The Trial of Superman

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"The Trial of Superman!"
Superman Man of Steel 50.jpg
Cover of Superman: The Man of Steel #50 (Nov. 1995),
art by Jon Bogdanove
Publisher DC Comics
Publication date November 1995 – January 1996
Main character(s) Superman
the Tribunal
the Cyborg Superman I

"The Trial of Superman!" was a multi-title comic book crossover storyline released by DC Comics in the various Superman comics from between November 1995 and January 1996.


Weakened after a titanic battle with the Parasite II (Rudolph "Rudy" Jones in a more monstrous form than before), Superman inexplicably finds himself shackled in chains and under arrest by a group of intergalactic law enforcement officers under the command of the Tribunal, an intergalactic court dedicated to justice in all of its many forms. Taken to another galaxy, Superman briefly escapes and regains the energy and his superpowers that were stolen from him by the Parasite II; however, he is recaptured and has his superpowers negated by a device called a Geneti-Lock. He is then put on trial by the Tribunal, personified by three large, blue-skinned aliens, with their leader named the Tribunal Prime and the other two named Pollux and Ternion. Having already discovered that one of his relatives contributed to the destruction of the planet Krypton and the annihilation of the Kryptonian race, Superman is found guilty of the crime by reason of ancestry and sentenced to death.

With his superpowers suppressed, Superman finds himself incarcerated with criminals from all over the universe. However, he allies with a few of them to escape; one of which is named Mope-Stattor Neer, a frail humanoid from the planet Thwire with the ability to adopt a faux-muscular appearance by inflating his muscles. Superman and his cohorts are hunted across the galaxy; and in the meantime, Superboy (Kon-El a.k.a. Conner Kent), Supergirl (the Matrix), Steel III (John Henry Irons), the Eradicator III (David Connor) and the Alpha Centurion B (Marcus Aelius) team up as the "Superman Rescue Squad" to search for Superman after his disappearance. They are captured by the Tribunal, however, after discovering that the Cyborg Superman I (Henry "Hank" Henshaw) is now in the employ of the Tribunal Prime.

After encountering and fighting the Cyborg himself, Superman is recaptured again and brought back to the Tribunal; his execution is then brought forward. The Tribunal Prime (who is, by now, insane with power) plans to enact a fitting punishment for Superman; strapping him to a rocket and firing him into the green kryptonite cloud where Krypton used to be. The Cyborg, however, has plans of his own; while Superman's sentencing is taking place, he starts to assimilate the technology of the Tribunal's planet in an attempt to create a new Warworld. Superman's friends attempt to stop the Cyborg, but are distractions at best and ineffective at worst; Superman frees himself from the rocket, however, and returns to defeat the Cyborg by forcibly disconnecting his main body from the planet.

Despite saving the Tribunal's planet from the Cyborg, the Tribunal Prime still stands by Superman's execution order. Superman refutes them in a speech that, while not convincing the Tribunal Prime, shakes Pollux and Ternion's resolve to the core. He and the Superman Rescue Squad turn to depart, but Superman then realizes that he has left Mope behind; who would be executed anyway, despite his pleas of innocence. Superman returns for Mope alone, but he is confronted once again by the Cyborg; now possessed by the Tribunal Prime using a jewel with mind control powers. Superman is defeated again and is strapped to a backup rocket for his execution.

Despite the best efforts of Superman's friends, the rocket is launched; however, Superman's actions throughout the whole incident have inspired Mope to sacrifice his life in order to save Superman's life by taking Superman's place on the rocket (he does this by using his inflatable muscles in order to appear similar in appearance to Superman) before anyone even notices what is going on. Mope, who reveals that he actually was guilty of the crimes that he was charged with, is launched into the green kryptonite cloud instead and dies, despite Superman's attempts to rescue him.

