Superman Fans-How was the "Death" resolved?

My dad’s a bit of a Superman fan, so he has the famous “Death” issue, which I’ve read as well. However, I was a bit disppointed to find out the end they brought him back…but as one of four different people, a rather obvious moneymaking ploy.

Niether my dad or myself followed any of those 4 tracks, so I don’t know what happened from there on out? However, I am curious. How did they resolve the whole 4 superman arc? Which one was the real one?

Technically, none of those four were the real Superman. It’s been a while since I’ve read them, but if I remember correctly one was a cyborg, one was merely a guy in a suit (Steel…yes, that craptastic Shaq movie was based on him…), one was some kind of clone (the superboy-esque one) and I can’t remember what the last one was…but I think it had something to do with the real superman’s spirit or soul in a new body…but it still wasn’t really superman because he had all these crazy powers and didn’t really think or act like superman, plus the real superman came back, I think his dad pulled him out of the afterlife, or something.

Egads, it’s been about 10 years since that happened!

Anyhoo, it seems that Supes wasn’t dead, just resting.


He was so worn down by the fight with Doomsday, all his power was drained. It looked to the citizens of Metropolis that he was dead.

They built a mausoleum to put his body in. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get recharged by the sun.

I don’t recall the exact details, but somebody got him out and he got recharged.

The four “Supermen” were imposters (duh!).

Superboy was a clone.
Steel was (and maybe still is) John Henry Irons. He tried to fill in for Big Blue in an attempt to honor his memory.

The Cyborg had some of Supes’ DNA, but was evil. He destroyed (or helped destroy) Coast City (which, as we know, caused Hal Jordan to go nuts).

For reason, I can’t recall the name of the fourth guy, but I beilieve he was a Kryptonian.

None of them was the real Superman.

Superboy was a partial clone of him (his DNA spliced with human DNA - whose is a matter of some pliability. Current canon suggests it may be Lex Luthor, although originally, it was the head of the Superboy project.) He’s currently active with the Legion of Superheroes AND Teen Titans. He’s always been my favourite of the replacements.

Steel is a non-superhuman who made a superpowered suit to emulate Superman (who had once saved his life.) Still active as Steel last I checked.

The Last Son of Krypton/Eradicator is a Kryptonian AI who sort of took up the identity of Superman. IIRC, he’s the one who brought the real Superman back. (Can someone refresh my memory on that?)

The cyborg was…evil. And responsible for destroying Coast City. I can’t remember his actual origin.

The fourth one was The Eradicator, and Superboy and Steel are still around in DC continuity.

If you’re interested, HPL, I have every single comic from that storyline, “Reign Of the Supermen,” that followed the Death story. I’m trying to clear out space by selling some older comics, and I’d give you a good deal on the entire set if you and your dad are curious about them.

I think we may’ve just managed to fill in eachother’s missing details.

Superman is solar-powered?

Christ, he’s even lamer than I thought.

Yeah, wasn’t that the problem with “Nuclear Man” from movie 4?

Yup, the solar powered “Nuclear Man.” With his costume-weaving computer.

Jeez, freakin’ Captain Planet villains were better designed than that.

Read it all.

Compare the early volumes to how it all played out, and it’s pretty obvious that they were making it up as they went along. No more obvious example than the cyborg. Originally, he was just an enigma, someone with part of the body of Superman and part metal. He even saved the White House from a terrorist attack and won the trust of Clark Kent’s successor, a highly sympathetic character. And look at all the captions during his stealing and disposing of Doomsday’s body…nothing at all indicating evil intent.

Oh, and the Kryptonian was an artificial life form that was released upon Superman’s death. At first, he was just energy, but he was able to develop a physical form after finding Superman’s body. In the process, he also absorbed some of Supes’ personality to the point where he thought he was Superman. This may or may not have been pre-planned, but the early episodes hint very strongly that he’s a darker, crueler Superman returned from the dead.

Well, it’s pretty obvious that it was never more than a marketing ploy, so I don’t begrudge Superman’s inevitable return too much.

The cyborg, by the way, met his end in a black hole…the only place where his consciousness couldn’t escape. Of course, a black hole is a world all its own, so he still has the opportunity to show up from time to time. Nothing in the universe harder to kill than a comic book character, I tell ya…

Because obviously, Nuclear bombs are both solar powered and completely useless if you use them in the dark.

Right. Yet another example of taking a good thing(A movie series) and driving it completely into the ground.

Superman did die. However, the effect of 30+ years of exposure to the Sun and his placement in the Kryptonian cocoon made it possible for the Eradicator to (inadvertently) resurrect him. It’s like when someone’s heart and brain stop on an operating room table, but the doctor brings them back a moment later – only, because of Superman’s unique physique and the circumstances surrounding his death – it was basically an exhaustion death, not a physical-damage death – he was able to be revived. Even the Eradicator indicated that it was stastically unlikely that such fortuitous circumstances for death would ever occur again.

When Superman died, the Eradicator, who had battled Superman, trying to revert him to a “pure” Kryptonian form on many occassions, went to retrieve Superman’s body. In the process, he absorbed matter from Superman’s tomb, and took a physical form very similar to that of Superman. He incorporation, and confusion, led to a sort of delusion where the Eradicator thought he was Kal-El. He placed Superman’s body in the Kryptonian Matrix to process solar energy and provide the Eradicator with a source of power by which to replenish his own limited abilities.

