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1 Earth II Superman

Superman was imagined in 1933 by Jerry Siegel, nineteen, penciled by his pal Joe Shuster, same age, and "published" in their fanzine, Science Fiction . The two kids realy though they had found the idea of the century. They expected to see their work published as comic strip in a big daily paper. They soon had to meet reality. They tried with all american papers and everywhere they where sent back by a kick in the bottom. A guy who leaped over buildings and lifted cars? Who would be intersted in such nonsenses? Who? Nobody but Sheldon Mayer. The future creator of Sugar and Spike, didn't succeed in making his bosses of EC comics accept the character, but he could give it to one of their competitors, Harry Donenfeld, who was looking in emergency for anything in order to fill up the new title of the National Periodical (company which would latter be known as DC), Action Comics, whose number 1 would came in october... 1938.Yes. Five years hd passed.And this kind of publishing was no more than a makeshift, comic books, then, were despisted, they made no money. First comic books were gived away with packs of washing. Nobody could expect that this was on the brink to change because Superman would make one and half million copies of Action Comics sold each month.

Then everything changed. Superman got his comic strip since January 1939 and all american papers rushed upon it. Then there came a radio serial, broadcasted all over US territory, and, in 1941, cartoons at Max Fleisher's. In 1948 all cinemas projected the first of his many movies. And in 1953 he was played by George Reeve in a succeesfull T.V. series. In the comic book field too, everything had changed.Overnight comic books came from everywhere. 1939 spawned Batman, the first Marvel comics, Sub-Mariner and Human Torch, followed in 1940 by Atom, Flash, Green Lantern, Captain America.In the same time than an industry, a new kind was born, super-heroes. Most of them were but a lot of Superman without S on the chest. As the famous Captain Marvel of C. C. Beck, at Fawcett's, the only one whose succees exceeded Superman's one, which was made forbiden by DC as piece of plagiarism. (If a suit should be brought against every obvious copycat comic, it would take to build new universities for forming lawyers.)

The Superman of this golden age was much less powerfull than the one who would be known latter. He jumped over skyscrapers, he didn't fly through the whole universe He lifted cars, not buildings like today and certainly not planets like in the 60's. His powers have been increased -and diversified - little by little, in order to give readers a reason to keep buying. Their (first) scientific explanation, by the difference of mass and of atmospheric pressure between Earth and his native planet, became ridiculous only because of this growing. It was absolutely credible in the begining. It's in order to make an equilibrium with this evergrowing power that editors were compelled to introduce kryptonite (december 1949), the only substance that could hurt or even kill Superman, and then to use it more and more often untill it became awkward causing an imbalance contrary to the former one. This need to increase the hero's power unveils the poverty of the comic. Either you like it or not, you can't deny that Superman the world wild richest comic series. Only most of the items that constitute this wealth didn't exist then, or were not exploited. We knew that Superman came from another planet but we knew nothing about that planet or his parents. He fought crime, but he had no, or very few, noticeworth adversaries. Lex Luthor (appeared in april 40) was but the ordinary mad scientist such as hundred others thet you could found in the super-heroes field or elsewhere. Mr Mxyztplk (september 44), the joking imp who may be obliged to go back to his world in the fifth dimension only by making him say his name bakward, one of the all times best villains, was the exception that must not hide the rule. Beside, not only the recurrent items were rare, but the few ones that were there were contradictory.For instance, in the begining Kryptonians were supermen everywhere. Latter it's been explained that they had no power on their own planet. It was another corollary of Superman's growing powers. Else, from the moment he could fly through outer space, all his fellow citizens should have survive the explosion of their planet and the world would be full of supermen. There were contradictions too between the adventures of Superboy (january 45) and of Superman. Think of the characters that Superman met for the first time in some definite issue and that he fought allready before, when he was Superboy. Worse than this, former scripts were sometimes used again. Superman lived anew the same adventure without remembering that all that had allready happened to him. This seems bizarre and unbalanced today because we are used to a modern notion, continuity, so much that we consider it as natural. But to understand comics of those days, it takes to think of cartoons. Bugs Bunny lives nowadays;you may see guns or cars. Yet, if in an episode, you find him in the far west or in the prehistory, you won't realy be astonished. It is still Bugs Bunny. In the same way, if Superman had not exactly the same powers, if he lived again some allready happened adventure, it was still Superman.

the youth of Superman.

