Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Zod! Show Me Magic Podcast - Episode #5: Does Alan Moore Know the Score? A Joke that Kills and a Squid that Hates

Here it is, the fifth episode of the podcast presented by me and my friend Rhys L. Griffiths! It's aimed at fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Extended Universe who fancy dipping their toes into the comics. The set up is that we both discuss superhero movies and TV, while I also explain aspects of the comics to Rhys. It's all done (hopefully) in a fun, accessible way for the new or casual fan, and can be enjoyed by hardcore fans too.
It's called Zod! Show Me Magic.

This episode is about Alan Moore and the movies that have been made from his work, but we also find time to discuss the latest movie news, Mel Gibson's beard, and Baby-Face Finlayson.

It can be found on Itunes:

Zod! Show Me Magic on Itunes

And also on Soundcloud:

Check it out! Comment! Subscribe! Rate!

During the podcast I make reference to an article that discusses the differences between the portrayals of Evey and Finch in the V for Vendetta comic and their portrayal in the film. You can find that article here!

On the subject of further reading, I highly recommend this series of essays by Pam Noles discussing Alan Moore's use of the golliwog in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. 

We also discuss the upcoming Stan Lee biopic. As mentioned in the podcast, here's my vision of that what that film should be.


Also, join Zod's Super Book Club! Our next episode is about The Flash so I've made Rhys read Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver's The Flash: Rebirth and Mark Waid and Greg LaRocque's The Flash: Born to Run by next month and we'll be discussing it on Episode 6, where Rhys will decide who he likes best, Barry Allen or Wally West. If you've read them or are going to read them let us know what you think of the story via Twitter (@ZodShowMeMagic)Facebook, or here on my blog!




Spread the word for the love of Zod!

#NCBD Tweets 21/09/16

It's New Comic Book Day! I usually Tweet some thoughts about my weekly haul so I thought I'd start collecting them on my blog.














I'm also curious about Trinity #1, which was out today but is sadly one comic too many to add to my swiftly ballooning pull list. If anyone's got any thoughts about that particular comic (or any of the titles mentioned above) feel free to share them in the comments.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

#NCBD Tweets 14/09/16


It's New Comic Book Day! I usually Tweet some thoughts about my weekly haul so I thought I'd start collecting them on my blog.









Thursday, 11 August 2016

Zod! Show Me Magic Podcast - Episode #4: Suicide Squad; Squad Show Me Magic (or Rocky vs Ego the Living Planet)

Here it is, the fourth episode of the podcast presented by me and my friend Rhys L. Griffiths! It's aimed at fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Extended Universe who fancy dipping their toes into the comics. The set up is that we both discuss superhero movies and TV, while I also explain aspects of the comics to Rhys. It's all done (hopefully) in a fun, accessible way for the new or casual fan, and can be enjoyed by hardcore fans too.
It's called Zod! Show Me Magic.

This episode is about Suicide Squad, but we also find time to discuss the news from this year's San Diego Comic Conand Batman's underpants.

It can be found on Itunes:

Zod! Show Me Magic on Itunes

And also on Soundcloud:
Check it out! Comment! Subscribe! Rate!

Also, join Zod's Super Book Club! I've made Rhys read Alan Moore's MiracleMan by next month and we'll be discussing it on Episode 5. If you've read it or are going to read it let us know what you think of the story via Twitter (@ZodShowMeMagic)Facebook, or here on my blog!



Spread the word for the love of Zod!

Monday, 8 August 2016

Top 25 Best Superman Stories Ever!

Click here for my Top Ten Best Batman Stories Ever!

I wrote about my Top Ten Best Superman Stories ages ago but recently I've felt the desire to expand the list to a Top 25. This is for no other reason than I really, really like writing about Superman. You may have noticed there are a few famous, acclaimed Superman stories that are conspicuous by their absence. I thought I'd start by quickly noting why they didn't make the cut.

Superman For All SeasonsSecret Identity, and What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way? were left out for quite a simple reason, I don't really like them. Seasons is too twee for my liking, and I find Tim Sale's depiction of Superman as a giant headed, small faced man-baby a bit creepy (although some of his work has made it into my Top 25). Secret Identity is frankly too nice. Writer Kurt Busiek is obviously so fond of the characters that they face little, if any conflict and the whole story ends up being quite uneventful. What's So Funny is one of those Superman stories where the writer has decided to unsubtly lecture the readers on what Superman means to them, and I find such stories quite self indulgent.

