Superman (comic book)

This article is about the first, third and fourth series. For the second series, see Superman vol. 2.

Cover of Superman #1 (Summer 1939). Art by Joe Shuster.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
Format Ongoing series
Publication date
Number of issues
Main character(s) Superman
Lois Lane
Jimmy Olsen
Lex Luthor
Creative team
Creator(s) Jerry Siegel
Joe Shuster

Superman is an ongoing American comic book series featuring the DC Comics superhero of the same name. The character Superman began as one of several anthology features in the National Periodical Publications comic book Action Comics #1 in June 1938. The strip proved so popular that National launched Superman into his own self-titled comic book, the first for any superhero, premiering with the cover date Summer 1939. Between 1986 and 2006 it was retitled The Adventures of Superman while a new series used the title Superman. In May 2006, it was returned to its original title and numbering. The title was canceled with issue #714 in 2011, and was relaunched with issue #1 the following month which ended its ran in 2016. In June 2016, a fourth series was launched with new issue #1.

Publication history

Due to the Superman character's popularity after his premiere in Action Comics #1, National Allied Publications decided to launch an entirely new magazine featuring a single character, which at that time was unprecedented.[1] Superman #1 appeared on the shelves in the summer of 1939. Superman now also had the distinction of being the first ever hero-character featured in more than one comic magazine. By issue #7, Superman was being hailed on the covers as the "World's Greatest Adventure Strip Character". Perry White, a supporting character who had originated on the Superman radio program was introduced into the comic book in issue #7 (October 1940).[2] Editor Mort Weisinger began his long association with the title with issue #11 (July–August 1941).[3] Jimmy Olsen first appeared as a named character in the story "Superman versus The Archer" in Superman #13 (Nov.–Dec. 1941).[4][5] In the early 1940s, Superman was selling over a million copies per month.[6] By 1942, artist Wayne Boring, who had previously been one of Shuster's assistants, had become a major artist on Superman.[7] Superman #23 (July–August 1943) featured the first Superman comic book story written by someone other than Jerry Siegel.[8] The story "America's Secret Weapon!" was written by Don Cameron despite bearing Siegel's signature.[9] Siegel introduced Mister Mxyzptlk in issue #30 (September 1944).[10] A more detailed origin story for Superman was presented in issue #53 (July 1948) to mark the character's tenth anniversary.[11] Another part of the Superman mythos which had originated on the radio program made its way into the comic books when kryptonite was featured in a story by Bill Finger and Al Plastino.[12]

Superman was the first DC title with a letters column as a regular feature beginning with issue #124 (September 1958).[13] In the view of comics historian Les Daniels, artist Curt Swan became the definitive artist of Superman in the early 1960s with a "new look" to the character that replaced Wayne Boring's version.[14] Writer Jim Shooter and Swan crafted the story "Superman's Race With the Flash!" in Superman #199 (Aug. 1967) which featured the first race between the Flash and Superman, two characters known for their super-speed powers.[15]

Julius Schwartz became the title's editor with issue #233 (January 1971)[16] and together with writer Denny O'Neil and artist Curt Swan streamlined the Superman mythos, starting with the elimination of Kryptonite.[17] Elliot S. Maggin began his long association with the title with the story "Must There Be a Superman?" in issue #247 (Jan. 1972).[18][19] Writer Cary Bates, in collaboration with Swan, introduced such characters as the supervillain Terra-Man in issue #249 (March 1972)[20] and the superhero Vartox in issue #281 (Nov. 1974).[21] Issues #272 (Feb. 1974), #278 (Aug. 1974), and #284 (Feb. 1975) of the series were in the 100 Page Super Spectacular format.[22] Superman #300 (June 1976) featured an out-of-continuity story by Bates and Maggin which imagined the infant Superman landing on Earth in 1976 and becoming a superhero in 2001. The tale was an inspiration for Mark Millar's Superman: Red Son limited series published in 2003.[23] DC's parent company Warner Communications reinstated the byline for Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster which had been dropped decades earlier[24][25][26] and the first issue with the restored credit was Superman #302 (August 1976).[27] Martin Pasko and Swan created the Master Jailer character in issue #331(January 1979).[28] The bottle city of Kandor, which had been introduced in 1958, was restored to normal size in a story by Len Wein and Swan in Superman #338 (August 1979).[29]

