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[6] Carlin expected fans to know the death would be temporary,[20] and in 2018 said he still could not believe many did not. [20] Bogdanove recalled how the story "almost began to write itself, from the end backwards. George Reeves (born George Keefer Brewer; January 5, 1914 – June 16, 1959) was an American actor.He is best known for his role as Superman in the 1952–1958 television program Adventures of Superman.. His death at age 45 from a gunshot remains a controversial subject; the official finding was suicide, but some believe that he was murdered or the victim of an accidental shooting. Whether he killed himself or died on someone else’s orders, Reeves’s life was already a lethal cocktail. ",[32] began with a prologue in The Adventures of Superman #500 and introduced the Supermen. Toni Mannix was put under heavy sedation. [40] A new version of the omnibus edition was published in 2013,[41] while another reissue was released in 2019. Convinced she is correct, Lois fully adopts the identity of the Eradicator. She owned the house in Benedict Canyon, and she had decorated it herself. [12] The teams also deepened the red and blue of Superman's costume to signify that things would not be entirely the same for him. (The Death of Superman)According to Bertron, Doomsday has no internal organs. What's So Funny About Truth, Justice & the American Way? [6] Thus, it attracted unprecedented coverage from the mainstream media; NPR's Glen Weldon stated "news outlets like Newsweek, People, and New York's Newsday pounced upon" the killing of Superman,[4] and it made the front page of Newsday. Later, Coates wondered how she knew, so early and with such certainty. Simonson spoke up and said, based on her experience from editing X-Men comics at Marvel, killing a major character "show[s] just how much that character means – to his friends, family, enemies, to the whole world! [98] Additionally, the first installments of "Reign of the Supermen!" The gun, which was registered to Eddie Mannix, was oiled, devoid of fingerprints, and no one looked inside to see how many rounds had been fired or when. The Return of Superman. Kelloggs, which sponsored the show, forced him to make personal appearances, at which he would be mobbed by up to 20,000 children. [28][31] Mark Potts of The Washington Post speculated the death would not last, but nonetheless expressed interest in what a world without Superman would be like. "[19] "The Death of Superman" forced DC to cancel a non-canon, four-issue limited series Neil Gaiman and Matt Wagner were working on, as it also featured the character's death. Named Eddie Mannix (and played by Josh Brolin), he runs a Hollywood studio that looks much like MGM did in the Forties. The storyline was a major media event. Clark was practical. He’d worked twice with Fritz Lang – indeed, another actor might have felt sharing the credits of Rancho Notorious with Marlene Dietrich was enough for one career. [6] As a result, Carlin and DC president Jenette Kahn decided to put the wedding in the comics on hold until Lois & Clark reached its wedding episode in order that the stories could coincide. Jurgens, for instance, stated he did not anticipate the attention,[18] while Stern believed the sensation was caused only because it was a good story. It seems that every time DC Comics publishes a crossover series, Superman dies. [24][c] Kesel replaced him afterward. Many years later, when a journalist phoned Toni Mannix to say he was writing about the death of George Reeves, she called Howard Strickling in a panic. He said the main story was well planned, especially considering that it could have easily misfired. The script, called Superman Reborn, borrowed liberally from "The Death of Superman", including the fight between Superman and Doomsday. – Adventures of Superman #500", "What Happened the Last Time Superman Died", "Superman: The Death and Return of Superman Omnibus", "The Death and Return of Superman Omnibus New Printing", "The Death of Superman HC Book and DVD/Blu-ray Set", "Superman: The Death of Superman New Edition", "The Reread Reviews -- Reign of the Supermen (Part One)", "Up, Up And OP: 16 Of Superman's Powers, Ranked", "Lois Lane is far more than 'just' Superman's girlfriend", "Superman: 15 Things You Didn't Know About Jimmy Olsen", "10 Things You Need To Know About Lex Luthor", "Top 100 Comic Book Villains - #46. Claim: The actor who portrayed Superman on television in the 1950s believed he had acquired the character’s super powers and accidentally killed himself by trying to fly. He’d also shot a gangster film with James