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Author Topic: Best child-friendly Superman stories?  (Read 1907 times)
Terracotta Army
Posts: 407

on: October 08, 2019, 08:05:43 PM

My son decided he wants to read some Superman comics, but all I have around here are The a death of Superman and Red Son.  What are some good, self-contained Superman stories (trade paperbacks preferably) for someone new to the lore?  Iíd also like to avoid anything too deconstructionist  or gritty.  Thanks!
Terracotta Army
Posts: 1363

Reply #1 on: October 08, 2019, 11:56:57 PM

I don't know off hand of any specific runs. I'm sure the Silver Age stuff is very kid friendly, albeit dated. Google says Superman Adventures is good too.
Terracotta Army
Posts: 13184

Reply #2 on: October 09, 2019, 10:46:31 AM

Superman Adventures if you can find it--it's based on the DC animated series of some years ago (the one that was made contiguous with the famous Batman animated series).

All-Star Superman by Grant Morrison is mostly very gentle and moving--it is a love poem to the Silver Age Superman. There is some weirdness in the two issues that involve Bizarro and the overall theme of it is that Superman is dying from a plot by Lex Luthor (but not really). There is also an incredibly moving bit late in the series where Superman saves a young woman from committing suicide, but it's very gentle.

The first two years or so of the Superman reboot by John Byrne that followed Crisis on Infinite Earths (and the companion series that was done by Jerry Ordway) is mostly gentle and it works hard to reintroduce the character, his supporting cast and his villains in a way that is patient. Reprinted in trade as Superman: The Man of Steel.

The trade paperback reprint series The Greatest Superman Stories ever told has some so-so material in it but it's mostly kid-friendly and good for new readers to the character.

There's a trade called Superman: The Golden Age that reprints some of the very early stories. Not sure contemporary kids would like those so much, but it's possible.

Also, *watching* the Superman animated series is a great introduction to the character.
Terracotta Army
Posts: 407

Reply #3 on: October 09, 2019, 11:22:18 AM

Thanks!  Iíll get him the John Byrne collection and put the others on his wishlist for his Birthday.  Iíll see if he wants to watch the cartoon, but heís more interested in reading than watching TV shows.
Terracotta Army
Posts: 13184

Reply #4 on: October 09, 2019, 12:19:00 PM

It's multi-volume, so I'd get the first two or so and see whether he likes them. Some of the interesting moves that Byrne made:

1) Krypton is a horrible place (a bit like the film Krypton but worse) and so in some sense Superman is lucky to have been sent from it (Jor-El himself thinks it, because he's kind of a throw-back/dissenter who dislikes what Krypton has become)
2) Superman's powers develop gradually as a teenager--he's not a super-baby. He doesn't become Superboy but he is actually kind of a jock and very well-liked as a teenager. In fact, Byrne pretty well throws out the "Clark Kent is a nervous wuss" characterization altogether--by the time he's working at the Daily Planet, he's also a successful novelist and continues to work out, etc..
3) Nevertheless, Lois Lane really dislikes him when they first meet--they're rivals. She's also not particularly woo-woo about Superman. Byrne's Lois is originally pretty tough and unlikeable, on purpose.
4) Famously, Byrne remakes Lex Luthor into a ruthless businessman who has some technical skills but is not especially a 'mad scientist'. His enmity is entirely about the fact that Superman comes along and is instantly loved by the people of Metropolis, whom Luthor considers to be his property. There's a fairly chilling short Luthor-centered story early on where we find out he routinely goes around to rural diners in the region around Metropolis, offers a million dollars to a good-looking waitress to come be his mistress for a year, and then ducks out and leaves while they're considering it, just so he can leave them tormented about whether they'd have chosen to do it.
5) He (and Ordway/Wolfman) introduce a whole bunch of new supporting characters: Bibbo, Professor Hamilton, Jose Delgado/Guardian, Cat Grant, Ron Troupe, a few of whom have stuck to the Superman mythos. They also retire Steve Lombard, the jock reporter who used to torment Clark Kent. They keep some of the odd stuff Jack Kirby introduced via the Jimmy Olsen comic book (CADMUS, etc.) which has also stuck to the Superman mythos ever since. They don't mess much with Jimmy Olsen or Perry Grant except for introducing Jimmy Olsen's hot mom (and playing a bit with making her a Clark/Superman love interest) and making Perry White's home life be a bit more important.
6) Ma and Pa Kent are still alive and quite important to Clark's life--he flies home a lot to see them.
7) Superman and Batman are not friends (at first): they follow Miller's reimagination of the relationship as being antagonistic between opposites. They do a lot of gentle reimagining of his relationships with other superheroes.
8) Some effort was made to tone down his powers, but that didn't last long. Also to reintroduce established elements of the series step by step with some sense of their novelty--kryptonite makes its appearance in Byrne's second issue for the "first time".
9) Lots of tweaks to other villains and also some cleaning-out of the really bargain-basement Silver Age characters like Terra-Man.
Posts: 8527

Reply #5 on: October 09, 2019, 01:20:52 PM

Action Comics: 80 Years of Superman Deluxe Edition collects various issues from throughout Superman's history and is a pretty good package. Might make a good starting point.
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