Top Ten Incarnations of Superman

Did you know our favorite boy in blue and red tights(again) turns 80 this year? Recently,  Warner Brothers Animation studios recently released the Death of Superman video in stores. It simply inspired me to put together this list and a follow up to our review of Death of Superman. http://facomics.com/?p=28576. Here is some of our favorite versions of Superman.

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10. Red Son Superman(2003)

In 2003 Mark Millar re-imagined Kal-El landing in the Soviet Union instead of Smallville, Kansas. The story was set in 1950 during the heat up of the COLD WAR. Needless to say in Earth-30 things turned out different for this DC Universe. It’s not that Superman hasn’t been altered ever before but it was such a drastic change to what American readers had seen before.  Superman was a working man of the people of the Soviet Union. His uniform was primarily gray and still had the shield and cape. It was an interesting shift in ideals for Kal-El. The character was updated for our #9…INJUSTICE.

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9, Injustice(2013)

Ed Boon has been the master of fighting games for the Mortal Kombat series. 2013 saw his take on a much different DC Universe. One way to drastically change Superman was to simply break his heart. The Joker blew up Metropolis which include on Ms. Lois Lane. Needless to say this was the thing to set Supes on the deep end. He caved in Joker’s chest killing him instantly. The fighting game pitting superheroes against superheroes. It’s a great fighting game with some fun moves and the entertaining story line to boot. Superman became a bit of an overlord that put crime in any form in it’s tracks. They made a solid comic series of the story and a second game. It was hard to see Superman in such a bad way and hard to see the heroes die fighting him.

8. The Fleischer Superman cartoons(1941-1943)

America was amidst World War II and needed some distraction. Max and Dave Fleischer were committed to putting an animated Superman on the silver screen. They had to lower the budget to produce the 17 animated features that would represent Superman fighting for Truth, Justice and the American way. This series is still list as some of the best cartoons ever produced. It was nice Superman had such a quality start in animation. The entire series is public domain so you can watch the entire series on Youtube or right here.

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7. New 52/Rebirth(2011/2016)

2011 saw the revamp and relaunch of all the DC titles and it’s various characters. Obviously Superman was one of those characters that saw a decent amount of change. It was strange because of the two different versions of Superman. Grant Morrison’s Action Comics was so different then what George Perez had started doing in Superman that it was just confusing to get a grasp of the character. The Justice League comic actually unified the character more so…their uniforms matched thanks to Jim Lee. Needless to say the NEW 52  wasn’t greatly loved by fan or creator alike. The Convergence series to re-balanced things or took account of things that occurred prior to the “Flashpoint” event. Re-birth returned Superman and Lois’s relationship and son to go with it. It all brought Superman stories back to a classic Superman we all know and enjoy. The last couple months actually saw Kal-el the return to his red tights with Michael Brian Bendes jumping from Marvel to DC Comics.

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6. John Byrne(1986) Man of Steel #1

There was a little thing in 1986 called the Crisis on Infinite Earths. The DC Universe got an overhaul by writer Marv Wolfman and illustrator George Perez. This of course called for a relaunch of Superman. To do this DC Comics brought in John Byrne, who had just finished his 5 year run of the Fantastic Four. Byrne put a new spin on Superman. Superman wasn’t a strong as was before or you could say he couldn’t move planets. His uniform simply put took battle damage. His interpersonal relationships were changed with just minor things. Lois Lane was a more independent woman of the 80’s. Sadly John’s run only lasted til issue 22. and Action Comics 600. Issue 22 caused some major outrage. Superman executed the three villains from Krypton after they massacred everyone on an alternate earth. Byrne’s changes lasted for several years and set-up numerous other stories.

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5. Curt Swan(1920 to 1976)

During the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s primary care of Superman’s look was supplied by Curt Swan. Mr. Swan probably illustrated Superman more then any other creator. It created consistency and frankly love for character that stood the test of time. Curt penciled Action Comics, Adventure Comics, Jimmy Olsen, The Legion of Superheroes, Lois Lane and The Superman book itself. For all time Curt Swan’s name lived side by side Superman himself. He passed away in 1996 and his last unpublished works were actually printed in Action Comics #1000. We type Curt Swan’s name with much respect and love.

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4. Jerry Siegel/Joe Shuster(First Appearance of Superman: Action Comics #1 1938)

There can only be two other people that could possibly go before Curt Swan…Jerry and Joe. 1938 is where it all began. Superman was born in Action Comics #1. Superman was originally conceived as a bald telepathic villain that wanted to take over the world. They re-imagined him as a superhero where he eventually found his home at National Allied Publications, later DC Comics. This list would be forever incomplete with the addition of Jerry and Joe’s contribution to this pop culture phenomenon.

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3. Death of Superman(December 1992 to October 1993)

There are certain moments in comics history that when you re-read or re-watch the events in any media just stand out: Death of Bruce Wayne’s parents, Death of Uncle Ben and The Death of Superman. It took 5 writers and a handful of artists to kill off Superman. The story line lasted 10 months and we all knew it was coming. We also knew that they would bring him back…it’s why he’s Superman. The last panel when Kal-EL’s body slumped before a broken-hearted Lois Lane still gets me. It was hard to read in 1993, it was hard to watch in Batman Vs Superman, and even watch The Death of Superman animated…IT STILL GOT ME. I know that Superman is part of who I would want to be if I had his powers…it’s why he’s Superman. It’s simply and hopefully that potential good in all us to do the right thing no matter the cost. The story made a lasting impression on comic lovers and those looking to cash in on the collectible value of the book years later. I don’t feel there’s been a story that has hit home since.

2. Christopher Reeve: Superman The Movie 1978

Did you watch the trailer? I did. I feel like I got the same chills I felt when I saw the teaser in 1977 right before seeing Star Wars. Superman the Movie stands as one of the best “origin” films ever produced by any studio. Christopher Reeve made us believe that a man could fly with the special effects of 1976-77. DATED the film is…but well written it is more so’ “There’s one thing I know is you are here for a reason.”…PREACH Pa Kent. They shot 1 and 2 at the same time and set-up the second movie right at the beginning of the first. Christopher Reeve started in three films after the first, sadly they did not get better with time. He did manage a part on the Smallville show staring as a professor Swan. He acted in a wheelchair after his horse accident that crippled him and eventually took his life.

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1.Superman Animated Series 90’s

Many of the forms of Superman are solid versions of the Man of Steel. The 90’s animated series that ran from 1996 to 2000 is what I believe to stand as the best of best. 54 episodes of greatness that leap tall buildings in a single bound.  The series took everything that was great about Superman and didn’t hold back. Superman had his arch-enemy with Lex Luthor. He had his run-in with Batman. Clark Kent suffered the agonies of being in love with a strong powerful woman like Lois Lane. It had tons of action and a fabulous art design that continues to be timeless. The series was preceded by the Batman: Animated Series and actually tied together at the end of Batman’s run. The show jumped right into the Justice League. It showed just how writers like Bruce Timm and Dan Riba could make the Man of Steel’s legacy great beyond measure.

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