In 1986, Superman had seemingly unlimited power. He, on several occasions, had the strength and stamina to even move planets from their very orbit. He could survive in outer space for as long as he wanted to. He didn’t need to eat or sleep. He was feared to be, in a word, unrelatable. So, after the Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC reset Superman’s continuity. To do that, they brought in one of Marvel’s biggest stars: John Byrne.
Byrne was coming off two very successful runs at Marvel. His work on Uncanny X-Men and Fantastic Four were highly regarded and Byrne was a fan favorite. He was tasked with writing and penciling a new set of Superman adventures. Along with his inker Dick Giordano, Byrne launched his new Superman with a miniseries titled Man of Steel. In that series’ pages, Superman was represented as being Clark Kent first, Superman second, and Kal-El a distant third. He did this by grounding Clark Kent’s early days in Kansas, by giving Clark Kent the kind of parents who would raise a boy to have the ideals and moral fortitude needed to become Superman. It was in the bright and sunny Midwest that Clark could become the world’s greatest superhero. This page, with Clark rising into the air as Superman for the first time, is one example from this story, which would help inform every Superman tale in both comics and television for the next twenty years.