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Superman Reading Order, The Modern Age (Post-Crisis)

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It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Superman! Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in Action Comics #1 (1938), Superman is an alien from the planet Krypton who fights crime in Metropolis and the rest of the world. Under the costume is Kal-El, who was sent to Earth when he was a baby, and adopted by farmers Jonathan and Martha Kent who named him Clark Kent and raised him in the little town of Smallville. As Clark developed superhuman abilities, his parents taught him to use his talents to help humanity.

Clark relocated to Metropolis to pursue a career in journalism. He landed a job at the Daily Planet, where he met the love of his life and journalist Lois Lane, photographer Jimmy Olsen, and editor-in-chief Perry White. In parallel, he put on a colorful costume and used the codename Superman to fight powerful enemies, including General Zod, Brainiac, and the most emblematic of them all, the narcissistic-genius Lex Luthor.

The superhero genre wouldn’t be the same without Superman. Though there was other before him that could be said to fit the bill, he established the conventions and popularized the whole genre, being the best-selling superhero in American comic books up until the 1980s.

As the DC Universe was becoming more complicated and sales were declining, a new page of history was written following a Crisis like no one else: Crisis on Infinite Earths (see reading order). This was the beginning of the Modern Age and the creation of new instant-classic stories. The event was used to retconned the histories of most of the characters. The idea was to clean up the timelines (something DC is still trying to do, in vain) and to update the superheroes in order to appeal to a contemporary audience. 

This is when this Superman reading order begins. This article doesn’t cover the previous decades (or the Pre-Crisis). Our Man of Steel got a new origin story with the help of John Byrne, and it would only be the first of several ones during this long period. Kal-El’s past was explored, revisited, and modified, as the character lived some bold adventures, even making headlines for dying (something so ordinary today… to die in the comics, not the mainstream media coverage).

Superman Reading Order: The Modern Age in Chronological Order

Want to explore Superman adventures before 1986? Check out our Reading Guide for the Classic Superman Comics!

This reading order focuses on Superman stories from Man of Steel (1986) to Flashpoint (2011), with some Justice League stories and some Batman team-up thrown in the mix. Here is the list of the Supes-series published during that era:

  • Action Comics: starting with issue #584, it adopted a team-up format for a time.
  • Superman (vol. 2): Published from 1987 to 2006, this was the first ongoing Superman title in the Post-Crisis world, following in the footsteps of the Man of Steel miniseries.
  • The Adventures of Superman: The new name for Superman Vol.1, it was published from 1987 to 2006 (#424-649).
  • Superman: The Man of Steel: Another monthly Superman title, published from 1991 to 2003.
  • Superman: The Man of Tomorrow: A series created to fill the void for the extra week in the month where there were no other Supes released. Published from 1995 to 1999, it ran for 16 issues only.
  • Superman/Batman: Published from 2003 to 2011. An updated version of World’s Finest Comics where Superman and Batman team-up.
  • Superman Confidential: Only 14 issues, telling stories set in Superman’s early years.

An also some series where Superman’s name is not in the title:

  • JLA: The Justice League was reformed in 1997 and Superman was part of the team. It lasted until April 2006.
  • JLA Classified: Launched in January 2005, each arc features a different incarnation of the Justice League of America, some during this Modern Age with Supes.
  • And a lot of miniseries, limited series, and one-shots.

Flying superman Reading Order IconDespite being one of DC’s flagship characters, some Superman issues have never been collected, and there are a lot of out-of-print collected editions in this following reading order which have to be bought second-hand if you want them. We invite you to click on the title of the series above for the issues available on Kindle & ComiXology!

Superman Reading Order: The Kryptonian Menu

    1. Superman, Iconic out-of-continuity/Elseworld stories
    2. Superman: The Early Years and Other Origin Stories
    3. The New Adventures of Superman
    4. The Death and Return of Superman
    5. Superman in the New Millenium
    6. One Year Later
    7. Superman: New Krypton
    8. What to read after

A note about the events: Superman is present in most of DC’s events but as most of them are also skippable, I made the choice to indicate only those I think can be of interest for Superman or serves the bigger story.