After this, believing Superman to be dead, the Tribunal then turn to the Cyborg, whom they are interrogating and torturing in order to get a confession out of him; admission of his guilt for the destruction of Coast City and its inhabitants. The Tribunal Prime orders that he be tortured even more upon hearing this confession; Pollux, however, is struck by the Tribunal Prime when he disagrees with him. Right after this, Superman and the Superman Rescue Squad confront the Tribunal Prime, after which Pollux and Ternion-who, by now, have had enough of the Tribunal Prime's abuse of his power-declare the Tribunal Prime to be guilty of multiple crimes, including corruption. After a brief scuffle with Superman and his friends, the Tribunal Prime goes to leave the planet, but as he is now technically a convict, this is construed as escape, so Pollux and Ternion order him to be shot and killed.

Pollux and Ternion still consider Superman guilty; however, now free of the Tribunal Prime's bias, they revoke Superman's death sentence; instead, they sentence him to a life of atonement for his "crime" , noting that since he has engaged himself in a never-ending battle for truth and justice, they order him to continue that battle. They are not so lenient on the Cyborg, however; his death sentence still stands, but as he is mostly indestructible, Pollux and Ternion carry out that sentence by teleporting him both into, and then beyond, the event horizon of a black hole, intending to imprison him within it forever.[1] Superman and his friends then return home to a welcoming Earth.

List of "The Trial of Superman!" titles in chronological order


  • Superman: The Man of Tomorrow #2 (fall 1995): "Pawns" ;[2]
  • Action Comics #715 (November 1995): "Doc Parasite!" .

Main story

  • Superman: The Man of Steel #50 (November 1995): "Split Personality" ;
  • Superman (vol. 2) #106 (November 1995) (no title);
  • The Adventures of Superman #529 (November 1995): "Jail Break!" ;
  • Action Comics #716 (December 1995): "Fugitive Justice!" ;
  • Superman: The Man of Steel #51 (December 1995): "Wanted" ;
  • Superman (vol. 2) #107 (December 1995): "Bottled Up!" ; *
  • Steel (vol. 2) #22 (December 1995): "Deliverance!" ;[3]
  • The Adventures of Superman #530 (December 1995): "Different Demons" ; *
  • Superman: The Man of Tomorrow #3 (winter 1995): "Fighting Back" ; *
  • Action Comics #717 (January 1996): "H'Tros City!" ;
  • Superman: The Man of Steel #52 (January 1996): "Crime and Punishment" ;
  • Superman (vol. 2) #108 (January 1996): "No Escape!" ;
  • The Adventures of Superman #531 (January 1996): "Justice!" .

*also a tie-in with Underworld Unleashed

Other information

  • "The Trial of Superman!" took place at the same time as the DC Comics crossover event Underworld Unleashed, thus explaining Superman's absence from that event.
  • Lex Luthor is revealed to be the one behind the Parasite II's rampage in the beginning of the storyline and he also reveals that he has made a deal with someone in order to be restored to full health and vitality, thus indirectly referring to the crossover event mentioned above.[4]


This storyline was later collected as a trade paperback (DC Comics, November 1997, 257 pages, ISBN 1-56389-331-2).


  1. ^ The Cyborg would, however, later escape from the black hole and return briefly in the beginning of the DC Comics/Marvel Comics one-shot issue Green Lantern/Silver Silver: Unholy Alliances (February 1996), which would be the third of three such stories that would be the beginning of the intercompany crossover event DC vs. Marvel (1996) (the other two that were released before it were Spider-Man and Batman: Disordered Minds (September 1995) and Darkseid vs. Galactus: The Hunger (October 1995)).
  2. ^ Note: although not identified as tie-ins on the covers, this issue-and the one following it-contain events that lead into the storyline.
  3. ^ Note: although not identified as a tie-in on the cover, several characters from the storyline appear in this issue and it ultimately leads into the next part of it.
  4. ^ For the details of Luthor's involvement in the Underworld Unleashed crossover event, see Underworld Unleashed #1-2 (November 1995-early December 1995), Superman (vol. 2) #107 (December 1995) and Superman: The Man of Tomorrow #3 (winter 1995).

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