Superman is the premiere hero of the DC Universe, with most of its other superheroes in awe of the Man of Steel and his actions. Thus, there are several examples of him fighting alongside his fellow heroes in pursuit of truth, justice and the American way. Surprisingly, some stories actually see him doing the same thing with villains.
Desperate times and drastic measures sometimes force Superman into teaming up with some of the worst villains he’s ever faced. This includes arch rivals such as Lex Luthor and even enemies of other heroes. These aren’t always examples of Superman turning evil, but simply cases of mutual enemies and a fight for the common good.
10 Superman: Panic in the Sky
“Panic in the Sky” was a 1990s crossover event between the different Superman titles, although it also involved various other DC heroes. The story centered around the villainous Brainiac, who threatened to wreak havoc upon the Earth. Superman knew that key tactics were needed to defeat his classic enemy, which resulted in his enlisting Slade Wilson, a.k.a. Deathstroke.
Deathstroke the Terminator began as an enemy of the Teen Titans who tried to kill them as part of a contract. By the ’90s, he had changed his ways somewhat, and was an ocassional ally of the team. Still, his violent ways were a stark contrast to Superman’s methods, making his place in the crossover rather jarring.
9 Crisis on Infinite Earths
Crisis on Infinite Earths sent the entire DC Universe reeling, with its conclusion effectively destroying the multiverse. Some of the villains tried taking advantage of this, but even they were forced to team up with the heroes to stop the Anti-Monitor. This included some of Superman’s greatest enemies.
Brainiac – once trying to conquer the dying worlds after killing the Lex Luthor from the Golden Age – instead agreed to help the heroes. Likewise, the final battle against the Anti-Monitor sees Superman and his multiversal counterparts receiving aid from Darkseid. This shows how, when the fate of all existence was threatened, these villains could temporarily become good.
8 Cosmic Odyssey
Cosmic Odyssey built upon ideas central to the Fourth World property, namely the Anti-Life Equation that Darkseid sought. The dark New God learns that this equation has become “alive,” and that it must be contained lest the Milky Way be destroyed. Needing help to stop this, he enlists several heroes.
Seeing Darkseid willingly team up with the heroes was a definite change of pace. His rivalry with Superman was well-known by this point, yet he chose to side with him to protect the galaxy. In the end, it may have been a reflection of how much Darkseid ultimately respects the Man of Steel and his heroics.
7 Emperor Joker
In the “Emperor Joker” story arc, the Joker gains the vast majority of Mr. Mxyzptlk’s cosmic powers. This allows him to recreate the DC Universe in his own image. With barely anyone else aware of what happened, Superman was forced to ally himself with the derelict Mxyzptlk.
Prior to this, Mr. Myxzptlk was one of Superman’s most troublesome foes due ton his impish powers and perverse sense of humor. Nevertheless, the Man of Steel was instrumental in him regaining his powers. Given the horrific ways Joker used these powers, it showed how petty and low-stakes Mxyzptlk was most of the time.
6 World of New Krypton
The “New Krypton” storyline in the Superman comics restored Kandor and its citizens to normal size. The nearly extinct Kryptonian species was saved, and General Zod, who was recently released from the Phantom Zone, served as their leader. Despite his reservations, Superman worked alongside Zod to maintain peace between humans and Kryptonians.
Although the two were frequently at odds, Superman and Zod display a growing respect in this storyline. Dru-Zod bends a bit to Superman’s morals, while the Man of Steel is surprised at how honorable the former criminal could be. Unfortunately, the destruction of New Krypton ended their temporary alliance.
5 Our Worlds at War
In the prelude to Our Worlds at War, Superman received a visit from an unlikely ally. Mongul, Jr., the son of Superman’s intergalactic foe, came to Earth with a message for the Man of Tomorrow. Warning of the mighty Imperiex, he offered to train Superman to better fight the impending threat.
Superman and his wife Lois were skeptical until the former realized the danger at hand. Mongul helped the Man of Steel test his limits and reach new levels of power. This anime-esque storytelling isn’t common in superhero comics, but it was perfect to hype up the presence of Imperiex and showed how even Superman’s greatest rivals were willing to humble themselves in the face of even greater power.
4 Superman: Last Son
In Superman: Last Son, General Zod and other Kryptonian criminals escape from the Phantom Zone. Running rampant on Earth, they briefly defeat Superman and subdue other heroes. To stop his people, Superman teams up with villains otherwise dedicated to killing him.
Lex Luthor leads the Superman Revenge Squad and takes the fight to the evil Kryptonians. Their ranks include Bizarro, Parasite and Metallo, the latter of whom uses his weaponized kryptonite heart to grisly effect. Even Luthor himself is finally able to kill a Kryptonian, and while Superman likely didn’t approve, this showed how desperate the matter had become.
3 Action Comics #825
Action Comics #825 was part of a story involving Gog and Magog, the latter of whom was a major villain in Kingdom Come. Gog overpowers Superman and nearly beats him to death. He’s stopped, however, by another foe who once succeeded at that task.
Doomsday appears and saves Superman’s life, all before willingly helping him fight off Gog. Smarter than usual, Doomsday wishes to do things differently than he had before. The result was that the monster who killed Superman now fought valiantly to save his life.
2 The Death of Superman
The Death of Superman killed off the Man of Steel in his first battle against Doomsday. Beforehand, however, he fought the monster alongside members of a lower-tier Justice League. One of these was even a former enemy of Superman who had tried to seduce him.
Maxima was the queen of Almerac who sought a worthy mate and thought Superman was the beau for her. She had little regard for others or innocent life and property, which is why her fight with the monster was so destructive. In fact, Kal-El had to fend off her reckless mayhem as much as he did Doomsday.
1 Superman (2023 Run)
The most recent run on Superman has a startling new status quo established. The imprisoned Lex Luthor begins to see the usefulness of his enemy, despite his misgivings. To this end, he gives Superman access to his company and resources.
Conversely, several other Superman villains are also fighting alongside him. The electrifying Livewire aided the Man of Steel and his family against Parasite, while Metallo seems to be turning over a new leaf as well. Even Silver Banshee is on the up and up, notably dating Jimmy Olsen. It’s a strange series of developments that’s now seeing Superman work with some of his oldest enemies.
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