The Matrix re-stimulated Superman’s organs to the point that they resumed biological function. Like shocking a heart when it stops.

Contrary to what is written by previous posters, the entire Reign of the Supermen story was plotted out months in advance at the Super-Summit of 1991. Originally, Superman was supposed to get married in issue 75, but Lois & Clark screwed that plan up, so they killed him, and let each of the four Superman books create their own new Superman. Like all Superman stories of that period, the entire plot arc was designed by the writers and editor at the Summit, and then everyone when back to their home towns to write from afar. It was known from the beginning which characters would be ‘good,’ which would be ‘bad,’ and which would end up dead.

Cyborg Superman’s origin began in a comical tale that was meant to spoof the Fantastic Four. A space shuttle crashed, resulting in the mutation of its four inhabitants, but with disastrous results. The only survivor, Hank Henshaw, became incapable of living on Earth over the grief resulting from the deaths of his wife and two other co-astronauts. Having been bonded to technology, he stole Superman’s gestation matrix, which had brought Kal-El to Earth, and departed to find a new life in the cosmos as a living machine. Instead, he went crazy, and blamed Superman for the death of his crew. Since the Matrix had a recording of Superman’s early years, and knew Superman’s DNA, and was Kryptonian in origin, he was able to fashion himself a Kryptonian-tech, Superman-DNA’ed body with which to return to Earth.

He was quite mad, so it is possible that at times, he really did think he was Superman.

I consider the mid-1990s to be a real high point for recent Superman comics. The Death/Funeral/Return story, followed by the Clone Plague and the Fall of Metropolis, then by the Wedding, Superman Blue and finally the rise of Lex Luthor to the presidency, was all a lot of fun. What I liked most was that each book led into the next week’s book, like a TV show. And the supporting cast was broad, consistent and had their own plots.

Nowadays, the Superman books are all action, the supporting cast is pretty much non-existent, and all the books follow their own storyline, which makes continuity a pain (when does book X take place in comparison to book Y? I can never tell!). Well, Superman itself isn’t action-oriented. Instead, it’s just issue after dreadful issue of Superman chatting with a priest.

I miss Cadmus, Supergirl/Matrix, Cat Grant, GBS, Keith White, Luthor as corporate leader, and all the rest from the good old days. These comics just ain’t what they used to be.

Excellent post, Spectrum!

Anybody who wants to read the whole saga can get the trade paperback collections Death of Superman, *World Without a Superman * and The Return of Superman. They’re easy to find at any decent comic shop, or even in the graphic novel section of a Barnes & Noble.

You don’t even have to go that far. i’m sitting here in a libray in brooklynm looking at the"world with out a superman" graphic novel. If you just want to read them I’d drop in and check them out. THough it does feel a bit strange being the biggest person in the childrens section looking for books. And i swear I had to fight some 6 year old to get this batman I had my eye on. littke bastard bit me! But I got it.

WHat? Stop looking at me like that!!


Yes, you can usually find popular graphic novels in public libraries. I guess if the library’s in Brooklyn you should get a tetanus shot first in case you have to do battle with little kids. :smiley:

As Spectrum said, Supes was dead. Upon being informed of this, he goes on about how he must have been in a deep coma or something similar. He’s told “Negative, Kal-El. You were categorically deceased.”

Shortly after emerging from the Fortress again, Supes was returned to full power. The Eradicator shielded him from an energy blast, and managed to filter through the beneficial parts to restore Supes.

Some of Superman’s powers have been solar powered for decades. Even Pre Crisis, many issues have the rays of a yellow sun being responsible for his invulnerability (I have an issue in which he uses a special suntan lotion because he feels his powers have somehow gone beyond his control. He later realizes that this has reduced his invulnerabilty and takes off his boots in order to absorb yellow solar radiation through his feet).

IIRC Hank Henshaw was supposed to return and team up with the villianous Toyman, who views the Cyborg as a kind of living toy.

I never read the the “Death of Superman” comics, but I did read the novelization by Roger Stern - The Death and Life of Superman - which I liked a lot. At one time, The “Death” storyline was considered for the now-mythological “new” Superman film. Stern’s novelization was considered as the basis for a script, but I’m not sure if anyone ever did a script adaption of it. I’m sure someone here knows more about that.


Of course, then, there’s the famous Super-recharge from The Dark Knight Returns, in which Big Blue, after getting the stuffing knocked out of him crashes to Earth and…

A friend of mine who introduced me to graphic novels and trade paperbacks explained it “He gets his strength back by touching a sunflower, which I think is totally unbelievable”.

It wasn’t until about the fourth time I reread TDKR that I realized that when Superman grabbed that sunflower, he actually sucked the life out of an entire freaking rainforest.

Sure, fuck with my oxygen supply to save your own sorry ass.

But IIRC the captions for that sequence goes OTTOMH

I need the sun’s energy

Mother Earth, you keep that same energy here.

I beg you, for the sake of a suffering world, release it.

You are so generous. You give me your precious jungle.

I swear your adopted son will honor and cherish you.
Note that Supes doesn’t say ‘You give me your precious sunflower’ or ‘your precious shrubbery’. He says jungle. It isn’t clear exactly how much plant life died to recharge him. But it was obviously a great deal.

I should have phrased that last sentence differently. I meant 'large quantity.