The Death and Life of Superman

The Death and Life of Superman - CoverTitle: The Death and Life of Superman

Author: Roger Stern

Published: 1993

We’re all aware that DC Comics killed Superman back in the early 90’s, right? In fact, it wasn’t that long ago that I wrote about the original comic book storyline. Well, this book is a pretty exhaustive novelization of that comic book storyline.

And when I say exhaustive, I mean exhaustive. The thing with comic books is that the stories are told to build upon years of history and storytelling. What Roger Stern attempts to do with this novel is make the “Death of Superman” story accessible to any and all possible readers.

In a way, this is good. If someone who had never picked up a Superman comic book in their lives decided to read this book, they would have all the information they could possibly need in order to understand how Superman could be beaten to death by the monster called Doomsday. They would have the information necessary to understand who Lex Luthor II was; who Supergirl was: who the Eradicator, the Man of Steel, the Cyborg-Superman, and Superboy all were. It’s complicated.The Death and Life of Superman - DoomsdayIn a way, it’s bad as well. It’s not just complicated. It’s super-complicated. Comic books are filled with back story and plot threads that can stretch back for years, even decades in some cases. Considering all the information Stern had to condense into one book, he did a pretty good job. But it was a lot of information.The Death and Life of Superman - Christopher ReeveThis book originally came out when I was 13 years old. I know that’s when I bought it. And I’m fairly certain I read it all the way through way back then. But this is not a book for children. It isn’t that it contains anything that’s solely meant for a mature audience. It’s just so dense, I’m not sure that my 13-year-old self would have really enjoyed or fully comprehended all that I read. To be honest, I had a difficult time choking through it at the age of 35. And I’m about as big a Superman fan as you can find.

For me, “The Death of Superman” storyline was always an awesome piece of storytelling. And the stories that followed it, “Funeral for a Friend” and “Reign of the Supermen,” were equally exciting. But they just don’t translate well in novel format. Part of the excitement of reading the comics as a kid was seeing all the artwork that would practically jump off the pages. I’ve got a pretty good imagination, but after seeing it in one medium, imagining it based on words alone is entirely different.

It wasn’t a bad read. But it’s not something I’ll be picking up a third time to read again. Well, maybe again in another 23 years…


3 thoughts on “The Death and Life of Superman

    • The only thing I can think of is that they titled it that way to make sure it was closely associated with the Death of Superman story from the comics. It was a very traumatizing time for my 13 year old self. Just knowing that Doomsday was coming… I still get chills. Maybe it should have been The Death and LIVES of Superman… since there were four fake Supermen that showed up after he died. It was a really confusing story. How did I grasp it all at that age?

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