Kal-El Returns (2022-2023) Reading Order

Despite the injuries he suffered defending Earth from the Breach (during THE GOLDEN AGE), Clark Kent passed the mantle of Superman to his son, Jon Kent, and left Earth with the Authority to liberate Warworld from the tyrannical Mongul.  Meanwhile, the freshed-faced young Superman would free the island nation Gamorra from its own cruel master with help from his partner, Jay Nakamura, aka Gossamer. Now Clark returns to Earth to reunite with his family, with Warworld in tow. So who will be be Earth’s Superman from this point on?

Related Events: While the chapters for this event are numbered as if to suggest a standard crossover, the events taking place in this story don’t run in that order. Instead, KAL-EL RETURNS focuses on the fallout of THE WARWORLD SAGA in separate but related strands.

Must Reads: Story arcs marked with a ✔are must-read stories from this time period, along with any key related stories and often-forgotten tales that are worth a read.

Anthology Issues: When an issue contains multiple stories, the relevant story is denoted with square brackets. For example, [2/5] refers to the second story of the five stories in that issue, so you don’t need to read the other four. 

Previous events that directly impact this story:

THE TRUTH – Clark Kent tells the world he’s Superman
THE GOLDEN AGE – Superman injured containing the Breach
THE WARWORLD SAGA – Superman & the Authority vs Mongul

Want to keep it simple? Here’s the chronological reading order without story descriptions, or spoilers:

  • Action Comics #1047 [2/2]
  • Superman: Son of Kal-El #16
  •      Superman: Kal-El Returns Special #1 [3/4]
  • Superman: Son of Kal-El #17
  • Action Comics #1048 [2/2]
  • Action Comics #1049 [2/2]
  •      Superman: Kal-El Returns Special #1 [1/4]
  •      Superman: Kal-El Returns Special #1 [2/4]
  • Action Comics #1047 [1/2]
  • Action Comics #1048 [1/2]
  • Action Comics #1049 [1/2]
  • Superman: Son of Kal-El #18
  • Superman: Kal-El Returns Special #1 [4/4]
  • Action Comics #1050 (tie-in)

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Must ReadsTitle, Issue Number & Synopsis
Action Comics #1047 [2/2]
Thao-La finally wakes up just as Warworld appears in Earth’s orbit. Steel, Superboy (Conner Kent), Supergirl & Thao-La expect an attack, but are met by Superman and the Authority (including a revived OMAC). In Metropolis, Chaytil Ironbled teleports in with a band of Warzoons
Superman: Son of Kal-El #16
Jon Kent misses his father, but he’s been helping those on Earth who need him as Superman. He questions Lex Luthor about LexCorp tech that was recently stolen, then tries to stop the Ultra-Humanite from escaping Stryker’s Island prison when someone tries to break Metallo out. He then senses the return of his father to Earth and rushes to greet him! But Jon is observed by the LexCorp thief…
Superman: Kal-El Returns Special #1 [3/4]
Lois Lane & Clark Kent take a second honeymoon in Venice. Lex Luthor tricks Jon Kent into ‘busting’ his efforts to provide shelter for the homeless. Lex spins events so he looks like the victim of Jon’s harassment. Jon figures out part of Lex’s strategy, but makes him believe he knows his full plan.
Superman: Son of Kal-El #17
Jon is afraid to tell his father about his relationship with Jay Nakamura. The returned Clark Kent starts work rebuilding the house on the Kent Farm. Jon is defeated by Red Sin who blames him for the death of his parents and finds a way to block his powers. In hospital, Jon confirms his relationship with Jay to Superman. Beneath LexCorp, Lex Luthor prepares the next member of Project Blackout