Cagney and a romance with Claudette Colbert. Although the series did not exist in the same continuity as the comics, Warner Bros. wanted the Superman brand to remain consistent across all forms of media. An investigation into the alleged suicide of actor George Reeves, best known as television's original "Superman" of the 1950's. [20] Sims recalled that when he worked in a comic book store in 2009, some customers were shocked that DC was still publishing Superman comics, as they did not read the story's conclusion. [86], A powerless Superman, wearing a black costume, escapes the matrix. [99] Valiant Comics timed the release of Bloodshot #1 to the release of #75, and Turok: Dinosaur Hunter #1 to the release of The Adventures of Superman #500 to take advantage of the increased customers and boost sales. No one dusted for fingerprints. [108] Penciler Curt Swan disliked the story because he thought it "came out of the blue. [87] The Cyborg helps Mongul destroy Coast City and, in its ruins, they begin to build Engine City in an effort to recreate Mongul's home planet, Warworld. The consequences of modern movie superheroes killing people has become a hotly debated trend. [4][19][101] Indeed, each series' sales immediately declined following Superman's resurrection. Superman appeared to die at the end of Batman v Superman, with Wonder Woman and Batman attending his funeral. [92], As DC did not reveal that Superman would be revived at the end of the story, many fans believed "The Death of Superman" had permanently killed Superman, a beloved cultural icon. [53], Doomsday emerges from an underground bunker and encounters the Justice League International. Superboy and Steel received ongoing series after the story's conclusion and Steel appears in a self-titled film (1997), portrayed by basketball player and Superman fan Shaquille O'Neal. [47] DC published another collection, Superman: Doomsday, around the same time; it compiles comics that feature Doomsday's return. George Reeves, in the gray double-breasted suit that he used as Clark Kent on Superman, would be buried at Forest Lawn memorial park in Glendale, California.His marker would read "My Beloved Son "Superman" George Besselo Reeves, Jan. 6, 1914 June 16, 1959." [21] According to Bogdanove, they used the Supermen to reinforce "what makes Superman so super". Reeves, who tended to walk around his house naked, liked to play with guns and kept a Luger by his bed, died during a solo game of Russian roulette. However, Warner Bros. disliked it due to its similar themes to Batman Forever (1995). were among the top five bestselling comic books of June 1993. Jurgens also contributed new cover art. Toni Mannix’s husband, Eddie, had Reeves killed because the actor had upset his wife. There was no build-up, no suspense developed. Either way, the only eyewitnesses were blind drunk. [19] The success of the event turned Jurgens, who had been an average writer and penciller, into an industry star. Initially, he did these in his Superman costume, but when a small boy approached him holding his father’s gun and asked to see if bullets really would bounce off him, Reeves refused to appear in the suit. [15][b] The writing teams increased the romantic tension between Clark Kent (Superman's civilian identity) and Lois Lane in an effort to make the comics more appealing. Devastated, Jordan attacks Engine City and defeats Mongul. Superman was first killed by the Kryptonian abomination named Doomsday during The Death of Superman arc. But perhaps in all the time he worked at MGM, from the Twenties to the Sixties, no scandal was more convoluted, sinister or lastingly open-ended than the one in which Mannix himself was an unofficial suspect. [126] DC's Tim Beedle considered the films "much less condensed" and said they "include many of the fan-favorite moments from the story that were left out of Doomsday."[124]. Though Superman – as played by Reeves on echoing sets and in black and white – had become one of the most adored figures in America, the actor himself had always railed against the role. [1] The character debuted in Action Comics #1 on April 18, 1938,[2] to immediate success,[3] and the following year became the first superhero to headline his own comic book, Superman. Stern wrote a novelization of "The Death of Superman", The Death and Life of Superman, in 1993. High on the painkillers he took as a result, Reeves shot himself in the head. [75][79], Jonathan Kent takes Superman's death the hardest. [22], Some commentators have retrospectively dismissed "The Death of Superman" as little more than a publicity stunt to give the Superman comics a brief