Superman: At Earth's End is an Elseworlds one-shot from 1995, written by Tom Veitch and drawn by Frank Gomez.
It's the 22nd century. Earth has passed through two apocalypses (one occurring in the predecessor, Kamandi: At Earth's End note ). A group of emotionless, logical cyborgs named the Biomech Sevens are overseeing Earth's return to greatness. For the last year, Superman has been regaining his lost strength in a hovering city, where he is able to receive the benefits of the sun's rays. While recuperating, he learns that Gotham City is next in line to be "cleansed", via a nuclear bomb. It has been overrun with mutants and other such degenerates.
After battling the Biomech Sevens' leader Ben Boxer, Superman goes down to Gotham, where he is attacked by bat-like mutants that bear a striking resemblance to the Dark Knight and is saved by a mohawked youth biker gang, and finds that the underground of the city houses a fortress where the evil DNA Diktators, who kidnapped the gang's parents and took Bruce Wayne's body from his manor. There he meets the leaders of the Diktators: twin clones of Adolf Hitler!
If you frequented the internet during the late 2000s/early 2010s, you're likely aware of the comic from Linkara's Atop the Fourth Wall review of it, the story being one of his earliest video reviews; it can currently be watched here. The reviewer went on to take one of his catchphrases from the comic ("I AM A MAN!" *punch*) and make a Running Gag of the twin clones' declaration "Of course! Don't you know anything about science?"
- Adaptational Wimp: Superman here is depowered by the lack of sunlight, and despite the "I AM A MAN!" punch, mostly relies on firearms.
- After the End: By the time of this story, two apocalypses have occurred. The first one was caused by a nuclear war instigated by the computer known as Mother Machine (as shown in Kamandi: At Earth’s End) and the second one occurred due to the outbreak of a deadly virus.
- The Apunkalypse: Gotham's surface is overrun by biker gangs, which is why the Biomech Sevens want to destroy the place.
- Apocalypse Hitler: Superman blames the Hitlers for everything bad related to mankind. Though at a stretch, his wording seems to suggest he blames them for forcing the countries of the world to arm themselves to stop him, indirectly leading to the Cold War and eventually, the subsequent nuclear Holocaust.
- Artistic Licence – History: So there was no war before Adolf Hitler became chancellor? Guess we can write out the War of 1812, the Revolutionary War, the Hundred Years War, The Crusades, the Punic Wars, World War One (in which he himself fought in the trenches before becoming Fuhrer), and countless others waged before 1933. In all fairness, while there was war and bloodshed prior to WWII, each war since then ended up being bloodier and bloodier than the previous one. (Korea, Vietnam and Bosnia come to mind.)
- Ax-Crazy: The DNAnimals are this so much, they cannot even speak words that aren't synonyms of "kill".
- Batman Grabs a Gun: Superman kills the Hitler clones with a giant machine-gun.
- BFG: The Expunger, which is a bunch of gatling guns attached to each other. It's unclear how it's supposed to be aimed. And not just Gatling guns, sawed-off Gatling guns. Look at how short the barrels are compared to, say, a GAU-8 Avenger, which can slice tanks in half.
- Broken Aesop: Superman loses (most of) his powers and has to rely on a gigantic machine gun to solve his problems. After using his gun to kill two Hitlers and a Batman zombie (don't ask), he tells his allies (some little kids with guns) that he's dying. The little kids then bawl and say that guns killed Superman before throwing all of their guns into a bonfire. Of course, no one bothers to point out that guns also saved the kids from two Hitlers and a Batman zombie! Worse is the fact that Superman himself admitted that the only thing keeping all these kids alive in this After the End GOTHAM was those guns.
- Buffy Speak: For whatever reason, the Hitler clones don't seem to know what bullets are called, instead calling them "little bits of metal."
- Child Soldiers: The young bikers. Unlike most examples of this trope, they're not actually taking orders from anyone, but simply trying to survive after their parents were taken by the DNA Diktators.
- Crapsack World: The world has already gone through two apocalypses. If you're not being preyed upon by deranged mutants, chances are you'll get killed by emotionless cyborgs. Suffice to say that it's not a nice place to live.
