Death and Return of Superman

An oral history of the original Death and Return of Superman, 25 years later

Contributed by
Aug 10, 2018, 1:30 PM EDT

In October 1993, DC Comics released Adventures of Superman #505, a book that served as the culmination of a multi-month storyline that killed an American icon and then brought him back from the ashes. It was an unprecedented moment, not just in the history of the character, but for the medium, and for pop culture at large. Before the internet metabolized iconic events in hours, before superhero films became Hollywood's cash cow, "Death of Superman" was a touchstone moment.

For one brief moment in time, it drew the world's attention to the pages of a comic book, and since then, DC has tried over and over to recapture the magic; the story has been retold and built upon in the comics and adapted for TV and movies, the latest iteration being the Death of Superman animated film out this summer through WB animation.

SYFY WIRE sought out some of the comic's creators from that period, as well as the editor who held it all together, to reflect on this unique moment in time as we now find ourselves at the 25th anniversary of the story's completion.

Everything surrounding the events of Superman's death and return were predicated on a series of cascading firsts within the industry. How we came to this iteration of Superman. How the stories of the Man of Steel were being chronicled by four different creative teams for what was essentially D.C.'s first weekly on-going saga about a single character. The story of Superman's death began with a broken engagement and a TV show that had yet to see air.

death of superman cover

Credit: DC Comics

Dan Jurgens: I have always liked working with characters that offer a wide sense of scope. Superman certainly fits that. On top of that, I appreciate the idea that Clark's private life offers a great deal of potential as well. He lives in a major city, works as a reporter and has a background in Smallville, Kansas, which is quite different. But so much of it touches on a certain sense of Americana that, when all those elements are combined, one ends up with tremendous story potential.

Mike Carlin (Superman group editor, now creative director for DC Animation): I was working with John Byrne at Marvel Comics on Fantastic Four when he decided to leave Marvel and take DC's offer to relaunch their Superman line, with Marv Wolfman and Jerry Ordway. A few months after JB's departure, I was fired at Marvel. After the summer of 1986, the editor of the Superman books was shifting to work on the relaunch of Justice League, so he'd need to phase out on Superman. Dick asked Byrne who he'd like to work with and he said something like, "I liked working with Carlin on (Fantastic Four)."

During the 1986 relaunch of DC Comics, Byrne would for a stretch serve as writer and artist on both Action Comics and the eponymous Superman title. Superman also had a third title in regular rotation, Adventures of Superman, which would eventually also come to be written by Byrne. Superman's "never-ending battle" was now hitting comic book stands every week but one during the month.

Carlin: We decided to have John write Adventures with Jerry [Ordway] staying on as the artist. With one person writing three titles it was just natural that one issue would lead in to the other.

Through a series of circuitous events, Byrne would end up leaving his Superman duties near the second anniversary of the Superman relaunch. This was no small hurdle to overcome, as Byrne had been the driving force behind the characters resurgence in sales and popularity. Carlin began to assemble a crew of veteran comic book talent to replace him.

Jerry Ordway (Writer/Artist, Adventures of Superman): I started on Adventures of Superman #424 in July of 1986. I worked my way up to writing when John Byrne left.

Roger Stern (Writer, Adventures of Superman/Action Comics): In August of '87, after 12 years at Marvel, I began writing freelance for DC and eventually began a run on Action Comics with issue #644. I wound up writing that title through issue #700.

Carlin: Byrne had left us with a pretty big story to follow up on. Superman had killed the three Kryptonian Phantom Zone prisoners and we all felt that that was too big a story to just move on from without addressing what kind of fallout Superman would have to deal with personally and psychologically.

So simply by talking on the phone Roger, Jerry and I concocted the "Superman in Exile" storyline, which was so big and sprawling, again, it solidified the ongoing importance of continuity between the titles. There simply seemed to be no other way.

Connecting the stories was much easier to manage when Byrne was helming most of the storylines himself. As the creative teams on the respective books began to diversify, some changes to the plotting process had to be made.

