The Death of Superman

"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:
October 1992 - November 1992
"Funeral for a Friend"
January - June 1993
"Reign of the Supermen!"
June - October 1993
Main character(s) Superman
Superboy (Kon-El)
Cyborg Superman
Lois Lane
Justice League
Supergirl (Matrix)
Lex Luthor
Green Lantern (Hal Jordan)
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
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 1993.

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]


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.

In 1992, the television series based on Superboy concluded after four seasons in syndication. However, producer Alexander Salkind was precluded from doing any further work on the series (he and son Ilya had planned a series of telefilms to bring Superboy to an official end) after Warner Bros., the owner of DC Comics, reclaimed certain intellectual property rights he had been in possession of since 1978. Shortly thereafter, Warner Bros. began developing Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, a new series for ABC which was 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'."



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, starting by throwing a tree trunk through their aircraft and 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

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 (minus the epilogue) 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!

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 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, a giant 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 attacking Engine City, with some help from Supergirl. Upon his revelation, he acknowledged himself as the real Superman (the fourth person at this point to claim that title, as Steel never claimed the name of Superman). 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 collaborated to film Clark Kent's rescue, Supergirl using her shapeshifting powers to pose as Clark Kent and create the impression that Clark had been 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.



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

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.

Supermen of America

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, to 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. Desiring to follow Superman's example as a way to return the favor to the Man of Steel, Anderson formed the 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

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, compared by some writers to a Kryptonian version of the mammalian diving reflex involving solar energy restoring his body to life (although sources such as Professor Hamilton and Batman have noted that available evidence suggests that the remaining 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, during his near death experience, explained to Clark's soul how, being a Kryptonian, he could never die, or at least that he could 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, to which he conformed. Once he accepted and embraced his alien makeup, he was able to refuse death and lead his father back to the land of the living.

Emerald Twilight

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 which established 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 his 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

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. Mr. Mxyzptlk saw that as wrong, and tried to reunite them, but was finally persuaded to let them work things out by themselves. Finally in 1996, tying into the wedding of Lois Lane and Clark Kent in the Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman television series, Lois returns to Metropolis and rekindles her romance with Clark. The two set in motion their plans for a wedding and are married in Superman: The Wedding Album.

Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey and Superman: The Doomsday War

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. Doomsday is carried to the end of time, where, it was hoped, the entropy destroying all existence would destroy him. 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. With Brainiac's intellect, Doomsday easily defeats the current Justice League before Superman is able to force Brainiac's mind out of Doomsday and trap Doomsday in four teleporters, each of which is locked in a perpetual loop, preventing Doomsday from ever attempting escape as there was never more than 25% of him in one place.

Wonder Woman #111-115

Doomsday was brought back, in clone form, during John Byrne's Wonder Woman run. During the arc, scientist Doctor Julian Lazarus, who had devised a means of creating copies of living beings from video footage, tried to create a new body for his son, who had died in an accident that he blamed himself for, Lazarus convinced that he had preserved his son in the computer system (His colleagues were convinced that he had just created a copy of what he thought his son should be, but he was too insane from grief to be reasoned with). He had provided his son with recordings of various superhero battles that he could 'play' as though they were a video game, but these had resulted in his son recreating the Barry Allen Flash and Sinestro- both currently assumed to be dead- to 'attack' the city in the belief that he was only playing a game, with his father only learning what his son was doing after he created a clone of Doomsday. Wonder Woman was only just able to defeat this clone with the aid of the disguised Hercules and the new Wonder Girl; Superman learned of the creature's rampage, but was too far away to get there before Wonder Woman destroyed the duplicate, and he decided to avoid asking for details due to the potential awkwardness of his recent break-up with Lois Lane.

Superman: Man of Steel #75

Superman Man of Steel #75 served as a tribute/satire of the original Doomsday storyline. Louise Simonson is the credited writer, but Penciller Jon Bogdanove, seeing the opportunity to express his sense of humor re-wrote it with Simonson's blessing. 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

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)?