Mark Waid's Birthright has been left out as I think Leinil Francis Yu's art is completely at odds with the tone of the story. Waid's Kingdom Come has been left out because, while it's a fantastic story I find it a bit too depressing to count among my favourites. It is after all a story about what happens when Superman gives up.

Last Son, Escape From Bizarro World, Brainiac, Secret Origin, Final Crisis: Superman Beyond, Superboy's Big Brother, The Showdown Between Luthor and Superman, Clark Kent's College Days, The Super-Key to Fort Superman, The Girl in Superman's Past, The Amazing Story of Superman-Red and Superman-Blue, and The Mysterious Mr. Mxyztplk all nearly made the list.

25.'Superman, Champion of the Oppressed' & 'Revolution in San Monte' Action Comics #1&2 (1938)
Writer: Jerry Siegel
Penciler: Joe Shuster
Inker: Joe Shuster


The very first appearance of Superman! In this two part story we're introduced to Superman, his origin, his powers, his human identity his job as a reporter, and Lois Lane. But that's not the half of it! We also see Superman catch a murderer, save an innocent man from execution, clobber a wife beater, mess up a date with Lois, save Lois, dangle a corrupt lobbyist from a tall building, join a foreign army, save Lois again, crash a plane, and end a war! Phew! The pace and energy of this story is unbelievable. The script and art are crude even by the standards of the time, but this only adds to it's energy. This is a story created by two poor, Jewish boys struggling to make a living in '30s America and the sense of cathartic wish fulfillment is palpable and infectious! It's easy to see why Superman was a such a massive hit.

24. 'Bodyguard or Assassin?' Action Comics #405 (1971)
Writer: Cary Bates
Penciler: Curt Swan
Inker: Murphy Anderson


Superman has to protect the President from an unseen foe in a hi-tech underground bunker, but an increasingly unstable Man of Steel may be the real threat. Despite a twist that's very typical of it's time this story still succeeds in making Superman's descent into madness quite disturbing. Curt Swan was DC's top Superman artist for over two decades and drew the design sheets used by other artists to learn how to draw Superman. This story really gives Swan's experience with the Man of Steel a chance to shine, as Superman has to go through a wide range of emotions during his apparent breakdown.

23. 'DOA' Action Comics #766 (2000)
Writer: Joe Kelly
Penciler: Cary Nord
Inker: Jason Baumgartner


Lois Lane has been kidnapped by the Parasite but Superman is slowly succumbing to Kryptonite poisoning! It's a race against time as Batman tries to help Superman find his wife before the Man of Steel kicks the bucket! This story offers probably the most compelling examination of Superman and Batman's contrasting methods. Batman is every inch the crime solving machine, while Superman, even in his weakened state, inspires others to help them. We see Batman learn from Superman's strength and goodness, while Superman learns why Batman needs to observe the world in such a cold manner. We really get a sense of the admiration these men have for each other, as well as the depth of Superman's love for Lois. 

22. 'Ex Machina' Christmas with the Super-Heroes #2 (1988)
Writer: Paul Chadwick
Penciler: Paul Chadwick
Inker: John Nyber


Over the years we've seen a few stories where Superman saves someone who's about to end their own life, but this one is the most well crafted of the lot. This story carries an emotional weight, but it doesn't beat the reader around the head with it. Superman doesn't offer the man the answer to all his problems. Just warmth and hope. As with Paul Chadwick's work on his own character, Concrete, this story is subtle, honest, and beautiful.

21. 'The Last Days of Superman!' Superman #156 (1962)
Writer: Edmond Hamilton
Penciler: Curt Swan
Inker: George Klein


Superman is dying from an old Kryptonian virus and so he locks himself in a glass case (of emotion) and directs his friends to perform some of the super-feats that he never got around to during his life. Almost all of the fun aspects of the Superman myth are trotted out for this story, including Krypton's past, the Legion of Superheroes, Lori Lemaris, and the miniature Superman Emergency Squad from the Bottle City of Kandor. Superman's final message to the Earth, scorched into the surface of the moon for the whole world to see is lovely. And there are few images in the history of comic books more haunting, iconic, and beautiful than Curt Swan's dying, Christ-like, Superman, carried to his Fortress by a squad of tiny Super-people. 

