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.