Superman's graphic creator, Joe Shuster was, let's admit it, a rather bad artist. His character was soon given to other pencils. With his chum Jerry Siegel, they tried to make again the hit of Superman, by launching anew a character absolutely different from all that existed and -I guess- hoped the same succees. It's been Funnyman, a clown, not a jerk a clown like in a circus, who fought criminals with cream pies and who's been forgoten long ago. Cover of Funnyman by Shuster (from my gallery Comic Books Best Covers) Unlike Siegel, he didn't succeed to get a career in comic book. A paradox, if you remember that it's him (with Siegel) who created this whole field. It's like if Henry Ford never got a job again in american car industry. Gone in 1992, he would have died in misery but owning to a campaign leaded by Neal Adams which compelled publishers to grant him and Siegel twelve thousands dollars yearly income.
One of Superman's main artists of the 40's and 50's was Al Plastino. They say Plastino is the comic artist whose work has been seen by the largest amount of people in the world. Yet, he is not a realy great artist. Hardly better than Shuster. If he'd begin today he wouldn't be published.
The artist who influenced the more Superman, from the end of the années 40's to the begining of the 60's, the one whose manner was others official pattern, was Wayne Boring . The art of Boring is very naive compared with nowadays way of drawing but you must consider it as a quality.It matched perfectly with stories naivety. An hyperrealistic art would have been quite a mess. Boring's simplicity, his style in the same time académic and typified produce a marvelous atmosphere when, in stories of Earth I period, Superman takes Lois Lane at Cinderella's or Mr Mxyztplk turns moon into cheese and could be dark enough to deliver some very alarming Luthor or Brainiac. The wealthy fed look of his Superman has been used by his successors. When Eart I and Earth II Superman met each other, the latter was represented stout in order to distinguish him from his counterpart. This remind the way the evolution of Jack Kirby's style with the Thing has been interpreted latter, byJohn Byrne, as some physiological evolution of this character's body. Superman: Cover of Action Comics 96 by Wayne Boring (from my gallery Comic Books Best Covers) . The same one as wallpaper.

After a bonanza, comic book industry fell into its first big crisis around 1945. All super-heroes disapeared in a few monthes,a few years for the more prestigious ones. They made the way for horror comics. All? No. Batman worked still and Superman throve. After Action Comics (1938) and Superman (1939), came World's Finest in 1941, Superman appeared in it firstly solo then in tandem with Batman from issue 71 of 1954. During crisis came Superman as child, Superboy, in More Fun Comics in 1945, transferred in Adventure Comics in 1946, to which was added Superboy in 1949. And let's not forget Jimmy Olsen in 1954. Crisis! What crisis?