The series reached issue #400 in October 1984. That issue featured work by several popular comics artists including the only major DC work by Jim Steranko as well as an introduction by noted science-fiction author Ray Bradbury.[30][31] Superman ran uninterrupted until the mid-1980s, when DC Comics instituted a line-wide relaunch with the 1985 event maxi-series Crisis on Infinite Earths. Folding their vast multiverse into a single shared universe, Superman and his supporting cast would receive a massive overhaul at the hands of writer/artist John Byrne. One last story, which also marked the end of Schwartz' tenure as editor of the series,[16] was published to give a send-off to the former status quo: Alan Moore's Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?.[32] The story's first part saw publication in Superman #423, which would be the last issue before the title was relaunched with its legacy numbering as The Adventures of Superman.[33] Superman was relaunched with a new #1 issue in a second volume in 1986,[34] and was published concurrently with The Adventures of Superman.

1986 revamp

The Adventures of Superman

Cover of The Adventures of Superman #649 (April 2006), by Ivan Reis, the "final" issue of the series under that title.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
Schedule Monthly
Format Ongoing series
Publication date January 1987 – April 2006
Number of issues 228 (#424–649, plus issues numbered 0 and 1,000,000)[35] and 9 Annuals
Main character(s) Superman
Creative team

The Adventures of Superman was numbered from issue #424 (January 1987) to issue #649 (April 2006), for a total of 228 monthly issues including issue #0 (October 1994) published between issues #516 and #517 as a tie-in to the Zero Hour limited series and issue #1,000,000 (November 1998) as a tie-in to the DC One Million limited series[35] and nine Annuals published between 1987 and 1997.[36]

When the series was relaunched in late 1986 under its new title, the creative team initially was writer Marv Wolfman and artist Jerry Ordway.[37] John Byrne replaced Wolfman with issue #436 (January 1988)[38] and Ordway became both writer and artist with issue #445 (October 1988).[39] Writer/artist Dan Jurgens worked on the title from 1989–1991. Hank Henshaw, a character who would later become the Cyborg Superman, first appeared in issue #466 (May 1990).[40] By the late 1980s, the plots of the Superman books were often linked. To coordinate the storyline and sequence of event, from January 1991 to January 2002, "triangle numbers" (or "shield numbers") appeared on the cover of each Superman comic book. During these years, the Superman storylines ran with the story continuing through the titles Superman, Action Comics and later in two further series, Superman: The Man of Steel and Superman: The Man of Tomorrow.

Jerry Ordway returned as writer of the title with issue #480 (July 1991).[41] Tom Grummett drew part of #480 and became the main artist on the series with the following issue.[42] The series participated in the crossover storyline "Panic in the Sky" in 1992.[43] During their run on The Adventures of Superman, Grummett and Ordway (along with editor Mike Carlin and others) were the architects of "The Death of Superman" storyline, in which Superman died and was resurrected. It was during that storyline, that Grummett and writer Karl Kesel, created the new Superboy in The Adventures of Superman #500 (June 1993).[44] Other crossovers the series participated in included Zero Hour: Crisis in Time,[45] The Final Night,[46] and Infinite Crisis.[47]

As of the start of 2002, the integration between the Superman titles became less frequent, and the remaining issues of The Adventures of Superman commonly carried self-contained stories. Issue #600 (March 2002) was a double-sized special featuring Superman combating Lex Luthor.[48] The final issue (#649) was part of a three-part crossover with Superman and Action Comics, an homage to the Earth-2 Superman in the wake of events in the limited series Infinite Crisis.

For its last two years, The Adventures of Superman was written by Greg Rucka.[49] His stories included the villain Ruin, the attempted assassination of Lois Lane and a number of Mister Mxyzptlk appearances.

Adventures of Superman Volume 2

Adventures of Superman was relaunched on AprIl 29, 2013. Unlike the previous volume, the new series is not set in the mainstream DC Universe continuity but instead features anthology style stories with rotating creative teams in the same format as the second Legends of the Dark Knight series. It is released as a digital-first comic with print publication to follow. The first story was to have been written by Orson Scott Card and drawn by Chris Sprouse and Karl Story.[50] Card's participation in the project became an issue. DC Comics responded to a petition that he be dropped with a statement that it supported freedom of expression and that the personal views of individuals associated with the company were not the views of the company. Illustrator Chris Sprouse left the project due to the media attention and some comic book stores announced a boycott.[51] Card's Superman story is now "on hold" and will not be included in either the scheduled print or digital issues and was replaced by a story written by Jeff Parker.[52] The relaunched Adventures of Superman series came to an end with issue #17, released in September 2014.[53]