Carlin: The Superman titles were climbing in sales and, maybe more importantly, getting critical notice for our "style" and continuity and consistent use of the supporting characters. So I was able to convince DC to let me host a meeting at the offices with all of the principal players in attendance. So after a dinner and a hotel room meeting, the Super-Summit was born.

These annual "Superman Summits" allowed all the creative teams to get together in one spot to map out the next 12 months of Superman adventures. Eventually, talk of a fourth Superman title began to kick around DC.

Carlin: Paul Levitz liked the success of the linked Superman comics so much that he kept asking "When am I gonna get that fourth title?" So we had to expand the universe. Once again, I looked backwards to folks I'd worked with at Marvel. Jon Bogdanove was simply a favorite artist of mine, and Louise Simonson (eventual writer of the fourth title) is everyone's favorite, the end. Jon's son was named Kal-El, so I knew it was only going to be a matter of time. Jon HAD to draw Superman. So Superman: The Man of Steel was added to our monthly output filling up every week. Superman: Man of Tomorrow actually filled the gap in the four 5-week months that landed on New Comic Day… so we did literally 52 Superman titles a year.

Ordway: Here's the truth: it was hard work! People think we did one big continued story month in and month out, but it was mainly the subplots or B and C storylines that were the continued thread from title to title, as a way to get comic fans to buy all the titles, not just the main Superman one. That's where the idea started.

Carlin: I'd start the yearly story summits with charts tacked to the wall. A box for every issue of a Superman title for a year-plus. Folks would say what they wanted to do in their titles and we'd piece the year out filling the boxes right there in front of everyone. This was a "check your ego at the door" kind of meeting as we were all there in service of our pal Superman.

I stood as the arbiter of what was written down. This final chart arrived at by the end of the meeting would be transcribed and copied and sent to everyone. This didn't mean that there would be no room for divine inspiration as the year went on, but the skeleton of the year's plans was pretty sacred so that all four teams were running on the same train tracks for the year.

Superman Man of Steel 1

Credit: DC Comics

We flash forward a few years to the Summit meant to plan events for the 1993 slate of stories. While the quality on the four Super-titles had been bolstered by the expanded roster of comic book veterans, sales were now not reflective of the quality. It was now a struggle to keep Superman relevant in a climate that favored flashier or darker anti-heroes.

Bogdanove: So here we were, writing and drawing some of the best superhero stories of our lives, but feeling like nobody was really paying attention! It vexed us.

They needed a hook. An event.

Carlin: The wedding was planned in '90 or '91 to happen in Adventures #500 in early '93.

Everything was in place to finally consummate what was without question the longest courtship/love triangle in comic book history, and hopefully draw attention back to Metropolis. But they weren't the only ones with wedding bells ringing in their ears.

Carlin: [DC president] Jenette Kahn had actually interested Warner Bros. Television in a Daily Planet-centric TV show that was pitched using the soap opera elements in the current interlocked Superman comics. She pitched it as Lois Lane's Planet and it evolved into Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.

This was big news to us. Contrary to some Fake News out there, it wasn't Warner Bros or the TV showrunners who didn't want us to do the wedding. Jenette and I decided that we wanted to hold off, save the plans, but not get to it when we had originally planned to. If the show was a flop, we could do the wedding as soon as we wanted. If the show was a hit and lasted long enough, maybe we could do their wedding on TV AND in the comics at the same time. What a great idea, we thought!

Unfortunately, when the writers showed up for the '91 Super-Summit, they weren't so excited about the idea. And the prospect of having to come up with something that could stand up to a wedding they had spent two years setting up made the idea even more daunting.

Ordway: We had had several meetings with various people involved in trying to get Lois & Clark launched, and it went on quite a long time. A month or two after our Florida conference, we were called into the DC Comics conference room and told that the wedding was on hold, so we could coordinate the event with the TV show, which had a new showrunner, Deborah Joy Levine. We were given a start date, a year later. The mood was more of annoyance, I recall.

