DC's top essential trade paperbacks list got us thinking, and so begins a semi-regular, once-in-a-while series where Collected Editions recommends the top trade paperbacks for a given character. Our goal will be to shirk the obvious suggestions when possible (not Batman: Year One, for instance), while at the same time reflecting Collected Edition's love of mainstream, in-continuity, collects-the-monthly-issues trades. Without further ado, here's Collected Editions Top Ten Superman Trade Paperbacks list:
* Superman: Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite
A classic modern Superman storyline, and one of my favorites. I don't spoil anything by revealing that this is the trade where Clark Kent proposes to Lois Lane; additionally, the post-Crisis uber-businessman Lex Luthor is at his evil best here, as is the main villain behind all the trouble.
* Superman: Endgame
The early 2000s Superman team, including Jeph Loeb and Joe Kelly, started to falter toward the end of their run, but this first major storyline was when they were at their absolute best. On New Year's Eve 2000, a Brainiac Y2K virus takes over Metropolis. Plenty of great action, and a startling sacrifice by Luthor ends the trade well.
* Superman: They Saved Luthor's Brain
Not to weigh this list too heavily toward late 1980s-early 1990s Superman stories, but this trade collects a variety of Superman/Lex Luthor battles, leading up to Luthor's apparent death and the rise of his mysterious son. These are solid Superman/Luthor stories, at times delightfully weird, and with plenty of intrigue and surprises along the way.
* The Death of Superman trilogy
The death and return of Superman are on just about everyone's list by now, but I think they're worth it. The stories benefit greatly from the fact that each is better than the last; whereas The Death of Superman is mostly all-out fighting, World Without a Superman has plenty of heart and The Return of Superman is a great mystery story.
* Superman: Birthright
Say what you want about the confusing multiple origins of Superman, Birthright remains an interesting, imminently readable Superman tale. Writer Mark Waid updates Superman's origins for the twenty-first century, and the choices he makes--from Clark's vegetarianism to his ability to see the aura of living things--are well worth pondering.
* Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?
Alan Moore's tale of the twilight days of the pre-Crisis Superman remains a classic. Everyone who's anyone, hero or villain-wise, appears in this story, with it's sad but hopeful ending.
* Superman/Batman: World's Finest
This remains one of the best Superman/Batman team-ups out there, taking a Jetsons Meet the Flintstones approach where the various supporting characters (Lois and Alfred, Joker and Lex Luthor, along with Superman and Batman) trade cities and team up. Steve Rude's art gives this modern story a classic feel.
* Superman: Panic in the Sky
This Superman space-opera guest stars nearly every DC Universe hero from the time. The trade ties together a bunch of dangling plotlines from the early-1990s, but should be accessible to new readers. Not only is there a lot of great action and alien warfare, but this story served as something of a post-Crisis transition from Superman the "new" hero to leader of the JLA. Highly recommended.
* Superman: Time and Time Again
A great time-travel tale set just after Clark reveals his secret identity to Lois Lane. Not only does Superman fight Nazis and dinosaurs, but he also meets three different eras of the Legion of Super-Heroes. The trade includes a couple of issues where Superman works with Waverider and the Linear Men, tying in to 52 and what have you.
* Superman: Speeding Bullets
This is a fun Elseworlds tale that I was recently reminded of. Baby Kal-El crash lands in Gotham City and is named Bruce by his adoptive parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne. When the Waynes are murdered, Bruce vows to avenge them with the help of his super-powers, taking on the persona of a bat ... A nice variation on the Superman and Batman mythos, with a good surprise at the end.
* What's your favorite Superman trade paperback?