Return to original title

Superman volume 2 reached issue #226 (April 2006) and was then canceled as part of the linewide Infinite Crisis event. The Adventures of Superman was returned to its original title, Superman, with issue #650 (May 2006),[54] as a part of the "One Year Later" banner. Superman had a crossover with Action Comics, titled "Up, Up and Away!" co-written by Geoff Johns and Kurt Busiek with art by Pete Woods. This storyline told of Clark Kent attempting to protect Metropolis without his powers until eventually regaining them. Busiek became the sole writer of the series with issue #654 (September 2006) and Carlos Pacheco became the series' artist.[55] The series participated in the weekly series Countdown to Final Crisis, giving a different perspective on certain events shown in the weekly title, such as the events preceding the death of New God Lightray.

Busiek and Pacheco developed an extended storyine featuring Arion coming into conflict with Superman.[56] The plotline concluded in Superman Annual #13.[57] Alex Ross painted the covers for issues #675 (June 2008) through #685 (April 2009).

James Robinson replaced Busiek with issue #677 (August 2008).[58] Robinson's run on the title began with the "The Coming of Atlas" story arc and began a link between Superman, Action Comics, and Supergirl that started a long-form narrative with the New Krypton event. The majority of Robinson's run featured Mon-El and the Guardian as the featured characters, while Superman himself had gone to live on the planet New Krypton. Robinson's last full issue was #699, tying into Last Stand of New Krypton, and he finished his run in a short story in issue #700 (August 2010) that returned Superman to Earth.[59][60] Superman #700 also saw writer J. Michael Straczynski, a self-professed Superman fan who feels a personal connection to the character,[61] take over writing duties with a short story in the issue,[60] and his run on the title began with issue #701.[62] Artist Eddy Barrows, a previous Action Comics artist and one of the artists on the War of the Supermen event, was Straczynski's artistic collaborator.[63] Straczynski and Barrows began a year-long story entitled "Grounded," that sees Superman begin a long walk across the United States to regain the connection with his adopted home that he feels he lost while away on New Krypton.[64] The series ended with issue #714 (October 2011), prior to DC Comics' The New 52 company wide reboot and relaunch.[54]

Superman Volume 3

DC Comics launched Superman volume 3 with issue #1 in September 2011 (cover dated November 2011), as part of The New 52.[65] The first three issues saw George Pérez doing the scripting and breakdowns. DC announced in October 2011 that Dan Jurgens would be co-writing and drawing Superman with Keith Giffen. Their first issue was #7 (May 2012).[66] As of September 2012's #0 Issue, Scott Lobdell and Kenneth Rocafort became the creative team.[67] DC Comics' All Access webcast announced on February 4, 2014 that John Romita Jr. would be drawing the Superman series in collaboration with writer Geoff Johns.[68][69] Romita Jr.'s Superman pencils were inked by Klaus Janson.[70] Superman's secret identity as Clark Kent was revealed to the world in a storyline by writer Gene Luen Yang in 2015.[71]

Superman Volume 4

As part of the DC Rebirth relaunch, Superman Volume 4 began with issue #1 in June 2016 (cover dated August 2016), including a one-shot Rebirth special Superman: Rebirth #1. Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason are the creative team, with the Superman series shipping twice-monthly.[72][73][74]


The Superman series had annuals published since 1960. Eight issues of Superman Annual were published starting in Winter 1960.[75] An additional four issues were published from 1983 to 1986 and the numbering continued from the 1960 series.[76] Superman Annual #11 (1985) featured the story "For the Man Who Has Everything" by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.[77] When the original Superman series was retitled as The Adventures of Superman, both it and Superman volume 2 received annuals relaunched with #1 issues. The Adventures of Superman Annual ran for nine issues from 1987 to 1997.[36] After The Adventures of Superman was restored to its original title as Superman, its annuals continued the volume 2 annuals.[78]