2 Earth I Superman

When do end Earth II Superman adventures and when do begin Earth I Superman ones?Nobody can tell. We know the exact month when Earth I Superman story is over and Superman, the man of steel's saga starts but from Eart II to I it's only artistic blur. With the comic code, self-censure institution that got DC rid of its competitor EC and super-heroesmarket of their competitors horror stories, DC, in spite of a rather morose ambience, attempted to ressucitate the forsaken since 1945 super-heroes. This enterprise, which happened to be a succees with gigantic aftermath, started with Flash in Showcase 4 of march 1956. That could date the transition between the two Superman It rather matches it. But, of course, this date corresponds with nothing in Superman series. However, the new super-heroes were too different from their homologues of the 40's to allow to claim, like would do Marvel about Sub-Mariner or Captain America,that they were the same people. They did even not have the same secret identity. In Showcase 4, by making the new Flash read a comic book of the former one, the writer Robert Kanigher decreed that former super-heroes were comics characters (while new ones did exist.). But in september 1960, his colleague Gardner Fox substituted this idea for an infintely more fruitfull concept. There are two parallel universes , Eart I where the present Flash lives and Earth II where dwells the Flash of the 40's. Both of themmeet each other for the first time,but not the last one. Other super-heroes'll encounter sooner or later their own homologue. But in regard to Superman (and Batman) there was quite a problem which was not noticed at once. They fight along with Justice Society heroes in the 40's, scarcely indeed but they did, and they now team up with their present homologues of the JLA, they even join them in 63. So they live in two worlds at the same time. It's not possible, they must be two. Two Superman and two Batman .Only, that having been neither anticipated nor even realised at once, nothing perfoms the passage from one to the other or indicates by any way the moment it happened. Yet Earth I Superman is very differentof Earth II one, but this difference occured little by little.Nevertheless it's due to a well definite cause la nomination of Mort Weisinger as editor of all Superman magazines. Perfect. Let's say that Earth I Superman's career starts with this event. The probleme is that Weisinger didn't appeared, like Nightcrawler, one morning, in DC lobbies, with his suitcases in his hands, geting in charge, the very afternoon, simultaneously and définitely, of all those comic books. In fact he was working on Superman since 1941. You could also decide that Earth I Superman is the one who is in the stories drawn by Curt Swan. Swan pencilled practically all issues of Superman and Action Comics from 1955 to 1986 that is to say all the adventures of adult Earth I Superman. And his art is well different of those of his predecessors or successors. Nevertheles it would be to grant quite a matter to visual aspect. Either you date the transition by Flash, by Weisinger or by Swan, you allways come around 1955, 1956, but without any more precision.

Weisinger gave a vry simple directive to the writers. To allways introduce new recurrent items. There should have been an event practically every month in one magazine or an other one. So, in hardly two or three years appeared Superman's cousin , Supergirl (May 59); the four super animals, particulary Krypto, Superman's dog (December 55) present in every Superboy episode and, occasionaly,in his own adventures; the bizraros (November 58) on their cubic planet (April 60), - those monster doubles of Superman and his pals, who closed the door before to come in or struck you to demonstrate their friendship, got their own adventures in 1961 and 62; red kryptonite (September 58), which had on Superman the maddest effects, to inflate him like a ball, to divide him into two people, to drive him bad or to give him amnesia etc.; the phantome zone , where kryptonian criminals are prisoners; Lori the mairmed in love with Superman (May 59); without forgeting the new villains, Brainiac (Jully 58), firstly presented as an extraterrestrial, not a robot, brought the most unexpected present Kandor, the miniature city in a bottle with its citizens who came to join the thousand other wonders of the marvelous Forteress of Solitude (June 58). To "real" stories were added the extraordinary imaginairy stories, where heroes could die or turn criminal, that Marvel would discover only twenty years latter with What If. You also could be aware of the feats of Superman's descendants, in particular the Superman of 2965. The planet, Krypton, whose we hardly knew the name before, was now evoked with many details in Superman's adventures, then in its own series, the wonderful world of Krypton, and even in its comic books, limited series. Some diligent reader knew as much about its geography, its fauna, its flora, its histoiry, its politics or laws than about those of Earth. This abounding is maybe the origin of continuity.Since the stories allways introduced new items, a kind of irreversibility wormed its way, establishing a chronology which compelled coherence. They claimed (at DC's) that it is Superman who introduced continuity into comics. The thing was too much "in the air" and too much unconscious to allow anybody to take out a patent. But from then on, contradictions were out of the question - stop laughing please, I mean contradiction wittingly. - and former episodes were occasionnaly conjured up. This is nothing else but continuity.

