The Death of Superman: A Review

The Death of Superman

A Direct to Video Release

Directed by:

Jake Costorena and Sam Liu

With the voice talents of:

Jerry O’Connell (Superman), Rebecca Romijn (Lois Lane), Rainn Wilson (Lex Luther), Rosario Dawson (Wonder Woman), Nathan Fillion (Green Lantern), Christopher Gorham (The Flash), Matt  Lanter (Aquaman), Shemar Moore(Cyburg), Nyambi Nyambi (Martian Manhunter) and Jacob O’Mara (Batman)


In 1991 DC comics had a problem.  They had spent six years leading up to the wedding of the century.  The wedding of Clark Kent and Lois Lane.  This was to be the best comic book wedding since Reed Richards married Sue Storm over at Marvel but a monkey wrench was thrown into the works.  The ABC series Lois and Clark was in development and they too ultimately wanted to have Lois and Clark get hitched and they asked DC to postpone the comic book wedding so it would coincide with the TV wedding.  DC agreed but now they had to fill a gap of stories, across several books, for no one knew how long, so the television show could catch up.


The Superman writers and illustrators went on a retreat to figure out this dilemma.  This retreat was not special.  Every year the Superman creative team went away to plot out the stories for the next twelve months.  With Superman headlining 3 books Superman, Action Comics and The Man of Steel they needed to work together to make sure storylines didn’t clash or to talk out cross over events.  But this year was different as they had a problem.


After several hours of discussion Jerry Ordway threw out his traditional tension breaker.  “Everyone dies.  The end.”  It was good for a laugh but Mike Carlin wasn’t so sure and he jutted it down with a caveat “Let”s not kill everybody-why don’t we just kill him”.  And a story that would rock the world began.


Superman had been reborn after The Crisis on Infinite Earth series in 1985.  John Byrne had reworked the Superman origin story for a new generation over a six issues miniseries.  He reestablished a character that had grown to almost god like stature by simplifying him and his powers.  He had made Clark Kent a bit more manly and less a joke.  He allowed Ma and Pa Kent to live and established a basis for the romance of the century coming to fruition after almost 50 years of Lois rejecting Clark for Superman.


The stories and villains were great but Superman would soon have another surge of popularity.  Nothing can long be kept a secret and when DC published Superman number 75, the death issue, people were lined up around the block to get a copy of the now famous issue.  A special edition of the magazine came with an obituary of the hero as well as a black arm band with the Superman shield embroidered on.


Fast forward from 1992 to 2018.  26 years have passed since Superman died.  The story of his death and been tried to be told once in a made for DVD version of the epic but that version was not what it could have been.  In the live action Superman, Batman movie the story was again attempted but by most people’s standards it failed.  Now we have a third attempt.  The Death of Superman the latest in DC’s animated adventures.


This latest version holds true to the original comic book source with in reason.  Some of the story is, by necessity, stream lined.  Lois and Clark are not engaged but we are allowed a glimpse into their relationship as Clark realizes his love for her and reveals his secret.  Ma and Pa Kent are present too.  They help add some comic relief as they tell tales of Clark’s early love life to Lois on meeting her for the first time.  Much to Clark’s embarrassment.


The story is not fast paced.  It has a lot of ground to cover.  Several characters have to be introduced to make the entire film, this story is being released in two parts, work.  It takes time to do this, but when Doomsday finally begins to clash with The Justice League and takes them out, then takes Lex Luther, who had donned his battle suit, out the stage is finally set for the battle between two giants.


Doomsday is the ultimate Superman villain.  He wants nothing more than to destroy everything in his path.  His battle with Superman is both bloody and visually stunning.  When Superman and Doomsday finally land their killing blows you know both hero and villain are dead.


This film doesn’t end there.  We see the aftermath of the death of a hero.  We see his mourners and his funeral.  This is played out well.  Animation has come far to be able to picture real human suffering.


If you buy or rent this film watch the credits as there are four separate scenes that give the tiniest glimpse of what’s to come.


Over all The Death of Superman is a great ride starting slow and building to an awful conclusion.

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