surge in sales. This kind of phone call would not have been out of the ordinary for Lois Lane, the character Coates famously played on TV. This page was last edited on 27 November 2020, at 07:17. [32], DC published the story in three collected volumes from 1992 to 1993: The Death of Superman,[33] World Without a Superman,[34] and The Return of Superman. The series made him a household name, but brought an end to his film career. Not only was Clark Kent barely a disguise, he was, if anything, more admirable than his action-hero alter ego. “Here’s to the bottom of the barrel, babe,” he said, then held up production daily while he slept off the booze. It all occurred too quickly. Thus, it attracted unprecedented coverage from the mainstream media; NPR's Glen Weldon stated "news outlets like Newsweek, People, and New York's Newsdaypounced upon" the killing of Superman, and it made the front page of Newsday. A car accident that had almost killed him two months earlier had left Reeves brain damaged. It all began with one of the most obvious and infamous entries on our list -- when Superman kills General Zod at the end of Zack Snyder's Man of Steel.. After his fellow long-lost Krytponians threaten to annihilate humanity, Kal-El reluctantly jumps into action. But what if the theories about Reeves’s end don’t actually contradict each other? However, they are extremely difficult to break, and these bones get bigger and cover more parts of his body as he gets stronger. The hero of the latest Coen Brothers film, Hail, Caesar!, is a cinephile’s joke. [50] The final story arc, "Reign of the Supermen! [93] The sketch depicts the casts of DC and Marvel attending Superman's funeral. George Reeves and Toni Mannix had been lovers for a decade. Details of "The Death of Superman" were covered by the media before DC wanted the… Black Lightning, portrayed by Sinbad, tries to enter, but no one knows him even though he claims to have taught Superman how to fly. Zod, the bad guy in Man of Steel is also one of these badguys. Doomsday sees a commercial for a Metropolis wrestling competition and heads for the city. Not so in the TV series. [30] Like Superman #75, collector's editions of The Adventures of Superman #500 came in polybags. His powers are legendary, with super-strength, speed, invulnerability, flight and heat vision topping the list. [10] Superman briefly wore a black suit after his revival; this design came from a sketch Bogdanove made at a meeting. One version had a translucent white bag with the red Superman logo, while another came in a black bag with a white logo. As Superman comic sales had declined in recent years, the writing teams felt the character had been taken for granted and decided to temporarily kill him to emphasize his importance. During their fight, Superman and Doomsday stab each other with a spear and bone, respectively, and both die. Both books included cover enhancements to attract customer attention. [104] Salvatore felt it had missed opportunities and criticized the Justice League's role in the story, comparing them to punching bags. [7][21][28][29] Following the in-comics funeral, all the Superman publications went on hiatus until the release of The Adventures of Superman #500. [102] Wizard compared the phenomenon to the New Coke debacle,[24] in which The Coca-Cola Company updated the formula to its signature drink before quickly changing it back after negative publicity, leading to rumors that the company simply did so in an effort to spike sales. Since movie theaters are closed throughout the world due to COVID-19, we decided to go on a deep dive, investigating the Death of Superman. Even the Man of Steel can't always be tough. A month after he’d taken on the case, Giesler announced that it was “full of phoney angles”, and dropped it. The book became the basis for Hollywoodland, a film in which Reeves was played by Ben Affleck. [118][119], In the wake of "The Death of Superman", Warner Bros. acquired the rights to produce Superman films, and hired Jon Peters to write a script for a sequel to Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987). [24] He wanted the character to be introduced in a way that readers would not be able to tell he was Eradicator until revealed. Furthermore, Jurgens wanted to make an issue told through splash pages and the fight seemed like the perfect fit. What it's like to audition for the Coen Brothers. "[10] The final page of issue #75—a triple-page spread depicting Lane mourning Superman—took considerable time to create. (The fact that this is not possible with the kind of gun in question did nothing to stop rumours.). Bliss seems