Comixology Sale Picks: Superman Essential Graphic Novels
Posted by Seb Patrick at 13:27 on 11 Feb 2015
(All books are £3.99/$5.99 in the sale, though their original prices vary from £7.49 to £13.99/$19.99.)
(Grant Morrison/Frank Quitely, 2005-2008)
Not only is this the best thing in the sale, but it's also the best value buy: the All-Star digital trade is usually fourteen quid, so getting it for four is stupendously good value. Twelve issues of some of the greatest superhero comics you will ever read. Do we really need to tell you why it's so good?
Buy it if: You like comics.
Superman: Red Son
(Mark Millar/Dave Johnson, 2003)
I think this book's reputation precedes it a bit too much - it's pretty good, but it's not "Greatest Superman Story Ever" territory, and it does suffer from some pretty standard Mark Millar problems. But it's a really strong high-concept take, and probably one of the most successful executions of the whole Elseworlds idea.
Buy it if: You don't really like the regular version of Superman.
Superman For All Seasons
(Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale, 1998)
Not as strong as their Batman work together, but still comfortably the best thing Loeb has ever done with Superman in it. It doesn't really have much reason to actually exist - there's not a lot of story and it's mostly just some immediately-post-origin reflection - but it's fairly pleasant and enjoyable. And Sale's art really suits a retro take on Superman.
Buy it if: You enjoyed The Long Halloween.
Superman/Batman vol. 1
(Jeph Loeb/Ed McGuinness/Michael Turner, 2003-4)
Another good value bundle - thirteen issues for four quid - but unfortunately they're not very good issues. They're not Loeb at his worst, but they're firmly from his "trying to do really wilfully dumb comics" period. The first arc contained here, Public Enemies, is just somewhat unpleasant; and the second, The Supergirl From Krypton, is for anyone who ever wanted to see porn-star Supergirl introduced to DC's continuity. Both stories are very significant in post-Crisis pre-Flashpoint Superman lore. Neither are especially good.
Buy it if: You like Ed McGuinness and/or Michael Turner.
(Mark Waid/Leinil Yu, 2004)
My favourite telling of the Superman origin/early days ever. Bar none. Doesn't even suffer from having Smallville continuity crowbarred into it. Should have been the basis for the twenty-first century Superman films. Wasn't.
Buy it if: You want to see how Superman can be made genuinely relevant and interesting for a present-day movie audience.
The Death of Superman
(Superman editorial office, 1992)
The weakest part of the Death/World Without/Return trilogy, but still worth a read if you've never tried it. See here for a more detailed discussion of the arc as a whole and its constituent parts.
Buy it if: You like '90s event comics.
Superman: Earth One vol. 1
(J. Michael Straczynski/Shane Davis, 2010)
If you like alternate-continuity Superman stories where Superman is turned into an irritating, grumpy dickweed, and core elements of the mythos are changed for no good reason, then these are the OGNs for you! Superman comics specifically designed to appeal to people who hate everything that Superman comics usually stand for. Gotta love that as a marketing strategy.
Buy it if: You enjoyed the Man of Steel movie.
Superman: Earth One vol. 2
(J. Michael Straczynski/Shane Davis, 2012)
Buy it if: You enjoyed Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex.
The Man of Steel: Vol. 1
(John Byrne, 1986)
Just beaten out by Birthright as the best version of the origin, John Byrne's post-Crisis relaunch is horribly dated in some ways, but still hits most of the major iconic story beats in a hugely satisfying way. Contains several fantastic moments, and has a version of Lois that's rarely been bettered since.
Buy it if: You want a good, proper Superman comic and don't mind a 1980s aesthetic.
Superman: For Tomorrow
(Brian Azzarello/Jim Lee, 2004-5)
DC's failed attempt to replicate the success of Batman: Hush by pairing Jim Lee on a major character with a name-renowned writer. Despite Lee's art being fantastic, it failed because the story was incredibly boring. Even now, I doubt you could find a single comics reader who could tell you what actually happens in it. Seriously.
Buy it if: You don't read the bubbles but enjoy looking at the pictures.
Superman: Secret Origin
(Geoff Johns/Gary Frank, 2010)
The most pointless origin retelling ever, given that it was published only a year before the complete continuity re-scrub of Flashpoint. Didn't have much of a reason to exist before then either (Birthright had served just fine as the latest updating), and seemed to be done largely so that (a) Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes could be restored to the origin, and (b) Geoff Johns could put his own mark on it. Actually a pretty good comic in its own right, though, and Frank's art is fantastic.
Buy it if: You've already read Birthright and Man of Steel.
Superman: Last Son of Krypton
(Geoff Johns/Richard Donner/Adam Kubert, 2006-08)
A five-part story that took nineteen months to see publication, although to be fair, that was apparently due to health problems on the part of the artist. Still, it harmed the momentum of this run on its original publication, meaning that its intent to really shake up the Superman line post-Infinite Crisis (by giving Clark and Lois an adopted Kryptonian son, as well as introducing Zod properly for the first time in the modern era) never really came off.
Buy it if: You're a big enough fan of the original movies to want to read something co-written by Richard Donner with General Zod in it.
Action Comics vol. 1: Superman and the Men of Steel
(Grant Morrison/Rags Morales/Gene Ha/Andy Kubert, 2011-12)
That rarest of things: a disappointing Grant Morrison Superman comic. The "jeans and t-shirt" early-days New 52 Superman is a great idea, and makes for some lovely moments as he bounds around Metropolis crusading for social justice - but there's not a lot of actual story here, and the conceit is over with far too soon. Annoyingly, the best issue of the run - #0, the Ben Oliver-drawn "The Boy Who Stole Superman's Cape" - is in the next trade rather than this one. Worth a look, but far from essential.
Buy it if: You wish Superman was more like Spider-Man.
Superman vol. 1: What Price Tomorrow?
(George Perez/Jesus Merino/Nicola Scott, 2011-12)
Published simultaneously with the above, but focusing on Clark's "present day" adventures rather than the "five years previous" of Action. A thoroughly underwhelming launch for the New 52 character, though - there's nothing especially bad about the issues, save that they're pretty terminally dull, and with no disrespect to Merino and Scott it feels incredibly wasteful to have George Perez on a book but not drawing it.
Buy it if: You've read everything else on the checklist below and still want some more Superman comics that aren't outright terrible.
Panel Beats Approved Checklist
Superman: Red Son
Superman For All Seasons
The Death of Superman
Superman: The Man of Steel vol. 1
Total: $35.94 / £23.94
The sale ends on 16th February.