Panelology is a weekly podcast about comics. We talk about current books, what we're looking forward to, and how to get into reading comics in the first place.

Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow (DC Comics, 1986; Superman #423, Action Comics #583)

We’ve already covered Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader. Now it’s time to complete the set by talking about Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow.

As with Gaiman’s Batman tale, Moore’s Superman story focuses on the Man of Steel’s death. Framed as an interview set in the distant future of 1997, Lois gives an interview to a Daily Planet reporter about Superman’s last days. They begin with a rash of violent, lethal attacks by enemies who had been mere nuisance to Clark before. These attacks lead to the deaths of friend, of foes, and even of the Clark Kent identity. And that’s just the beginning.

In 1986, Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow must have been shocking in its darkness. For Superman to suffer the losses he does here, and for the world to lose its champion would have been rare. But while I enjoyed this take on Supes’s last days, I could not help but feel like I couldn't begin to experience this book in the way I was meant to. Thirty years of escalating failures, deaths, betrayals, and increasing gloom make this particular story feel upbeat by comparison. In fact, it still maintains a certain optimism that is central to Superman—and in that way, it is more successful that any of the darker stories of the last three decades. In that optimism, it reminds me of All-Star Superman.

Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow is worth seeking out. I don’t think that it is easy to experience in the way that Moore intended. But it possesses a timelessness in Superman’s portrayal that I appreciate.

Collected in

  • Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow (Superman #423, Action Comics #583)
  • Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow Deluxe Edition (Superman #423, Action Comics #583, DC Comics Presents #85)
  • DC Universe: The Stories of Alan Moore (Various)


Writer: Alan Moore | Penciller: Curt Swan | Inkers: George Pérez & Kurt Schaffenberger | Colorists: Gene D’Angelo, Tom McCraw | Letterer: Todd Klein | Covers: Curt Swan, Murphy Anderson

Runaways: Escape to New York (Marvel Comics, 2005; #7-12)

Birthright: Allies and Enemies (Marvel Comics, 2014; #11-15)