Can you believe it’s the 30th anniversary of The Death Of Superman?! To celebrate DC Comics have released ‘The Death Of Superman: 30th Anniversary Special #1 and it’s safe to say it’s quite the celebration!
Now, usually I’d do a run through of all of the covers available for the issue, but there are just too many for that. Instead I’ve picked my three favourites to review, first starting with the standard wraparound cover by Dan Jurgens, Brett Breeding and Brad Anderson. This is an incredibly detailed cover which highlights key moments during the iconic storyline. It’s great to see these reimagined in a more realistic style of artwork whilst staying true to the character designs and scenes.
Moving onto the variant by Rafael Sarmento, which is just fantastic. Not only does it feature the brand new villain – Doombreaker, but it’s the first time we get a sense of his scope as we see a rather small looking Superman preparing himself for battle just in front. I love the colour differences, Doombreaker covered in shadows, whilst Superman remains the glimmer of hope in the darkness, it’s truly stunning.
And finally, the variant by Francesco Mattina, who is known for the incredible realism within his artwork. This cover is no exception as we see Doombreaker clutching a torn and bloodied cape. This is such a menacing introduction to the villain, who debuts in this very issue and for those interested, this is a foil variant of the issue.
Here’s a look at the rest of the covers that are available and it’s safe to say each and every one of them bring something totally different. The variant covers are by; Jim Lee & Scott Williams, Dan Mora, Dan Jurgens & Brett Breeding, Francesco Mattina and Ivan Reis & Danny Miki.
The Death Of Superman: 30th Anniversary Special #1 doesn’t just bring us a tonne of stunning covers for, but the issue itself is made of up classic pages and artwork from the original release, and four brand new stories by some incredible creative teams. There are also some great pin up pieces from legendary artists, which are stunning.
The first story is titled ‘The Life Of Superman’ and is written by Dan Jurgens, with interior art by Jurgens and Brett Breeding, colours by Brad Anderson and Letters by John Workman.
The story takes place in the past and opens with the people of Metropolis reminiscing their experiences of that dreaded day, the day Superman died. With this we get a reminder of exactly what happened back then and how much of a sacrifice Superman and The Justice League had to make. That allows for fans who are already familiar with this story with a memory refresh, but also provides new readers a great point to jump in.
During the time that this story is set, Jon is still a young boy and this story perfectly places him in this iconic storyline. Whilst he is at school, a survivor of the Doomsday incident share his experiences of that day. This is the first time that Jon hears of the true tragedy of this story, though he knows about and remembers Doomsday, he didn’t realise how fatal it was to his father. Seeing him go through that and hear it from a stranger was heartbreaking. Not only that but we see Lois’ take on that day, as Jon confronts her about not telling him and it’s clear how much it impacted her.
Whilst Jon is reminiscing about the past, Superman investigates a new threat, after it tore through an entire building. Witnesses claimed that a monster was responsible and after Jimmy gets his hands on CTTV footage it has even Superman worried. This story is explosive and relentless, as we get a first look at the brand new villain, Doombreaker as he takes his rage to Metropolis and in particular to Kryptonians. This issue also acts as an origin story for Doombreaker, which I thought was brilliant. This isn’t a Doomsday from another Earth, it’s someone who has been affected by all of this, right from the start and brought a really compelling story for this character.
There are some fantastic moments in this story, and it has some real classic Superman and comic book vibes to it, which I adored. The artwork has the same classic vibe to it and though its set in the future, it is really reminiscent of the artwork in the original comic issue. The action is an absolute spectacle and had me reading fast, I couldn’t turn the pages quick enough. I was a little sceptical at first when I heard about new stories about this iconic event, but I was blown away by this opening story, it is fantastic.
The second story is titled ‘Above and Beyond‘ and is written by Jerry Ordway, with art by Tom Grummett, inks by Doug Hazelwood, colours by Glenn Whitmore and letters by Rob Leigh.
This story gives a heart wrenching though very welcome viewpoint of Jonathan and Martha Kent as the events of Doomsday unfold. They are watching via the news on TV and whilst they are glued to the updates, the pair try to distract themselves by reminiscing on other tough fights that Clark has had in the past and how he made it through the other side.
Not only that but the aspects of these stories that we may not know, the small tasks, which arguably in comics are some of my favourite moments. I love that Ordway has paid tribute to these. As a parent myself, I can resonate fully in how they are feeling, constant worry, but also proudness. This is a beautiful story that explores The Death Of Superman from another viewpoint.
The artwork is great, this is a very emotional story and you can see the pain and worry on both of their faces throughout. The flashbacks of Superman taking on legendary villains is great too, and it seems that each flashback has an art style that pays homage to the original, it’s very well done and really transports you back to those iconic storylines.
The third story is titled ‘Standing Guard‘ and is written by Roger Stern, with art by Butch Guice, colours by Glenn Whitmore and letters by Rob Leigh.
It follows James Harper AKA Guardian as he oversees the fight between Superman and Doomsday from CADMUS. He rushes to check in on Superman and it isn’t until that point that he realises how big of a threat Doomsday is. He seeks help, but when he returns it’s too late and instead a new mission emerges as he has to protect Doomsday’s body.
This was another great retelling of the Death Of Superman and a great look into the events that occurred just after his death. I love Guardians bond with Superman, he feels he owes him a debt and is willing to do anything in his power to help and that level of respect is reciprocated.
The artwork is again great, all of the stories so far have 90s vibes to them, and this one is no exception. I love how each of these artists have put their stamp on the iconic scenes of Superman fighting Doomsday, though each seem very familiar they have perfectly managed to incorporate their style in it.
The fourth and final story is titled ‘Time‘ and is written by Louise Simonson, art by Jon Bogdanove, colours by Glenn Whitmore and letters by Rob Leigh.
It follows John Henry Irons as he frantically tries to make his way to the fight to help Superman. He owes him a debt and he isn’t about to let that go to waste. Though he aims to help Superman with Doomsday, he takes on his other duties instead – saving people. This is before he becomes Steel and his adrenaline fuelled intensions help him to overcome the biggest of challenges, moving huge barricades and shielding pain and wounds.
This story is another example of why Steel is such a great character, even before he took on that name and seeing him cheered on and supported by the strangers he helped was great. Though time is against him, he still continues to take on those duties without hesitation, that, to me is a hero. The artwork again is very 90s style and it’s great, we really see the determination on his facial expressions and the action sequences show the effort he is putting into these saves.
The Death Of Superman: 30th Anniversary Special #1 is the perfect expansion to an iconic storyline. At first I was skeptical about having new stories added to it, but I have to say it is expertly done and I loved every moment of it. I genuinely read the first story so fast, I couldn’t turn the pages quick enough.