Must ReadsTitle, Issue Number & Synopsis
Action Comics #1048 [2/2]
The various members of the House of El search for Chaytil. Supergirl and Thao-La find him below Metropolis, where he has created a creature from three Warzoons and an Orphan Box to assault the city…
Action Comics #1049 [2/2]
Supergirl concentrates on saving citizens of Metropolis affected by the creature’s rampage. Thao-La defeats Chaytil with her mastery over her new powers. Weeks after his defeat (following DARK CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS), Chaytil remains chained on Warworld. Kryl-Ux teleports in and rescues him…
Superman: Kal-El Returns Special #1 [1/4]
Superman reunites with Batman and they immediately team up against the surreal threat of Mister Nobody. Then, they catch up over breakfast.
Superman: Kal-El Returns Special #1 [2/4]
Superman reunites with Jimmy Olsen who’s preparing for a gallery showing of his photos.
Action Comics #1047 [1/2]
A week after Superman’s return to Earth, the United Nations ask if Superman’s liberation of Warworld and presence in Earth’s orbit might bring the Warzoons to Earth’s door. Superman explains that some of the tech found on Warworld could create a clean, renewable energy source on Earth. Lex Luther retrieves an Orphan Box from Warworld and gives it to Metallo…
Action Comics #1048 [1/2]
Lex Luthor builds Metallo a new body against his will. Lois Lane tries to acclimatise Osul-Ra & Otho-Ra to Earth. New Gods from both Apokalips and New Genesis confront Superman for awakening Olgrun and try to take Osul-Ra…

Must ReadsTitle, Issue Number & Synopsis
Action Comics #1049 [1/2]
Lex Luthor has framed Metallo’s sister for murder in order to coerce him. While Superman clashes with Orion, Desaad tries to take the Fire of Olgrun from Osul-Ra, only to be soundly defeated by him. The New Gods leave, but promise to take the Fire from him in the future. Two days later, Superman and the United Planets begin relocating the slaves of Warworld to their home planets. Warworld departs Earth’s atmosphere. Metallo escapes Stryker’s Island. Manchester Black reports in to Lex Luthor, but his attempt to end their partnership is fiercely rejected…
Superman: Son of Kal-El #18
The Justice League help finish the rebuilding on the Kent Farm. The two Supermen are lured into a trap set by Red Sin who turns off their powers and shoots Jon Kent. A device created for Jon by Brainiac 5 of the Legion of Super Heroes saves his life. Jon takes Red Sin down from a distance by freezing him. Luthor’s hologram visits Red Sin in prison and recruits him…
Superman: Kal-El Returns Special #1 [4/4]
Following the events of WALK AMONG US, Superman finally returns to the Hall of Justice, reuniting with the Flash and Martian Manhunter. After advising new Justice League member Powerhouse (Naomi McDuffie), Superman flies off and is teleported away against his will (and into the events of DARK CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS).
Action Comics #1050 (tie-in)
Following the ‘Dark Crisis’, Manchester Black taunts Lex Luthor before he dies as his powers charge up Luthor’s Project Blackout machine. Perry White attends dinner at the Kents’ in Smallville and has a heart attack when Superman shows up, saying he’s Clark Kent. Superman is summoned to LexCorp where Lex admits the world needs Superman. He dons a new Warsuit – upgraded with Warworld tech – and the two men fight it out. Lex reveals the deceased Manchester Black was working for him as a spy. When Luthor is defeated, Batman confirms that Black’s powers were used to make everyone forget Clark Kent is Superman. Jon Kent’s identity is also secret again. Elsewhere, Metallo finds himself suddenly looking more human and less robotic. And, somewhere in the Multiverse, Superman (Val-Zod of Earth 2) discovers Supermen in other realities are being murdered…

Must ReadsIssue & FalloutEvent / Crossover
Justice League #75 (2022)
Superman is transported to a conflict with the Dark Army that appears to result in the death of the Justice League.

Dark Crisis #1-3 (2022)
Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #4-7 (2022-2023)
The Justice Leage return, though they choose to disband.
Action Comics #1051-1053 (2013)
Osul-Ra & Otho-Ra join the House of El as the Super-Twins; Natasha Irons officially becomes a member of the House of El in her Steel identity; the House of El face the upgraded Metallo.

Superman #1 (2023)
Lex Luthor relinquishes control of LexCorp to Superman.        
Adventures of Superman: Jon Kent #1 (2023)
Despite Clark Kent’s return to Earth, Jon Kent continues to operate as Superman; Jon meets another Superman – Val-Zod of Earth 2 – who turns to him for help in locating Ultraman of Earth-3, the man who’s been killing the multiversal Supermen.


Notable collected editions the feature Kal-El Returns…

Collected Edition TitleIncludes…
Superman: Kal-El ReturnsAction Comics #1047-1049
Superman: Kal-El Returns Special #1
Superman: Son of Kal-El #16-18

Reading Order ©OmniverseComicsGuide 2023

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