In late July 2011, DC released The New 52, a free preview book giving solicitations and previews of all of the new titles launching from August 31, 2011. Notable continuity changes shown included Superman‘s two new looks: one which consists of jeans, a blue T-shirt with the “S” logo and a cape, the other consisting of Kryptonian battle armor that resembles his classic costume.
The major event many cite as marking the beginning of the Golden Age was the 1938 debut of Superman in Action Comics #1, published by the predecessor of modern-day DC Comics. The creation of Superman made comic books into a major industry. Some date the start to earlier events in the 1930s: The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide‘s regular publication The Golden Age Quarterly lists comic books from 1933 onwards (1933 saw the publication of the first comic book in the size that would subsequently define the format); some historians, such Roger Sabin, date it to the publication of the first comic books featuring entirely original stories rather than re-prints of comic strips from newspapers (1935) by the company that would become DC Comics.
The superheroine Vixen made her first appearance in Action Comics #521 (July 1981). To mark the 45th anniversary of the series, Lex Luthor and Brainiac were both given an updated appearance in issue #544 (June 1983). Lex Luthor dons his war suit for the first time in the story “Luthor Unleashed!” and Brainiac’s appearance changes from the familiar green-skinned android to the metal skeletal-like robot in the story “Rebirth!”. Schwartz ended his run as editor of the series with issue #583 (September 1986) which featured the second part of the “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” story by Alan Moore and Curt Swan.
Following the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, writer/artist John Byrne relaunched the Superman franchise in The Man of Steel limited series in 1986. Action Comics became a team-up title with issue #584 (January 1987). The first Action Comics Annual was published in 1987 and featured Superman teaming with Batman in a story written by Byrne and drawn by Arthur Adams. A DC Comics Bonus Book was included in issue #599 (April 1988).
From May 24, 1988 – March 14, 1989, the publication frequency was changed to weekly, the title changed to Action Comics Weekly, and the series became an anthology. Prior to its launch, DC cancelled its ongoing Green Lantern Corps title, and made Green Lantern and his adventures exclusive to Action Comics Weekly.
In June 2016, DC Comics once again relaunched its comic book titles with DC Rebirth. The publisher re-established the pre-New 52 Superman as the protagonist of the new comic books, with Lois Lane as his wife once more. He and Lois also conceive a biological son, Jonathan Samuel Kent, who eventually becomes Superboy. The story arc Superman Reborn smooths over the discrepancies between the two versions of the character. According to Mister Mxyzptlk, the creation of the New 52 caused Superman to be separated into two people: the New 52 character that served as the protagonist of the Superman books and the pre-Flashpoint character that took part in the Convergence event and sired Jon. Thanks to Jon, the new Superboy, the two Supermen merge into one complete version of Superman, rearranging their shared histories and accommodating them into the restored DC Universe. This complete Superman features a new suit that combines elements from the two eras. DC Comics ended the Rebirth branding in December 2017, opting to include everything under a larger “DC Universe” banner and naming. The continuity established by Rebirth continues across DC’s comic book titles, including volume one of Action Comics and the fourth volume of Superman.
The early 1970s were a time of change for the Man of Steel. As Clark Kent shifted from being a newspaper reporter to a TV newscaster, his alter ego saw the destruction of all remaining Kryptonite on Earth! This period also featured many new villains, including Terra-Man, and the dramatic reintroductions of such foes as Lex Luthor — in green and purple armor!
The new Giant line of comics — which will run across four monthly titles — will mix all-new original material by some of DC’s top creators with reprints for a 100-page package.
Creators working on the new material include such fan-favorites as Tom King, Brian Michael Bendis and the Harley Quinn writing team of Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner, each working on characters outside of their traditional range in the regular DC line, with Bendis working on his first solo Batman material in September — a 12-part story beginning in Batman Giant No. 3 — and Tom King taking on Superman with artist Andy Kubert for their own yearlong epic beginning in Superman Giant No. 3. Not to be left behind, Palmiotti and Conner will launch a 12-part Wonder Woman story in the third Justice League issue.
In the view of comics historian Les Daniels, artist Curt Swan became the definitive artist of Superman in the early 1960s with a “new look” to the character that replaced Wayne Boring’s version. Writer Jim Shooter and Swan crafted the story “Superman’s Race With the Flash!” in Superman #199 (Aug. 1967) which featured the first race between the Flash and Superman, two characters known for their super-speed powers. Another Silver Age first is the “Death of Superman,” from 1961’s Superman #149, by Jerry Siegel, Curt Swan and Sheldon Moldoff. The Silver Age was a fantastic period for Superman fans, giving us characters such as Braniac, Bizzaro, Titano, Supergirl and The Legion of Superheroes.
The 1980s saw radical revisions of Superman. DC decided to remove the multiverse in a bid to simplify its comics line. This led to the rewriting of the back story of the characters DC published, Superman included. John Byrne rewrote Superman, removing many established conventions and characters from continuity, including Superboy and Supergirl. Byrne also re-established Superman’s adoptive parents, The Kents, as characters. In the previous continuity, the characters had been written as having died early in Superman’s life (about the time of Clark Kent’s graduation from high school).
Set at the beginning of what the Wizard Shazam calls “the second age of the great heroes”, after the debut of the Man of Steel, Batman, and Captain Marvel, but before the coming of Wonder Woman, the Flash, and Green Lantern, the story begins with Superman traveling to Fawcett City in pursuit of a group of criminals who have just robbed a museum from Metropolis and used magic against him. Upon arriving in Fawcett, he finds Captain Marvel fighting the same group of thieves.
World’s Finest was initially a 96 page quarterly anthology, featuring various DC characters – always including Superman and Batman – in separate stories. Comics historian Les Daniels noted that “Pairing Superman and Batman made sense financially, since the two were DC’s most popular heroes.” When superheroes fell out of vogue in the early 1950s, DC shortened the size of the publication to that of the rest of its output, leaving only enough space for one story; this led to Superman and Batman appearing in the same story together starting with World’s Finest Comics #71 (July 1954). The series continued to feature Superman and Batman team-ups until issue #197. Noted Batman artist Neal Adams first drew the character in an interior story in “The Superman-Batman Revenge Squads” in issue #175 (May 1968).