20. 'World's Finest' (1990)
Writer: Dave Gibbons
Penciler: Steve Rude
Inker: Karl Kesel


This story was written during a period when DC were portraying Superman and Batman as cautious allies rather than bosom buddies. It's filled with examples of the many contrasts between our two heroes and their worlds but this makes the glimpses we see of their burgeoning friendship all the more satisfying and resonant. There's also Luthor and Joker engaging in an extremely fun partnership, followed by an even more entertaining war against each other, and a compelling story about an orphanage with a dark secret. As much as I love Dave Gibbon's writing though, Steve Rude's art is the real star of this book. He really emphasises the contrast between the two characters with a wonderful use of light and darkness. Everything is drawn in a style that harks back to the character's early days, but in a way that doesn't seem gimmicky and doesn't distract from the story.

19. 'Time and Time Again!' Adventures of Superman #476-478, Action Comics #663-664, Superman #54-55 (1991)
Writers: Dan Jurgens, Roger Stern, Jerry Ordway
Pencilers: Dan Jurgens, Bob McLeod, Jerry Ordway
Inkers: Brett Breeding, Bob McLeod, Dennis Janke, Jerry Ordway


After a battle with the mysterious Linear Man, Superman is left bouncing uncontrollably through time! This is less a story and more a series of things that happen to Superman as he's thrown around time against his will. It is however, a series of REALLY COOL things that happen to Superman as he's thrown around time against his will. He fights Nazis, dinosaurs, demons, and a Sun-Eater, and encounters the Legion of Superheroes, Etrigan the Demon, and FDR! Despite being a victim of time shenanigans Superman is far from passive during his travels. Seeing Superman being thrown into a succession of confusing scenarios and still finding a way to fight for what's right is immensely satisfying. 

18. 'Kryptonite' Superman Confidential #1-5, 11 (2007-2008)
Writer: Darwyn Cooke
Penciler: Tim Sale
Inker: Tim Sale


This is the story of Superman's first encounter with Kryptonite and so, as you might assume, it's also the story of Superman's first encounter with his own mortality. Even before the infamous, glowing rock shows up Superman suffers a harrowing near-death experience with a volcano. Darwyn Cooke and Tim Sale convey Superman's fear and panic so well that the reader is able to empathise quite easily with an invulnerable super being who's drowning in molten lava. Superman's supporting cast are served very well by this story. There are some wonderful moments between Clark and his parents, Jimmy Olsen gets a chance to shine. and Lois Lane demonstrates what makes her such an amazing investigative journalist. We also see Superman realising that while he has a duty to the world, he can't take a woman like Lois for granted. Tim Sale's art style seems to be reigned in somewhat during this story and for me at least that's a good thing. Superman's innocence is conveyed without the exaggerated baby-face that Sale draws on him in other stories such as Superman for All Seasons.

17. 'Superman and the Men of Steel/ Bulletproof/ At the End of Days' Action Comics (vol. 2) #0-18 (2011-2013)
Writer: Grant Morrison
Penciller: Rags Morales & Various
Inker: Rick Bryant & Various


The mind-bending, cosmic concepts of writer Grant Morrison done in the style of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's fast paced, two-fisted 1930s Superman strips! This run is split into several different stories of the Man of Steel, including his origin, his early years in Metropolis as a champion of the oppressed, his first encounter with Brainiac, his rescue of Krypto the Super-dog from the Phantom Zone, and his battles against the Anti-Superman Army with the Legion of Superheroes. There's even a detour into a parallel universe where an African American Superman is President. But together all these tales depict an attack on Superman from the 5th dimension, fought at different points in his life from Superman's perspective but all at the same time from the perspective of his foe! At the heart of all the multi-dimensional, meta-conceptual brain melting is a Superman for whom nothing is impossible, and who won't let bullies get away with it!

16. 'Unconventional Warfare/ That Healing Touch/ Ruin Revealed' The Adventures of Superman #625-648 (2004-2005)
Writer: Greg Rucka
Penciler: Various
Inker: Various


During Greg Rucka's run on The Adventures of Superman, our hero is forced to ask himself some pretty hard questions. Lois Lane is shot while reporting in the Middle East and the consequences of rescuing her forces Superman to confront the influence his very presence has on human history. Clark and Lois wonder whether to start a family or not and Mr Mxyzptlk gives them a glimpse of what it might be like to raise a super-child. Wonder Woman is forced to kill a foe to save Superman, and the two heroes (as well as Clark and Lois) debate whether it's ever acceptable to take a life. Throughout it all Superman is being targeted by a ruthless enemy named Ruin who knows his secrets. The brilliant thing about this run is that Rucka deals with these moral quandaries intelligently without allowing Superman to get bogged down by uncharacteristic moping or angst. Superman ultimately provides the answer to these dilemmas the only way he can, by being Superman.

