How The Death of Superman Killed Comic Books

How The Death of Superman Killed Comic Books
Spread The Viralist

▶▶ SUBSCRIBE for weekly comic book videos!

▶ WATCH NEXT: ‘Why DC Comics Killed Superman’

▶ Support the Channel:

In early 1993, the world was shaken by the loss of its greatest and longest-standing superhero, as news of Superman’s death at the hands of the monstrous Doomsday reverberated across the globe. The Death of Superman became instantly one of the most famous and iconic comic books of all time; DC’s last-ditch attempt to turn their declining sales around had worked, the company was dominating the industry… at the loss of their flagship character. But what happened next? Superman was dead, and DC reaped the rewards of such a shocking event, but could they really continue on without the Man of Tomorrow? Superman was never supposed to stay dead, the plan from the very beginning was to eventually bring back him back, but it would be how they did this that would prove a real make or break moment for the company. And would I say that DC handled Superman’s resurrection anywhere near as well as his death? Not exactly. So in this video, I want to discuss the aftermath of the Death of Superman, how it impacted DC Comics and the industry as a whole, and how the company’s attempts to follow up the iconic storyline saw diminished returns and fundamental change in the comic book landscape that would shake the industry to its very foundations, as DC planned for both the Reign of the Supermen and the Return of Superman.

▶ Follow Owen Likes Comics:

▶Check out our fantastic voice talent!
– Chronic Fatigue Geek
– Matt Draper
– Comic Drake
– The Lone Chemist
– Men vs. Movies
– Captain Midnight
– Fancy Teeth

▶ Watch More Owen Likes Comics:
Comic Case Studies:
Latest Videos:
Marvel Videos:
DC Videos:

– Look, Up in the Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman (2006)
– Reed Tucker, Slugfest: Inside the Epic, 50-Year Battle Between Marvel and DC
– Requiem & Rebirth: Superman Lives! (2007)
– Sean Howe, Marvel Comics: The Untold Story


#Superman #DCComics #TheDeathofSuperman


Recommended For You

About the Author: Owen Likes Comics


  1. I just want to say, thank you for this. I remember seeing The Death of Superman issues on the shelves of my local 7-Eleven as a sophomore in high school and browsing through the issue back in 93. I never truly understood the concept of the Supermen afterward but always figured that DC was desperate in finding ways to bring him back. Even when the real Superman was back, I thought he was another impersonator, but now I truly understand how the true Superman was brought back to life. I'm not a hardcore comic fan, but I sure wish I did read this series more the depth when I had the opportunity. Again, thank you.

  2. In a 19 minute video only 6 minutes are actually dedicated to the video's tittle while the rest is something I could've seen better told in the animated movie

  3. I liked the video, but the speculation market and "event fatigue" were just two pieces of the puzzle. There were many other factors that contributed to the decline in comic sales.
    1. Trade Paperbacks. Prior to the proliferation of trade paperbacks, a fan had to hunt down the actual back issues to get classic stories that they heard about from their friends. This kept the back issue sales portion of the industry going. It also meant that readers needed to buy every issue when it came out or they would have to later go back and pay more for the back issue. Now they can just wait a few months and get the whole story in a neat TPB. It reduced the urgency to buy new issues.
    2. Digital Download Comics. This may have made it cheaper for the comics industry as they no longer had to print as many comic books, but it hurt the comic book stores. Many of them closed, leaving only a handful of places where kids can hang out and read comics/buy comics. No kid is going to wander into a comics store and discover the joy of comic books if there are no comics stores in their neighborhood.
    3. The closing of small mom & pop convenience stores. As a kid of the 70's and 80's, that was where I used to go for comic books. Now there are only convenience store chains like 7-11, Wawa, and Sheetz. Those are stores that value every cubic inch of store space and have none to spare for comics or magazines of any kind.
    4. The success of Marvel (and I guess some DC) films. If a kid likes superheroes, they can pick up a comic book for $5 and read it in 5 minutes, or they can spend $12 and go see the real thing in flesh and blood on the big screen.
    5. Every 6 months each book restarts at #1. Remember when having the first issue of something meant something? Now it doesn't because the comics keep restarting every couple months. Before you had long runs of comics and even if a story-line sucked, you kept buying the comic so as not to ruin your complete run. Now what is a run? The X-Men, for example, have restarted like 6 times since 1995. Again, this kills the urgency to buy every comic. If you miss 5 or 6 issues, who cares? It will just restart in a few months anyway.
    There are more reasons, but I am tired of typing. But you get the point. The industry made many mistakes as they tried to milk every dime out of the industry, while in effect destroying it.

