The “Death of Superman” in 1992 was one of the most significant events in comic book history, and it is where Superman died. The killing of DC Comics’ most prominent character (and the first superhero) made headlines around the entire world. It brought mainstream attention to comic books unlike anything else before or since. But what actually happened?
Doomsday Killed Superman
Despite prominent villains like Lex Luthor, Brainiac, Mogul and others who have fought Superman in the past, none of those characters killed Superman. The way Superman died was that he was killed by the character Doomsday in a fight across the country, ending up in front of The Daily Planet.
The Death of Superman
The comic book storyline telling the “Death of Superman” was collected into a graphic novel. The individual issues in the collection are Superman: The Man of Steel #18, Justice League America #69, Superman (Volume Two) #74, Adventures of Superman #497, Action Comics #684, Superman: The Man of Steel #19 and Superman (Volume Two) #75.
Who Was Doomsday?
Doomsday was a genetically engineered, unstoppable killing machine who landed on Earth. As soon as he landed on the planet, he began to methodically walk across the United States in a straight line, leaving a path of destruction in his wake.
The Justice League – including Wonder Woman, the Flash, Batman, Aquaman, Green Lantern and others – tried to take on Doomsday, but they were defeated and beaten by him.
Doomsday also defeated Supergirl, who he knocked out with a single punch.
During the battle with the Justice League, Doomsday was given his name. That happened after Doomsday punched Booster Gold into the stratosphere, and as Superman arrived to help and rescued Gold, he told him, “‘Trouble’ isn’t the word, Superman! I’m telling you right now — it’s like doomsday is here!”
How Did Doomsday Kill Superman?
After defeating the entire Justice League, Superman was the only hero left to take him on. Superman and Doomsday fought each other as the villain continued to march directly towards the city of Metropolis.
During their fight, Doomsday was able to withstand punches, kicks, heat vision and other attacks from Superman. Eventually the fight reached Metropolis, despite Superman’s best efforts to keep the monster away from the city.
The Superman-Doomsday fight caused massive destruction and chaos in Metropolis, leaving the city in ruins. As they fought, Superman was battered and bruised, showing visible signs of bleeding and bruising.
Superman encountered Lois Lane (his wife) and he gave her one last kiss before flying off to confront Doomsday in front of the Daily Planet building. There, he and Doomsday traded blows.
Doomsday died first, succumbing to his wounds. Right after, Superman also fell. Lois Lane rushed to his side and cradled him in her arms. She began to cry when she realized that Superman was dead. Photographer Jimmy Olsen took the photo of Superman’s death and the image later appeared on the front page of the Daily Planet newspaper.
What Was The Reaction To The Death?
Superman’s death was a major event in the DC Universe and the follow-up storyline was called “Funeral for a Friend.” Every major DC Comics character appeared at the funeral, as did key figures like President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton.
Many of the heroes honored Superman’s death by wearing a black armband that also featured the Superman logo.
After Superman died, the crime rate in Metropolis greatly increased. Other heroes tried to step into the void to protect the city. A team of vigilantes funded by Lex Luthor also attempted to keep the peace during Superman’s absence.
How Did Superman Come Back To Life?
Superman’s father, Jonathan Kent, had a heart attack after his son’s death and went into a coma. In the afterlife, he found his son’s soul and convinced him that he had to come back to life.
After Jonathan Kent woke up from his coma, there were four new characters claiming the mantle of Superman – Superboy, the Cyborg Superman, the Eradicator, and Steel. Their adventures continued to play out in a storyline entitled “Rise of the Supermen.”
It was revealed that the Eradicator stole Superman’s body from its grave and took it to his Fortress of Solitude in Antarctica. The Eradicator put the body in a regeneration matrix with the plan of bringing Superman back to life. Due to his Kryptonian DNA, not every piece of Superman had died during the fight.
Eventually the process worked, bringing the Man of Steel back to life. Superman wore an all-black suit when he emerged from the matrix, reborn.
Who Created The Comics?
The Death of Superman was written by Dan Jurgens, Louise Simonson, Roger Stern and Jerry Ordway. Artists on the storyline were Jon Bogdanove,Tom Grummett, Jackson Guice and Dan Jurgens.
Reaction to the Death
The death of Superman was covered in mainstream publications all around the world. International networks like CNN reported on the story.The main issue where Superman died, Superman #75, became one of the bestselling comic books of all time.
Special editions of the comic, sealed in a plastic bag and with a black armband with the Superman logo, were sold. While many people bought the issue intending to resell it in the future when it became valuable, so many were produced that the comic is not rare and is not worth much as a collectible. Nowadays, issues of Superman #75 can easily be purchased at comic book stores in their back issue section for $0.75 or possibly even less.
The death, in retrospect, has also been criticized for being an event solely drummed up to hype comic book sales. Many comic book fans understood that Superman’s death would not be permanent (DC makes millions from Superman merchandise), which is in line with other famous comic book “deaths.”
On the other hand, the Superman-Doomsday fight is an engrossing comic book story and the rise and return of Superman are well-written and drawn, fun stories.
The death of Superman has been adapted several times in other mediums. “Superman: Doomsday” was an animated DC Universe feature film released in 2008 recounting the storyline. In 2019, DC released the animated feature, “The Death and Return of Superman,” which told the entire saga once again.
The story also appeared as a novel, called “The Death and Life of Superman: A Novel,” written by Roger Stern.
Doomsday has shown up in subsequent DC Comics storylines, but none had had the impact or popularity of Superman’s death. Most recently, Doomsday appeared in the “Superdoom” storyline, where Superman was infected with a virus that transformed him into a Doomsday-style creature.