This creativity vanished in the begining of the 60's. Superman kept all acquired riches which would have sufficed to fill up ten ordinary series, but they introduced more of it but exceptionally. In february 1971, the direction passed from Weisinger to Julius Schwartz, in the same time than inking passed to Murphy Anderson and script to Deny O'neil. Schwartz, in order to rejuvenate the character or to leave his mark on it, changed everything in the very first issue that he took over, Superman 233. Both Clark Kent and Superman were involved. Clark Kent left his old paper, the Daily Planet, for the modern Galaxy TV six o'clock report. Behind this modernizing there is the unsaid will to do in the Marvel way. DC don't understand how a small company stole them the first rank. Morgan Edge, who replaces Perry White, is rather like J Jonah Jameson and the transformation is retroactive for Superboy's new schoolmate, Bash Bashford, is a clone of Flash Thompson. As for Superman, he got rid of kryptonite, but in return, he lost "half" his migth. Owning to that, he got weak enough to fight the bad guys in the Marvel heroes way. What made, untill then, the originality of Superman, was that, having became too strong to be confronted with anyone, he should live a diferent kind of adventures, based upon problems of secret identity in danger of unveiling, of constraints related to oaths,of mysteries to solve, which demanded to writers much more imagination. All that was over. The 70's carried yet un new foe Terra-Man, the futuristic cow-boy futuriste (March 72) and above all three wonderful secondary roles, Valdemar the viking on his giant sparow (January 73), Captain Strong (February 73), the anti-parodiy of Popeye (anti since Popeye is humorous and Captain Strong realistic) and Vartox, the extraterrestrial super-hero (November 74).

Kept in the present version

_Vision X
_Telescopic vision
_Microscopic vision
_Freezing breath
_Super breath
_Super hearing
_Apnoea (power "lost" in 86 and found back in 2000)

Lost since Byrne's reforms in 1986

_Speed = invisibility (rather forgotten than realy lost)
_Super ventriloquism
_Total memory
_Super intelligence (+ kryptonian science=gadgets)
_Universal glossolaly (speaking all languages)
_Time travels
_Physiogonomic changes (Earth II. Earth I only make up)

If you forget the nonsense of traveling in the past, among all those powers, the more incredible, in spit of appearances, is the ability to fly. That he can change of direction or stop by mere will, constitute a deep mystery as much as a transgression of the principle of action and reaction.

_ Magic
_Neighbourhood of a red star.


_Green Lethal
_ Red Allways different and temporary effects
_ Gold Erases permanently his powers
_ Blue (Bizarro kryptonite).No effect on Superman. =green for those of Bizarros who have powers.
_ White Destroys vegetation.
_ Jewel Causes explosions.

To say Superman is to say Curt Swan and to say Curt Swan is to say Superman. Swan drew Superman for the first time in 1953 and has been paractically his only artist from 55 to Crisis in 85, that is to say untill "the end". However, the definitive look Swan's work is very depending on the choice of the inker.There is, or so does it seems to me, a noteworthy analogy between the succession of inkers on Swan from 53 to 86 and on Kirby, at Marvel's, from 56 to 70. With his first inkers, Burnley or Kaye, young Swan delivered us a simple, a bite crude art, pleasant but without personality, which distinguished not him among other Superman artists of this time. This style makes one think to the agreable but rough finishing touches that Ayers gave to Kirby from 56 to 62, for instance with the first Fantastic Four issues. In the best Superman periode, the 60's, inked by George Klein , Swan gave us a marvelous linearity, the equivalent of french (and belgian) ligne claire, that you can find at Kirby's too, in 1963-64 while Stone inked his work. That's the top. In 1969, with Jack Abel and "George Roussos" (indistinguishable style I suspect that they are one and the same.), Superman loses this naivety, this freshness but the art wins technique, gets finish. Matter becomes palpable. It is superb. This jump into realism corresponds in the script with (a bit) more crdible stories and with longer tales, owning to whole issue stories and to to-be-continuied. This may be compared with Coletta's magnificient inking of in 1965. This will be the swan song, if you don't mind me saying so. The 70's will be characterized by the soft and personalityless inking of Murphy Anderson and his successors, like Frank Chiaramonte. The same decline than the inking of Kirby by Joe Sinnot during the 60's second half.
The more naive among all Superman's universe iluminators was Kurt Schaffenberger. He shown the best of his art with the first Lois Lane issues from 1958, some real jewels, then he took up Supergirl. In 73, he left Superman's world to create anew, in Shazam, Captain Marvel's one, whose his manner was perfectly fitting. His coming back, on Superboy in 1980, with his old style whose too simple, too childish aspect was still accentuated, while Superman atmosphere was becoming more realistic, sunk this series. He was not in anymore. Cover of Shazam with funny guy in Superman suite by Schaffenberger (from my gallery Comic Books Best Covers)
If Neal Adams practically t never drew Superman, he produced unnumerable covers of him and of Superboy. Superman by Adams wallpaper And this is very well this way. Some ambassador of realism performance would have been a catastrophe for the fairy tales ambience of Superman stories, but his covers which didn't interfere with the stories atmosphere , give us a magnificent illustration gallery, a glimpse of technical perfection.
In 1983, another master,Gil Kane went for a short trip, like some tourist. He didn't stay long enough to leave his mark on Superman. That's not bad, he was turning it into an action series, beautifull indeed, but whatever may say some comic book title, Superman is not an action comic. (Not Earth I Superman, however.)
In 1970 Jack Kirby momentary appropriated Jimmy Olsen. It was not Jimmy Olsen anymore, it was Kirby stuff. It's fantastic too, but it has nothing to do with Superman.