Bogdanove: It's tough to see good work tossed out, but I think we knew we'd be able to work our way back around to use most of it later. At the time, though, we'd all been locked in that conference room at DC for three days when we were told we had to start over. We were already tired and a bit frayed. All the artists felt pressure to get home and get back to drawing, lest we fall behind on our deadlines. Mike rallied us and we dug back in and got to work.

Action Comics 662 Superman

Credit: DC Comics

Ordway: I personally wasn't upset too much to put the wedding on hold. When we plotted the engagement story, Lois was going to turn Clark down. I was writing the plot of the issue, and called Carlin up to tell him I thought it was better for Lois to say "yes." It felt right to me, though it was a last minute change. So Roger's title, which was next after Superman #50 on sale, would need a major change, and the result was for Clark to then reveal he was Superman to Lois. He couldn't start the engagement with a lie. In my mind, they could have been engaged for years, you know?

Jurgens: We already knew the wedding was off the table so I had already been thinking of other ideas. It's not like we went in and heard it for the first time.

Stern: There was some initial disappointment. After all, we'd already been building to that story for a couple of years. But then, it became another challenge: OK, if we can't have Clark and Lois marry, what can we do?

Bogdanove: The classic story we all tell at conventions is mostly true. "The Death of Superman" all started with Jerry Ordway. As he always did whenever we hit a bump about what should happen next, Jerry wise-cracked, "Let's kill him!"

Ordway: I believe I first made the joke at whichever story meeting where Carlin set up the giant poster boards on the walls. We came in, perhaps for the story conference that launched the Pérez Action Comic title, and I thought those blank issue boxes seemed intimidating. I joked for Mike to fill in the last box on the last of maybe six boards, "Everyone dies. The end." And I guess it became a running gag, which I repeated at the next meeting, to get the ideas flowing, with that one box filled in.

Carlin: But at this meeting, there really was a feeling that we had done these guys wrong by taking away the planned storyline that they'd invested time in setting up and a whole bunch of ideas that, now, felt like we would never get to. So when Jerry said "Let's just kill 'im!" this time… there weren't a lotta laughs. So I said: "Okay, wise guys, IF we kill him, THEN what happens?"

I felt like I needed to make a peace offering to break the mood and get back to filling boxes. Because we were scotching the wedding set-up were more empty boxes than usual. I was desperate to get some conversation going.

Bogdanove: What made the difference when Jerry said it this time was Louise Simonson. Louise had been editor of all the X-titles at Marvel, where she had presided over the deaths of many mutants. She knew the value of "killing your darlings." Louise spoke up, saying "You know what you get from killing a character: You get to show just how much that character means — to his friends, family, enemies, to the whole world!"

That got us thinking! We were a contentious, brawling bunch sometimes, but we were definitely all united by our passion for Superman. We loved this character. We loved his myth, and what he was all about, thematically and symbolically. Superman really mattered to all of us!

Carlin: Our own personal frustrations with what was popular in comics at the time, murderers and anti-heroes everywhere, and the persistent labeling of Superman as a "boy scout" and a cornball fueled the death itself. If only murderers and monsters were heroes and you readers were going to take Superman for granted, then you won't mind if we take him away.

Bogdanove: In those days, sometimes referred to as The Dark Age of comics, characters like Superman — good-hearted, purely altruistic heroes — were unpopular. Dark, vengeful, brooding heroes held sway with fans, almost to the exclusion of all other types of heroes, including ours. Superman, the very first comic book superhero, was seen as too "old school" to be taken seriously.

Jurgens: We had considered the "Death of…" idea earlier, but never in any depth. More of a recognition that it had been a classic story, many years earlier, that affected us as readers. Prior to the summit, I talked to a couple of the other creators on the phone and suggested it as a story with big possibilities. I had no idea how to do it—just that it offered some great drama. I believe I had mentioned it earlier during the meeting but it didn't catch. In all honesty, it was the skimpiest of ideas. No story built in.