15. 'Up, Up and Away' Superman #650-653, Action Comics #837-840 (2006)
Writers: Geoff Johns, Kurt Busiek
Pencilers: Pete Woods, Renato Guedes
Inkers: Pete Woods, Renato Guedes


Superman has lost his powers and for the past year has been enjoying life as plain old Clark Kent. But his old enemies are starting to reappear, and Lex Luthor is collecting Kryptonite! For anyone who hasn't read a lot of Superman before and would like a straightforward, fun introduction to the character and his world, this is the story for you! Superman is a powerless and very human Clark Kent for half of this tale. As a result the reader is offered a fantastic insight into who our hero really is and what really makes him so Super. The story also offers a great portrayal of Clark and Lois' relationship and a look at some of the lesser known members of Superman's rogue's gallery as well as the heavy hitters. This is also a great Luthor story, and by the end of the story you'll be left in no doubt as to what Lex really feels about the Man of Steel.

14. 'Day of the Krypton Man' Superman #41-42, The Adventures of Superman #464-465, Action Comics #651-652 (1990)
Writers: Dan Jurgens, Roger Stern, Jerry Ordway
Pencilers: Dan Jurgens, George Perez, Kerry Gammil,  Jerry Ordway
Inkers: Brett Breeding, Art Thibert, Dennis Janke


This story deals with the conflict between alien and human that rages within Superman, and it does so in a hugely entertaining way. Superman falls under the influence of an ancient Kryptonian artifact called the Eradicator. Robbed of his human values he becomes isolated and cold, and Ma and Pa Kent get a real chance to shine as they try to remind their son of his humanity. Superman's inner struggle with his alien nature is mirrored in the outside world as he faces intergalactic menaces such as Lobo, Maxima, and Draaga. This story also marks a significant advancement in the relationship of Lois Lane and Clark Kent, as Clark's uncharacteristic coldness causes Lois to begin to realise just how much he means to her.

13. 'Exile' Adventures of Superman #451-456, Superman #28-30, Superman #32-33, Action Comics Annual #2, Action Comics #643 (1989)
Writers: Roger Stern, Jerry Ordway, George Perez
Pencilers: Dan Jurgens, Kerry Gammil, Mike Mignola, Curt Swan, Jerry Ordway, George Perez
Inkers: Brett Breeding, Art Thibert, Dennis Janke, John Statema, George Perez


Writer/artist John Byrne's Supergirl Saga gets discussed a lot among Superman fans. This was the story in which Superman is forced to execute General Zod and his gang in order to save billions of lives. Aside from the controversial ending and the introduction of a new Supergirl, this story is actually pretty subpar and forgettable. But we must thank the gods of comics it exists, because the story that dealt with the consequences of the Supergirl Saga is one of the greatest Superman stories ever. Superman is traumatised by his actions and exiles himself into space, believing himself to be a danger to the Earth. During his journey through space he avenges the deaths of an entire Earth town, teleports inside a gigantic space blob, learns the bloody history of Krypton, and fights and wins in an alien gladiatorial arena (years before a certain green, gamma-irradiated Marvel monster did the same thing), Exile is the story of a lost Man of Steel gradually remebering who he is. That realisation comes with nine defiant words: "MY NAME, TYRANT, IS SUPERMAN AND I DON'T KILL!"

12. 'Superman under the Red Sun' Action Comics #300 (1963)
Writer: Edmond Hamilton
Penciler: Al Plastino
Inker: Al Plastino

This is a surprisingly grim Silver Age tale of Superman trapped in a post-apocalyptic future. Robbed of his powers, Superman takes a long walk across a dried up ocean in order to reach his Fortress and find a way home. He encounters a variety of bizarre, mutated creatures along the way and is accompanied by a robotic duplicate of his boss, Perry White. The final panel of the story features a brooding Superman looking out over Metropolis and hoping that he will never again find himself the last man on Earth. Considering most stories from this period ended with Lois Lane getting annoyed while Superman winked at the reader, this rather dark ending really stands out.

