‘Man of Steel': 4 Comics to Prepare You For The Movie

Published 2 years ago by , Updated May 27th, 2013 at 4:50 pm, This is a list post.

Man of Steel Superman Comics With Zack Snyder's Man of Steel getting closer by the day, and DC's New 52 bringing sweeping changes to the big blue Boy Scout's mythology, it is an exciting time to be a Superman fan. But in our opinion, it's also a great time to become a Superman fan if you weren't before. Although Man of Steel won't be adapting any comic book story directly, influences are already visible. Being the rabid comic book fans we are, we think getting familiar with some of the best and most groundbreaking Superman origin stories will prepare fans for the film like nothing else. With that in mind, here's our list of 4 Comics to Prepare You for Man of Steel.

Superman: Secret Origin (2009)

Superman The Secret Origin Comic Writer: Geoff Johns Artist: Gary Frank Things have been changing over at DC Comics in recent years, as the conflicting origin stories on this list are just one way that decades of comic book fiction can pose some dilemmas when new readers try to start from the beginning. So, with the chaos left in the wake of DC's "Infinite Crisis," the company's Chief Creative Officer, Geoff Johns, set the record straight concerning Superman canon; "Superman: Secret Origin" is the Man of Steel's now official origin story. Unfortunately, comic fans hoping to see a refreshing, daring take on the industry's greatest character won't find such exploration in this arc, since it was never Johns' intention to shake things up; rather, he wanted to put all the character's components into place. In a nutshell, "Secret Origin" pays homage to the earliest and most iconic Superman stories, while still honoring the later adaptations and updates (Clark Kent, for instance, is a virtual dead ringer for Christopher Reeve in Superman: The Movie). Though the book contains some rather fantastic elements that the film is unlikely to adapt - the time-travelling Legion of Superheroes, Metallo - screenwriter David S. Goyer has explicitly claimed that "Secret Origin" is guiding his hand. Because of that, this one is worth picking up.

Superman: Earth One (2010)

Superman Earth One Comic Writer: J. Michael Straczynski Artist: Shane Davis Although the term 'updated origin story' gets thrown around pretty frequently these days, there are actually only a few that stand out in the vast Superman mythology. But while "Secret Origin" may be the new canonical origin story for DC's New 52, the publisher is still a fan of different creative takes. As the premiere story in DC's "Earth One" series, "Superman: Earth One" is writer J. Michael Straczynski's re-imagining of a contemporary Superman. Akin to Marvel's "Ultimate" universe, the story places Clark Kent in today's world, and lacks much of the sugar-coating of older comics. The vision was a hard sell to devoted fans, but features a few intriguing ideas. For starters, Clark's super-strength, super-intellect and super-speed give him the chance to attain both fame and fortune - provided he keeps their source a secret. In the end, it's not what Clark can do, but what he can't allow that drives him to become a hero. Featuring a darker, more hesitant Clark and an otherworldly enemy threatening all of Earth, there's plenty here that fans can expect to see tackled in Man of Steel. Not to mention a take on Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen that proves they're more than just Superman's 'pals.'

Superman: The Man of Steel (1986)

Superman The Man of Steel Comic

Writer/Artist: John Byrne The subject of much division among DC's most devoted fans, Superman's updated origin story for "the modern age" originated as a necessity. Following DC's epic "Crisis on Infinite Earths" event - stripping down 'multiple universes' to a single reality - the publisher was in need of a new Superman origin; one modern audiences could embrace. Enter John Byrne's six-issue series, "The Man of Steel." The new origin story cut out the sillier elements of the character's fiction, removing the likes of Beppo the Supermonkey and establishing Kal-El as Krypton's sole survivor, and undoing his Smallville career as Superboy. The series is certainly dated at this point, but many of Byrne's ideas have persisted, becoming central to the character's identity: Lex Luthor is a brilliant businessman, not a mad scientist; there are limits to Superman's abilities; and Kryptonite is simply radioactive, not mood-altering. Fans may still disagree over some of the more controversial decisions, but Snyder and Goyer have already shown they're adopting Byrne's vision of a cold, antiseptic Kryptonian society where Kal-El is unique simply because his parents loved one another. Thankfully, the 'birthing matrix' is being left out. As the origin of the modern Superman, "The Man of Steel" is a must for any comic fan.

Superman: Birthright (2003)

Superman Birthright Comic

Writer: Mark Waid Artist: Leinil Francis Yu There are few comic book characters that writer Mark Waid hasn't been asked to write. So when the mind behind "Kingdom Come" was asked by DC Comics to produce a new origin story for Superman - one that any reader could pick up and instantly be brought into the heart of the character - he didn't disappoint. Putting "everything he ever loved about Superman" into this origin story, DC's original plan to have the arc exist as a standalone introduction was tossed aside, and "Birthright" was adopted as the new canonical origin for Superman, replacing John Byrne's "Man of Steel." Aside from the one-of-a-kind artwork from Leinil Francis Yu, Waid took it upon himself to craft a Clark Kent that is unsure of his mission in life, a world traveler, and a fiercely determined journalist. It was Waid who came up with Superman's 'S' logo meaning more than a family crest (on Krypton, 'it means hope'), and early evidence suggests it will influence the upcoming film in several ways. Simply put: if you haven't read it, or are the slightest bit hopeful about the approach being taken with Man of Steel, you must read "Birthright."


