Happy Birthday Superman: Recommended Reading

by stephengervais on April 19, 2020

Yesterday, April 18th, marked the 82nd anniversary of Superman’s first appearance in the iconic Action Comics #1. Yes, the cover of Action says June but it was published April 18th, 1938. To celebrate his birthday I’ve put together a recommended reading list of some of my favorite Man of Steel stories. He’s had 82 years of adventure so I have not read everything. If I missed one of your favorites let us know on our Facebook page. Throughout his 82 years he’s always been the embodiment of hope and encouragement! Join me in wishing Kal-El a very Happy Birthday! Now onto the list!

Action Comics #1

This is the one that started it all. The first appearance of Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster hit the stands in 1938 for 10 cents. This book is widely recognized as starting the super hero genre. In 2018, Guinness World Records recognized it as the longest running superhero comic which is the same year it reached issue 1000! It would also set the record for the most expensive comic of all time when a prestige copy sold for more than $3 million on eBay! Fortunately for us we can read digitally for 99 cents or in various reprinted collections.

Digital copy

All-Star Superman

This masterpiece by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely is highly regarded as a top tier Superman story. Some regard it as the best. It’s been said that this is the one book you give someone who says they don’t understand the appeal of Superman. The story shows his true selfless nature and inspires hope. Along with Quitely’s beautiful artwork this book is guaranteed to convert any Supe naysayer.


For All Seasons

For whatever reason this one slipped by me for many years which is quite surprising considering the all star creative team of writer JephLoeb and artist Tim Sale. A friend of mine told me he’d read it at least once a year and lent me his copy. Wow, it blew me away. Fantastic story about Superman’s roots told through backdrop of the four seasons. Sale’s artwork is as amazing as always. It has a whimsical look and feel to it. The plot looks at the effect of Superman has on the people around him. It is not your typical action heavy superhero comic. Such a wonderful and unique story I find myself coming back to often.


Red Son

What would happen if Superman crash landed in Russia instead of America? That’s hook for this Mark Millar elseworld tale! It’s such a cool idea and it is executed perfectly. The art is handled beautifully by Dave Johnson. His style fits the feel and themes of the story. As always, Millar keeps our interest with fantastic pacing and great dialogue. The plot itself unfolds over throughout a few decades and has one of the most satisfying endings I’ve ever read.


Secret Identity

This is written by the legendary Kurt Busiek and drawn by one of my personal favorites, Stuart Immonen. This is another story that doesn’t fall under DC continuity. This series takes place in much the same world we live in now where Superman is a comic book character. The main character, Clark Kent, has been named after the comic legend but does not possess any of his powers until he does....
Another fun one to pick up and let me tell you as a fan of Immonen’s art, this is some of his best work ever!


Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow

Written by the great Alan Moore and drawn by one of the best Superman artists of all time Curt Swan. This is yet another what if story about the events that lead to Superman disappearing from Earth. This was a sendoff of sorts for the Silver Age Man of Steel and an ushering in of a darker Crisis on Infinite Earths era. Two legendary creators on this book pretty much ensures this one will be kept in print for our reading pleasure for generations to come. 


Superman Grounded

Alright this is my pick which could cause some controversy. This is a story that wasn’t all that well received. I remember as it was being released it was getting negative reviews month after month. At the time, I couldn’t figure out why. To this day I still can’t figure out all the hate for this run. It was written by J. Michael Straczynski and drawn by Eddy Barrows. The story takes place after the War of Supermen where Supes wants to reconnect with his moral roots, truth and justice. He decides it’s best to do this on foot and proceeds to walk from Philadelphia to Ohio. I was reading this monthly and it was always one of the first comics I read upon its release. I’ll have to do a re-read of it one of these days but I do remember how much I enjoyed it when it came out.


There you have it! My list of favorite Superman stories. I recommend you pick any of these up to celebrate the big man’s birthday. Keep in mind these are selected only from the books I’ve read. There’s a ton of material by the likes of John Byrne, Geoff Johns, Mark Waid, and many more that I just haven’t read yet. What I really like about my list is, with the exception of the Alan Moore book, you could hand any of these over to a new reader and they would be able to understand and enjoy the story. As always, let us know on our Facebook page what you think and share your top Superman story arcs with us! Happy Birthday Kal-El!