Imperiex War

During the Imperiex War, Doomsday was released from the teleportation matrix and his mind 'reprogrammed' by Manchester Black with the goal of unleashing him against the Imperiex probes, Black altering Doomsday's mind so that his usual hatred of Superman was redirected against Imperiex. Despite his hatred of Doomsday, Superman fought alongside him to defeat various probes, but Doomsday was finally incinerated down to his skeleton by Imperiex-Prime, Superman only escaping the same fate thanks to Darkseid teleporting him to safety.

Superman (vol. 2) #175

Following the War, Doomsday's body was retrieved and his restoration accelerated by Lex Luthor as part of a deal with Darkseid. Eventually released on the anniversary of his original defeat by Superman as a 'test drive', it was soon revealed that Doomsday has evolved intelligence, and intends to kill Luthor. Without any aid from his allies, Superman defeats the monster 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

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 fall, 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

The Batman storyline,"Hush," implies that Batman, whose life has been defined by tragedies, has become obsessed with the possibility of resurrection since Superman's return, which the story arc "Under the Hood" confirms. When 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

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

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, although it took a thousand years to restore Superboy.

Blackest Night

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 allowed the Eradicator's successful reviving of the Man of Steel so that the demon would have a sleeper agent with other resurrected individuals. Superman's previous status as deceased 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 previous status as deceased, resulting from his battle with Superboy-Prime) also becomes a Black Lantern with Kal-El.[8] Superman is eventually freed by a white ring, while Wonder Girl is able to free Superboy by using the fact that his past self's corpse is 'still' in the regeneration matrix, confusing the ring into leaving Superboy's finger so that Krypto can destroy it.

The Tomorrow Memory

In 2010, Dan Jurgens revisited The Death of Superman saga once more on a Booster Gold storyline, involving Booster Gold's attempts to thwart a time-traveling assassin, Sondra Crain, from 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

"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) was living in Coast City when the city was destroyed, causing him to become bitter and ultimately be the reason behind the betrayal of the super-hero community and the Justice League.[10]

Reign of Doomsday

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

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".

Following the death of the New 52 Superman of Kryptonite poisoning, the pre-Flashpoint Superman- trapped in this timeline following Convergence- attempts to recover his other self's remains to take them to the Fortress of Solitude, with the goal of restoring him to life in the same way that he was restored after his battle with Doomsday, but when he and Lana Lang arrive at the Fortress, a search of its archives reveals that there is no regeneration matrix in the Fortress, leaving Superman with no way to bring his counterpart back from the dead.

Audience and media response

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] This became the best-selling comic book issue of all time. Mike Carlin denied that Superman's death was intended to be a publicity stunt rather, journalists at the time did not understand how modern comic book stories tend to play out, and they wrongly reported that Superman's death was permanent, causing a sensation.[15]


Although Superman #75 became a bestseller for DC Comics, some contend it also helped bring about a decline in the comic book industry. Many readers felt they had been deceived when Superman remained "dead" for less than a year before being brought back to life. Fans were disappointed with what they saw as a mere publicity stunt and did not continue reading the books for the pre-ordained 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. Retailer and columnist Chuck Rozanski cites the sales of this book as an example of the speculator boom of the 1990s, which ended in the bust of the speculator market.[16]

Reading order

In other media



Video games






Board games

Action figures


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.


  1. "Superhero Wages Battle To The Deaths". Sun Sentinel. November 20, 1992. Retrieved 2010-10-16.
  2. 1 2 3 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)". Retrieved 2011-02-03.
  4. 1 2 3 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," (Dec. 12, 2005).
  15. Daniels (2004), p. 168: ""Characters die every day in comics. This is old news to us. If it had been a new idea, I would have been worried about it, but this really is one of our cliché stories," said Mike Carlin. [...] Yet to the mainstream press, whose reporters perhaps didn't realize that modern comics told stories over many months, an issue that ended with the Man of Steel dead meant that he intended to stay that way."
  16. Rozanski, Chuck (2013). "Death of Superman Promotion of 1992". Mile High Comics. Retrieved May 3, 2015.
  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.
  20. "Instagram photo by Henry Cavill • Aug 15, 2016 at 6:58pm UTC".
  21. Superman: Man of Steel Raving Toy Maniac. Retrieved 8-07-2014.
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