Superman, Iconic out-of continuity/Elseworld stories

Not all great stories are part of the main continuity. On the contrary when it comes to Superman as some of his greatest hits published during the Modern Age are out-of-continuity/Elseworld stories. In a way, this reading order would be incomplete without them and you can read them whenever you want to explore the myth of Superman!

  • All-Star Superman – This is Grant Morrison’s homage to the Silver Age Superman and one of the greatest stories, if not the greatest story, about Superman, unburden by main continuity to offer a celebration of the Superman mythos, with great art by Frank Quitely.
  • Superman: Red Son – A what if? story by Mark Millar and Dave Johnson exploring what would happen to Superman if he had landed in the Soviet Union.
  • Superman: Secret Identity – By Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen. Clark Kent lives in a world where superheroes exist only in the pages until he gains Superman’s powers and decides to help people.
  • Kingdom Come – By Mark Waid. This very popular Elseworld story criticizes the trends of violence in comic books, offering a special place for Superman in this context.

Superman: The Early Years and Other Origin Stories

With new beginnings came new origin stories and exploration of past history. As Superman’s origins are revised not once, but twice during this period, what follows is a listing of those origins with other stories revisiting Krypton and Superman’s mythology and early years and more…

  • The Kents
    Collects The Kents #1-12. Recounts Superman’s adopted family’s settlement in Kansas in the 1860s.
  • Man of Steel
    This 6-issue miniseries by John Byrne reimagined Superman’s origins for the modern age.

    • Superman: The World of Krypton (Vol. 2).
      The Post-Crisis history of Krypton and the story that leads to the eventual destruction of the entire planet. The first 3 issues are flashbacks and the 4th takes place a year after Superman’s debut in Metropolis. 
  • Superman For All Seasons (also in absolute edition)
    An emotional tale by Jeff Loeb and Tim Sale looking at the origin of Superman from four different points of view through the course of four seasons.
  • Birthright
    Collects Superman: Birthright #1-12. Writer Mark Waid revised Superman’s origin in this series published in 2003-2003 which was non-canon at first, before replacing Man of Steel as the new canonical origin story.

    • Superman/Shazam!: First Thunder
      Collects Superman Shazam First Thunder #1-4. The first meeting between Superman and Shazam. As the story has been written post-Birthright, it can be better to read it after this origin story.
  • Superman: Secret Origin
    Collects Superman: Secret Origin #1-6. Our third origin story was written by Geoff Johns and became the new canonical origin story around 2009.
  • Superman: Kryptonite
    Collects Superman Confidential #1-5 and #11. This storyline takes place approximately two months after Clark Kent first becomes Superman and tells about his first encounter with Kryptonite.
  • Superman & Batman: World’s Finest
    Collects Superman & Batman: World’s Finest #1-12. World’s Finest chronicles the first ten years of Batman and Superman’s relationship.
  • Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman – Trinity
    Collects Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman – Trinity #1-3. The story relates the first alliance between the three superheroes.

As the Crisis on Infinite Earths event is the starting point of the guide, it would be logical to read it at the start. But the exploration of Superman’s past pushed this story to around that point in the guide. For more information, go to our Crisis on Infinite Earths Reading Order.

The New Adventures of Superman

Following the Crisis, DC put John Byrne in charge of the reboot of the Superman titles. It reintroduced us to the Man of Steel with a new origin story, eliminating his years as Superboy from the continuity, as well as Supergirl, Krypto, Superwoman, and other Kryptonians. He was, once again, the Last Son of Krypton. It was a back-to-basics approach making it easy for new readers to become involved in those new adventures. As Byrne was working on Superman Vol. 2 and Action Comics, Marv Wolfman and Jerry Ordway handled Adventures of Superman, with Wolfman being responsible for the transformation of Lex Luthor into a rich capitalist (still a genius, but not a mad scientist). There was a lot of Superman material released at the time, completed with a few miniseries (something rarer at the time). There were also numerous changes affecting the Superman title, from the cancellation of World’s Finest to the transformation of Action Comics in a team-up/then anthology book.
Clark Kent rips open shirt revealing Superman logo in the cover of Superman: The Man of Steel Vol. 1
  • Superman: The Man of Steel Vol. 1
    Collects Man of Steel #1-6, Superman (vol. 2) #1-4, Action Comics #584-587, Adventures of Superman #424-428, and profiles from Who’s Who: Update ’87.

