Action Comics Number 1: DC Comics, Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster. This is the one that started it all. If you can’t locate a copy of Action Comics Number 1, DC has reprinted it a number of times. Look for an oversize comic called Famous First Edition. It features the entire issue. If you just want to look at the Superman part, it was reprinted in the Superman Anthology (see below).
All-Star Squadron, issues 17-33: DC Comics, Roy Thomas and Jerry Ordway. A good look at handling large super hero groups.
Brother from Another Planet: John Carpenter, A-Train Productions. An interesting twist on science fiction.
Doom Patrol, 1968-1971: DC Comics, Arnold Drake and Bruno Permiani. One of the first silver age superhero groups.
Doom Patrol, issues 19-?: DC Comics, Grant Morrison, various artists. Quintessential weirdness in the Doom Patrol style. If you’re looking for something different to flavor your superhero campaign, take a look at the new Doom Patrol.
The Greatest American Hero: Stephen J. Cannell Television series, Robert Culp, Connie Selleca, William Katt. Want to see the Percent Control roll in action? Ralph Hinckley receives an incredibly powerful superhero suit from strange aliens, but loses the instruction booklet...
Highlander: Christopher Lambert, Roxanne Hart, Clancy Brown, Davis/Panzer production. I recommend checking out the European release. A very good look at the effects of immortality on a basically super-heroic character.
The Incredible Hulk: Bill Bixby, Lou Ferrigno. Great soap-opera in the superhero tradition.
Justice League International: DC Comics, Giffen and DeMatteis. Super heroes behind the scenes. Take a look especially at the first couple of issues. DC has published a trade paperback, reprinting them.
Last Son of Krypton and Miracle Monday: Elliot S! Maggin, Warner Books. The author takes a good look at the most powerful hero of all, and how he views the world he protects.
The Judas Contract has been reprinted in a trade paperback.
The New Teen Titans, issues 1-18: DC Comics, George Perez and Marv Wolfman. The interactions between the DC Universe sidekicks and other young heroes was well-handled during this run of the New Teen Titans.
Nightstalker: Darrin Mcgavin, Carl Rigby. This television series looked at the darker side of a large city, in a world where the supernatural exists, and is commonplace.
Origins of Marvel Comics: Stan Lee, Simon and Schuster. This collection describes the classic origins of Marvel’s most famous heroes.
Remington Steele: Pierce Brosnan, Stephanie Zimbalist, Doris Roberts, Butler and Gleason production. This television show is a first-rate course in how to use ideas from other sources.
Robin Hood: Errol Flynn. Need I say more?
Sherlock Holmes, and The Return of Sherlock Holmes: Jeremy Brett, Edward Hardwicke, Grenada Television. Sherlock Holmes would’ve made a great mad scientist, and Jeremy Brett plays the character wonderfully.
Six Million Dollar Man: Lee Majors, Richard Anderson, Martin E. Brooks. This television series mixed mystery, espionage, and science fiction. Find out what OSI would have done in a world without super heroes.
Son of Origins: Stan Lee, Simon and Schuster. This sequel to Origins of Marvel Comics describes the origins of more of Marvel’s early heroes.
Superman: From the 30s to the 80s: Crown Publishers. A collection of Superman stories from Action Comics Number 1 through the forties, fifties, sixties, and seventies. Watch the oldest superhero grow in characterization and power.
Superman II was great as well. The combat scenes are heroic.
Superman, The Movie: Warner Bros., 1978, Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, Gene Hackman. This was the movie that really started putting super heroes on the screen again. It’s both kinds of movies: great special effects and great writing.
Watchmen: DC Comics limited series, Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons. Read it less for its strange plot devices than for its treatment of middle-aged super heroes.
The Perez issues are 1 through 61.
Wonder Woman: DC Comics, George Perez. Perez re-unites Wonder Woman with her Greek origin. Many of these stories are classic examples of how a superhero campaign can be run without violence.