If you loved Batman V. Superman there is nothing I can say that will change your mind. No force on Earth can go back in time and take away the rush of seratonin, adrenaline, and dopamine you felt watching the operatic and visually dense movie about 2 sad men with horrible interpersonal communication skills. But for the rest of us who were left lacking by the DC Cinematic Universe's unfurling, the fact is that we just wanted a real Superman story where maybe he has MORE THAN 42 LINES in the whole damn movie. 

For those people, I would highly recommend Joe Kelly's 2001 work (alongside artists Doug Mahnke and Lee Bermejo) in Action Comics #775 "What's So Funny About Truth, Justice & the American Way?" 


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You have Joe Kelly to thank for laying the groundwork for Deadpool's rise from X-Force B-lister to undisputed clown prince of the Marvel Universe, and in 2001 he looked at the superhero landscape and wrote one of the most impassioned and memorable Superman stories of the modern age. One that addressed the Big Blue Boy Scout's role in pop-culture, his waning popularity, and the childish naivete many saw in his motivations/character.



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It helps to understand that this was a transformative time period in comic books, as more mature and deconstructed takes on superheroes were becoming popular and gaining critical praise, leaving traditional titles like Batman and Superman in the dust. This movement is embodied by the arrival of The Elite, a team of media savvy cross-cultural "heroes" with omega-level powers who solve crises without caring about killing or destroying property. Hm... why does that sound familiar?


(cough, Man of Steel cough cough).



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The team's leader, Manchester Black repeatedly questions Superman's moral standing, calling him outdated and implicitly supporting a status quo that leads to countless amounts of human suffering. The Elite finally decide to take Superman out to prove once and for all that his age of heroism is over. Knowing the destruction that they're capaple of, Superman agrees to the fight on a distant world and promptly gets the smack laid into him.



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In the face of such overwhelming force, Superman seems to snap. Cutting loose with all his powers at full force and laying waste to his enemies with swift brutality. Joe Kelly gives the readership the thing they said they always wanted, a no-compromises Superman who isn't held back by 1940's concepts of fair play and moral absolutism. Sadistic and powerful, this is Superman unrestrained, who has been forced to adapt to the savageness of his surroundings.



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Yet before the final killing blow is struck, we're given one of the most "FUCK YEAH" moments in Superman history...



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What's interesting about this showdown is that The Elite are an incredibly-transparent stand-in for The Authority, a team written by British creators Warren Ellis and Mark Millar that gained popularity with their charismatic characters, huge global-scale action sequences, and a deconstructive take on superheroes. This is important because Mark Millar also wrote The Ultimates, an updated version of the Avengers that was a MASSIVE inspiration for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It's hopefully not too big of a stretch to say that this comic is a cautionary tale that Warner Bros. should have heeded before they sought to "update" the Man of Steel in an attempt to catch up to Marvel's movie accomplishments.



You can read the comic in its entirety on Comixology right now for two bucks and it's totally worth it.



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This story was also adapted quite well into the DC Animated Movie Superman vs. The Elite, which ranks as one of my favorites from DC's sometimes spotty Direct-to-DVD releases (amazon link).