    • Superman: The World of Krypton (Vol. 2).
      Collects World of Krypton (Vol. 1) #1-3 and The World of Krypton (Vol. 2) #1-4, with stories from Superman #233, #236, #238, #240, #248, #257, #266 and Superman Family #182. It can be read before Action Comics #600/Superman #18.
  • Superman: The Man of Steel Vol. 2
    Collects Superman (vol. 2) #5-11, Action Comics #588-593, Adventures in Superman #439-435, Legion of Super-Heroes #37-38, and profiles from Who’s Who: Update ’87.
  • Superman: The Man of Steel Vol. 3
    Collects Superman (vol. 2) #12-15, Superman Annual #1, Action Comics #594-597, Action Comics Annual #1, Adventures of Superman #436-438, Adventures of Superman Annual #1, Booster Gold #23, and Superman: The Earth Stealers #1—plus character profiles from Who’s Who Update ’87 and Who’s Who Update ’88.

    • World of Smallville #1-4. This four-issue miniseries written by Byrne has never been collected. The first two issues can be read anytime. The last two issues occur after Adventures of Superman#437, and Action Comics #597.
    • Action Comics #596, Adventures of Superman #436-437 & Superman vol. 2 #13-14 are part of the Millennium event.
  • Superman: The Man of Steel Vol. 4
    Collects Doom Patrol #10, Superman (vol. 2) #16-22; Adventures of Superman #439-444; Action Comics #598-600; Superman Annual #2.

    • World of Metropolis #1-4.
      Also uncollected. Telling tales from the past about Perry White, Lois Lane, Clark Kent, and Jimmy Olsen as the characters reminisce about the past.
    • Cosmic Odyssey
      A four-issue miniseries by Jim Starlin and Mike Mignola where a group of heroes (including Supes) race against time to stop a cosmic entity hell-bent on destroying the galaxy.
  • Superman: The Power Within
    Collects stories from Action Comics #601-641. Plus, Superman #48, Adventures of Superman #471, and Action Comics #658.
  • Superman: Exile and Other Stories (Omnibus)
    Collects Adventures of Superman #445-460, Superman #23-37, Action Comics #643-646 and Action Comics Annual #2.
  • Superman: Eradication (The Origin of the Eradicator)
    Collects Action Comics #651-652; Adventures of Superman #460, 464-465; Superman (vol. 2) #41-42 
  • Superman: Dark Knight Over Metropolis
    Collects Superman #44, Adventures of Superman #466-467, Action Comics #653-654 and Action Comics Annual #1.
  • Superman: Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite
    Collects Superman (vol. 2) #49-50; Adventures of Superman #472-473; Action Comics #659-660; Starman (vol. 2) #28
  • World’s Finest
    Collects World’s Finest #1-3 by Dave Gibbons and Steve Rude. Takes place around Christman 1990.

Flying superman Reading Order IconClark Clark finally revealed to Lois Lane that he is Superman in Action Comics #662. This issue has, for the moment, only been collected in Lois Lane: A Celebration of 75 Years and Action Comics: 80 Years of Superman. It’s an important moment worth being mentioned here!

Armageddon 2001 (Optional). Monarch threatens to destroy the future and Earth’s superheroes must stop him. Though totally unimportant, the story explore different Superman’s timeline for those who like those kinds of stories. The following Superman issues are part of this story: Superman (Volume 2) Annual #3, Action Comics Annual #3, Adventures of Superman Annual #3, Action Comics Vol 1 #670.

Death and Return of Superman

In the ’90s, DC Comics broke Batman’s back and killed Superman! In Death and Return of Superman, a creature called Doomsday has risen and Only one man can stop his rampage — Superman. But the only way to stop him is by sacrificing his own life! When the Earth continues to be threatened by beings of immeasurable power, will Metropolis’ one true hero will rise and return hope to those who need it most?