Collected editions

See also List of Superman comics


The Adventures of Superman

The New 52

See also


  1. Wallace, Daniel; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1930s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 25. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. Superman's runaway popularity as part of Action Comics earned him his own comic. This was a real breakthrough for the time, as characters introduced in comic books had never before been so successful as to warrant their own titles.
  2. Wallace "1940s" in Dolan, p. 33: "Perry White muscled his way into comics in a story by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster, replacing George Taylor as Clark Kent's gruff but good-hearted boss. The character had originated in The Adventures of Superman radio show earlier in the year."
  3. Mort Weisinger's run on Superman at the Grand Comics Database
  4. Wallace "1940s" in Dolan, p. 37 "Superman #13 (November–December 1941) Jimmy Olsen made his first appearance as a named character in this issue."
  5. Superman #13 (November-December 1941) at the Grand Comics Database
  6. Pasko, Martin (2008). The DC Vault: A Museum-in-a-Book with Rare Collectibles from the DC Universe. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Running Press. p. 46. ISBN 0762432578. During [World War Two], overall circulation tripled, as servicemen added comics to their reading habits. At the height of the war, many titles were selling over a million copies a month. Superman topped the list, of course—at first.
  7. Daniels, Les (1995). "The Superman Style Refining the Man of Steel". DC Comics: Sixty Years of the World's Favorite Comic Book Heroes. Bulfinch Press. p. 28. ISBN 0821220764. The image of Superman that eventually became preeminent was Wayne Boring's. By 1942 the former assistant to Joe Shuster was working on his own for DC, turning out pencilled and inked pages for Action Comics and Superman.
  8. Pasko, p. 63: "In 1943, Superman #23 had contained the first Superman story Siegel could not write himself."
  9. Superman #23 (July/August 1943) at the Grand Comics Database
  10. Wallace "1940s" in Dolan, p. 46: "Jerry Siegel promised that readers had never met anyone more unusual than the 'absurd being known as Mr. Mxyzptlk' and his debut back-up feature in Superman #30 proved his point."
  11. Wallace "1940s" in Dolan, p. 59: "Superman's origin was retold—and slightly revamped—for this special tenth anniversary issue."
  12. Wallace "1940s" in Dolan, p. 61: "Kryptonite finally appeared in comics following its introduction in The Adventures of Superman radio show back in 1943. In a story by writer Bill Finger and artist Al Plastino...the Man of Steel determined that the cause of his weakness was a piece of meteorite rock."
  13. Irvine, Alex "1950s" in Dolan, p. 91: "This issue of Superman was the first DC comic to include a letters column that would become a regular feature, though readers' letters were published in issue #3 of Real Fact Comics in July 1946."
  14. Daniels "The Superman Family Strength in Numbers", p. 118: "By 1961, Swan's new look would replace Wayne Boring's patriarchal version. Swan's Superman became definitive, and ultimately he would draw, as he says, 'more Superman stories than anybody else.'"
  15. McAvennie, Michael "1960s" in Dolan, p. 124: "Since the dawn of comics' Silver Age, readers have asked 'Who's faster: Superman or the Flash?' Writer Jim Shooter and artist Curt Swan tried answering that question when the Man of Steel and the Fastest Man Alive agreed to the U.N.'s request to race each other for charity."
  16. 1 2 Julius Schwartz' run on Superman at the Grand Comics Database
  17. McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 144 "New editor Julius Schwartz, new scripter Denny O'Neil, and regular artist Curt Swan removed the Man of Steel's greatest weakness from the face of the Earth."
  18. Callahan, Timothy (September 4, 2008). "Elliot S! Maggin's Noble Humanity". When Words Collide. Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on November 15, 2008. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
  19. Cronin, Brian (September 29, 2005). "Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #18!". Archived from the original on July 19, 2011. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
  20. McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 150: "Scripter Cary Bates and artist Curt Swan chose an inopportune time for Superman to meet Terra-Man, a spaghetti Western-garbed menace who rode a winged horse and wielded lethal alien weaponry."
  21. McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 161: "Fans of John Boorman's 1974 sci-fi film Zardoz, starring Sean Connery in revealing red spandex, could appreciate writer Cary Bates and artist Curt Swan's inspiration for Vartox of Valeron."
  22. Eury, Michael (July 2015). "A Look at DC's Super Specs". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (81): 27.
  23. Stroud, Bryan D. (December 2013). "Superman #300". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (69): 31–33.
