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Post-Crisis Superman:

Revised Origins (1995, 1997-1998)

After John Byrne’s 1986 Man of Steel mini-series (augmented by his three “World of” mini-series in 1987-1988), DC had been reluctant to revisit Superman’s early years, wanting instead to concentrate on its new continuity.

In 1995, however, DC’s annuals adopted the “Year One” theme. Superman’s four annuals either expanded (and altered) issues of Byrne’s Man of Steel mini-series or took place between those issues. Despite these modifications and the annuals’ different tone (owing to changes in super-hero comics overall), this honored Man of Steel‘s continued place in Superman’s story.

In 1997, DC began The Kents, a 12-issue series, broken into three four-issue arcs, that depicted Ma and Pa Kents’ ancestors in the Old West. Written by John Ostrander, with Timothy Truman and Michael Bair illustrating the first two arcs, while Tom Mandrake illustrated the third and final arc. The series, which occurred before the events of Byrne’s Man of Steel, didn’t contradict that story, and it was more of a Western tale than a Superman-related story. It may, however, be seen as a counter to Byrne’s World of Krypton, focusing on Superman’s human parents (rather than his Kryptonian ones).

This era contains a total of 16 issues of various lengths: the four 1995 Superman annuals, The Kents #1-12.

The Kents

The Kents #1

“Bleeding Kansas, Part 1 of 4″ -- 22 pages

  • written by John Ostrander; pencils by Timothy Truman; inks by Michael Bair

first issue; Silas Kent and his sons, Nathaniel and Jebediah, move to Kansas in 1853 to fight for human rights; Silas is killed; cover by Timothy Truman; $2.50; cover-dated Aug 1997

The Kents #2

“Bleeding Kansas, Part 2 of 4″ -- 22 pages

  • written by John Ostrander; pencils by Timothy Truman; inks by Michael Bair

the Kents become further entangled with Luther Reid and his mob; the Kents’ mother dies; cover by Timothy Truman; $2.50; cover-dated Sept 1997
The Kents #3

“Bleeding Kansas, Part 3 of 4″ -- 22 pages

  • written by John Ostrander; pencils by Timothy Truman; inks by Michael Bair

Jeb takes a turn for the worst, getting caught up with the pro-slavery gang; Nate falls in love with his best friend’s girl; cover by Timothy Truman; $2.50; cover-dated Oct 1997
The Kents #4

“Bleeding Kansas, Part 4 of 4″ -- 22 pages

  • written by John Ostrander; pencils by Timothy Truman; inks by Michael Bair

Nate befriends his black neighbor; Nate’s brother Jeb shoots him, and Nate vows revenge; cover by Timothy Truman; $2.50; cover-dated Nov 1997
The Kents #5

“Brother Versus Brother, Part 1 of 4″ -- 22 pages

  • written by John Ostrander; pencils by Timothy Truman; inks by Michael Bair

as the Civil War starts, Nate and Jeb find themselves on opposite sides of the fight; cover by Timothy Truman; $2.50; cover-dated Dec 1997
The Kents #6

“Brother Versus Brother, Part 2 of 4″ -- 22 pages

  • written by John Ostrander; pencils by Timothy Truman; inks by Michael Bair

while spying on rebels, Nate helps some slaves escape; Jeb helps raid Lawrence, Kansas, killing many, including Luther Reid; cover by Timothy Truman; $2.50; cover-dated Jan 1998
The Kents #7

“Brother Versus Brother, Part 3″ -- 22 pages

  • pencils by Timothy Truman; inks by Michael Bair

as the Cival War rages, Jeb gets in deeper while Nate and Joshua do their best to make things safe for Mary Glenowen; cover by Timothy Truman; $2.50; cover-dated Feb 1998
The Kents #8

“Brother Versus Brother, Part 4 of 4″

  • pencils by Timothy Truman; inks by Michael Bair

as the Civil War ends, Joshua finds Nate, but upon returning to the Kent farm (with Wild Bill) they find Mary gone; Jeb’s men are killed, leaving him alone; Lincoln is assassinated; cover by Timothy Truman; 22 pages; $2.50; cover-dated Mar 1998
The Kents #9

“To The Stars By Hard Ways, Part 1 of 4″

  • art by Tom Mandrake

in 1866, with the Civil War ended, Jeb aimlessly rides with Jesse James and his brothers; Nate searches for Mary Glenowen; cover by Tom Mandrake; 22 pages; $2.50; cover-dated Apr 1998
The Kents #10

“To The Stars By Hard Ways, Part 2 of 4″

  • art by Tom Mandrake

Nate and Joshua meet Nate’s brother Joel and Joshua’s father; Jeb meets Taylor, his young son whom he doesn’t know; Mary is living with her Indian family; cover by Tom Mandrake; 22 pages; $2.50; cover-dated May 1998
The Kents #11

“To The Stars By Hard Ways, Part 3 of 4″ -- 22 pages

  • art by Tom Mandrake

Nate becomes Bill Hickok’s deputy sheriff and starts to regret where he is in life; Mary Glenowen gets work to Nate who goes to her, and they’re soon married; cover by Tom Mandrake; $2.50; cover-dated June 1998
The Kents #12

“To The Stars By Hard Ways, Part 4″

  • art by Tom Mandrake

final issue; Jeb and his son set up their own gang, but Jeb doesn’t like his son and is tired of all the wrong he’s done; in a bank robbery, Jeb saves Nate, and the two brothers forgive each other as Jeb dies; cover by Tom Mandrake; 22 pages; $2.50; cover-dated July 1998

The Kents

collects The Kents #1-12; cover taken from The Kents #1; 272 pages; published 1999

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“Year One” Annuals

Adventures of Superman Annual #7

“Truth and Justice” -- 46 pages

  • written by Karl Kesel; pencils by Ron Wagner; inks by Josef Rubinstein

expands and slightly modifies the story from Man of Steel #2; Maggie Sawyer becomes head of the special crimes division; Intergang is created; Dan Turpin defeats Kalibak; cover by Walt Simonson; $3.95; cover-dated Sept 1995
Superman: The Man of Steel Annual #4

“Hero” -- 46 pages

  • written by Louise Simonson; pencils by John Paul Leon; inks by Dennis Janke

expands and slightly modifies the story from Man of Steel #3, so that Superman also meets the Justice League (Flash, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, and Black Canary); Superman turns down Justice League membership; Superman sees holographic images of his Kryptonian parents for the first time (setting up Man of Steel #6); cover by Walt Simonson; $2.95; cover-dated May 1995
Superman Annual Vol. 2 #7

“Strange Visitor”

  • written by Roger Stern; pencils by Chris Gossett; inks by James Pascoe and Stan Woch

occurs 4 months, 1 week, and 3 days from Clark getting the job at the Daily Planet (at the end of Man of Steel #2 / Adventures of Superman Annual #7); Superman meets Dr. Occult and discovers his weakness for magic; cover by Walt Simonson; 48 pages; $3.95; cover-dated July 1995
Action Comics Annual #7

“Loss and Space!” -- 48 pages

  • written by David Michelinie; pencils by Darick Robertson; inks by Brad Vancata

takes place during the Man of Steel mini-series; Superman takes his first trip into outer space and to another planet, where he encounters features H’Tros, who attack organic life; cover by Walt Simonson; $3.95; cover-dated Nov 1995