For a more detailed reading order of that event, go to our Death and Return of Superman page.

  • Superman: Bizarro’s World
    Collects Action Comics #697, Adventures of Superman #510, Superman #87-88, Superman: The Man of Steel #32

Worlds Collide (Optional). This is not your ordinary crossover as this one is an intercompany crossover! The world of Milestone crashes with DC Comics. The worlds are colliding and everyone is confused. To everyone in the Milestone universe superheroes like Superman are just comic book characters. Now they are faced with the real thing. Some DC Characters are trapped in the Milestone Universe and vise-versa…

  • Zero Hour: A Crisis in Time
    Collects Zero Hour #0-4, stories from Showcase ’94 #8-9 and the Zero Month sampler.
  • Superman: Zero Hour
    Collects Adventures of Superman #0, #516, Superman #93, #0, Superman: The Man of Steel #0, #37, Superman in Action Comics #0, #703, Steel #0, #8 and Superboy #8, #0. 
  • Legends of World’s Finest
    Collects Legends of the World’s Finest #1-3. Takes place around Halloween.
  • Superman: The Death of Clark Kent
    Collects Superman (vol. 2) #100-102; Adventures of Superman #523-525; Action Comics #710-711; Superman: The Man of Steel #44-46; Superman: The Man of Tomorrow #1 
  • Superman: The Trial of Superman
    Collects Superman (vol. 2) #106-108; Adventures of Superman #529-531; Action Comics #716-717; Superman: The Man of Steel #50-52; Superman: The Man of Tomorrow #3. Part of this trade takes place during Underworld Unleashed.

Flying superman Reading Order IconThe Final Night (see the reading order) – The Sun-Eater, an interstellar entity that consumes stars and all sentient life within its path, has come to Earth. As the sun goes dark, the Justice League must quell the planetwide rioting and fight to preserve life where they can. Heroes and villains alike must band together to destroy the Sun-Eater, but does one person have the will to reignite the sun?

JLA by Grant Morisson starts here. Superman is one of the members of the superhero team, working with Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, and Martian Manhunter to fight against alien invaders and supernatural entities. To know more about it and see other collections, check out our Grant Morrison’s JLA Reading Order. And with the exception of the JLA, this period is really not well collected for Supes!

Superman in the New Millenium

With Superman for All Seasons, Jeph Loeb (with artist Tim Sale) didn’t want to write another origin story but simply a stand-alone story that gave a sense of the character of Superman and his supporting cast. As the story parallels events from John Byrne’s The Man of Steel, it could have been just a companion piece. Instead, Superman for All Seasons became a classic Superman story that anyone can read. Not long after the publication of that story, Loeb became the writer of Superman with issue #151 (Dec. 1999). During his tenure, Superman entered the New Millenium fighting for Metropolis, facing Emperor Joker and the threat of the cosmic force known as Imperiex, but also dealing with the fact that Lex Luthor became president!

Superman: Birthright becomes the new official origin story continuity around this time.

Superman/Batman starts here. The most iconic superheroes in the galaxy unite under Jeph Loeb’s supervision for the first part of this series. This is also where Kara Zor-El, the most well-known version of Supergirl, is reintroduced to the main universe.

  • Superman / Batman Omnibus Vol. 1
    Collects Superman/ Batman #1-43, Superman/Batman Annual #1-2, and Superman/Batman: Secret Files and Origins 2003 #1.
  • Stop at issue #25! as the rest of the series takes place after Infinite Crisis

Also available in:

JLA Classified. This anthology series featuring rotating writers and artists told self-contained stories starring the JLA. To be read before Identity Crisis.

Identity Crisis Reading Order Collected Edition

Identity Crisis: After the spouse of a member of the Justice League of America is brutally murdered, the entire superhero community searches for the killer, fearing their loved ones may be the next targets. But before the mystery is fully solved, long-buried secrets of the heroes rise to the surface, threatening to tear apart and divide the heroes before they can bring the mysterious killer to justice. For more information, take a look at the Reading Order.

