Superman Birthright. Let’s start at the very beginning. The inimitable Mark Waid (Kingdom Come, Daredevil) teams up with Pinoy powerhouse artists Leinil Yu and Gerry Alanguilan to produce a Superman book that can only be described as cinematic. Reading through Superman Birthright feels like paging through a hollywood movie storyboard. Over the decades, Clark Kent has had multiple origin stories told about how he became Superman. Waid weaves all these multiple lores of The Man of Steel’s origins plus adding many interesting new spins and details of his own. If you’ve seen the Man of Steel movie trailer where Superman says that the “S” on his chest is not a letter, but a symbol of hope, that detail is from Superman Birthright.
On an interesting note, both Yu and Alanguilan have told me how proud they are of this book. It was one of the very first big books that either of them worked on for DC comics or Marvel, and is an excellent preview of what will eventually become their signature style.
At over 300 pages, Superman Birthright is also one of the best bang-for-your-buck Superman books you’ll find.
The Death of Superman. From Superman’s birth, we now move to his death. An instant classic from 1992, this book was so important that it made the front pages of newspapers around the globe. In the story, The Man of Steel has met his match: Doomsday, an unstoppable and ruthless killing machine who has invaded the streets of Clark Kent’s beloved Metropolis. Spoiler alert: Superman dies.
Kingdom Come. While not a “Superman” book per se, Kingdom Come definitely revolves around Superman. This Elseworlds story — meaning it’s more of an alternative reality type of scenario — takes place in a future where traditional heroes like the Justice League are in conflict with new, irresponsible heroes that don’t share the same high moral code, and thus committing immoral acts such as murder “for the greater good.” As Batman tries to contain chaos, an elderly and headstrong Superman leads the charge, hero against hero, in a battle of epic and armageddon-like proportions. Much will be lost in this civil war.
Also written by Mark Waid, along with artist Alex Ross, Kingdom Come is a must-read, not only for Superman lovers, but for all comic book and graphic novel aficionados. Ross painted the entire book in gouache, which makes for a nice change up to the usual styles you find in comics.
Red Son. Yet another Elseworlds story, here we find the tables turned as the space capsule, carrying the baby Superman, no longer lands in Smallville, Kansas. Instead, it touches earth in the Soviet Union, leading our hero to be raised with communist values and a Ukrainian accent. It’s fun! Stalin and JFK even join the party at some point. Mark Millar fans will enjoy this reimagination.
Superman Vol.1: What Price Tomorrow. Time has yet to tell if this book will become a classic. It really just came out last year, along with DC Comics’ reboot called “The New 52.” Still, we must mention this book because if you would like to start reading Superman comic books for the first time, this is without question the place to start. This book is collects the first issues in an ongoing series, with Volume 2 coming out in July. This is where you will find the most up-to-date, fresh off the racks stories. As a bonus, if you don’t want to wait for the collected editions to come out, then you can easily head over to Comic Odyssey in Bonifacio High Street or Alabang and pick up the single issues. They come out every month!