11. 'The Challenge of Terra Man' Superman #249 (1972)
Writer: Cary Bates
Penciler: Curt Swan
Inker: Murphy Anderson


This fantastically daft Bronze Age tale features Superman suffering from the annual birthday depression that apparently all Kryptonians must endure. As a result our melancholic Man of Steel is woefully unprepared for an attack from Terra-Man, a villainous cowboy who wields expanding, atomic bullets and killer cigar smoke. Superman is having a super freakout and his powers are behaving unpredictably. In one brilliant bit his X Ray vision is reversed and he is forced to stare in horror at his own brain! I don't know about you but Superman fighting a Super-Cowboy with Killer Cigars while he flies upside down and stares at his own brain sounds pretty entertaining to me.

10) 'The Death of Superman' Superman #149 (1961)
Writer: Jerry Siegel
Penciler: Curt Swan
Inker: George Klein


This is one of the all time greatest Lex Luthor stories and also one of the most famous "imaginary" stories of the sixties. This story imagines what would happen if Luthor pretended to turn good and then zapped Superman with a Kryptonite lamp while his guard was down. For a start, this story is great because it features Luthor's Lair, which is always a treat. It's in an abandoned museum full of waxworks of Al Capone, Atilla the Hun and other famous baddies. You have to shake hands with a statue of Julius Caesar to get in. The other high point of this story is the nastiness of Superman's death. Luthor fries him slowly under the aforementioned lamp and forces Lois, Perry White and Jimmy Olsen to watch. In Luthor's own words, "He wriggled and twisted like a worm on a hook! He sweated and turned green and the last thing he ever saw was my grinning face!" It’s grim stuff, at least by the standards of sixties Superman comics, but also very entertaining.

9) 'Reign of the Supermen'  
Action Comics #687
Superman: Man of Steel #22
Superman #78
Adventures of Superman #501
Action Comics #688
Superman: Man of Steel #23
Superman #79
Adventures of Superman #502
Action Comics #689
Superman: Man of Steel #24
Superman #80
Adventures of Superman #503
Action Comics #690
Superman: Man of Steel #25
Superman (Volume 2) #81
Adventures of Superman #504
Action Comics #691
Superman: Man of Steel #26
Green Lantern #46
Superman #82
Adventures of Superman #505 
(1993)
Writers: Dan Jurgens, Louise Simonson, Roger Stern, Karl Kesel
Pencilers: Dan Jurgens, Jon Bogdanove, Jackson Guice, Tom Grummett
Inkers: Denis Rodier, Dennis Janke, Brett Breeding, Doug Hazlewood


While Superman's other death is the most famous Super-story of the nineties, it doesn't amount to much more than a big cross country punch up. Superman's resurrection was far more interesting. Following the death of the Man of Steel four Super-pretenders turn up. A Cyborg, a grim vigilante, a super-teen and a man in super-armour. How nineties is that!? Neither the armoured guy (Steel) nor the teen (Superboy) were really claiming to be the real deal but the other two were strong contenders. At the time I was convinced that I had figured out which of them was the real Superman. Boy, did I back the wrong horse! This was the first time I'd ever read a comic and thought "Did they just do that!?" The story gave us two strong characters that have become important parts of the DC Universe, John Henry (Steel) Irons and Conner (Superboy) Kent. This almost makes up for the fact that this story was also the first appearance of Superman's short lived nineties mullet.

8) 'Must There Be A Superman?' Superman #247 (1972)
Writer: Elliot S! Maggin
Penciler: Curt Swan
Inker: Murphy Anderson


A friend of mine once asked me, why doesn't Superman feed the starving of the world, or end all war? This was the first story to provide anything approaching an answer to such questions. Superman walks a fine line between helpful super-powered pal and scary alien invader, hell-bent on imposing his will on the world. In a way, the fact that he's so powerful is his greatest weakness. If he does too much he emasculates the human race and removes them of their drive to help each other achieve a better world. If he's always there to help them, why should they bother? In this story Superman begins to consider this for the first time, paving the way for the more sophisticated superhero stories of the subsequent decades.

