The best Superman comics and graphic novels
Our favourite stories about the last son of Krypton for Superman-lovers through to comic newbies.
The best Superman comics are packed with rich, exciting and inspiring stories about the last son of Krypton. But if you've never dipped into the comic books before, or you have but it's been a while and you're not sure what's worth reading, you're in the right place.
Superman was originally created by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster back in the 1930s. This creative duo established the foundations of the man of steel's story, love interests and adversaries, which still resonate with fans more than 80 years later.
Since then, many other creators have run with the Superman legacy, embracing Siegel and Shuster's original story, adding their own ideas and directions and, sometimes, even flipping the script on its head.
UPDATE:There's big news in another area of the Superman universe. We now know who will star as Superman and Lois Lane in the next blockbuster movie, Superman: Legacy. David Corenswet will play Superman, Rachel Brosnahan is Lois Lane. The film itself isn't due out until 2025, but given Corenswet is under 30, this casting could last a good long while.
Superman has always been one of the most popular heroes in the DC universe, and the wider comic book industry. Whereas Batman is a "normal" dude with superhero skills, Superman has always been super in every sense of the word. Super kind, super heroic and super good, which makes for cool stories on the surface that often explore deeper moral issues about duty, identity and what it means to be human.
There are countless Superman comics we could have picked for this list, so be sure to upvote your favourites – that way the best of the best rise to the top. And if your top pick isn't here, add it in the box below.
Best Superman comics
1. All-Star Superman
Created by writer Grant Morrison and artist Frank Quitely, this 12 issue series ran from 2005 to 2008. With this run Morrison wanted to break the mould and tell a Superman story that wasn't about his origins and didn't follow a typical superhero arc. The answer? A story about Superman's impending death. Superman knows he's dying from exposure to the sun and makes peace with the world before his end by completing heroic feats – the twelve labours of Superman – not that completing heroic feats is new to him or anything. It's considered one of the greatest comic series ever and if we could only suggest you read one, start here.
2. Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?
We've got some series in this list, but we also have one off-stories – this one was actually published over two instalments – and Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? is considered to be one of the greatest Superman tales of all time. Who would have the chops to tell one of the greatest Superman stories of all time, we hear you ask? Alan Moore of course. The award-winning writer behind some of the best comic book stories, and stories generally, ever written teamed up with artist Curt Swan for Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? The story is set in the future, featuring Lois Lane looking back on Superman's past. It was meant to be the end of the Silver Age of Superman and it's a fantastic read that won't take that long.
3. Man and Superman Deluxe Edition
Written by Marv Wolfman with art by Claudio Castellini, this is a four-part mini series. Wolfman has written (literally) hundreds of Superman stories over the years and says this is his best. It's all about Clark Kent's difficult first few years in Metropolis and the struggles that almost stopped him from becoming Superman entirely. As the title suggests, we like this story because it's rare that writers choose to focus more on Clark Kent and the man behind Superman than the superhero himself. Don't be fooled, however, this isn't your typical "young man moves to the city" narrative. This is still Superman, and Wolfman's writing combined with Castellini's art brings us a fresh story that feels deep and authentic.
4. Superman: For All Seasons
Another short and sweet series here with only four comics, Superman For All Seasons was written by Jeph Loeb and illustrated by Tim Sale in 1998. It's not an origin story as such, but does explore the life of Clark Kent as he's getting to grips with his powers and his identity. People praise this book for the usual, it's well-paced and fun, but there's a deeper, emotional thread throughout too, which is amplified by the fact the story is told through a series of seasons by different people in Superman's orbit. Superman: For All Seasons can be read as a standalone, self-contained story, which we think makes it a great beginner book if you're not sure how into Superman you really are – although after reading this we bet your answer would be: very.
5. Superman (1939-2011): Annual #11
Rather than a mini series, here's a short story we think is well worth reading – and it won't take you long. This is the second time a Superman story penned by Alan Moore makes our list, but for good reason. Dave Gibbons is the artist on-board for this mind-bending tale that sees Superman get caught up in the grips of a parasitic flower. But inside his mind he believes he's still on Krypton and it didn't explode – but what's really real? Like all of Moore's fantastic stories, this feels like a fresh and interesting take.
6. Superman: Up in the Sky
Created by top DC writer Tom King with art by Andy Kubert, this is a standalone mini series that we'd say are for those who already love the character and want a deeper dive into what makes him tick rather than those who want an easy way in. The main story is about Superman embarking on a mission to save a kidnapped girl, but he encounters obstacles along the way as well as some well-known DC characters.
7. Superman Smashes the Klan
This short mini series of three comics of the same name is based on an early radio play all about Superman's fight against racism. Written in 2019 by bestselling author Gene Luen Yang and artist Gurihiru, it's about the Lee family who move rom Chinatown to Downtown Metropolis in 1946 and are targeted by the Ku Klux Klan. Luckily, Superman shows up and saves the day. This is an easy read - contrary to what you might guess - kids will love, but tackles some big and all too relevant topics exceptionally well. If you're looking for a short series to read in one sitting this is a great choice.
8. Superman: Secret Origin
We've covered a bunch of standalone stories in this list, but if you're looking to get stuck into a classic retelling of Superman's origins, his original run-ins with Lex Luthor and his relationship with Lois Lane, we recommend Superman: Secret Origin. Written by the brilliant creative team of writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank, this modern reworking of the Superman story is a coming of age tale and details Clark Kent's journey from Smallville to Metropolis. Like all of the best retellings, it adds in enough interest and new elements, while staying faithful to what fans know and love about the man of steel.
9. Superman: Birthright
There are plenty of stories in this list that drop in on Superman later in his life – and at the end of his life – but there are others that shine a whole new light onto his origin story instead, and this 2003 tale is one of our favourites. Created by writer Mark Waid and inimitable illustrator Leinil Francis Yu, this 12 issue miniseries is a retelling of Superman's origins that feels incredibly modern and fresh – without changing the all-important parts of his personality and annoying lifelong fans.
We've scanned the reviews to check other readers enjoyed this series as much as we did and there are plenty of people who say they consider this to be the definitiveSuperman origin story – what a compliment. So if you're new to Superman and want to start where it all began, you need Superman: Birthright.
- Want to indulge in a new comic but feel all Superman-ed out? Check out our list of the best graphic novels for adults.
- If you want to see your favourite graphic novels imagined on screen, take a look at our pick of the best comic-book TV shows.