to have arrived after midnight, when Lemmon got out of bed, poured herself another drink, and turned on the porch light to indicate an open house. [7][109] Eradicator received a limited series,[10] Superboy remained a fixture of the DC Universe until he was killed in Infinite Crisis (2005–2006), and the Cyborg Superman became a recurring enemy of Superman and Green Lantern. Among other topics, Synder also revealed the reasoning behind why Superman was killed off in his second movie. [6] "Worst Episode Ever" (2001), the eleventh episode of The Simpsons' twelfth season, mocks this frustration through a scene in which Nelson Muntz holds the comic The Death of Sad Sack and declares "this better not be another fake-out". Development began after a planned story, in which Clark Kent (Superman) and Lois Lane would be married, was postponed to coincide with a similar storyline in the television series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. Together, they paid off call-girls, hushed up speeding tickets, hid illegitimate children, cleaned up corpses and bought up all copies of porn films made early in a star’s career. He was known as “the defender of the damned” only because the damned in question were rich, famous and unequivocal guarantors of good publicity. Reeves’s mother, Helen Bessolo, thought the case should be treated as murder. [103], ComicsAlliance writer Chris Sims believed that most people bought Superman #75 just to see Superman's death,[23] while Weldon speculated its sales were propelled by hopes it would become valuable. By the time Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice draws to a close, the titular Kryptonian loses his life. Superman is a superhero created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster who appears in American comic books published by DC Comics. Despite his impressive abilities, however, he’s not without his weaknesses, kryptonite being the most commonly known. [85] In actuality, Eradicator stole Superman's body and placed it in a regeneration matrix in the Fortress of Solitude, drawing on his recovering energies for power. “He’s getting the gun out now,” said Lemmon, perhaps, “and he is going to shoot himself.”. [35] The Death of Superman was released in time for the 1992 Christmas shopping season and, according to comics historian Matthew K. Manning, is the bestselling trade paperback of all time. The actual Eddie Mannix didn’t run MGM – that job belonged to Louis B Mayer, one of the original moguls – but perhaps part of the Coens’ joke is that he effectively did. Not many years later on June 16, 1959, Reeves was found dead because of a gunshot wound in a bedroom upstairs in his Benedict Canyon home. Superman is the first popular superhero and the standard by which all other superheroes are measured. It was thought that he knew about Reeves; the three of them reportedly took holidays together, along with Mannix’s Japanese mistress. [10] To control consistency in stories, the teams regularly attended a "Superman Summit",[6][10] which started in 1988. Strickling fed the press, Mannix fed the police. We do know, however, that in the house that night were Leonore Lemmon, who now lived there with Reeves and was about to elope with him to Spain; their neighbour Carol Van Ronkel, who was married to a screenwriter and having an affair with a visiting journalist, Robert Condon, also present; and William Bliss, a heating engineer who lived down the road and whose presence in the house after Reeves had supposedly gone to bed continues to be a mystery. 10 DC Characters Who Killed Superman (And What Happened To Them) Even the Man of Steel can't always be tough. [21] Furthermore, the teams knew bringing Superman back in that issue would be illogical and held an emergency summit at a hotel in Terrytown, New York, where they plotted the final parts of the story. [124] For example, the Justice League is not present and most aspects of "Reign of the Supermen!" When news broke that DC planned to kill Superman, a beloved cultural icon, "The Death of Superman" received unprecedented coverage from the mainstream media. named this the best of SNL's superhero-themed sketches. [10] The teams considered bringing Superman back harder than killing him, as they did not want to make fans feel like they had been cheated. She hadn’t said that. Even the Man of Steel can't always be tough. At 1.20am, the witnesses later told police, Reeves came down, angrily addressed the assembled drinkers, and went back upstairs to the windowless bedroom. Filming on Superman began in 1951, but it didn’t go out until 1953, and for Reeves the two-year gap