superman 423 Action_Comics_583

Superman #423 / Action Comics #583
Writer: Alan Moore
Artist: Curt Swan

Behold, the last Superman story ever told.  Well, the last Silver Age Superman story ever told, anyway…

The year was 1985, a time of great creativity and upheaval in the DC camp.  Both Alan Moore and Frank Miller revolutionized the way we viewed comics with their landmarks Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns stories, respectively.  The maxi-series Crisis On Infinite Earths massively cleaned up fifty years of comic continuity problems by completely resetting many key characters and getting rid of others into one coherent earth.  Which meant completely revising and revamping character histories to reflect this reset.

Before John Byrne was to do his work on Superman’s origin in the Man Of Steel mini, DC wanted to put a final story to the era of the Superman of Earth-1.  To that end, they gave Alan Moore free reign at sending the Man Of Steel off with a bang.

And what a bang it was.

Considered by many to be perhaps the greatest Superman story ever, “Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow?” starts things off with a reporter interviewing the former Lois Lane (now Mrs. Elliot) about the last days of Superman for a Superman Memorial Edition of the Daily Planet newspaper.  She recounts how, in those last days, everything seemed to go completely wrong for Supes.  Lex Luthor gets possesed by Brainiac.  Bizarro goes completely homicidal, then commits suicide.  The Toyman and The Prankster unexpectedly out Clark Kent as Superman.  Then all hell breaks loose, as every single villain in Supes’ rogue gallery make a stab for him and his loved ones.  To that end, Superman decides that the best way to save his close friends and loved ones is to take them all to his fortress of solitude, where Luthor/Brainiac and the Kryptonite Man, along with some of the futuristic Legion of Super Villains (remember, it was the Silver Age) gather in a bid to finally take Superman down.  In the deadly wake, Superman finally realizes who’s behind all the madness.  And it’s not who you’d expect.

This story…beautiful.  I own this in a TPB, collecting both the issues.  It is, by far, one of Alan Moore’s best stories.  His ability to take the Silver Age and give it depth and realism while still retaining that Silver Age charm is at its peak here.  Curt Swan, longtime artist for DC and considered to be the best Superman artist, is equally at his peak.

If you read only one Silver Age story of Superman, make sure it’s this one.  Top notch stuff…