of America: Thy Kingdom Come, Books One-Three.
19) SUPERMAN AND THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Gary Frank
“I’m for everyone.”
In the 31st Century, the United Planets are protected by the Legion of Super-Heroes, a coalition of super-powered humans and aliens who are inspired by the legend of Superman from their distant past. Using advanced time-travelling technology, they often visited Superman when he was a young boy. The Legion was more than happy to welcome the boy of steel into their ranks, and they frequently allowed him to participate in many of their adventures.
As an adult, Superman receives a distress call from the Legion. However, the future he returns to is no longer what he remembered from his childhood visits. The history of Superman’s legend has been distorted by the villainous Earth-Man and his Justice League of Earth, and his childhood friends in the Legion of Super-Heroes have been branded fugitives. Together, they must find a way to expose Earth-Man’s lies, clear the Legion’s name, and restore honor to Superman’s legacy.
In Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes, Geoff Johns doesn’t just reintroduce the Legion into Superman’s continuity; he makes them an integral part of his character development. Aside from the foreknowledge of the legacy he will one day leave behind, Clark got a chance to grow up with friends he could relate to, to be in a place where he could belong. Since this is an adventure where Superman reacquaints himself with friends he hasn’t seen in a very long time, you could regard it as Superman’s very own version of a high school reunion.
18) SUPERMAN/DOOMSDAY: HUNTER/PREY
Writer/Artist: Dan Jurgens
“The legends … are true. You … are beyond death.”
Haunted by nightmares of the monster that killed him, Superman undertakes a perilous journey across the galaxy in order to determine the origins of Doomsday and put an end to his threat once and for all. His search takes him from Earth to Apokolips and beyond, trailing a path of destruction that confirms his worst fears: Doomsday has returned. And this time, there may be no stopping him.
The Death of Superman brought us the ultimate showdown of the century, pitting the Man of Steel against an unstoppable rampaging monster called Doomsday, who accomplished what no other super-villain could: kill Superman!! When Superman returned from the dead, however, there was no doubt among fans that Doomsday could similarly cheat death. A rematch was inevitable, and Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey delivered in spades.
Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey is the perfect follow-up to the Death and Return of Superman storyline. It’s an action-packed; it features an all-star cast including Darkseid and the Cyborg Superman; and it showcases the origins of Doomsday himself. Furthermore, it depicts a believably vulnerable Superman, whose private fear of Doomsday is most certainly justified. That he is able to face that fear and overcome it is just one of the many qualities that makes him Superman.
17) SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL
Writer/Artist: John Byrne
“From now on, whenever there are people who need my very special kind of help, it won’t be a job for plain, ordinary Clark Kent … it’ll be a job for Superman.”
Superman: The Man of Steel was Superman’s official origin story from 1986 until 2003. It was one of the first reboots to come out of the aftermath of “Crisis on Infinite Earths”, reinventing Superman’s mythology from the ground up. Even after Superman’s origin would again be rebooted several times over, many of the concepts introduced in “Superman: The Man of Steel” still continue to stand the test of time.
The Man of Steel is a radical change over the silver age tradition, applying several alterations to Superman’s mythos. It established Superman as the sole survivor of Krypton, doing away with concepts such as Supergirl, the Phantom Zone, and the Bottled City of Kandor. It favoured Clark Kent as the main persona over the Superman disguise, making the otherwise mild-mannered reporter more confident and relatable. It brought back Superman’s adoptive parents Jonathan and Martha Kent as vital members of his supporting cast.
Most significantly, however, it reinvented Lex Luthor from a mad scientist to an evil corporate executive of a multi-billion dollar industrial empire. Although he is the top dog in Metropolis, he made his way up there by unscrupulously knocking down everyone in his way. When Superman robs him of his spotlight, he uses his vast financial resources to destroy or discredit this new Man of Tomorrow.
16) SUPERMAN: FOR TOMORROW
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Jim Lee
“My sin? Was to save the world.”
Superman is haunted by his failure to prevent the Vanishing, an event that caused the mysterious disappearance of over one million people throughout the world, including his wife Lois Lane. During his investigations, he confides in a terminally-ill priest named Leone, ruminating on his place in the world and his role as humanity’s protector. Superman eventually discovers that the people who were lost in the Vanishing were actually transported to Metropia, a paradise world located in the Phantom Zone. Superman had created Metropia as a refuge for humanity in case Earth would ever suffer the same tragic fate as Krypton. This paradise is ultimately threatened by outside forces in the Phantom Zone, who resent the presence of Heaven in Hell.
When it comes to characterising Superman, there are several various aspects to explore. Normally, however, it boils down to two options: you either focus on the “Super”, or you focus on the “Man”. In the case of For Tomorrow, Brian Azzarello focuses on the “Super”. He does this by having Superman narrate his troubles and doubts to Father Leone. The expositions are that he is regarded as a god-like figure, that he cannot be everywhere at once, that he can be regarded as an outsider even among his own peers.
Join us next time for part 3!