Carlin: Dan had long wanted to pit Superman against simple brute force. What if, no matter how strong and powerful you are, there is ALWAYS someone out there who is bigger? So his issue #75 of Superman was on the schedule before Adventures #500 (both "anniversary" issues, of sorts). We all decided that that was where Superman would die — at the hands of a literal force of nature — and that he'd come back to life in Adventures #500.

Jurgens: I went in with a yellow legal pad that had two ideas on it. One was, "Monster trashes Metropolis" and the other was "Death of Superman." At the time, there was no thought of combining those two ideas and the monster had no name. All I knew is that I wanted a physical confrontation for Superman because most of his villains, from Luthor to Prankster to Toyman to Mr. Z didn't allow for it.

Credit: Dan Jurgens

Credit: Dan Jurgens

Bogdanove: Dan had come to the meeting with a drawing of a Hulk-like character covered with those damn bony protrusions. We artists were always campaigning for tougher bad guys Superman could punch, but Dan had made it his mission.

Jurgens: I had a very rough doodle of an exoskeleton sort of monster.

Doomsday Sketch 4

Credit: Dan Jurgens

Carlin: The four pencil artists all took a stab at designing what Doomsday would look like and we democratically voted for the one we all liked best.

Bogdanove: As fate would have it that day, there was Dan's sketch, taped up on the wall, near the little box in which Mike had written the words "Doomsday for Superman." Without knowing it, Mike had already named him. Doomsday was born.

Doomsday Sketch 5

Credit: Dan Jurgens

Ordway: Part of the bargain among those present was that if we did the big action stuff, the story had to have consequences. People would die, and Metropolis would be pretty damaged.

Carlin: Dan also wanted to do an all splash-page issue… and since this was literally going to be a big fight, this seemed like the perfect place to do that method of storytelling.

Bogdanove: It had to be a visually powerful moment. It had to be a fight. Inker Brett Breeding had the clever idea of dividing the fight among all four titles in a way that would not only progressively build up the power and suspense to the fateful climax, but had the added effect of accelerating the pace of the action the closer you got to the end.

Carlin: The issue of Man of Steel before Superman #75 was deemed to be drawn with two panels a page. The issue of Action Comics was to be three panels a page. And the issue of Adventures before Action was to be four panels a page. So what we had was a super-subtle build in the action across the four weeks leading to Superman's death.

Bogdanove: No one wanted any of the villains in Superman's rogues' gallery to gain the distinction of ultimately being the one to kill Superman. It couldn't just be Luthor without negating something thematically important. Also, it couldn't be Kryptonite, because that would have been too passive and a crutch from a writing perspective.

Superman Doomsday sketch

Credit: Jon Bogdanove

Jurgens fittingly enough would be the artist who drew that final image of a battle-weary Superman finally succumbing to battle with Doomsday, cradled in Lois Lane's arms, with Jimmy Olsen forlorn in the background.

Jurgens: As for that final double page splash, well… it first appeared as a triple page spread at the end of Superman #75. I don't think it has ever been reprinted that way, with a double page spread that then folds out into a triple pager. We spent an extraordinary amount of time getting it to work properly and I think it really helped bring Superman #75 to an appropriate close.

Superman #75 would go on to sell millions copies over multiple printings, reaching sales figure that were bolstered in no small part by the mainstream attention the death of this international icon had attracted.

Ordway: Coincidentally, the public's actual reaction mirrored what we did in the comics — they suddenly came out in numbers, professing their love for Superman. That was what we wanted all along, though of course none of us had any idea it would sell. We had hopes that people would respond, maybe comic shops might order more Superman comics.

Jurgens: There is no way we, DC or anyone was prepared for the reaction to our story. We were simply trying to tell a good, dramatic story that said something about the nature of a great character.