Man of Steel Superman Comics That concludes our list of Superman stories we feel will only enrich a moviegoer's experience while watching Zack Snyder's upcoming reboot. Some of the comic book industry's most acclaimed and respected writers have tried their hand at telling an origin story that would make the Superman myth speak to a new generation and cultural time period, and the wait to see if David S. Goyer, Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder will add their names to the list of successes is almost over. Which of the entries on our list will you be taking into the theater with you? Do you hope to see Man of Steel pay tribute to some more than others, or is comparing them just a bad idea? Sound off in the comments. _________ Man of Steel hits theaters June 14, 2013. Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.
TAGS: man of steel, superman, superman man of steel


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  1. Loved Birthright. Some of Waid’s finest work, alongside Kingdom Come of course. That’s unparalleled.

  2. Birthright is my fave out of those, easily.

    It’s not an origin story, but Kingdom Come is probably one of the best Superman stories there is.

    Of course my personal favorite is the Death of Superman saga.

    • Kingdom Come is a horrific Superman story. It’s a book Mark Waid readily admits is not very good. It’s overblown, out of character and brought some of the worst trends to comics and to Superman.

      No real Superman fan thinks Kingdom Come is a good Superman story. It’s a horrible Superman story and it’s very existence has negatively impacted the character in huge ways.

      Birthright is wonderful. KC is overwrought trash with pretty art.

  3. I’m heading to my local comic shop today for a memorial day sale. I’ll be picking up any of these if I find them.

  4. Some good choices on here, especially for a non-Superman fan such as myself to pick up at some point (I only own the Red Son story currently and wanted at least one other Superman title to add to the collection).

  5. Birthright hands down!

  6. Judging by the trailers, I’d say the story will be somewhat similar to Earth One. And that is a GOOD thing!

    • +1

  7. No All Star Superman? Seriously though, the trailer is riddled with it.

  8. I already own three of these(Birthright, Earth One, Secret Origins). Birthright and Earth One are my favorites. Earth One gets a lot of flak it doesn’t deserve. It has a reputation as the “emo ” or “twilight” version, but it really is very well written and the artwork is excellent. Birthright is also really good, I don’t like the art as much, but it’s not bad. Secret Origins is a little hokey in some parts, it leans more to some of the sillier aspects of the mythology. There are also some scenes taken from the Reeves movie.

  9. you forgot to mention the man of steel prequel comics that are out.

  10. Isn’t the newest official origin story Grant Morrison’s first arc on the New 52 Action Comics?

    LOVED Birthright, in any case. It was the first time I really got why Clark would fall so hard, so fast for Lois.

  11. John Byrne’s Man of Steel miniseries was not drawn by Dick Giordano, it was drawn by Byrne and inked by Giordano. I.e., both did what they were best at. :)

    • I was just about to say that:)

      • Since Byrne is one of my favorite artists…

  12. As a Superman fan I try to stay away from his origin comics, I have seen too many, not that you can complain because he has been around for decades.
    Almost every anniversary issue has an origin, or maybe a new mini/maxi series, or an annual or a tv series(Smallville,Lois and Clark etc.)etc. etc.

    Of the four in the article I only got Birthright in singles, the first issue(fabulous issue) and after I saw where it was going I waited until issue 10 of 12 to continue.
    By right I should have Man of Steel, that’s when I really got into comics.

    The Man of Steel trailers look really great, hopefully it’s not like anything that has graced the screens before, silver or tv. If it’s been done in the comics that’s fine.

  13. no zodd stories?

  14. Has anyone read the prequel Man of Steel comic?

    • It was actually good. But it’s a Supergirl story…it bascially sets up that Kara is part of the Man of Steel film universe

  15. Only read Birthright :O
    Must. Read. The other three.

  16. Birthright. The oil rig toppling over shown in the trailers is a quasi xall out to the Africa segment.

    • *call

  17. I thought Earth One was excellent. It was what got me back into the ‘comic/graphic’ world about 3 years ago.

  18. MAN OF STEEL will make Over $1 BiLLiON Dollars Worldwide, Henry Cavill is a Great Actor & Amy Adams is a Multi-Oscar-Nominated-Actress & Very Beautiful Plus Multi-Oscar-Nominated: C-NOLAN is The Writer & Producer, i think The New Suit Looks Great & Much Better than The Old Light Blue Suit that Looked Like a SMURF & with The OutSide UnderWear was Real Bad, i Will See MAN OF STEEL in 3D.