The birth, life, death, and rebirth of Superman are among some of the most popular and well-known stories in the world of comic books. Every time a film studio attempts to bring Superman to the big screen, they usually adapt one of those previously mentioned storylines - if not several. Comics like The Death of Superman, Superman: Birthright, and Superman: Secret Identity will always have a special place in our hearts.
But those aren't the stories we're discussing today. We're dedicating this article to the strangest, most obscure comics in the Man of Steel's mythos - the sorts of stories that we may never see on the big screen.
10 Superman's New Power!
Back in the Silver Age of comics, Superman's writers loved playing around with the status quo - every other week, Clark would suddenly gain new abilities, then lose them not long afterward. But in the story, Superman's New Power! Big Blue gains several new abilities that are weird as all Hell!
Firstly, Supes gains the ability to shoot rainbows from his fingertips that cause villains to become non-aggressive. Later, he displays the ability to fire miniature Superman clones at people - clones that become more popular than himself! The comic ends with Clark acting envious towards his clone and everyone sort of going along with this madness.
9 I Am Curious (Black)!
In one of the more surreal Silver age storylines, Lois Lane uses a machine to become black for a day! The justification is that Lois wants to report on underprivileged black communities, and decides she needs to experience that world firsthand. Seriously, what kind of coke were the writers snorting back in the 1970s?
Like, we don't' want to go too hard because the writers' hearts were in the right place. But this comic lends credence to the claim that "the road to Hell is paved in good intentions." By now, DC's shown that they can tackle stories about racism and classism with much more nuance.
8 Superman vs. Muhammad Ali
One of the greatest boxers of all-time versus one of the greatest superheroes? That might sound cool on paper, but it's not as fun in practice. In the eponymous story Superman vs. Muhammed Ali, an alien threatens to destroy Earth if the planet's greatest champion doesn't battle him in a one-on-one.
Instead of summoning Captain Planet, (or the Justice League, more appropriately,) Superman and Muhammed Ali box each other for the fate of the planet! Ali wins (they boxed underneath a Red Sun, by the way,) but this story is nevertheless one of DC's strangest tales.
7 Superman Red/ Superman Blue
The 1990s were a strange time for comic books - we feel that we can't stress that point enough. For whatever reason, comic writers decided to go crazy with their storylines during that decade. Maybe it was something in the water, or perhaps it was the looming threat of Y2K. Either way, the 1990s inspired some of the strangest comic book trends in history.
One of those trends was the "revamped hero" craze - almost every popular superhero received drastic changes to their character; Hal Jordan became a sociopath and Batman became broken. Besides dying, Superman also split into two separate beings - Superman Red and Superman Blue. DC even launched an entire comic line based on these two characters!
6 The Suicide Snare
Of course, the 1980s were also a wild era for comics as well. This decade gave us The Dark Knight Returns, The Killing Joke, and a bunch of other crap that we could write entire articles on. The Suicide Snare might take the cake, however - in this story, Superman almost made an adult film with Big Barda!
To make matters worse, both of them were hypnotized and had no control over their actions. Also, do you see that fellow in the red and yellow outfit? That's Mister Miracle - a close friend of Superman's and Big Barda's husband!
5 Invasion of the Super-Ants!
Yes, that's Superman partially transformed into an ant up there. Yes, he's also speaking in buzzes. No, we still don't know what DC's writers were on in the Silver Age. For what it's worth, we prefer stories like Invasion of the Super-Ants over comics like I Am Curious (Black)! There aren't any politics involved - it's all just good old fashioned pulpy fun.
DC might not openly talk about Invasion of the Super-Ants, but they did reference this story in the Dark Multiverse. There's a character named Rant - who just so happens to looks like someone Photoshopped an ant's head onto Superman's body.
4 Superman: Grounded
J. Michael Straczynski and Chris Roberson's hearts were in the right place when they created Superman: Grounded. They wanted to have Supes reconnect with the American public on a personal level. In truth, your mileage will vary with Grounded - you'll either appreciate it for attempting to humanize Superman again, or you'll hate it for being too preachy.
Our problem isn't with the story's controversial subject matter - controversy often leads to interesting discussions and debates. We do take issue with J. Michael Straczynski abandoning the story halfway through the series. DC likely feels the same way, as Grounded is one of the few Superman stories that the company rarely ever mentions anymore.
3 Superman: At Earth's End
Seriously, the 1990s was a weird time for comics. While that decade gave us classic stories like The Death of Superman, it also gave us plenty of divisive comics. If you take offense to the slew of edgy stories and characters that lurk on the fringes of comic book culture, know that they likely came from this decade.
Superman: At Earth's End epitomizes the philosophy of the Dark Age of Comics - take a well-known character and make them meaner, bulkier, and bloodthirsty. For goodness sake, they gave Superman a giant minigun and had him kill clone twins of Hitler!
2 Superman, Champion of the Oppressed
One of the weirdest Superman stories in the character's history is also one of his first! Superman, Champion of the Oppressed details Kal-El's traditional origin story - showing the destruction of Krypton as well as Kal-El's first meeting with the Kent family. Things move pretty quickly from there, showing Clark grow into his role as Superman in the span of a few panels.
We should mention that Superman was freaking crazy back in his early stories - the guy was more like a cowboy that could juggle trains than a champion for peace. In Champion of the Oppressed, Supes interrogates baddies, on some Batman type stuff, dangling one villain from the top of the Capitol Building in Washington D.C.
1 The Reign of the Superman
It's crazy, isn't it - one of the most iconic and beloved superheroes of all time technically started as a supervillain. And it's no coincidence that the original Superman looked a lot like Lex Luthor either. But hey, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster didn't know they were on the cusp of making a cultural icon back in the 1930s - they were merely two guys trying to make the best out of the Great Depression.
In many ways, The Reign of the Superman reflects the hopelessness most Americans felt during the Depression. Interestingly enough, this comic didn't sell. It wasn't until Jerry and Joe created a hero with the power to do anything he put his mind to - when so many citizens felt utterly powerless - that they started making history.