Countdown to Batman Vs. Superman: Reign of the Supermen (Comic Review)

deathofsupermanIn the days leading up to Batman Vs. Superman, some of us here at whysoblu wanted to discuss our favorite Batman and Superman comics to recognize and appreciate the storied history of these characters. So without further ado…
Reign of the Supermen holds a special place in my heart. I know this might be kind of a cheat, picking a cross title story arc as one of my favorite Superman stories, but it was a collaborative, cohesive event. Also, it’s technically not about Kal-el, but is undoubtedly a Superman story. It’s interesting, I’ve actually found that many of my favorite Superman stories don’t center around the man himself, but more on that later. Enough with the disclaimers, let’s get to why this series made the list.

I was just a kid, back in 1992, when these issues were coming out, and I read every one of them. Comic heroes have long been killed off and resurrected, probably more so today than ever before, but this comic event was something special. Something unique. It made the news, for crying out loud. Superman, the poster boy icon of comics, the hero of heroes, was gone. I remember thinking, even back then, that it was surprising how many adults cared about the death of a comic book character. I didn’t have the perspective at the time to understand just how significant Superman is to the American culture, but I do now. He’s right up there with apple pie and baseball. To kill him off was tremendous, and the attention that decision garnished was equally massive. So the comics that immediately followed, the Reign of the Supermen, were the absolute must read comics coming out at that time.

This series follows four heroes trying to fill the power vacuum left when Superman died, and for me, it was an incredibly exciting time to be reading DC books. I’ll always be nostalgic for these books. Each issue packed new characters, new surprises, uncertain futures, and created a competitive quality to the books. A buddy of mine might like one new Superman, while I liked another, but we could all agree to bash on yet another. It was like the American Idol of comics, everybody had their opinion, and felt like they were an active participant in the future of the franchise.

The four new heroes were the Last Son of Krypton, Steel (my personal favorite), Superboy, and Cyborg Superman. Each came with their own origin, their own persona, and their own objectives. We effectively went from having one Superman to having four. Not a bad deal, even if none of them were the genuine article.
It took a lot of collaboration to put these books out. We’re talking about four new series, each playing upon the other. From a continuity stand point, this was a massive effort, but the way they all tied in paid off and created a larger, more complex universe for us to lose ourselves in. The key writers were Roger Stern, Louise Simonson, Dan Jergens, and Ken Kesel. The artists were Jon Bogdanove, Dan Jergens, Tom Grummet, and Jackson Guice. Together, this team created a situation where not only were these four new Supermen trying to be heroes, but they were trying to out hero one another to be the champion hero, to be Superman.

Each new Superman had their own nuances. One was young, brash, and “cool” in his leather jacket. One was all about business, cold and calculated, and seriously powerful. One was your man of the people, honest and true. One was…well he was a cyborg Superman, his name kind of sums him up. Some of these characters went on to enjoy fame and recognition as the years went by, and rightfully so, there were some really great characters to come out of that event.

Of course, our good ol’ Kal-el returned, and has been around ever since, but I’ll always remember this special time of heroes vying for the title because it meant so much to me as it was happening. I’ve gone back and read them again, and they’re still solid. Maybe not the best comics you’ve ever read, but absolutely viable, even after all these years. What’s more though, is that they represent a very significant and important era in the history of comic books as a media. The death of Superman will still be remembered a hundred years from now, and these books made that void bearable.

All nostalgia aside, I would have to give these books 3.5 out of 5 yellow suns. They introduced some long lasting, and important characters, but in the grand scheme of things, their quality is more about what was happening at the time. In and of themselves they’re still a great read, but not absolutely required.









1 Response to “Countdown to Batman Vs. Superman: Reign of the Supermen (Comic Review)”

  1. bryan

    I remember wearing the black s arm and to school when superman died. Amazingly, I didn’t get beat up. You know, for opening a bagged comic.

    The Superboy series out of Hawaii, and superboy and the ravers were fun. Kessel & grummett??