Infinite Crisis Logo Reading Order

Infinite Crisis –  OMAC robots are rampaging, magic is dying, villains are uniting, and a war is raging in space. And in the middle of it all, a critical moment has divided Earth’s three greatest heroes: Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. It’s the DCU’s darkest day, and long-lost heroes from the past have returned to make things right in the universe… at any cost. Heroes will live, heroes will die, and the DCU will never be the same again!

  • Infinite Crisis
    Collects Infinite Crisis #1–7.
  • Superman: Infinite Crisis
    Collects Infinite Crisis Secret Files & Origins, Infinite Crisis #5, Superman #226, Action Comics #836, and Adventures of Superman #649.

One Year Later

Following the events of Infinite Crisis, DC jumped one year into the future (check out 52 to know what happens to DC’s heroes during that famous year). Writers Geoff Johns and Kurt Busiek follows Clark Kent as he concentrates on his career. But the need for the Man of Steel is stronger than ever-especially now that Lex Luthor has returned to Metropolis with his thirst for power fully intact…

You can continue and finish reading Superman / Batman Omnibus Vol. 1 here where The Man of Steel and the Dark Knight face two of their greatest challenges.

Also available in:

You can begin reading Superman/Batman Omnibus Vol. 2 here. Gotham’s masked protector, Batman, has trained extensively to become a feared caped crusader. His Kryptonian friend Superman was born with superhuman abilities that Earth-born humans could never dream of. Together they are the World’s Finest.

Final Crisis – Using the soul-destroying Anti-Life Equation, Darkseid is remaking the heroes, villains, and everyday people of Earth in his dark image … and destroying the very fabric of reality itself in the process. Now superheroes from around the world—and across the Multiverse—must make a last, desperate stand against the forces of Anti-Life. Will Earth endure? And when the Crisis reaches its climax, who will make the ultimate sacrifice? The full reading order is here.

Superman: New Krypton

It’s time for a newly revised origin story for Superman! Superman: Secret Origin by Geoff Johns becomes the new official origin story continuity around this time, mixing part from Pre-Crisis and Man of Steel. This is also a time where Geoff Johns and James Robinson launch the massive arc New Krypton. As the official synopsis said: ‘The Man of Steel learns that a piece of his home planet Krypton survived – the shrunken, bottled city of Kandor! And when the city is grown to normal size, it looks like Superman finally has the connection to his past he’s been missing all his life as thousands of Kryptonians are suddenly able to walk the Earth. But his happiness soon turns to dread as relations between the Kryptonians and humans dissolve, and the two cultures face a massive clash!’ Though Johns partially wrote this arc in the first part, the New Krypton Saga is mostly written by James Robinson, Greg Rucka and Sterling Gates.

Blackest Night Reading Order

Blackest NightA Green Lantern event that affected all of the DCU, but it’s not a Batman event. It’s been years since the death of Hal Jordan and the end of the Green Lantern Corps. But as the Torchbearer Kyle Rayner is about to find out, the adventure of epic and mythological proportions is about to begin as the former Lantern returns to the land of the living to atone for his sins. And the cosmos will never be the same as Sinestro wages his war against the Green Lanterns with his newly founded, Sinestro Corps! You’ll find the reading order here.

Flash Barry Allen - Flashpoint Reading Order

Flashpoint – This is the end of the Modern Age/Post-Crisis era. Flashpoint is ending the continuity of New Earth and leading into the New 52 relaunch. It’s a Flash event. You’ll find the reading order here.

What to read after Superman: The Modern Age

Since the end of The Modern Age/Post-Crisis era, DC Comics soft rebooted its universe more than once. If you want to continue, here are the orders:

  1. Superman/Action Comics New 52 Reading Order
  2. Superman/Action Comics Rebirth Reading Order (by Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason & Dan Jurgens)
  3. Superman/Action Comics by Brian Michael Bendis
  4. Superman Infinite Frontier Reading Order

Last Updated on June 7, 2024.

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