In 1958 Lois Lane got her own comic book. And so did Supergirl in 1972. Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen and Supergirl were replaced with Superman Family from 1974 to 1982. Then Supergirl found again a comic book of her own. If Superboy left his own magazine to the Legion of Super-heroes, he found in exchange the New Adventures of Superboy (1980-1984). From 1978 to 1986, Superman met one after one all other DC heroes in his team up DC Comics presents.
From 1978 to 1987, four movies (five, taking Supergirlinto account), with Christopher Reeve as Superman, were a real hit. Yet they distinguished themselve from the former ones but for their budget. The lately X-Men or Spider-Man make one dream of what a realy inspired Superman

In 1985, the limited series CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS overthrew DC universe. The writer Marv Wolfman, having resolutely decided to tidy space-time up, practised surgery with chain saw. A scary amount of super-heroes were killed, others were transformed. Like in Lafontaine's animals plague, ils ne mouraient pas tous mais tous étaient touchés. (Not all of them died but all were hit.) Regarding only Superman, here is the score.
Supergirl is dead. The first Superman, the one of Earth II, is definitively thrown into an oubliette constituted by some paradisiac place in a parallele univers. This world is inhabited by him, Lois Lane of Earth II and the Superboy of another parallel universe, Earth Prime. Wich is a way to end Superboy without telling it at once. In the new reality Superboy did not exist wich won't prevent him from dying in Legion of Super heroes 38 in order to realy finish with him. So, no more adventures of Superboy, nor of Supergirl. Superman himself, Earth I one, came off unharmed. But it was only a short respite. Allready, the shadow of a much more mighty than Doomsday villain darkened the horizon. In a few monthes Earth I Superman, would be annihilated by the terrible John Byrne.

3 Superman, the man of steel

It was in october 1986. In the limited series THE MAN OF STEEL, John Byrne, recreated Superman. This entreprise is an aberration. They sweaped half a century of publishing as if never did have exist. The former Superman doesn't dwell in a parallel universe, like when we passed from Earth II to Earth I Superman, he is not anymore the same character whose we would discover some untold and unsuspected aspects like when Miller transformed Daredevil. The former Superman did never exist. He is taken into account as butter. (When french children let one think he is playing with them but don't take the points got by him into account in the score, he is "taken into account as butter".) No matter if Superman fights beside Batman, Flash and all his JLA chums, who associated the ancient Superman. It ruins only DC continuity. Beside, many of them undergo the same kind of lifting. John Byrne did the same misdeed at Marvel's, a few years letter, with Chapter One. But Spider-Man murder failed. The changes were too small to overthrow the character identity. They marely introduced some contradictions between old and new episodes (we saw worse without that being wittingly .) and were soon forgotten. On the contrary, changes in Superman are fundamental and generally hunappy. All of them, begining with the spectacular powers diminution, go in the same dirction, to disenchant Superman, to take him the spell, the charm, the magic, all that distinguished him from other super-heroes, to make him more realistic, more credible, a more serious reading.

