I’ve been using this bookmark for a few months, so I’m not entirely sure when it was thrown into my bag. Just recently, I actually took a good look at what DC considered “classic” superman stories that people should read to get ready for Man of Steel.
First, I find it surprising that they don’t mention Superman: Birthright, which I’ve been told that Man of Steel borrows from. Second, none of these are really what I would call “classic” Superman stories. I consider something to be a classic if many years after its released, it’s still considered a great story that a Superman reader would recommend to others. My back issue boxes are full of good comics, but I wouldn’t just toss all of them on someone and tell them to read everything. You pick out the great comics to get them hooked and wanting more.
I haven’t read the Earth One volumes, so I can’t comment on the quality of them. Although, I’ve never seen anyone call them must read stories. And out of the other 4 stories, All-Star Superman is the only that I consider a must-read Superman story. Don’t get me wrong, I like the other stories. It’s just they’re not what I’d tell others to read. For example, Last Son is a good story, but it’s not even the Geoff Johns’ Superman story I’d recommend. That would likely be either the Brainiac story, or Superman and the Legion story. Morrison’s Action Comics will forever be shadowed by All-Star.
But don’t think I don’t see why these stories were chosen, mostly. The Earth One and Action Comics are recent origin stories. Last Son is a General Zod centric story. So, I understand why DC is steering people to those stories. I just take issue with using the term “classic.” I think when you casually use a term for greatness to describe things that aren’t, you lessen the significance of that word. Kind of like when everything is special, then nothing is really special.