7) 'Whatever Happened to The Man of Tomorrow?' Superman #423/ Action Comics #583 (1986)
Writer: Alan Moore
Penciler: Curt Swan
Inker: George Perez



Beardy comics genius Alan Moore has written three of the most acclaimed Superman tales ever and they're all on my list. This is one of 'em. Just before John Byrne rebooted the character in 1986, Moore wrote this legendary two part tale to close the book on Superman's Silver age adventures. The story depicts Superman defending himself and his friends from a final ruthless attack from all his greatest foes. The whole story has a tragic air of finality about it as Superman sees parts of his myth break away one by one like pieces of an iceberg. The fact that it's pencilled by Curt Swan, the man who defined the look of the Silver Age and Bronze Age Superman, adds to the poignancy of the whole thing. This story genuinely feels like the end of an era. Every legend needs an ending. Robin Hood was killed by a treacherous prioress, King Arthur was clobbered over the head by Mordred and Batman has Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns. Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow is a worthy ending to the legend of Superman.

6) 'The Jungle Line' DC Comics Presents #85 (1985)
Writer: Alan Moore
Penciler: Rick Veitch
Inker: Al Williamson



Next on the list is another Alan Moore classic. Superman has caught a deadly Kryptonian virus. He rents a car and drives South to die. There he encounters Swamp Thing while in the midst of huge super-powered fever driven freakout. The reason this story is so effective is that it paints a vivid picture of a god confronting his own mortality and pretty much crapping his pants. Moore does this by contrasting Superman's moments of fever induced physical weakness with beautifully detailed descriptions of his awesome powers. For example, "Once he bathed in the heart of the sun, careless of the mile high geysers of flame that spat at him in frustrated outrage. Now, for his impudence, it cooks him by degrees." Superman's fear at confronting pain, death and helplessness for the first time in his life is tangible. In one darkly humorous moment Clark Kent gets a paper cut and artist Rick Veitch has drawn him reacting with a perfect look of confused horror.

5) 'For the Man Who Has Everything' Superman Annual #11 (1985)
Writer: Alan Moore
Penciler: Dave Gibbons
Inker: Dave Gibbons


Here's the third Alan Moore story in my list. Batman, Robin and Wonder Woman turn up at the Fortress of Solitude to celebrate Superman's birthday. Unfortunately Mongul has got there first and ensnared Superman in a Black Mercy, a parasitic plant that grants it's victims a vision of their heart's desire as it drains their life. Moore figures that Superman's heart's desire is to live as an ordinary Joe on Krypton surrounded by family. I love the idea that Superman, the perpetual outsider, the alien super-god, would just want to be a regular normal slob living in a place where he felt he truly belonged. As Superman fights the influence of the killer plant his fantasy world starts to go tits up. Superman's dad, Jor-El is depicted as a crusty old racist who is the laughing stock of Krypton ever since the planet failed to explode as he predicted. Jor-El and his clan are also pretty unpopular due to the protest movement against the Phantom Zone. Moore was probably the first writer to acknowledge that the Zone (an extra-dimensional dumping ground for criminals that was discovered by Jor-El) was pretty cruel and pretty unusual, as punishments go. This was also the first time, at least to my knowledge, that Krypton was depicted as anything other than a scientifically advanced Utopia. As well as all this brilliance the story also features Wonder Woman and Mongul in a huge scrap, a really, really pissed off Superman, and at the end, Robin saves the day!
4) 'Superman and the Legion of Superheroes' Action Comics #858-863 (2007)
Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciler: Gary Frank
Inker: Jon Sibal


Geoff Johns and Gary Frank have produced some of the best Superman stories of recent years. This is one of them. Superman goes back to the 31st Century to reunite his old teenage gang, the Legion of Superheroes. While there he battles super-powered, alien-hating human supremacists. This story is very accessible, despite the fact that it draws on decades of continuity to return the Legion to their roots. The getting-the-band-back-together plot and the array of colourful characters would make this a perfect basis for a Superman movie (if you’re reading Zack Snyder, take note). This story is absolutely littered with moments so cool that I literally punched the air with joy while reading them. The best thing about the tale is that Superman is without his powers for most of it but you hardly notice because he's such a badass. Towards the end a powerless Superman pushes the main baddy, Earth Man through the window of a space station in order to battle him while plummeting through the atmosphere. Balls of Steel.

