In case you didn’t know, Superman’s getting a big screen reboot this summer from Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan. While Superman is probably the most famous comic book character on the planet, a lot of people aren’t as well versed in Superman as they are as Batman. You’d be surprised how many people think his only villain is Lex Luthor. If you want to go into Man of Steel with your friends and sound like someone who has actually read Superman in the past, here are five stories to read before the movie comes out in a few months. Most of these are available digitally, and all are still in print and pretty easy to find.
Birthright is the origin story that Snyder and crew are rumored to have based Man of Steel on. Prior to DC releasing Superman: Secret Origin, this was the canonical origin for Superman that replaced John Byrne’s Man of Steel. The series deals with Kal-El learning of his powers while in Africa, and did many other cool things such as bringing back the Silver Age city bottled of Kandor to the books. If you want what Man of Steel may be based on, this is the series you’ll want to read.
DC’s new Earth One hardcover graphic novels for Superman and Batman exist outside the current continuity, but they are among the best stories ever told for the characters. J. Michael Straczynski is handling the Superman: Earth One graphic novels and part one and part two are already out. JMS retells Superman’s origin as if Clark landed in Kansas in the 90s, so this is truly a modern retelling of the origin and it’s amazing. He even works in “Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex” into volume two. The third volume will hopefully be out later in 2013 and looks to introduce the Luthors.
All Star Superman
For many people, including myself, Grant Morrison’s superhero work is hit and miss. All Star Superman is definitely a hit. Morrison brings back many of the silly things we saw in the Silver Age, but done in a way that works today. His origin, told in just one page, is brilliant and the story has become one of the definitive Superman stories in the last few years. DC even adapted it into a DCU Animated film, which was pretty accurate to the book.
Last Son of Krypton
A few years ago, Geoff Johns teamed with Richard Donner for a short run of Action Comics. Last Son of Krypton brought back General Zod and his crew and then threw Braniac into the mix. If you ever wondered what Richard Donner’s Superman III may have looked like, this run is probably as close as you’re ever going to get. It’s better than Superman Returns.
When Jim Lee first came to DC two of his first projects were runs on Batman and Superman. The Batman run, Hush, has become a classic and may just be the best thing Jeph Loeb has ever written. People don’t talk about Jim Lee’s run on Superman, written with Brian Azzarello and titled For Tomorrow, as much; but it’s a great Superman story that examines what the fear of failure does to the Man of Steel.