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Comic Book Questions Answered – How Many People Has Superman Killed?

by  in Comic News Comment
Comic Book Questions Answered – How Many People Has Superman Killed?

Comic Book Questions Answered – where I answer whatever questions you folks might have about comic books (feel free to e-mail questions to me at brianc@cbr.com). Here is a link to an archive of all the past questions that have been answered so far.

After reading my Movie Legends Revealed column about whether Batman actually killed anyone in the comic ic book that Zack Snyder used as the basis for Batman killing people in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, reader David R. wrote to me to ask a similar question about Superman, namely that he heard people talk about Superman’s history of killing people and wanted to know what was the comic book basis for that. Interesting question, David! Read on for what i could come up with! (NOTE: I won’t be counting alternate universes like Injustice: Gods Among Us or Imaginary Stories like Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow…although, to be fair, all comic book stories are imaginary, wocka wocka).

Clearly, the most famous example of Superman killing occurred in Superman #22, the last issue of John Byrne’s Post-Crisis run on Superman. Superman resorted to flat-out killing three Phantom Zone villains who had just wiped out an entire pocket Earth (BILLIONS of people)….

In the issues to come, new writers Jerry Ordway and Roger Stern would have Superman suffer a nervous breakdown and a split personality over what he had done, adopting the Gangbuster identity…

And then Superman would exile himself into outer space…

And that was the plan from the beginning. Note the last panel in Byrne’s last issue…

So while people point to this storyline a lot to show Superman’s willingness to kill, do note that it messed him up BIG TIME. So it wasn’t like this was just thing he did and it was no big deal to him.

Okay, so that’s the major example, but there have been others.

Golden Age Superman wasn’t necessarily a killer, but it’s clear that he didn’t particularly give a hoot if people died. That isn’t to say that he killed them himself. In this bit from Action Comics #2/Superman #1, Superman makes a war profiteer change his ways by bringing him to a war.

Superman hurtles a torturer and sure looks like he kills him…

And Superman knocks down a plane and we see no parachute….

In Superman #2 (by Siegel and Shuster, as well), Superman accidentally exposes a dude to poison gas and doesn’t save him. I think this pretty much counts as killing the dude…

Go to the next page for some more modern examples…

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