Today’s Super Comics — Superman #423 & Action Comics #583 (1986)

There’s no such thing as a final Superman story.

But Superman #423 and Action Comics #584 pretended there was, and it’s a fitting conclusion to the never-ending battle.

DC Comics was saying good-bye to its Silver Age continuity and rebooting Superman for the modern era, but they gave the old-school Man of Steel one last hurrah in a two-parter called “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” The story featured top talent that bridged the gap between eras: writer Alan Moore, who had been bringing a new maturity to the medium, and classic Superman artist Curt Swan.

A sense of foreboding permeates these issues. Old foes are returning more dangerous than ever, with former pests turning into killers while the worst of the worst are waiting in the wings. An unknown menace is striking at Superman through his friends, so he gathers them in the Fortress of Solitude—Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Lana Lang, and Perry White and wife Alice…the whole classic gang. Even Krypto the Super-Dog returns after a long absence.

In the story’s most touching scene, Superman unexpectedly comes face-to-face with his dead cousin. The Legion of Superheroes visits from the 30th century (which Superman and Supergirl were frequent visitors to), and they bring along a very young, very optimistic Supergirl who has no idea how short her life is going to be. It’s both sad and ominous in just a few pages.

But where the book achieves perfection is in the climax. At what point does Superman stop being Superman?

The answer presented here is exactly right.

Writer: Alan Moore

Penciler: Curt Swan

Inkers: George Perez and Kurt Schaffenberger

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Superman #415 (1986)

Superman 415Supergirl died a while back, and since DC’s continuity rebooted shortly thereafter, that original version of her technically stayed dead.

But Superman #415 gave her a nice little epilogue, revealing a “happily ever after” she had experienced (for at least a short while). The issue also allows Superman some time to mourn his cousin when he meets the alien husband he never knew she had.

Admittedly, Superman was in need of a reboot at the time. Things were getting kind of stale by this point, but writer Cary Bates and legendary Superman artist Curt Swan were in top form with this issue, paying proper respect to a great character DC decided it needed to sacrifice so Superman could truly be the last of his kind.

Fortunately, DC wised up years later and realized its fictional universe needed the Last Daughter of Krypton, too.

Writer: Cary Bates

Penciler: Curt Swan

Inker: Al Williamson

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology

Appropriate For: ages 9 and up