The wonderful world of Krypton ain't no more, from now on, but a sinister planet, an ecologist nightmare without any remarkable phenomenon or specimen. Krypton is anihilated much more by its new creation than by its new destruction. All that survived the planet is an automatic, awful and lethal technology which will come several times to threaten Earth. And if Superman himself is still the blameless hero that we allways knew, they won't hesitate to tell us that we own it to his earthly education. (They don't say what planet Staline, Hitler and co came from.)

Superman has no more secret identity. More exactly nobody suspects that he has one nor therefore try anymore to discover it. This theme which was the subject of much more stories than any great Superman foe and which gave all its pepper to Lois Lane personality is thrown into the oubliettes.

Just for not to say that I am a moaner, let's see a fruitfull change. Superman and BATMAN who lived together hundreds of adventures without making their writers or their readers mind about what could unit two so different people,meet each other anew for the first time.Not knowing each other, each one sees the other like he realy is. Superman stands for Ethics and Law. From his point of view, Batman is an outlaw who try to impose his own justice. If the hostility will stay very limited because of both star belonging to a same team une, the JLA, one of DC bigest sales, their antagonisme will be exploited, particulary by Frank Miller in Dark Knight where the two former best friends - excuse me, the men who would may have been the two best friend in some other reality-fight each other.

One may also admire the inspired idea in Superman V2 11 in wich Byrne, without affirming anything, allows us to imagine that Mr Mxyzptlk could be... the Beyonder, the God of Marvel universe.

The new Lex Luthor, imagined by Marv Wolfman, is intersting also. One might regret that he lost the ambivalence of the one of Earth I, who shown human aspects, but this is not a coming back to the 40's vacant stereotype. The new Luthor is rather like Marvel's Kingpin, machiavelian, more credible, dilightfully hateful and all the more dangeroussince apparently respectable. I don't thik that Wolfman realised it but his irrational hate for Superman is the same than J. Jonah Jameson one for Spider-Man

This new Superman is also a come back to origins. In two ways. Firstly, he sweeps off the 1971 changes, clark T.V. reporter and so. That's not so bad. Unfortunately the characters created after 71 vanished too, I think of Captain Strong or Valdemar.

Secondly Superman personality is also altered. In the 60's Superman became some kind of super boy scout. Indeed, then, heroes didn't use machine gun nor wore a big skull on the chest, but even for those day Superman was realy the saint of comic books. He spent more time in charity performances than fighting bad guys and fought them with non-violence. Beside, he was serving the world and not a particular nation. The new hero, even though he keeps exemplary compared with many of his today's colleagues is more hard and more american. In the fourth issue of the new Adventures of Superman (the 427), he invades, on his own decision, a sovereign country presumed accomplice of international terrorism. In the next one he terrorises some gangsters. In both cases he acted reluctantly but Earth I Superman would have found another solution. It seems to me that, from age to age, Superman's evolution follows America spirit's one.

Other changes.
There has been no Superboy; Superman was grown up when he's got his powers. Jimmy Olsen is a loser, at least people treat him as a loser, like in the 40's, another come back to origins, so. A love story begins between Superman and Wonder Woman wich will never realy start because of the unexpected evolution of his relationship with Lois Lane (see further).. Jonathan and Martha Kent are still alive. Superman's costume is not indestructible.

The impossible encounter between yesterday and today Superboys.

A number of the man of stell adventures are based upon the more memorable episodes of Earth I Superman. All this latter great foes have of course been reintroduced as well as, little by little, many items that byrne did erase, Kandor, the phantom zone etc. In 1988, two years after her death, Supergirl comes back. At least, the new kid in town has the appearance, the name and the costume of late Earth I hero's cousin, but she has not so much to withneither with her nor with the man of steel, who stays the only one of his kind. She is a clone Lana Lang counterpart in some parallel universe. More than this, from 1990, imposed by the relative succees of a T.V. series, Superboy is back. Since the ancient Superboy has offloaded in crisis and the new Superman has never been Superboy, it's an impossible character, a " virtual particle ", off any continuity. Crisis was suposed to simplify everything, it's funny, Ifind that it was simpler when it was complicated.