3) 'Superman: Red Son' (2003)
Writer: Mark Millar
Penciler: Dave Johnson, Killian Plunkett
Inker: Andrew Robinson, Walden Wong

This is the story of what would have happened if Superman's rocket landed in Soviet Russia and Superman became "the Champion of the common worker who fights a never-ending battle for Stalin, socialism, and the international expansion of the Warsaw Pact." Generally speaking Superman walks a fine line between helpful super-powered pal and scary alien invader, hell-bent on imposing his will on the world. In Red Son, he crosses that line. Despite this Superman is never depicted as an evil power mad Commie. Throughout the whole book he's driven by the same desire to help and make the world a better place that drives the regular Superman. This story shows us what would happen if Superman, removed of the American value for individual freedom, took that desire to its extreme. This is also one of the best Luthor stories ever. Luthor is the Western world's only hope but, like regular Luthor, he is driven by the same petty obsession to rid the world of the one man who could be perceived as superior to him. It also features Russian Batman in an adorable little Bat-eared deer-stalker hat.

2) 'The Man of Steel' (1986)
Writer: John Byrne
Penciler: John Byrne
Inker: Dick Giordano

This is the story that got me, at age eleven, into Superman. I'd read Superman comics before but I'd always viewed Superman as a bit stuffy and po-faced and I had always preferred Batman. That was until I read Man of Steel. Byrne took an approach to the character that had never been done before. He made Superman a bit less powerful and a bit more vulnerable, he could no longer move planets but he could be hurt. Byrne emphasized this vulnerability by having Superman's cape get visibly torn whenever he found himself in a particularly challenging battle. This effective little artistic trend continues to this day. But Byrne did much more than make Superman physically weaker. He strengthened Superman's ties to Earth. As a man who was born in England and yet spent most of his life in the United States, Byrne felt that Superman would be proud of his Kryptonian roots but wouldn't constantly pine for his lost world in the way the Silver and Bronze Age versions of the character had. Byrne also figured that as Superman never wore a mask, then people would have no reason to suspect that he had a secret identity. This gave Clark Kent the freedom to shed his meek, mild mannered image and live his life without holding back his courage and charm. To Byrne, Superman was the disguise and Clark Kent was very much the real person. This made for a character that was very easy for the eleven year old me to relate to. After all, this Superman was much more human than Batman, the aloof millionaire. Byrne's very human Superman was my gateway into the wider world of the Superman myth, and it's for this reason that I've placed this story at number two.

1) 'All Star Superman' (2005-2008)
Writer: Grant Morrison
Penciler: Frank Quitely
Inker: Jamie Grant


This is it. The ultimate Superman story. It's written by Grant Morrison, one of the best writers in comics today and it features everything that's good about Superman, and I mean EVERYTHING! Despite this it's not just a greatest hits package. Every aspect of the Superman myth is taken to its next logical extreme. Morrison's handling of Bizarro World contains a beautiful example of this. In All Star Superman Bizarro World contains not only imperfect duplicates of Superman and Jor-El but also an imperfect duplicate of Bizarro himself, Zibarro! Zibarro is the sensitive, poetic and intelligent opposite of Bizarro in every way, trapped on a world of mindless monsters. Morrison has taken the story of Bizarro and pushed it just that little bit further, just as he does with every aspect of the Superman myth contained in this series. This is Superman Plus!

Lois Lane is beautifully depicted as the very flawed human woman who captured the heart of a god. Under the influence of alien chemicals a paranoid Lois admits to herself that she fears she couldn't love Superman if any part of him was actually like his oafish and bumbling Clark Kent persona. Seeing this ugly but very human side of Lois exposed makes her seem more of a real person and makes Superman's love for her even more special.

Lex Luthor is absolutely perfect, a super genius utterly consumed by hate, just as he should be. At one point Clark Kent takes off his glasses and shouts in Luthor's face and yet, blinded by his own -arrogance, Luthor fails to recognise what is literally staring him in the face. Luthor is contrasted with the character of Leo Quintum, head of P.R.O.J.E.C.T, a lunar-based scientific laboratory performing advanced genetic testing. With his presence in the story Quintum spells out the tragedy of Luthor, representing what Luthor could accomplish if he wasn't so obsessed with destroying Superman.

The plot of the story revolves around a dying Superman's attempts to perform twelve Herculean super-feats before he passes away. Like Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow it serves as an effective and poignant ending to the legend of Superman. But it's not all doom and gloom. All Star Superman is fun! It contains, among other things, a cross dressing Jimmy Olsen, an arm wrestle with Samson and Atlas and an ape called Leopold in a Superman suit.

So there's the list. The Top 25 Best Superman Stories Ever! What do you think? What was left out? Does anything not belong there? Leave a comment and let us know!

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