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Comic Book / The Living Legends of Superman

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''So did the legend wax and wane and wax some more across the ages until, inevitably, the career of Kal-El, the waif from a lost world, passed from the realm of legend into myth...

The Living Legends of Superman is a Superman story published in Superman (1939) #400 (October, 1984). It was written by Elliot S! Maggin and illustrated by a variety of artists. Jim Steranko personally wrote, illustrated, inked, colored, lettered and edited the final story, The Exile at the Edge of Eternity.

Superman was hailed as the world's greatest hero, but he disappeared mysteriously at the start of the 21st century. Through the millennia his story and the lives of Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, Supergirl, Krypto, Lana Lang... fade into legend and eventually into myth until hardly anybody remembers the real facts, and most people thinks Superman was probably a fairy tale, propaganda, or even a video game's character.

Even so, his memory continues to inspire people in the distant future.


  • Adam and Eve Plot: In the far future, Superman's descendant, the last human being (possibly the last sentient being) in the whole universe find himself alone on a tropical planet after saving the universe. A female emerges from a beam of light, created from a device he used to restore the cosmos, in the middle of a valley, seemingly answering his lonely prayers.
    A'dam'mkent had found his Eve!
  • Alliterative Name: In one scene, a boy who is playing as Superman in a virtual game is called Aron Aeneas.
  • Anime Hair: In a scene set in a distant future, two kids called Aron and Josif sports two huge Astro Boy-like hair spikes -one of them located at the front right of their heads, and the second at the rear side- sticking out of their otherwise extremely short and shiny hair.
  • Apocalypse How: "The Exile on the Edge of Eternity" involves humanity in the far future accidentally causing a rift in the fabric of time and space, which is destroying the universe. The only way to stop it and reverse it is for Superman's distant descendant A'dam'mkent to absorb the remaining humans who converted into pure energy to give him the power to close the vortex. He succeeded at the cost of being the Last of His Kind, until he was given a female companion...
  • Artistic License – History: Woodrow Wilson is regarded in the future as the man who "made the world safe for democracy" in the aftermath of WWI, a claim contested by most historians.
  • The Cameo: The Walt Simonson's tribute features Supergirl, Batman, Perry White, Brainiac, Lois Lane, Mr. Mxyzptlk, Lex Luthor, Jimmy Olsen, Lana Lang, Toyman, Jor-El, Lara Lor-Van and Bizarro carrying a giant Superman statue. Neither of them except for Luthor makes an appearance in the proper story, and only Jimmy is mentioned by name.
  • Canon Discontinuity: The year 2,491 sequence, wherein humans have suffered under the yoke of a brutal dictatorship for such a long time that they have forgotten what freedom is, ignores the existence Klar Ken -alias Superman XIX- whose stories showed a completely different and more hopeful 25th century, since Superman's descendants would have never allowed such a thing.
  • Casual Time Travel: When Superman drops on the Bendix household's doorstep, Riley tells him what year is, just in case that he is a time-traveler. Riley's family agree that a time-traveler randomly knocking on their house is a very real possibility and take its presence in stride.
  • Clothes Make the Superman: In one distant future age, people believe Superman's powers were not natural but he got them from super-advanced devices of some forgotten ancient civilization.
  • Creator Provincialism: In the year 5,902, a man called Riley Benedix likes dressing as heroes of the past: Superman (the defender of Truth, Justice and the American Way of Life), Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Eisenhower (three USA presidents who not only have been not forgotten after forty centuries but they are seemingly widely known and appraised)...and a single non-American person who is not even a real historical character.
  • Crystal Spires and Togas: In "The Exile at the Edge of Eternity", the far future people wear gaudy, richly decorated clothes and builds tall buildings of polished metal.
  • Distant Finale: The stories are set several centuries, millennia or even eons after Superman's time, dealing with his legacy.
  • Eternal English: When Superman lands in the L Xth century, he finds out that English has not changed at all after four thousand years.
  • Expo Label: Riley Bendix's spacecraft has helpfully written on one side: "Riley's Chariot".
  • Historical Domain Character: Several historical figures are mentioned through the story: Martin Luther King, Albert Einstein, Moses, William Shakespeare, Jeanne d'Arc, Abraham Lincoln, Dwight Eisenhower and Woodrow Wilson.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: In the very distant future, President Woodrow Wilson is regarded by future generations as a renowned hero who made the world safer for democracy. As of the early 21st century, though, he is a pretty obscure President, being considered as a controversial figure with unsavory views at best, whose inability to ensure a fair peace treaty between the Allies and Germany created a breeding ground for the extremist movements which led to the WWII.