But the man of steel has got his own legend. Compared with the one of Earth I years, the modern period rhythme is the one of a great restaurant compared to a fast food. It gives writers all the time to finish every detail and to give secondary characters their own life. The big sagas, stretching over several issues and Superman different magazines, are not afflicted, or much less, by the defects of Marvel big cross over that I criticized in my History of Marvel comics site. At any given moment, Superman different magazines artists show a relatively homogenous style, as for extend the former epoch inheritance, when Curt Swan drew everything. Those sagas don't interfere with other magazines than Superman ones, those that the reader is not suposed to follow.Their chapters are, as much as possible, relatively independent and you may sometimes without reading one of the different comic books. The first big event was Luthor death in 1990 and the transplant of his brain in a new body. The more memorable affair - they even announced it on french TV news! - is still the death of Superman, killed by Doomsday, in 1993, in Superman (V2) 75,the more sold comic book of all times. Since comic books with white pages would have sell much less, to pass the interim before his resurrection, two new characters appeared, Steel , a kind of Iron Man admirorof Supermanand above all the new Superboy, not Superman when he was a kid but a clone of Superman, living in the same epoch than his grown up pattern. More care-free, insolent and bon viveur, he gives a real youth to this comic.Then, you realise that the first Superboy was only a child sized grown-up Superman. Yet the event that affected the more the history of Superman is his wedding with Lois Lane in 1996, some kind of imposed marriage, you might say, imposed by T.V. series Lois and Clark spectators wills. In 1997, the saga New power introduced a more spectacular, but temporary, change. Superman changed his powers, he became the king of electricity, weared a newcostumeand his skin came blue. Everything is back to usual in 1998. But in 2000, an invasion atempt of Brainiac leaves Metropolisultramodernized, "futurized", and after that they elect Lex Luthor President of the USA. (Is it so worse than G.W.B.?)

In 2000, the coming of new editor, Eddie Berganza, inflects once again Superman trajectory.At last, they realised that Byrne's great udeas didn't please everybody. No question to redo the same error, by tearing once again continuity and introducing a fourth Superman. That's allready tangled enough.They'll do it more subtly. While keeping the Man of steel continuity, they'll give back to the man of steel the riches of Earth I Superman.They do it by little lightstrokes. The reintroduce characteres or concepts of yore. In 2000, writer Jeph Loeb "exhumes" the burlesque Bizarro of the great epoch. In 2001, they unveil that all that Byrne told us about Krypton was but lucubrations of Jor El. Superman's father had depreciated his home planet for lighting his son sore about its lost. The world of Krypton is wonderful again.And two monthes latter, the super-dog Krypto comes back. Neverthelessthey won't go any further.On the contrary,next year we learns that the so called "real truth" (sic) about Krypton was the real lie and the real layer was not Jor El but Brainiac. The world of Kryptonhas been wonderful, indeed,... longtime ago. (You find my last sentence has a double meaning? Maybe.)

New change of route in september 2003 and new stabbing for continuity, with the limited series Birthright. T.V. series Smallville succees incites publishers to reshape Superman in order to erase all differences between the comic character and his adaptation. Yet, the goal is still not to create a new Superman again, but only to mask as well as possible the contradictions between before and after Smallville comic issues. In fact, the writer Mark Waid is in charge of redrawing a circle so that it became square,while keeping its properties of when it was round.

In March 2003 appeared a new super heroin, Cir El, who was first taken for the daughter of Superman come back from the future. Her coming coincides with the end of Supergirl publication. But in March 2004 in Superman Batman 8 things take a new and unexpected road. Then comes the new new Supergirl, who is, in fact... the former one, Kara, Superman's cousin, the one who died during Crisis in infinite Earths in the former continuity. Also in Superman Batman in 2004 the fall of Luthor anew officially regarded as a criminal like before 1986 and the return of kryptonite abundance on Earth like before 1971.