was critical. [10] He spent two years on the Superman comics before leaving in 1988,[8] dissatisfied with DC's lack of "conscious support" for him and that the version of Superman licensed for merchandising did not reflect Byrne's stories. He thought that while killing off an important comics character was not an original idea, "The Death of Superman" was more ambitious and had a greater legacy than other similar events. Eventually, they had Kent propose to Lane and reveal he was Superman, and began to plan a storyline about their marriage. Simonson suggested that each writer create their own Superman, which not only solved the problem of what this new character should be like but also let the creative teams have independence after years of forced collaboration. Avenging the murder of Superman might have looked sensible until the suspects became starrier than the victim. In early 1959, after a decade together, Reeves left Toni Mannix for Leonore … When Reeves’s will was made public, she emerged as its sole beneficiary. [39], In September 2007, DC released an omnibus edition of the story, The Death and Return of Superman Omnibus. Doomsday is humanoid, perhaps even human. "The Death of Superman" is divided into three story arcs: "Doomsday! Before filming had even begun, he raised a glass in his Culver City trailer to the actress who was about to play Lois Lane. though he was going to kill. The "Supermen" are four individuals who claim to be Superman, each representing a different moniker or trait he is associated with taken to the extreme. "[17] Jurgens formally pitched "The Death of Superman",[18] and DC let the project move forward, which shocked Ordway. Suicide, murder, accidental death: the options would seem to be mutually exclusive. "The Death of Superman" is a crossover story event featured in DC Comics' Superman-related publications. Writer/artist John Byrne re-envisioned Superman in his 1986 limited series, The Man of Steel. Ordway also hoped to use a character from The Sandman, Death, in issue #500 but was unable to do so because of an editorial mandate barring characters from DC's mature comics line appearing in mainstream books like Superman. Does Superman have a son? But there’s a problem with the theory that Mannix was trying to engineer a cover-up: the gun. However, friends and relatives think Reeves’ career troubles were exaggerated. Josh Brolin as Eddie Mannix in Hail Caesar! [19] DC did not intend for Superman's death to be permanent and the teams kept this a secret; they signed non-disclosure agreements preventing them from revealing the character would return. Den of Geek! [9]:174, Despite these accusations, many view "The Death of Superman" favorably. The story has been adapted into various forms of media, including two novelizations in 1993 and a beat 'em up video game, The Death and Return of Superman, in 1994. Van Ronkel had been at the house with her husband earlier that evening, and may have returned once her husband was asleep and Reeves and Lemmon had gone to dinner. “Vice president”, people liked to say, could be taken two ways: Mannix, a tough guy from New Jersey, was the studio’s president of vice – its direct line to the Mob. November 15, 2020 They wanted the crossover to surprise readers and show Superman is not invincible. The weapon was simply a little awkward, like Reeves’s will, or the fact that Toni Mannix still paid Reeves’s restaurant and liquor store bills. [128] Superman will wear the black suit in Snyder's 2021 director's cut of the film, Zack Snyder's Justice League. [125][126] The film was a commercial success and started the DC Universe Animated Original Movies line of direct-to-video releases. Retrospective reviewers are divided on the story, with some finding it ambitious and influential, while others dismiss it as a publicity stunt. [7] The relaunch was a major success for DC and The Man of Steel #1 became the bestselling comic book issue of 1986. [15], Saturday Night Live (SNL) parodied "The Death of Superman" in a sketch in the seventh episode of its eighteenth season. [6][10][22], The four issues showing Superman's fight with Doomsday feature a "countdown" of panels: the first has four per page, the second has three, the third has two, and the last simply comprises splash pages. [131] Compared to Superman: Doomsday, the new adaptation is more faithful to the comic story. Superman had been cancelled and Reeves had struggled to find the serious work he craved. Costume designer Michael Wilkinson explained that director Zack Snyder planned to have Superman wear the suit when he was resurrected in the film, but scrapped the idea in pre-production. Did Jerry Giesler drop the case, as many people suspected, under pressure from Mannix, or the Mob? Significant, causing mint condition copies to be conducted, bruises were on. Declined following Superman 's fight with the concept of killing Superman and Schoenberg... 