Carlin: I still can't believe people believed Superman would be gone forever. Reporter after reporter came up to DC and asked "Why are you killing Superman?" and my standard answer was "When was the last time you bought a Superman comic? Hell, when was the last time you bought ANY comic?" And every reporter said they hadn't bought a Superman comic since they were kids, to which my response was: "Then you're the one who killed Superman!" And most of these reporters, men and women, said that they were reporters because of Clark and/or Lois's inspiration!

Superman Lois Jimmy Death of Superman

Credit: DC Comics

For the creative team, the story they yearned to tell was not the slugfest that led up Superman's death, but the stories of loss afterward.

Bogdanove: In what seemed like no time, we'd written most of "Funeral for a Friend," which was where the real meat of the story was. I think we accomplished exactly what Louise spoke of. Through the eyes of Metropolis and the world, via the reactions of heroes, villains and the friends and family he knew, I think we got to say a lot about why Superman matters.

Certain scenes stand out in my memory: Bibbo (Bibowski, a supporting character who idolized the Man of Steel) saying, "It shoulda' been me!" Ma and Pa Kent watching the funeral of their own son on television, all alone by themselves. Some of these scenes we talked about that day still make my eyes tear up just thinking about them.

Funeral Friend Superman

Jurgens: That's what the "Funeral for a Friend" storyline was all about. By taking Superman away, we could really explore his importance to the world at large. What worked great is that reality seemed to fuse with our storyline for a while, as any number of columnists wrote pieces that addressed the question of Superman's importance to the world.

Stern: I remember at one point thinking, "We'd better not screw this up." Seriously though, I saw it as a great opportunity to show how important Superman is to the world — and how much he would be missed, once he was gone.

Carlin: We really thought they were great solutions to having to stall the wedding for a bit… and all was good.

But then came the tricky part: bringing him back. And even trickier: keeping it a secret.

Carlin: This is also when another idea came up when we called Paul Levitz and the marketing guys to tell them our grand scheme: four titles all published the same day spotlighting a NEW Superman who might be the real deal… or not. They loved the idea, but with the solicitation cycle we would be telling people Superman was returning BEFORE they actually bought Superman #75! So everyone decided we would stop publishing Superman comics for three months, which was unheard of since 1938!!

Bogdanove: It was the vision of Mike Carlin, Jenette Kahn, and Paul Levitz, and the courage of DC Comics, to commit to actually ceasing publication of Superman books. And then to come back without the title hero! Pretty damn gutsy, unconventional thinking in those days.

Carlin: I was relieved that would give us three extra months to get those first four issues done… and then I wasn't relieved because I had to publish SOME kind of Super-stuff in those three months.

Jurgens: Those intervening weeks got special, Death of Superman-related material.

Carlin: We did stuff like a Lex Luthor/Supergirl mini-series, and an actual issue of Newstime Magazine (the DC Universe's version of TIME Magazine) This marketing maneuver really was smart — it preserved our story's surprises AND added to the illusion that Superman was really gone forever!

Jurgens: As we had planned the entire "Death of…" and "Funeral for a Friend" stories, we had not planned anything in terms of Superman's return.

Carlin: We did have an "Emergency Super-Summit" when we saw just how huge the sales figures were going to be… and we knew we couldn't just have Superman sit up in his coffin in Adventures #500 and say "I'm baaaaaaack!". This meeting was away from the office in a hotel in Tarrytown, NY, where we plotted the "Reign of the Supermen" story.

The only new person in the room was Karl Kesel, who I had worked with on Hawk & Dove. Another great team-player who loved Jack Kirby's work, Jimmy Olsen in particular, which we would reference a lot in the Superman books. This was Karl's only association with Marvel: liking Jack Kirby. I had finally broken my bad habit!

