The Death of Superman

The Death of Superman - Black BagNetflix tends to go through phases. Sometimes, the streaming service will have the rights to show a movie for a while, then it won’t. At one point, they had the animated movie, Superman: Doomsday available to watch instantly. When it was available, I turned it on one night and, for a while, I was taken back to a time when I was just a kid. See, back toward the end of 1992, DC Comics decided that it would be a good idea to kill off its flagship superhero, Superman. After watching the movie and seeing how different the story was compared to my memory of the comic books, I decided to dig out that old collection of issues and re-read the story that’s now 23 years old.

Since I was a youngster, I had been buying Superman comics each and every week. At the time, the Superman titles were extremely interconnected What happened one week in an issue of Action Comics would directly effect the events in The Adventures of Superman a few weeks later. Each title had its own creative teas, but those teams worked closely together to make sure that the continuity in these stories was air tight. The way I understand it, they were sitting around discussing ideas for storylines.

Now, it hadn’t been long since Clark Kent and Lois Lane finally became engaged. They’d been beating around that particular bush for more than 50 years by this time, so it made sense that Superman’s girlfriend would finally become Superman’s fiancee. The next logical step would be Superman’s wedding, right? Well, the powers that be wanted that little story to coincide with the new TV show that was just picking up steam, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. Thanks to that little wrinkle, it would be a while before they could write and draw the wedding in the comics.

So they needed some stories to kill time until the wedding. Apparently, at these meetings, it became a running joke for someone to shout out, “What if we kill him?” This time, when someone said it, they just looked at each other and said, “What if we did kill him?” And Doomsday was born.

Nothing was known about the monster who would finally do in the Man of Steel. In the end, Superman’s death wasn’t caused by kryptonite. It wasn’t caused by Lex Luthor’s diabolical schemes. By the way, at the time, Lex Luthor was supposedly dead, but his brain had been saved and placed into a cloned body and he was masquerading himself as his own son, Lex Luthor II. It’s all very soap opera-ish. Anyway, nothing was really known about Doomsday when he appeared on the scene. He was just this brutal figure who caused destruction with every step he took. He took down each member of the Justice League until only Superman remained to go toe-to-toe with the creature.

The Death of Superman - LoisThe epic battle raged on from the middle of Ohio until they reached downtown Metropolis, hundreds of miles away. And at the front door of the Daily Planet building, Superman and Doomsday threw their final punches. In the end, it was the final blow for each of them, and they both fell. Superman died in Lois Lane’s arms, his final breath was spent expressing concern for whether Doomsday had been stopped. And then he died.

Eventually, he got better. I mean, did anyone really expect Superman to die and then stay dead? But you know what? As I was reading the original issues all over again, I found myself getting a little emotional. I didn’t burst into tears or anything like that. But even knowing the outcome of the entire story arc, it was touching seeing Superman say his final goodbyes to the love of his life. And I didn’t even mention the funeral and the grave robbers or the four impostors claiming to be Superman. It got really complicated after Superman died.

All those issues were collected into a graphic novel format. So if you’re feeling particularly geeky, go out and pick it up. Or download it, since it’s all digital now anyway. It’s a pretty good story over all. And it’s a lot better than the animated movie they made.


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