I was 11 in 1992.

Can’t say I was much of a Superman reader. I had loved the Christopher Reeve movies, but it didn’t translate to the comics. I’d picked up a number of the comics during John Byrne’s run, read the Action Comics Weekly era, and had bought the occasional issue here and there, but he’d never captured my imagination the same way as Batman. Or even horror and supernatural comics.

That changed one day when my dad brought home a copy of Superman: The Man of Steel #18.

Unbelievably…Doomsday is here!”

The Death of Superman (please see below for all of the creator credits) was so large, so anticipated, that it made ordinary news broadcasts on local radio in Canada. My father heard one of these and wanted to make sure I had copies of the story. Thinking both for the potential value in the future (although not to the degree that people who bought multiple copies of Superman #75 thought it was going to put their kids through university) and for the impact of this once in a lifetime, unthinkable end.

And it took a veritable army to tell the tale. All of the creators firing on all cylinders.

Across seven issues, all four of the main Superman series and a crossover into Justice League America, the devastation of Doomsday’s march to Metropolis unfolded. The creative teams worked in bits from the ongoing plots and character elements in their individual books (from the Underworld to Cadmus, Aussie Luthor’s Supergirl to the mystery of Bloodwynd), but the core focus was that unrelenting battle between Superman and Doomsday. They crafted a story that felt larger than life. Made all the more grim after Doomsday easily dispatched the Justice League.

All of it culminating in Superman #75 from Dan Jurgens, Brett Breeding, Glenn Whitmore, and John Costanza. The final battle in the Doomsday arc was suitably epic. Every page was a splash, spotlighting the devastation to Metropolis, the fear and concern of Lois & Jimmy, the determination of Superman, and the doggedness of Doomsday. Leading ultimately to a final, heartbreaking fold out.

And the DC Universe would never be the same.

They raised him to be a hero…to know the value of sacrifice.”

There had been nothing like The Death of Superman. I doubt there ever will be again. Though there are certainly events that have reached to its heights, and deaths of other characters that have a lasting impact, there’s nothing quite like the gravity of the end of the best and brightest. The creative teams captured magic across that battle. Then after the funeral, DC took the unprecedented move of cancelling the Superman books.

But death, death was only the beginning.

Death of Superman

Classic Comic Compendium: Death of Superman

The Death of Superman
Writers: Louise Simonson, Dan Jurgens, Jerry Ordway & Roger Stern
Pencillers: Jon Bogdanove, Dan Jurgens, Tom Grummett & Jackson Guice
Inkers: Dennis Janke, Rick Burchett, Brett Breeding, Doug Hazlewood & Denis Rodier
Colourists: Glenn Whitmore & Gene D’Angelo
Letterers: Bill Oakley, Willie Schubert, John Costanza & Albert DeGuzman
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: October 15 1992 – November 19 1992 (original issues)
Available collected in Superman: Doomsday, The Death of Superman – 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition and The Death and Return of Superman Omnibus

Read past entries in the Classic Comic Compendium!