Say what you will about the Death of Superman storyline, but never say DC was afraid to take chances with it. For two straight months after the Man of Steel’s death, his titles continued with Superman as little more than a corpse. The trade calls this World Without Superman but I prefer the title on the black cover copy included with the issues: “Funeral For a Friend”.
While his actual death limited the number of other DC characters that came in to play, now we get to see the rest of the universe share their feelings about Superman. At the time, Superman was still a bit of a loner in the post-Crisis DC universe. It was only a little less than a year since he even joined the JLA. But “Funeral For a Friend” made it quite clear that Superman still held a vitally important place in the DCU.
At the same time, the book also covers how the normal people of Metropolis and beyond respond to Superman’s death. We have Cadmus and its battle to take Superman’s body. We have the beginnings of a strong relationship between Clark’s parents and his fiancee Lois Lane. Jimmy Olsen consoles a young boy named Rich who Superman saved from the rampaging monster. Lex Luthor (still under the disguise of the friendly, caring Lex Luthor II) grow in rage at his inability to kill Superman. We have the return of Jose Delgado to his costumed identity as Gangbuster.
Over nine issues, we cover every aspect of how Superman’s death would effect the world. While the saga does slow down in places, it does an excellent job of establishing how important Superman was and how dangerous the DCU could become without its greatest hero.
Of course, Superman would soon return. Four times over.