  4. My comic reading years were from ages 7 -13 (over 4, 000 back at my mother's). I'm a marvel fan and just spend a £1, 000 re-collecting 75 tpb across the best stories/ characters. Everything stops for me at around 1995…

  5. DC comics are once again in a tumultuous commercial position. You know what they have to do: "We gotta kill Superman again!"

    The Death and Return of Superman signified the death of death itself in comics. While comic book characters never really die, no matter how many times writers kill them, DaRoS was the event that not only put a spotlight on this, but more or less made it impossible to take death in comic books serious ever again by spelling it out.

  6. Saw previous comments about the state of comics in the 1990s and I more or less agree with most of them. I used to collect Amazing Spiderman and it was when Kraven The Hunter killed himself in a dark storyline in late 1987 made me rethink as to where comics was heading. I suppose they were trying to get rid of the tag that comics "are for kids". I almost quit collecting at that point but persevered anyway. I officially stopped collecting Amazing in 1997 but still collected Avengers up until the 2000s. I don't buy comics per se but buy the odd back issue from the 70s and 80s.

  7. Nice synopsis of this storyline, but I have to disagree with the premise. Same store, year-to-year sales were already dropping for most titles due to the continuing increase of cover prices in the preceding years. Marvel had already been doing bagged comics and gimmick covers, with great success, FOR THOSE ISSUES ONLY, for a couple of years before this Superman story. The only reason this Superman story became huge was because the regular news media picked it up, so we had a lot of one-time only buyers of that comic. I never expected any of those people to come back and become regular customers. The creation of Image comics the year before did lasting damage to Marvel's sales and between Image's inability to ship their titles on time and Marvel's idiotic move to distribute their comics themselves in 1995, they pretty much killed what was left. By that time, the young kids which used to feed the pipeline of new readers, had been priced out or found other forms of entertainment, like video games, which gave them more value for their dollar.

  8. I knew what I was hoping for with this event. A lasting shift in story telling that involved all the supporting cast. Instead of just relying on the near exclusive focus on just the main character. In this case on just Superman. Meaning I wanted Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Supergirl and Steel to have a greater role within the Superman universe. Instead they just went for re-focusing on the main character and added populous leftist-politics and alternate covers.

  9. I really loved the Death of Superman and Reign of Supermen, because I had thought, well… wished, that that would really be the great change of Superman story.
    Kinda wish that Superman really was dead and is not coming back, and that there would be a successor to Superman, probably one of the 4 (I wished it's Steel).
    But instead there's Return of Superman, so he's coming back after all. Well it's a nice story too but it kind of felt a little like cheating, cheapens Superman's 'ultimate sacrifice' somehow.
    And since then I just could not take seriously any kind of story about … a Superhero's 'death'.

  10. Superman had always been my favorite superhero and I had always followed him. I preordered 10 copies of the death of Superman from a comic shop I brought my comics from. On the day the books were to be sold I was refunded the money I had prepaid for those ten issues and told I was allowed one comic at cover price and all other were to be sold at $10 per issue price. I never went back to that comic shop and they closed less then a year later. I continued to collect comic books but my faith in comic shops was shaken to the core. My faith in Marvel and DC was bruised also, I no longer felt like a customer but a sucker to be fleeced. 12 different X-men # 1 covers !!! Now comics are $3.99 – $4.99 and the industry is heading for another fall. 40 years is a good run maybe it’s time I stopped collecting and moved on. ?

  11. I preferred the last son of Krypton story that happened prior to the Death of Superman. I'm a Marvel fan boy but I took a chance on Supes when he exiled himself from Earth and began to embrace his Kryptonian roots. I followed it into the death of Superman, which was ok, but I didn't like that Doomsday was the one to take him out. I don't know all of Supes villians but Doomsday to was just "WHO?????" It was the reign of the Supermen that made me fall out of DC again. Bringing a character back from the dead is a common trope in comics, hell its expected, unless you're Captain Marvel that is. But Reign of Supermen was so confusing and the ploy to get me to buy multiple issues to follow the confusing storyline was too much. For me the beginning of the end of comics was with the massive cross title stories. As comic book prices began to rise it just became too much to buy 5 to 10 titles to follow one story line. I mean especially when you know that in the end you'll just end up back where you started. That along with the rising number of variant issues just propped the door wide open for the SJW's to come in and finally bring the whole house down. Its a shame but I do believe the comic book industry will collapse in the next few years and if any thing is left it will only be PC garbage marketed in digital media.

  12. I thought you were going to talk on how "death of superman" is one of the worst comics ever. The character is a symbol for peace, justice and the all american way of life, with several decades of comics and pathos and mithos and a place inside pop culture around the world.
    But all DC can think to match him against is… a dude with no history, no personality, who just hit super hard.