Karl Kesel (Writer/Inker, Adventures of Superman): Jerry Ordway felt he'd put in his time on Adventures of Superman and was ready for something new, so Mike Carlin needed a new writer on the book and called me. This was before the death became what it became — no one saw it coming. I'm sure Jerry would have never left the book if he'd known what was around the corner! When Carlin offered me the gig, I talked to Jerry about what it was like working on the book (since there was clear cross-pollination between all the Superman titles) and what sort of royalties I might see— which were maybe a couple hundred bucks a month, I believe.

Ordway: My wife and I started our family, and I was consciously trying to avoid working all the time, because those art deadlines are brutal, with long hours and little time for family. That's why I scaled back to just writing. As to leaving, the opportunity came to me once we actually planned the "Death of Superman" storyline. Jurgens had the actual death in Superman #75, and I was going to bring Supes back in Adventures of Superman #500, which was just a nice number.

Once the sales numbers came in on "Death," I'll admit I had some regrets, but I wasn't going to take the book back from Karl before he even started! And I felt like I was leaving on a high note, whatever the sales were. That newfound success was an uphill battle I fought on Superman since Byrne left, to get comic stores to care more about Superman.

Carlin: In the ramp-up to this meeting all of the writers had a different idea on how to do a NEW kind of Superman… if I would only pick their idea and everyone would play along. I really didn't know how to enter this meeting having to pick a "winner." At some point, Louise Simonson said on the phone to me, "Why don't we just do them all?" That was the answer! Saved the day! AND for a little while, the teams would all get to kind of do their own thing after years of forced collaboration—at least for a few months

four supermen

Kesel: The couple months where we had a certain amount of autonomy in each of our titles meant I could ease into the cross-continuity of the books.

Carlin: Louise and Jon did their "everyman as Superman" in Steel. Roger Stern and Jackson [Guice] explored the Kryptonian side of Superman in the Eradicator. Karl and Tom got to do the adventures of Superman when he was a boy in Superboy. And Dan Jurgens got to do the all-powerful superhero who needed no civilian life in the Cyborg.

The storyline would run under the banner "Reign of the Supermen," which itself was a homage to the original short story by Siegel and Schuster entitled "Reign of the Super-man," the pairs first published work with a character named Superman, pre-dating the debut of the caped version in Action Comics #1 by about five years.

Bogdanove: Before we all split up into our groups, Dan had suggested Louise and I do a blue-collar character. But I think he thought he should be comic relief, a poor man's Superman. Louise and I didn't want to just play him for laughs. We wanted to create a working-class hero with dignity. Louise brought her Marvel experience to bear.

DC didn't really have an Iron Man-type of armored character. We thought the idea of a homemade Iron Man might be interesting. How could a guy with no fortune or Stark/Wayne-like resources possibly fill in for Superman? What would motivate him even to try? I'd always loved the Legend of John Henry, The Steel-Drivin' Man. I had made drawings of him in my teens, and even wrote a poem, I think. His story and archetype were meaningful to me. When Louise pointed out that he was more than a mere legend, that John Henry was a real historical figure who really did duel a steam-powered drill for the dignity of workers and won at the cost of his life — I knew here was a superhero motif that needed to happen.

Kesel: When I first started as an inker on Legion of Superheroes, within six months I pitched [editor] Karen Berger an idea for a new title. (That I would write, of course.) I won't go into details about what the idea was (because I still like it and may be able to do something with it someday) but not long ago I ran across the typed-out proposal — and the main character was exactly like Superboy in attitude and tone! So this sort of character had obviously been in the back of my head for some time. Why I came up with this sort of character, I have no idea. But he was a blast to write.

Jurgens: Villains are, in many ways, always more interesting to write. I just thought it'd be great to have a "rebuilt" Cyborg Superman appear and to my best to convince everyone that he was the real Superman. The idea that I could bring readers to the point of that belief, pull the rug out from under their feet, and reveal him as a villain was really fun to write.

I had introduced Hank Henshaw, who became Cyborg Superman, a few years earlier so readers already knew him as a villain. But this elevated him a great deal.

