In the 1990s, the comic book industry was in a state of flux. Independent creators were making themselves known in a major way; our heroes were growing grittier and girthier by the frame; and DC created a major event that's memorable not only for executing Superman, but for giving him a mullet that's part Billy Ray Cyrus, part Dog the Bounty Hunter.
The Death of Superman and the storylines that followed in its wake raised eyebrows, and while some of the characters managed to embed themselves in the DC Universe, nothing has clung to the cultural conversation quite like Superman's Kryptonian waterfall.
Rather than be a tossed-off byproduct of the era, Superman's flowing mane was the product of constant conversation among the creators at DC at the time. Hours were spent deciding on what Supes's post-demise hairstyle should be, and artists spent years perfecting the hairstyle; today, no one wants to take credit for this glorious mullet that proves Superman is business in the front and party in the back.
- Photo: The Death of Superman / DC Comics
Superman Grew The Mullet After Doomsday Put Him Out Of Commission
Before the mullet came The Death of Superman, a storyline that was never meant to keep Supes in the ground but rather tell a story that encompassed the entire DC Universe. The creatives at DC were initially going to write a big lead-up to Superman's wedding to Lois Lane, but they had to hold off on that and wait until they could tie it in with the Lois & Clark TV show.
With a multiyear story gap to fill, they decided to off Superman and explore how the universe would cope without its strongest defender. It was always assumed Superman would return from the beyond and that when he came back, he'd be different in myriad ways - but specifically his hair.
- Photo: Superman: Funeral For A Friend / DC Comics
'The Death of Superman' Was The Last Big Comic Event Before The Market Tanked
The Death of Superman wasn't the reason the comic book industry took a swan dive into an empty pool in the '90s, but it did play a major part. As important comic books drew big bucks from collectors, speculators swarmed the industry to pick up whatever they thought the next Action Comics #1 would be.
On the surface, it makes sense that a comic book in which Superman definitively perishes would be a collector's issue, but so many people bought it that there was no secondary market. People purchased multiple copies so they could keep one in its black vacuum seal until the price was at its peak. Parents thought this one comic would pay for an entire college tuition.
That kind of speculation, along with a glut of special events and multi-covers, led to a low point in the comic book industry from which it never fully recovered.
- Photo: Superman: The Return of Superman / DC Comics
Superman Had A Mullet When He Returned - But No Powers
When Superman finally returned to the land of the living, no one was concerned about his Canadian passport - it was his lack of powers that threw everyone for a loop. He introduced himself to Steel and Superboy (technically his clone), as well as Lois, Supergirl, and Lex Luthor. However, no one believed it was him because he seemed like a puny weakling like the rest of humanity.
Gone was his red and blue suit; in its place was a solid black unitard with a white S in place of the red and yellow design. In order to help stop Cyborg from wiping out Metropolis to create Engine City II, Superman had to strap on a pair of flight boots and pick up some heavy artillery.
His powers finally returned after his cells took in enough solar power following the demise of Eradicator, who basically gave Superman powers via osmosis. Supes ditched the weapons and the suit... but he kept the mullet.
- Photo: Superman: The Return Of Superman / DC Comics
A Rare Technology Saved Superman - And Presumably Gave Life To His Mullet
After Superman and Doomsday punched each other to death, it was presumably curtains for our favorite son of Krypton. But thanks to a handy piece of tech, he and his hair survived. After Superman's passing, four new Supermen appeared: Eradicator, Steel, Superboy, and Cyborg Superman.
Eradicator is an alien life-force with many of the powers of Superman; it's revealed that he swiped Superman's body and placed it in a Kryptonian regeneration matrix inside the Fortress of Solitude. This handy piece of tech rebuilt Superman... and presumably grew out his hair. Regrettably, he didn't escape the chamber with incredibly long fingernails.