Friday, November 13, 2015

Top 5 Fridays: Top 5 Versions of Superman

Welcome back to another edition of Top 5 Fridays. If you have kept up with comic news, you should know the conclusion to The Dark Knight Returns series of books written by Frank Miller will finally finish after 30 years in the making. One major concept that has been tied throughout the books is the conflict between Batman and Superman. Where most enjoy the conflict, others take the time to critic them on how they are portrayed. While Superman is painted as a dimwit puppet being controlled by the government, Batman is painted as a practical self made god, but also a psychotic one. It actually made me think of all the different versions of the characters that have appeared in their histories. With The Dark Knight: Master Race coming out in two weeks, I felt we should cover these two major players and how they are portrayed across many different stories. Today we'll be covering the Top 5 versions of the Man of Steel. As per usual, this is my list and I haven't read every Superman comic so if you don't see your favorite, I apologize. Enough talk! Lets begin!

5: The Dark Knight Returns Superman

Yes. I find nothing wrong with Superman in the original story. Most people focused so much on the fact that he was reporting to the president, they forgot that the Superman we know and love is still in there. He is still saving people, granted a bit more controlled. When he first comes to Gotham, we may not see him as he moves about the city, but he's still saving people even though the government frowns upon it. In Corto Maltese he keeps his force back to help. Most people who read this just saw a soldier in blue spandex, but what I don't see his him actually fighting a single soldier. I see him taking out the bigger guns that could harm civilians, such as the cool tank shot above, AND THE FREAKING NUKE! Even in his battle with Batman, he doesn't go in ready to put a heat vision blast through Batman's head, he tried to talk it out. The Superman who we love is in this book, you just gotta push away the Bat-Favoritism.

4: Gods and Monsters Superman

This one is pretty new I will admit, so it probably isn't on many people's list. I like this version of Superman because he feels like the best example of a modern-day superhero. Despite what most people think, Superman's classic tale could use a bit of a twist from time to time. It's what has helped kept his history so rich and vibrant. When Bruce Timm took the lead on the Gods and Monsters project, he decided to hone in on one major facet of Superman's story. Superman is an Illegal Alien...literally. There's no space immigration policy, but the fact remained the same. Nowadays immigrants seem to get a bad rep, but Superman is the "all American hero" because he was raised by Kansas farmers. With Gods and Monsters, it provided a fascinating new take on the Man of Steel that will be memorable for years to come.

3: Red Son Superman

The reason I like this Superman is actually pretty strange. I like this Superman because before taking over for Stalin, he was practically a perfect Superman. He didn't have a secret identity, so he was Superman 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. "But he's not an American!" The supposed Superman fanboys are saying to the world. As we covered in number four, Superman is an illegal immigrant. I am not a communist sympathizer, but even though he is a communist, Superman still flew to America to catch a satellite and save people in metropolis... DURING THE COLD WAR! This shouldn't be happening in most sense. If this was any real Soviet, they would let the giant Daily Planet statue crush that mother and son. But as this version of Superman said, "Many people confused me as a Soldier. This is false. Soldiers follow the flags of their countries. I just wanted to do the right thing." Sound familiar? It should. Almost every Superman has that mindset; He just wants to help his world.

2: Kingdom Come Superman

This Superman is kind of like why I like characters like The Dark Knight Returns Batman, The Justice Society of America, and other old man heroes. Its been decades since they last stepped out into the spotlight, yet still kick ass. This is a Superman that walks along the edge of being a dictator at times, but still is entirely heroic while doing it.
What I mean by that is when you get down to brass tacks on how he went about handling the new wave of heroes, it was a bit wrong. He locked them up and tried to rehabilitate them himself. No help from the government, STAR labs or anyone. He just grabbed them, locked them up, and hoped for the best.
This isn't to say he is villainous, he admits what the League is doing to the new wave is wrong, but what else can he do? He admits to his mistake and then agrees to now work WITH humanity as an equal rather than a god. This is a deep Superman who will always be there to help.

1: All-Star Superman

So what makes this Superman different from the others? We've had the soldier, the immigrant, the ambassador, and the non why is this one number one? Simple. Because he's human. All the Supermen above have gone through their runs as Gods among men. This Superman never once saw himself as a god, but as an adventurer. Where any of the other Supermen would work around the clock trying to figure out ways to stop their own demise via super solar radiation, this Superman accepts it. He knows that his time is coming to a close, so he uses what little time he has left to settle affairs, but also save humanity one at a time. He spends the day fighting giant robots, stopping runaway trains, and catching super villains...and still has time to do this...

He is the perfect Superman, and my overall favorite of all time.

That's it for this week's Top 5 Friday! What is your favorite version of the Man of Steel? Leave a comment, and I'll see you next time when we get dark with the Dark Knight!


  1. What's up with Kingdom Come Superman art, it's so real looking??

    1. Alex Ross does that. He did the art for Kingdom Come, Justice, and my favorite marvel story Marvels.

  2. I could only think of four that weren't on the list
    DC One Million Supermen: Not that I love this superman as a character, but I love the idea that Superman leaves a legacy behind. This was also written by Grant Morrison, and there are echoes of these Supermen in All-Star.
    JL 3000 Superman: I'll admit, he annoyed me at first. But this guy was fun not because he was relatable, but because seeing him get shut down again and again by Wonder Woman and Batman was so damn pleasing.
    New 52 Superman: Don't hate me, but I'm partial to Grant Morrison's Action Comics. I like the Superman who isn't aware of his full power yet; who thinks he needs an oxygen tank in space, etc. Also, I never quite saw him as "jerkish" and to this day, it still baffles me that people say that about him.
    DCAU Superman: I got to know Superman from his now famous "I feel like I've been living in a world made of cardboard" line from the JL Cartoon. I remember using that clip alone to convince my brother that maybe Superman wasn't so boring after all.

  3. For me the one at the top of the list would be the 40s cartoon version.
    Punching a laser to smithereens!