Superman in the Fourth Age

Look, I didn’t plan on doing things this way. I envisioned writing a three part series on Morrison’s run on Animal Man; then, a seven part series on Final Crisis; and maybe some reviews sprinkled here and there for good measure. But I keep getting side tracked – as I started writing about Animal Man, so many things reminded me of Final Crisis that I figured that writing about the one would help me think about the other. And, as I read and write on Final Crisis, I’ve turned to a third topic: the Superman stories of the fourth age. Both Final Crisis and Animal Man give serious considerations to the significance of our heroes and we should tell stories with them, with a special focus on Superman (this is true even in Animal Man. Consider the Supermans in Animal Man 24).

So, I’m starting this discussion next, while periodically looking back at those other two projects. What I’m interested in are interesting, popular, or “good” stories about Superman. As I’ve mentioned a few times, he’s not an easy character to deal with. He has few weaknesses and no personal flaws. His powers are at once extraordinary and boring. Now that he’s married Lois and she knows his secret identity, his personal life is static. He’s not an anti-hero, he doesn’t kill, he stands for things, he’s completely unironic. Attempts to spice the character up have met ridicule because they have been, well, ridiculous. Electric Superman? No thanks.

So what’s a writer to do? Quite a bit, as it turns out. I’m interested in two kinds of attempts. The first are stories about Superman as we know him, including stories that use analogs so close to our Superman that they are him in all but name. The second are re-imaginings of the character, attempts to alter the character so that new and different stories can be told.

I’m still compiling my lists, but for the first category, here are some of the stories I’m planning to look at:

All-Star Superman

Superman Beyond

“What’s So Funny about Truth, Justice, and the American Way” (Action Comics 775)

Superman for All Seasons

Kingdom Come

Moore’s run on Supereme

For the second category, here’s some books I’m planning to look at:

Irredeemable

The Life and Times of Savior 28

The Mighty

Secret Identity

The End League

A lot to talk about, to be sure. But it’s pretty important and certainly interesting.

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