- Cybernetics Eat Your Soul:
- The Biomech Sevens are completely devoid of emotion and devoted to imposing their totalitarian control on the remains of civilization.
- Superman chooses to kill himself to avoid this trope, knowing he can't live in the world anymore without getting modified to avoid succumbing to the fatal wounds he received.
- Gatling Good: Look at the trope image. It's less a gun and more a monster truck engine somebody attached four gatling guns to.
- Good Is Old-Fashioned: Ben Boxer disparages Superman's ideals and insists that extreme methods are needed to restore order to the ruined world.
- Gratuitous Latin: It finishes with "Finis" instead of "End".
- Half-Human Hybrids: The Batclones, human-bat hybrids created from Bruce Wayne's DNA, which are used as minions by the DNA Diktators.
- Horrible Judge of Character: In the scene where the twin Hitlers are revealed, we can see tubes bearing nameplates like "J. Kennedy", "E. Presley", and "A. Einstein"...and they passed all those guys over in favor of cloning Adolf Hitler... twice.
- In Medias Res: The very first panel shows an elderly Superman aboard an aircraft, being restrained by armed soldiers as he shouts, "You can't nuke Gotham City!". Well, you can't say they wasted time setting the tone.
- '90s Anti-Hero: Superman himself ticks all the boxes. Ridiculously muscled physique? Check. Face locked in a near-permanent scowl? Check. Willing to kill to stop an enemy? Check. Dispatches the villains with lots of firepower? Check.
- Old Superhero: Superman may be 150 years old, but he won't let a silly little thing like old age stop him from saving the day.
- Pietà Plagiarism: Superman is holding Batman's corpse just like Mary holds the body in ''La Pieta.
- Random Events Plot: This story makes no sense whatsoever.
- Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: The Batcave is 30 miles long?! note
- Self-Immolation: Superman prefers to die in a funeral pyre than become a cyborg.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: The famous line comes from a rebuttal to a Hannibal Lecture ("Reality is, you're an android... I AM A MAN!")... accompanied by Talk to the Fist.
- Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: Ben Boxer:"Foolish old man... your refusal to kill got you nowhere in 1999 — where do you think it will get you now, in a world ruled by death?!"
- Step Three: Profit: The Biomech's plan of "saving humanity" in both Kamandi and this book makes no sense. They constantly want to nuke perfectly healthy cities to help humanity. Why? Aside from the ridiculous idea that introducing more radioactive land will help anyone, Gotham seems pretty healthy for a post-apocalypse. Heck, the skies are blue.
- Stupid Jetpack Hitlers: The Diktator's SS consists of mutant clones of Nazi stormtroopers.
- Super Hero Packing Heat: Superman loses his powers, so he is forced to use The Expunger to fight the DNA Diktators' forces.
- Talk to the Fist: Instead of debating Ben Boxer about the ethics of creating a totalitarian state to rebuild civilization, Superman simply declares "I AM A MAN!" and punches Boxer in the gut.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Averted; this tougher and beardier version of Superman does not seem to have a no-killing policy. More exactly, he changed his mind and decided that his no-kill morality was no longer appropriate.
- Too Dumb to Live: Let's clone Hitler and give him a twin! Nothing can possibly go wrong!Linkara: Um, who the hell thought that was a good idea?
- Too Many Belts: Okay, it's just one belt, but an absurdly huge one with a huge buckle, and this being The '90s, more pouches than Batman's utility belt.
- Turned Against Their Masters: The Hitler clones say their creators wanted to destroy them, but the Hitlers killed them first.
- We Can Rule Together: The Hitlers predictably offer Superman to join them.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Ben Boxer wants to bring order to the post-apocalyptic wastelands. If that means creating a totalitarian police state, then so be it.
- Worf Had the Flu: An odd example. After having his powers drained and recovered in the opening narration, Superman's battle with Ben Boxer leaves him drained again for most of the story. Said "battle" consisted mostly of the page quote.
- You Cloned Hitler!: The Big Bad of the story is not one, but two clones of Hitler.