In January 2004, DC relaunchs Superman by changing every writer and artist and by publishing in Superman a twelve issues saga For tomorrow, set one year in the future, meaning one year after other Superman comics' and other DC magazines' stories.

In December 2005, a new cross over INFINITE CRISIS upsets DC universe. the survivors of crisis in infinite earthes come back after twenty years. The Superboy of Earth Terre Prime realy changed during this exile. He became a mad villain who menaces not only the Hearth but the whole universe. He kills many super-heroes, among wich his homologue Superboy. Lois Lane of Earth II dies also. But the most marking event is the DEATH OF THE FIRST SUPERMAN , the legendary hero of Earth II, father of all the comic book industry, appeared in october 1938 and killed in June 2006, by Earth Prime Superboy.

Graphically, John Byrne's Superman was nice. It united a bit of Adams covers technique, of Swan naive freshness and of Kane's dynamism. Nevertheless, after Superman, Byrne style would grow cruder and it began to appear already in some pages. For Superman's face, Byrne seems to have been influenced by Christopher Reeve, the Superman of the movies.
Impossible to stop at all the man of steel legend iluminators. He passed by the hands of Jerry Ordway, Art Thibert, Bob Mc Leod, Brett Breeding, Ed Hannigan, Jackson Guice, Stuart Immonen, Garcia Lopez, Tom Grummet (image Superboy VS Superboy, above), Dennis Janke, John Bogdanove, Tom Epting. And many others.
The one who changed the more his look was Ed McGuiness who gave his pattern from 2000 to 2003. Many readers apreciate McGuiness physiogonomies expressivity. I can't help feeling that too perfect volumes representation, added to bent of strokes and exaggeration of muscular mass, make his Superman look like some japanese plastic figurine. But you get accustomed after a while.
Along with McGuiness, in the new spirit given by him many great artists joined. We could enjoy the wonderfull Pascual Ferry, Duncan Rouleau, Dough Mahnke, the sometimes funny, almost humorous Kano and, according to me, the best, but too scarce Mike McKone. And still many others.
Without having drawn the regular series, Alex Ross drew the more hyperrealistic of all the Superman. Superman Detail of Crisis cover by Ross (from my gallery where the whole cover is exhibited.)
In Birthright, Leinil Francis Yu, giving priority to beautifull big isolated pictures over cartoons successions of action, incarnated a spirit closer to illustration than to comics.
To relaunch Superman (For Tomorrow), the artist they choosed is the more modern and popular of our days, Jim Lee. The absolute technical perfection! His angular and full detailed style contrasts with McGuiness curved and smooth pattern. Ivan Reis and Matthew Clark, two academic and realistic artists took up his other titles.

In 1987, at the transition between Earth I hero and the man of steel, the comic book passed from Superman 423 to Superman 1 and Adventures of Superman 424. Simultaneously, DC comics Presents stoped, Superman team-up went in Action Comics. During the year 88, Action Comics was weekly, which makes six Superman a month. In 1990-1991, Superboy, the ancient one, (well, the new ancient but not the clone) got his comic book. In 1991, Superman got a fourth comic book Superman, the man of steel. He's even got a fifth one from 1995 to 1999 Superman, the man of tomorrow. The new Superboy has his one since1994 and had a second one, Superboy and the Ravers from 1996 to 1998. Supergirl had hers from 1996 to 2002. In 2003 the TV series Smallvillespawned also a comic bookand, seventeen years after World's Finest last issue , Superman Batman were reunited.
From 1993 to 97, the T.V. series Lois et Clark gived Superman the face of Dean Kain. From 1996 to 2000, there were new cartoons who spawned also a comic book, Superman Adventures . Since 2001, Tom Welling plays in Smallville a young Clark Kent promised to Superman's future, even though he doesn't wear Superboy suite. He must beware Michael Rosenbaum, a very ambiguous Lex Luthor. They get some remarkable guests like Flash, Green Arow, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter or Cyborg.. In 2005, Krypto gets his cartoon series. In 2006 Superman the event is the movie Superman Return. This time it's Brandon Routh who plays the greatest of the super-heroes. This movie is still not worth the Spider-Man or X-men ones.


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