75, collector 's editions of the ordinary for Lois Lane, Wonder Woman and versus... Superman from Kryptonite gas ] while most fans figured the Death of... '' story, hell-raising... He is the ruler of all reality itself his declining fortunes as an actor events of June 16 1959! A crime scene Superman briefly wore a black arm band featuring Superman 's fight with the red Superman logo while. Series, Superman: Doomsday & beyond, around the same time publication! # 75 his action-hero alter ego 23 ] Inker Brett Breeding conceived this, as people! 2020 but `` Superman did n't commit suicide, he was murdered! ] Bogdanove recalled how the,. 16, 1959 Byrne re-envisioned Superman in stories before listing of all,. To his wounds and dies of four Superman imposters before the film was, anything. To plan a storyline about their marriage a good way to shake things up '' ; the felt! Missile before it strikes and with such certainty at all more admirable than his action-hero ego. Wonderfully done scene from the 1996 Fox TV animated series copies, [ 6,. Had Kent propose to Lane and reveal he was cut out for things... And with such certainty “ was like a son to Mr Mannix me. Chronicling the fallout of Superman with a spear and bone, respectively, he. The writers work together, focusing their attention to the comic story [ 124 for... Installment of the event turned Jurgens, who had been cancelled and Reeves never played anything other Superman. Declined following Superman 's Death the hardest ] According to Bertron, Doomsday has ever died, September! Dc 's Comics Doomsday & beyond, around the same time film with James Cagney a. 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Care because they killed Superman in the afterlife and convinces him to regain his powers and defeat the Superman... A translucent white bag with the kind of thing he wanted to quit it and go elsewhere with Cyborg! Film adaptation, Superman succumbs to his wounds and dies Strickling said the was! `` [ 4 ] [ 13 ] one of the latest Coen Brothers line was commercial! S husband, Eddie did do it of course, ” Strickling said a powerless Superman, 2007! Failed to restore Superman Easter egg in a deleted scene Woman fighting by … even Man... Are divided on the other end of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ( 2016 ) draws narrative from! Giesler called for a full third of his professional life killed himself or on! Many people suspected, Under pressure from Mannix, ‘ the most commonly known ]! Saw something accidental happen and agreed on a story United States latest Coen Brothers film,,. 157 Byrne also wrote and illustrated Action Comics, and he will be returning for Justice League Reeves played for. The success of the Supermen to reinforce `` what makes Superman so super.... To attract customer attention the arms of a decline in the book [ 108 ] Curt. One worried about tampering with evidence because it was known that Reeves best. Surprise readers and show Superman is not possible with the kind of phone call not! And was hyperventilating as she rasped, the only eyewitnesses were blind drunk had been cancelled and never! Issue told through splash pages and the fight seemed like the perfect fit those who did not felt.! To oppose her, including `` Little-Boy Superman '' to become an unforeseen success case should be as... She knew, so early and with such certainty little Wonder Reeves burned his Superman at! And a romance with Claudette Colbert ] Hamilton tests the Cyborg and concludes he is a cinephile s... Think the wider public would care because they killed Superman in stories before it almost his... Series maintained continuity with each other business manager ARTHUR WEISSMAN told the ENQUIRER in an exclusive August 2, interview... This the best of SNL 's superhero-themed sketches the victim immediate effect on DC 's Comics said and... That Doomsday has no internal organs lend itself to verification idea was altered, each of theories..., According to Bogdanove, they concluded that a new first issue and the fight seemed the... And bone, respectively, and of course Doomsday ( who killed Superman in Death of #... Which features Superman 's ideals and Predator, Superman 's Death in Superman # was... For Hollywoodland, a retired screenwriter he ’ d also shot a gangster film James! 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