DC Comics was changed forever with the epic superhero tragedy, "The Death of Superman." The Man of Steel's world would never be the same when the hideous monster known as Doomsday entered his life so viciously. While facing unexpected obstacles, an ensemble of writers and artists had teamed up to build an entire story that would lead straight to the highly anticipated issue, Superman #75. Though the story arc was entirely pre-planned from the beginning, no one could have expected the outpour of reactions from longtime fans, surprised newcomers, and the mainstream media.
As a way to prepare readers of what was to come, death was foreshadowed in the last pages of Superman: The Man of Steel #17. Doomsday was repeatedly punching a wall with his fist, as if the monster was trying to break free from its underground lair. Shrouded in mystery, Doomsday never spoke and its true self was hidden underneath a green containment suit. Being one of the strongest villains Superman has ever faced, Doomsday managed to defeat the entire Justice League, leaving Blue Beetle in a coma and Booster Gold losing his future technology. But behind all of this, there was a lot going into the development of one of Superman's most incredible events that fans might not know.
10 Lois & Clark
While the Superman comics were struggling in sales, the first season of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, starring Teri Hatcher and Dean Cain, had started airing Sundays on ABC. The superhero drama revolved around the relationship between Lois Lane (Hatcher) and Clark Kent (Cain), who was competing for her affections against Lex Luthor (John Shea).
The series itself and the comics were not supposed to exist in the same continuity. Both versions had to be consistent though, since Lois and Clark were now engaged in the comics.
9 The Wedding
With Superman now engaged to his true love, the comics and the TV show were both competing to get Lois and Clark to walk down the aisle on their wedding day. Superman group editor Mike Carlin and DC president Jenette Kahan decided the highly anticipated wedding should take place on the show first, instead of in the comics.
If you watched the show during this time, technically Clark (Cain) did not marry Lois (Hatcher) because she was replaced by her clone created by Luthor (Shea). It would be awhile before Clark and Lois were finally hitched on the show.
8 The Superman Summit
The postponed wedding in the comics between Clark Kent and Lois Lane had to be replaced with something else. The writing team for the entire Superman comics included Dan Jurgens, Roger Stern, Louise Simonson, Jerry Ordway, and Karl Kesel.
The planned wedding that was supposed to take up about a year's worth of stories now had to be thrown out to the trash. During the annual Superman Summit, the writers were struggling to come up with a brand new story. It was actually Ordway who tossed in the idea of killing off Superman.
7 It Was A Joke
During the Superman Summit, the writers were under constant constraint to come up with a fresh idea that everyone agreed upon. Ordway tossed in the "Death of Superman" as a joke to alleviate the tension in the room, but no one was laughing.
The other writers in the room didn't take the idea as a joke, because Simonson wanted to explore what Superman meant to his friends, his enemies, and to the entire world. By the end of summit, Jurgens finally pitched the plot to DC Comics, who then allowed the writing team to move forward.
6 He's Not Invincible
Even though there was no social media at the time, the writers expected backlash from the fanbase when the news broke out about Superman's death. It was important the readers, and the character himself, realize that Superman was not entirely invincible.
Superman had to feel like he had something to lose and accept that he could not cheat death. In the documentary, Look, Up in the Sky: The Amazing Story of Superman, Mike Carlin explains having to defend the concept, "The world was Superman for granted. So we literally said, "Let's show what the world would be like without Superman."
5 Doomsday For Superman
The writers then had to decide who was going to be one who killed Superman. During this time in the comics, Superman's longtime enemy, Lex Luthor, was dying from Kryptonite poisoning, and faked his own death. Superman actually needed a super-villain who did not use any technology, nor his intellect, but was really a physically imposing monster.
During the Superman Summit, Carlin finally came up with the name of the original villain. Carlin then wrote on the whiteboard, "Doomsday for Superman," establishing the name of the notorious monster, and laying the foundation for one of DC's most powerful villains.
4 Creating Doomsday
None of the writers had actually put together an origin story for Doomsday. The writers had no idea where Doomsday came from, how he came about, or why he was inside an elaborate containment suit. Because there was no backstory involved, the artists were racing against the clock to come up with Doomsday's character design.
With a blank slate in his head, Jurgens imagined a massive and muscular humanoid. For no other reason, just because the artwork looked cool, Doomsday had bone fragments piercing through his thick skin.
3 Superman #75
Superman's long bloody fight against Doomsday would take place across four issues, leading towards the climatic finale, Superman #75. With very little dialogue, Jurgens wanted the final issue to be told through splash pages, emphasizing the suspense and action.
This was a super-powered battle between two exhausted fighters at the heart of Metropolis. Superman was going to die, fighting Doomsday in front of the Daily Planet. The heart-breaking final page of Superman #75 was a triple-page spread, featuring Lois Lane engulfed in tears as Superman laid dead in the wreckage.
2 The Adventures of Superman #500.
The writers went back to the drawing board and returned to the Superman Summit. Now that they killed off the Man of Steel, the writers had to figure out how to bring him back from the dead. Not only did they have the challenge of coming up with a world without Superman, the writing team had to figure out why would the world want him back as well.
Superman's return would have to gradually place within the next round of issues, leading towards the milestone issue, The Adventures of Superman #500.
1 The Reign of Supermen
The plan was always to bring back Superman from the dead, but readers would have to guess who was the real one. The Eradicator claimed to be Superman risen from the grave, but his powers and personality changed. Cyborg Superman claimed to be the real Man of Steel because his wounds from the battle against Doomsday left him scarred.
Superboy was a teen clone from Superman's DNA. Lois Lane thought Clark's soul inhabited the body of John Henry Irons, aka Steel. None of them were supposed to be real Superman.