Superman is the man who kickstarted the entire DC Universe in 1938 with Action Comics #1 which featured the first appearance of the Man of Steel, the Metropolis Marvel, or the Man of Tomorrow. Over seventy five years have passed and the character has evolved from the Golden Boy Scout to a Symbol of Hope which we can be inspired by. For me he is the single best superhero ever created and I look forward to anything featuring him...unless it's New 52 books but that's a rant for another time.
While the Last Son of Krypton has had his fair share of downs in comic history, the good outweighs the bad and that's what I'm going to look at today with the best versions of Superman ever brought to comics. Emphasis on COMICS so Chistopher Reeve, Tim Daly, or Henry Cavill will be seen on this list, we will save that for another day. So time to go up, up, and away!
5. Golden Age
What better way to start this list than with the version of Superman that started it all with Action Comics #1. The Golden Age of comics were very different than today's age. For example: Superman didn't fly. That's right the iconic flight was actually introduced by radio shows and the animated serials that came out a few years later. Strong, honorable, hands on hips, and all around good guy, this guy was THE superhero that kids wanted to be. In many ways he was still the Symbol of Hope, with a shiny smile and fighting for truth, justice, and the American way!
4. Injustice: Gods Among Us
Okay I'll be honest, I am sick and tired of DC making a villain out of Superman. Yes I know, with his power he could end up being worse than Darkseid and the Joker combined and it's almost heartbreaking seeing a beloved icon become so dark but it is an idea that has become overused lately. That being said...I absolutely love the evil version of Superman from Injustice: Gods Among Us. Now technically I am cheating because this Superman began in the very amazing fighting game of the same name by NetherRealm but since the game got prequel comics, I say I can put this version on here.
The Evil Superman (fan dubbed Earth 2 Superman) is a compelling villain because of how opposite of Superman he's become: he fights with no mercy, he's used his power to put himself as a tyrannical leader of the entire planet, and he forces everyone to kneel before him. Hmmm...sound familiar?
With the death of Lois, it brought us the world's worst threat: it's greatest hero. Unlike most comics featuring an evil Superman, this gave us a fantastic and believable reason as to why he has gone all out villain who truly believes he's doing the right thing and that's why I enjoy it more than any other evil Superman to date. Cannot wait to see how his story continues in Injustice 2.
After Crisis on Infinite Earths, many heroes got amazing revamps and one of those was definitely Superman. From stories like the Death of Superman to Superman For Tomorrow, this Superman was exactly what modern audiences deserved and from my point of view it seems like Henry Cavill's version of Superman borrows heavily from Post-Crisis. This version of Superman was not exactly darker but it brought Superman back with a more mature tone with less of a boy-scout attitude while still keeping the fact that he is still a good man from Kansas. In this era of Superman, the best book I suggest you read is Superman For Tomorrow.
2. New Frontier
I'd like to give my respects to Darwyn Cooke and I hope he is resting in peace. He created a very special story to me, it is an Elseworld story but it was the story that cemented me as a DC fan. Sure I loved the Justice League animated series as a kid but back then, I only watched it for Batman and Superman. New Frontier made me fall in love with all of these characters of the DC Universe and it gave me a version of Superman who while is definitely not the focus of the story, left quite the impact.
From his confrontation with Wonder Woman in the jungle to his fantastic speech before the fight with the Centre, this Superman was a conflicted man: should he just do what he thinks is right or should he continue to do what the government tells him to do? It was a much more stoic yet inspiring Superman and I thoroughly enjoyed him in New Frontier, particularly his banter with Batman and Robin.
In my personal opinion, there has yet to be a superior comic book version of Superman than Grant Morrison's All-Star Superman. For those who ever thought that Superman was boring or over-powered or whatever, I urge that you sit down and read All-Star Superman or watch the animated film based on these comics. It's hard to talk about this version of Superman without getting into major spoilers so I will just say that this version is without a doubt, the definition of a Symbol of Hope and is one of the most inspiring superheroes in comic book history if not the most inspiring. And that's why he's my number one. I smiled like a little boy at Christmas and I nearly cried.
So those are my personal picks for the best versions of Superman in comics. I'm curious if you agree or disagree and if you do disagree, what are your personal picks for the best Superman incarnations? Let me know in the comments down below and I hope you all enjoyed!