Darwyn Cooke is known for telling “Golden Age” stories—tales of heroism in the traditional sense, but with modern sensibility. Tim Sale is probably best known for his works with Jeph Loeb, including the much admired, much maligned “Batman: Hush” storyline, and the “color” books for Marvel (Hulk: Gray, Daredevil: Yellow, etc.). The two teamed up in 2006 for a most unusual Superman story, told in Superman Confidential #1-5 and 11 (not sure what caused the six-month delay, but it was worth the wait). The story is reprinted in trade form as Superman: Kryptonite.
Although there is an overarching “evil Lex Luthor” story here, it’s most notable because there really isn’t a traditional villain in the arc. What the comic is about, at bottom, is Superman’s fear. We see two types. First, there’s claustrophobia as Superman is trapped in a volcano and, essentially, drowned in lava. Check out this two-panel sequence…
But the real threat here is his mortality. The story is bookended by his love for Lois Lane, and her mature recognition that a relationship between them is impossible because he belongs to the world, not her.
Tell me that page doesn’t break your heart? I don’t want to give away more, but this is easily one of my top 5 favorite Superman stories, largely because it’s so focused on character.
Go check it out.