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  27. McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p.170 "For the first time since 1947, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's names were back in Superman comics, and listed as the Man of Steel's co-creators."
  28. McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 180: "Writer Martin Pasko and artist Curt Swan introduced...the Master Jailer."
  29. McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 182: "Scribe Len Wein and artist Curt Swan brought in Supergirl to support Superman during his successful restoration of the shrunken Kryptonian city of Kandor to full size."
  30. Manning, Matthew K. "1980s" in Dolan, p. 209 "The Man of Steel celebrated his 400th issue in star-studded fashion with the help of some of the comic industry's best and brightest...the issue also featured a visionary tale written and drawn by Jim Steranko, and an introduction by famous science-fiction author Ray Bradbury."
  31. Addiego, Frankie (December 2013). "Superman #400". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (69): 68–70.
  32. Manning "1980s" in Dolan, p. 220: "In 'Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?', a two-part story written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Curt Swan, the adventures of the Silver Age Superman came to a dramatic close."
  33. Manning "1980s" in Dolan, p. 226 "The original Superman title had adopted the new title The Adventures of Superman but continued the original numbering of its long and storied history. Popular writer Marv Wolfman and artist Jerry Ordway handled the creative chores."
  34. Manning "1980s" in Dolan, p. 226 "For the second time in his history, Superman's self-titled comic saw a first issue...a new series was introduced...written and drawn by the prolific Byrne."
  35. 1 2 Adventures of Superman at the Grand Comics Database
  36. 1 2 Adventures of Superman Annual at the Grand Comics Database
  37. Wolfman, Marv (w), Ordway, Jerry (p), Machlan, Mike (i). "Man O' War!" Adventures of Superman 424 (January 1987)
  38. Byrne, John (w), Ordway, Jerry (p), Beatty, John (i). "Junk" Adventures of Superman 436 (January 1988)
  39. Ordway, Jerry (w), Ordway, Jerry (p), Janke, Dennis (i). "Headhunter" Adventures of Superman 445 (October 1988)
  40. Manning "1990s" in Dolan, p. 245: "Cyborg Superman, the villain who would go on to plague both his namesake and Green Lantern time and again, debuted with the help of the script and layouts of Dan Jurgens, and the finishes of Dick Giordano."
  41. Ordway, Jerry (w), Grummett, Tom; Rodier, Denis; Swan, Curt; Bogdanove, Jon; Mooney, Jim; Thibert, Art; McLeod, Bob; Jurgens, Dan; Breeding, Brett (p), Rodier, Denis; Ordway, Jerry; Janke, Dennis; Thibert, Art; Breeding, Brett (i). "Dying Breed" Adventures of Superman 480 (July 1991)
  42. Ordway, Jerry (w), Grummett, Tom (p), Hazlewood, Doug (i). "The Big Drain!" Adventures of Superman 481 (August 1991)
  43. Manning "1990s" in Dolan, p. 253: "In this seven-part adventure...writers Dan Jurgens, Jerry Ordway, Roger Stern, and Louise Simonson, with artists Brett Breeding, Tom Grummett, Jon Bogdanove, and Bob McLeod assembled many of DC's favorite characters to defend the world."
  44. Manning "1990s" in Dolan, p. 259: "The issue also featured four teaser comics that introduced a group of contenders all vying for the Superman name...A cloned Superboy escaped captivity in a yarn by writer Karl Kesel and artist Tom Grummett."
  45. Kesel, Karl (w), Krause, Peter (p), Guice, Jackson (i). "The Hero of Metropolis" Adventures of Superman 516 (September 1994)
  46. Kesel, Karl; Ordway, Jerry (w), Dodson, Terry (p), Story, Karl (i). "Curtain Call" Adventures of Superman 540 (November 1996)
  47. Rucka, Greg; DeFilippis, Nunzio; Weir, Christina (w), Kerschl, Karl (p), Guedes, Renato (i). "Look... Up in the Sky" Adventures of Superman 648 (March 2006)
  48. Cowsill, Alan "2000s" in Dolan, p. 305: "To celebrate the 600th issue of The Adventures of Superman, the Man of Steel had a super-sized anniversary issue pitting him against Lex Luthor."
  49. Greg Rucka's run on The Adventures of Superman at the Grand Comics Database
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  51. Truitt, Brian (March 5, 2013). "Artist leaves Orson Scott Card's Superman comic". USA Today. Archived from the original on August 1, 2013. Retrieved August 1, 2013. Fans and retailers called for boycotts of the print comic, and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender activist website collected more than 16,000 signatures on an online petition asking DC to drop Card from Adventures of Superman.
  52. McMillan, Graeme (March 5, 2013). "Orson Scott Card's Controversial Superman Story Put on Hold". Wired. Archived from the original on August 1, 2013. Retrieved August 1, 2013. The controversial Adventures of Superman story written by...Orson Scott Card will not see digital nor print release as originally planned following the departure of artist Chris Sprouse from the project.
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  54. 1 2 Superman (2006 series) at the Grand Comics Database
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