  • Last of His Kind: In the distant future, humanity makes a heroic sacrifice to save the universe from oblivion, and a Superman's descendant called A'dam'mkent becomes the last living human.
  • Legend Fades to Myth: Superman vanishes in the 21st century, and through the centuries his life's history gets changed, distorted or forgotten. By the year 5902, most of Superman's real story has been forgotten and he has become all but a myth, but his memory is still revered and keeps inspiring people.
  • The Münchausen: Homer, the old oil snake salesman loves telling outrageous stories about his astronaut days when he was stationed out in the asteroid belt...or on Alpha Centauri. He has told you about that time he saved Superman's life? Just don't ask how he could talk in space while helping Superman out...
  • Mythology Gag:
    • In one scene, a researcher finds tapes of The Adventures of Superman.
    • In the very distant future, people celebrate the Miracle Monday. Miracle Monday is a novel written by Maggin, who also penned this story.
  • New Eden: In the far future, the human race has commited a collective heroic sacrifice to save the cosmos, and the last two humans, A'dam'mkent and an unnamed woman, find themselves alone on a beautiful tropical planet.
  • Portal Network: In the sixtieth century, teleportation is the normal transportation and travel mode through the galaxy, which is because Riley's father complains about his son tinkering with dangerous fliers instead of using the teleporter.
  • Punctuation Shaker: A'dam'mkent+477SPMN, a blind poet who is implied to be Superman's descendant.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: Doble subversion. Superman abruptly stops appearing in the early 21st centuy. An old man called Homer claims he met Superman around the year 2,068, and upon stammering that Superman was presumed dead, the Man of Steel jokes he got better. However, it is soon revealed that Homer made up that story altogether. However, it is later revealed that Superman disappeared because he got entrapped by a cosmic anomaly and flung into the distant future.
  • Sacred Hospitality: When an oddly-dressed stranger who is probably out of his own time stumbles dazedly onto their doorstep, the Bendix family begs him to take a seat at the table, have dinner with them and stay until he is rested.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Snake Oil Salesman: In the year 2199, an old man named Homer is peddling "Superman nectar" in a Moon colony, claiming Superman gave him the secret of his own personal cure-all as a reward for saving his life. When a young kid skeptically points out that his story is full of holes, Homer asks him to take a swig and give his opinion. The boy takes a sip and declares it to be delicious, prompting the crowd of curious onlookers to buy more bottles, since they are more concerned with the juice tasting good than its alleged panacea properties. Shortly later, Homer is leaving the town together with the skeptical kid, who turns out to be his grandson. Needless to say, he never met Superman.
  • Space Is an Ocean: In the late 21st century, astronauts are naval pilots serving in the navy and are called sailors. And their ships are explictly compared with ships floating "on the oceans of Earth".
  • Tall Tale: The year 2199 sequence features an old snake oil salesman named Homer telling a blatantly false story wherein he saved Superman's life way back when he was an astronaut.
  • Time Capsule: Variant. Between the year 2,199 and the year 2,491, an asteroid-shaped time-capsule, launched by people from other universe, is discovered by the Earth people. Its contents help reveal Superman's secret identity, long after he is gone.
  • Time Travel: Superman travels to the late sixtieth century by accident and learns he has becomes a mythical figure of sorts in the far future.
  • To the Future, and Beyond: Superman finds a dangerous cosmic anomaly, and although he manages to dissipate it, he is hurtled far into the future, crashing in the year 5,902. The final story, "The Exile at the Edge of Eternity", is set at least seven million years after Superman's time.
  • Unfazed Everyman: When a stranger dressed as Superman appears and collapses on Benedix family's doorstep, and Riley suggests he might be a time-traveler, his family's collective reaction is: "Oh. Would you like to stay for dinner, sir?"
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: "The Exile on the Edge of Eternity", a defense robot watching over a mining outpost located at the rim of the universe mistakes a meteor shower for an enemy raid and shoots a barrage of atom particle destroyers. The APD missiles explode too near the edge of the universe, tearing a rift in the fabric of time and space which starts destroying the cosmos.
  • Verbal Tic: When Herzog Bendix feels frustrated or annoyed by something someone else said, he repeats the last word, adding "You say?". Thus: "Phase? Phase, you say?", "Odd? Odd, you say?"
  • We Will All Be History Buffs in the Future: Despite living in the early sixtieth century, Riley Bendix seems to be an expert in early American History, wearing clothes which pay tribute to different USA presidents like Lincoln or Eisenhower.