Superman is one of the most well-known and beloved characters in the world. His iconic emblem represents hope, inspiration, and probably most of all, high octane adventure to millions of fans.
Many know the basics of his origin - rocketed as a baby from the doomed planet Krypton, raised on Earth by Midwestern parents and moved Metropolis to live a dual identity of mild-mannered reporter for the Daily planet AND the World’s greatest hero. But there is so much more to the story of Clark Kent and his journey to become the Man of Steel. A lot more!
The critically acclaimed TV series, Smallville aired on the WB, and later the CW, from 2001-2011 and chronicled the story of a young Clark Kent (Tom Welling), dealing with his alien origins as Kal-El, the Last Son of Krypton, and growing into the man that would one day be Superman. While sometimes divergent from comics history, Smallville had a rich mythos which unfolded across 10 seasons and introduced a television audience to many characters they would love (and love to hate) including Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk), Lois Lane (Erica Durance), Supergirl (Laura Vandervoort), and the villainous, Doomsday (Sam Witwer). Watching Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum) turn from Clark’s best friend to his arch nemesis was my favorite plotline and solidified Luthor as one of the most villainous foes in the Superman mythology.
If you’re already a Superman fan or a new reader who wants to learn more about the origins of the Man of Steel, you’ll enjoy all 10 seasons of Smallville. Want more? The comics are filled with incredible origin stories of the Superman Family.
Here are 5 Superman comics to read if you miss Smallville.
1. Smallville: Season 11 by Bryan Q. Miller, Pere Perez, Cat Staggs, Jorge Jimenez, and Daniel HDR
Tom Welling played the humble and inspirational role of Clark Kent and was the embodiment of the heroic small town farm boy from Kansas. Little known fact – while Tom Welling didn’t don the cape and tights until the very last episode of the series, he has the distinction of playing the role of Clark Kent more than any other TV or film actor. When the TV series ended, it left a giant “S” shaped hole in a lot of people’s hearts. To the excitement of longtime fans, DC Comics continued the story of Smallville in digital and print comics with a Season 11. This allowed us to finally see Clark’s adventures in the Superman suit and tell stories that were too big for a TV budget.
Buy Smallville: Season 11 Vol. 1: The Guardian on Amazon for $29.75
Download Smallville: Season 11 Vol. 1: The Guardian on Comixology for $5.99
2. Superman: Secret Origin by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank
Geoff Johns is considered one of the best comic writers of our time and is also one of the creative minds behind the CW’s Arrow-verse shows (including most recently the acclaimed Stargirl). In this series, Johns retells what is considered to be the “definitive origin” for the modern-day Man of Steel and I’d be hard pressed to disagree. With a Christopher Reeve like vibe from the art of Gray Frank, “You will believe a man can fly” as the line goes. Also, love the modernized origin of Lex Luthor, who grows from a poor and abusive home to become Superman’s greatest foe. Secret Origin captures the nostalgic feel of the Donner films yet feels like a story for the 21st century. I don’t know how they do it, but every time I reread this story, it makes me weak inside just like Kryptonite.
Buy Superman: Secret Origin on Amazon for $19.99
Download Superman: Secret Origin on Comixology for $5.99
3.Supergirl: Being Super by Mariko Tamaki and Joëlle Jones
Superman is not the only hero to wear an “S” on their chest! Being Super is an origin story for a new age, where the Girl of Steel finds herself having no memory of her Kryptonian origins prior to landing on Earth. Her world is then rocked when she finds out that she is actually a strange visitor from another planet, as if dealing with high school wasn’t enough! We’ve all felt alienated in school, but what happens when you find out you’re an actual alien? This coming of age tale, filled with teen angst and epic battles, follows Kara Danvers’ journey of loss and triumph as she comes to terms with her superpowers and origins. A road that will eventually lead her to become Supergirl.
Buy Supergirl: Being Super on Amazon for $13.25
Download Supergirl: Being Super on Comixology for $9.99
4. The Death of Superman by Dan Jurgens, Brett Breeding, Louise Simonson, Jerry Ordway, & Jon Bogdanove
A superhero is only as cool as his villains, amirite? While the Death of Superman was one of the biggest comic book events of all time, let’s not forget that it gave birth to one of the biggest bads ever, Doomsday. I mean this creature literally. killed. Superman. Origin stories don’t get any more “badder” than that. Watching the Doomsday rampage across the country leaving nothing but destruction in his wake, left every fan hungry for more details of his true origins - but none were to be had. And when Big Blue shuffled off this mortal coil, we were only left with more questions about the mysterious Doomsday! Spoiler alert – Superman eventually returned, and we did learn more about the Kryptonian origins of Ol’Doomsy but those were tales for another time.
Buy Death of Superman on Amazon for $14.99
Download The Death of Superman on Comixology for $5.99
5. The Man of Steel by John Byrne
I’m a huge Superman fan and Man of Steel is one of my favorite stories of all time. After DC Comics destroys the Multiverse in Crisis on Infinite Earths, Byrne reboots Superman, boiling down the Last Son of Krypton and his supporting cast into their most iconic elements. Lois Lane is once again the tough as nails reporter who would do anything to get a story. Lex Luthor is no longer the mad scientist, but a corporate mastermind who can’t get over that he is not “The most powerful man in Metropolis”. The story of Clark’s girlfriend, Lana Lang who realizes she needed to let him go so that he could share his powers with the world breaks my heart on every re-read. Everything you love in a Superman story wrapped in 6 issues of stunning art!
Buy Superman: The Man of Steel on Amazon for $40.00
Download Superman: The Man of Steel on Comixology for $34.99
Want even more Smallville in your life? Tune in to the Metaverse panel: Smallville Cast | 20 Years of Fandom, Friendship & Flying.