  13. I remember the Death of Superman, although I tried to avoid it at the time being that I thought it was lame and a blatant cash grab on DC's part.
    I was mainly into Golden Age back issues and the main current comics back then I was reading were ones like Garth Ennis's Preacher and Neil Gaiman's Sandman 
    and Alan Moore's From Hell, plus Sam Kieth's The Maxx & Peter David's The Hulk among some other comics.
    The superhero comics era back then just didn't do a lot for me

  14. I remember paying 1.25 for comic book as a kid then the price going up to 5 bucks with six special edition issues at a time, that why I stopped buying them couldn’t afford to keep up

  15. Gary Brookins is the comic strip artist/owner of "Pluggers" and "Shoe". Also, he's a personal friend of mine. He told me, 2012, MARVEL, DC and other comic companies, are only making money by graphic novels. The single issue storylines, that are released a year or two later, in one graphic novel, makes them money on the back end. He predicted all comic book companies will eventually become graphic novel publishers. So, what you say is accurate.

  16. Events were definitely part of what killed my interest in comics. Along with the dark turn superhero comic stories took beginning in the late 80's, the decompression of the story telling, annoying & unwanted secret identity swaps, and blatant political proselytizing. The death of Barry Allen in Crisis on Infinite Earths marks the beginning of my dissatisfaction with superhero comics. And it only got progressively worse from that point on.

  17. 3:35 I was really happy they kept that scene in the Death Of Superman animated movie although they changed it to him being on the dock instead of the bar but still had the same impact.

  18. The death of superman and return of Superman WAS the foundation that brought me INTO comics. It involved several DCU characters and brought together plot elements from many previous Superman storylines. It sparked my interest in previous storylines, and was a foundation for most storylines going forward.

  19. Death of Superman didn't kill comics, the speculators & publishers with their gimmick covers, New #1 Collector Issues, massive overprinting killed comic books for a bit (like a comic book character they came back from the dead. Death Of Superman was just the biggest nail in the coffin. I was collecting around when it came out. That Wednesday when it came out the store was already reselling issues way above cover price. 2 weeks later they had dozens of copies. Still overpriced… but lots on hand. 6 months later they were going for below cover price being liquidated by the dozens, especially uncovered with no bag or extras. They had a bunch and wouldn't buy anymore. Same with X-men #1, X-force #1, Knightfall, Reign Of Superman books.

  20. It killed comics? It did? I remember reading it and feeling like they couldn’t just do that. When the clues start coming, I couldn’t wait for the next issues because as it unfolded, my favorite and many others didn’t die he came back. Hope never dies!!!!! A species without hope will die. Humanity has come this far because of hope. Superman is the fictional embodiment of man’s hopes and aspirations

  21. I was working at a comic-book shop back when all this went down. The idea that comic books were investments–that you could buy a bunch of comics and cash them out later to pay for college or whatever–was rampant at the time. We kept telling people that Action #1, Detective #27, and Amazing Fantasy #15 were going for big bucks because they were RARE. But nobody listened. And the owner didn't care, cuz the shop was making crazy money.

    When Death of Superman came out, we limited sales to 5 per customer. Employees bought their full allotment, just like everybody else. But, unlike everybody else, we had access to the ledgers. We could watch it trend almost in real time. We watched its value spike at around $30 over the next few months. As soon as its value began to fall, we all sold our copies back to the shop. Then, with the back-issue inventory full, the shop couldn't buy any more. Everybody else was S.O.L., while we made out like bandits. If we'd been Wall Street traders in those days, we'd probably still be in jail.

    The shop owner fell victim to the craze, ordering insane amounts of inventory for minor "event" issues. ("Northstar is coming out as gay? Better order a thousand copies of Alpha Flight #106!"). Eventually, the hologram covers and super-crossovers caught up with him, and that was the end of that.

  22. One of the unfortunate events of the BvS film was that his father was not around at the end of the film. Having both parents deal with the lost of the only son made it even more emotional, imo. That film was terrible.

  23. He should've stayed dead a little longer until the clamor was overboard, it would've boosted the entire DCU, even more so. No, TV shows, games, or comic books for a 2-3 year period, possibly a decade, as the Supermen would've taken over for him in a hiatus.

  24. I stopped reading comics alltogether when they revived Superman. It felt like cheating on me as a reader who really cared for Superman for years and finally saw him die.

  25. The headline is too sensational the death of Superman story didnt kill comics. The crash of the 90s would have happened anyway from massive greed overprinting and an industry correction was bound to happen.

Comments are closed.