At the risk of sounding like an old man complaining about the kids playing on my lawn I have to say that comic fans today have it easy.  There are a plethora of websites and blogs out there that do nothing but cover the latest bits of “news” and gossip about the world of comic books.  You could probably spend all day searching through and reading all of them.  I am fascinated by this because I remember a time when if you wanted to know what was going on in the four colored world you read Wizard: The Guide to Comics.  For good or mostly ill Wizard was a force to be reckoned with.  If they pimped something and deemed it hot then hot it would be no matter how bad the comic was.  That may sound cynical because…well, it’s cynical but there is a grain of truth to it.

By 1992 and 1993 the magazine was firmly entrenched in the rectums of Image Comics and Valiant with Marvel still getting a fair bit of press as well.  Since DC had fallen to the number three position it got less coverage or at least that’s the way it seems when you look at the back issues.  I’m not saying there was any directive in the editorial department of the magazine to not cover DC’s books but I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the case.

Even if there was some sort of bias I am surprised that Wizard gave little to no coverage to the Death of Superman.  There were no big write ups on the story.  The Man of Steel didn’t make Wizard’s cover the month Superman #75 came out.  It’s so strange.  I guess after the death actually came out and proved successful Wizard had a change of heart because on April 1, 1993 they released Wizard: The Guide to Comics Superman Tribute Edition.  Ostensibly it was a celebration of the Man of Steel but it also served to promote the then upcoming Reign of the Supermen storyline.  In any case it is an impressive magazine that even had some neat promo pieces.

Thanks to Christopher J. Warden for the scans of this ad aimed at retailers.

Because it was the nineties and cover enhancements were all the rage the cover to this special was not only a gate-fold affair but also had a foil/metallic look/feel to it.  The artists were Dan Jurgens and Brett Breeding and featured Superman fighting Doomsday as Lois and Jimmy look on.

I have to admit that even today this magazine is extremely impressive.  Wizard went all out with this special and the articles and interviews are not only informative but entertaining as well.  They include:

  • My Life With Superman by Curt Swan and Patrick Daniel O’Neil.  This two page article gives a brief history of Curt Swan’s time as the Man of Steel’s main artist.
  • What a Long, Strange Journey It’s Been by Jack Curtis.  This is a very entertaining history of Superman by a long time fan.  It has a certain level of cynicism but you can tell the writer loves the character.
  • For Those That Came in Late... by Joel W. Tsherne.  Another history lesson, this time focusing on the Post-Crisis era.  If you came into the Superman books because of the Death of Superman this tells you everything you need to know since Man of Steel.
  • Through the Years…a blow-by-blow account of the Superman heavy hitters.  A list of the artists that left a mark on Superman.  Not so much an article as an art gallery.
  • The Men of Steel by Norman Bertson.  An extensive article about the Reign of the Supermen with loads of preview art.
  • Superman Writer With a Secret Identity by Patrick Daniel O’Neil.  This one is an interview with Golden Age writer Alvin Schwartz.  He really didn’t care for Mort Weisinger and it seems like he had good reason to dislike the editor.
  • Superman as Pop Icon by Patrick Daniel O’Neil.  Another interview, this time with Elliot S! Maggin.
  • Superman: The Man of Screen by Andy Mangels.  An overview of Superman on the radio, television and the silver screen.  It is very extensive and impressive and when I read this back in 1995 it was the first time I heard of some of the adaptations that Mangels discusses.
  • The “Lost” Origin of Superman by Robert J. Sodaro.  This is an article about the first Superman novel written by George Lowther which was released in 1942.
  • Superman’s Friends and Foes by Patrick Daniel O’Neil: A huge list of Superman’s villains and supporting characters.
  • The Hall of Shame: Superman’s Most Embarrassing Moments by Brian Cunningham.  It’s pretty much what it sounds like.  I like this article quite a bit.
  • More Powerful Than… by Brian Cunningham.  A listing of Superman’s powers and abilities.
  • Top 10 Perks of Being Superman.  An amusing David Letterman style Top 10 list with a sidebar on the lesser known forms of Kryptonite.
  • Superman Intelligence Quotient.  A 30 question Superman quiz.  It’s a good one too.
  • The Superman Price Guide.  Well, it was Wizard, so you just knew there was going to be a price guide.  This was where I first heard of the 1992 Superman Special that was originally supposed to be a Superman annual from 1991 until Armageddon 2001 came along.
  • “Remember the Time When…” A handful of comic book writers and artists talk about their favorite Superman stories.
  • The Importance of Being Superman.  This is an excellent editorial by Patrick Daniel O’Neil.

And that is it.  Again, this is an excellent magazine and if you can find a copy go ahead and pick it up.  Not only is it a good resource about Superman but it also has a bunch of entertaining articles and interviews as well.

Next time: A couple of other magazines that pimped Reign of the Superemen.

More to follow…

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  1. Douglas Meacham says:

    Thanks for this Mike. After reading this and looking at some of the art, and especially after finishing episode 131 of FCTC last night, I’m wanting to get my hands on one even more now!

  2. penfold says:

    I bought the issue when it first came up and treasure it to this very day. It was an amazing look at Superman’s history, which was very useful for me since I was only twelve years old, too young to have gleaned that info anywhere else.

    If I have a criticism of the issue though, it’s that some of the articles take an unnecessarily negative and dismissive view of the Silver and Bronze Ages. Those periods had their problems just like any other period but somehow the flaws of those eras were a bit overly criticized. At the time, that pretty much fit in with my Byrne Age love but as I’ve grown to take in a larger view of Superman that appreciates stuff from almost all the eras, the tone of some of those articles rubs me the wrong way.

  3. Tom Panarese says:

    I remember buying this when it first came out and loving it. To this day, the “corduroy” kryptonite thing cracks me up.

    Also cracking me up? The “fully entrenched in the rectums” line. Because it’s SO true … were they being paid off or something? Maybe Image and Valiant were sending them more free crap.

    Anyway, what I loved about this special was that despite its being put out by Wizard, I remember it being a really thorough study of the Man of Steel; in fact, I think that it was the most I learned about Superman until I got Les Daniels’ book a number of years later.

    I continue to love this Death and Return coverage. Thanks for posting this.

  4. Luke says:

    I bought this when it came out and I also still love it to this day. I learned a lot about the history of Superman from this issue and read it over and over. I need to break it out again and re-read the “Remember The Time When…” article to get some classic Superman stories to read.

    Best gags: “The Way You Look To-Nite” from the Kryptonite sidebar, and the “personal joke about frequent flyer miles” from the Top Ten.


  6. Rick says:

    Is anyone interested in the autographed limited edition version please let me know

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