Reign of Supermen

Stern: I wanted to show the readers how frightening a ruthless Superman could be. The Eradicator had always represented the cold, Kryptonian side of Superman's heritage, so I went with that full force. The Eradicator had originally been created in Action Comics Annual #2, as part of the "Superman in Exile" storyline. We didn't give the Eradicator a humanoid body until the "Krypton Man" storyline. That story launched Superman: The Man of Steel #1.

That last story, of course, had ended with the Eradicator being dispersed within the Fortress of Solitude. During the Summit, it occurred to me that we could bring him back as the replacement Superman for Action Comics and do it in such a way that the readers wouldn't realize who he was until the ultimate big reveal.

The conclusion of the "The Reign of Superman" finally returned Superman to the land of the living, fresh from a Kryptonian Regeneration Matrix, and added four new players to the Superman mythology that have endured to this day.

Carlin: We all had shorthand distinctions in our minds about what made each of the new Superman different… and those distinctions actually helped translate some of these guys into their own ongoing series after the whole "Death and Return" storyline was over. Steel and Superboy had long-running series of their own, Eradicator had a mini-series or two, and well, Cyborg Superman never got a book because he was the bad guy!

Carlin: What was great about Steel and Superboy, in particular, is that Louise & Jon and Karl & Tom got to break off from the (very hard to do) continuity and finally run and explore what they wanted to do in their own stand-alone series! They'd earned that.

Bogdanove: It's good to try to maintain a certain detachment about characters you don't own, even if you created them. I learned this long before Louise and I created Steel. I love John Henry Irons. That character feels like a real person to me, like family, almost. I'm actually honored Shaq liked the character so much he wanted to make that movie! It certainly has craptastic charm. In the comics, Steel has generally fared much better than he did in his movie. Several writers have written him. Those I've seen have been pretty good! I am particularly pleased with Christopher Priest and Denys Cowan's run on the character.

Also a fun byproduct of Clark's emergence from the regeneration chamber: The Super-Mullet.

Superman Mullet

Credit: DC Comics

Bogdanove: All I really want to say about that is the long hair wasn't my idea! I know that in Brett's videos, I'm the guy running around in a ponytail, but the Super-Mullet wasn't me And it wasn't a mullet, it was Tarzan-hair!

Kesel: All I can say about the mullet is that it probably stayed around longer than anyone thought it would simply because we kinda forgot about it. At least, I did! (How long a character's hair is really doesn't impact plot lines.) I can't even remember now — when DID we get rid of the long hair? Certainly by the wedding…

Carlin: The longer hair came about as Superman was returning… and we wanted to show at least a slight change. Nothing as drastic as the four Supermen, but just a nod to the fact that something new was happening. Lois and Clark was coming to TV the same week that Superman returned in the comics, and in the pilot Dean Cain's hair was slightly longer.

We took that cue to lengthen Superman's hair as well as deepen the blue and red of his costume to show that while things were back to normal they wouldn't be entirely the same. Some of the pencilers went a little overboard and we ended up with lion manes and ponytails, but the longer hair served a purpose in the storytelling. And like most of our stories we knew the hair was going to have its ending… and it did when Lois & Clark got married and Superman went back to his classic cut with the "S"-Curl as a gift to Lois and readers around the world.

Carlin: We personally felt bad that characters like LOBO and The Punisher were being hailed as role models of some sort — and maybe it was our fault that Superman felt old-fashioned still. We were in a position to do something about it, or at least to TRY to do something about it, so we took that awkward opportunity of a postponed wedding and really made our point: Don't take Superman for granted — or he might not be there when you need him.

And I know we succeeded incredibly in getting that message out there, because the real world reacted the exact same way that Jimmy and Lois and Bibbo and all the denizens of the DCU reacted. Life was imitating art… and here we are 25 years since Superman died and returned and this story still matters enough for us to have put out an animated Death of Superman direct-to-video feature film this summer with Part Two, The Reign of the Superman, scheduled for release next January.