before we get to the big 50 and the Byrne revamp, I want to make a special mention of the second Superman/Spider-Man teamup by Jim Shooter and John Buscema. Superman fights the Hulk and Dr. Doom! Spider-Man meets Wonder Woman! all drawn by Buscema! good stuff there, folks. it’s one of the better early DC/Marvel crossovers, almost as good as X-Men/New Teen Titans. almost.
The time magazine article on Supes’ 50th birthday.
Shortly before this event, DC had hired writer/artist John Byrne away from Marvel to revamp Superman. Byrne’s Man of Steel series dialed down the character’s power levels and put more focus on the Man in Superman. Man of Steel reset the paradigms for Superman’s world and the relationships he had in it, each issue focusing in an integral character in his life. From Lois Lane, to Batman, to Luthor, Bizarro, and Lana Lang, Man of Steel set about redefining these relationships in the new context of the Post-Crisis DC Universe. (if you don’t know what that means, wiki it.)
There are a lot of gems in the Byrne run on Superman (and Action), but one of my favorites is Action Comics Annual #1 by Byrne and Art Adams (yeah, Action had no annuals until the late 80’s. mind boggling.) At this point, Action Comics was pretty much Superman Team-Up and for this issue, Superman teamed up with the Dark Knight (continuing their uneasy friendship in the once again Post Crisis DCU) as they traveled down south (that’s not a euphemism) to battle vampires. Wonderful, moody artwork from Adams. As much a horror story as it is a tale of two heroes.
Another great under looked gem also teams up Superman and Batman, in World’s Finest by Dave Gibbons and Steve Rude. Originally published in oversized format as a three issue limited series (in the late 80’s/early 90’s DC was very enamored of this format), we see the two heroes switch cities and villains as Luthor and the Joker team up for the first time (in Post Crisis DC), and there’s also a really compelling subplot about an orphanage directly at the halfway point between Gotham and Metropolis. Rude’s art is evocative of the best of both character’s worlds and the comparisons and contrasts are rarely handled as well as they are here.
Rude returns to the character again in a seamless blending of the Marvel and DC worlds in Superman/Hulk with writer Roger Stern. Stern and Rude present a story handling the characters that feels as if they’ve been alongside each other from day one. Effortlessly fusing Kirby and Shuster’s art styles and bringing respect to both. Fans of either character should read this and let the debate over who’s stronger rage on. . .