Hi. For several reasons, I think my son would identify pretty strongly with Superman, and I'd like to introduce him to the character in comic book or graphic novel form (rather than just rent a movie). But I really have no idea which incarnation -- which comic book series or which graphic novel --would be the best place to begin. Or am I fooling myself? Maybe most of the G-novels are written far beyond a 7-year-old's level and/or are too maliciously violent? I'll confess my ignorance and plead for some good advice. (I don't want to just order blindly or wander into a book store and grab the first one off the shelf.) Thanks for any suggestions anyone can offer.
I think a lot of the current comics and graphic novels would be too violent for a seven-year-old, but there are still Superman stories out there that would be appropriate. DC's Showcase line reprints old silver age superhero stories in black and white in thick, almost telephone book type volumes (http://www.amazon.com/Showcase-Presents-Superman-Vol-1/dp/1401207588/ref=pd_bxgy_b_text_b). I don't know if the fact that it's black and white would turn your son off or not, but they are a bargain for what you get. There's also this series: Superman Adventures (http://www.amazon.com/Superman-Adventures-Vol-Up-Away/dp/1401203310/ref=pd_sim_b_9). It looks like most of the volumes are out-of-print, but you could use the "Used & New" option and get them at a good price. Also, I know it's not Superman, but the Bone series by Jeff Smith could be good for your seven-year-old. It skews a bit older, Amazon says 9-12, but it would depend on your son's reading level (http://www.amazon.com/Bone-1-Boneville-Jeff-Smith/dp/0439706408/ref=pd_bbs_sr_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1221451827&sr=1-3) Hope this helps.
I want to endorse the Showcase Superman reprints too. They are in black and white, but I think an enterprising 7-year-old would love to color them after he's read them - or maybe while he's reading them. The reprints are made out of fun, and can be enjoyed by all ages. I love 'em. Wish I had my old crayons.
All Star Superman, while mostly wonderful, is probably way too complex for a seven year-old. Even as an adult, that can require re-reading to truly get it all. Also, All Star Supes ends with his sacrifice (it's an alternate reality/alternate universe Supes), and his pending death hangs over the entire run of the series That may be much too much for a little kid. Great comic reading for grown-ups though.
A better recommendation, and one that seems to be highly underrated, is the excellent "Superman For All Seasons" by Jeph Loeb. I haven't liked anything Loeb's written in ages, but this is back from when he was still really good. Easily my favorite Supes story ever, the Rockwellian artwork is a perfect fit, and it's just a beautiful book. Supes never throws a punch in the entire collection, and he doesn't have to. There is one death in the story, and it's a bit disturbing, but not violent or gratuitous.
I've not read the Showcase collections, but those might be a good call. Of course, they're very old stories and they can seem really goofy or dumb by today's standards. But a seven year old might not realize that or even care. And since the books really were written for kids back then, it could be a perfect fit.
There was a run of Superman comics based on the (mostly excellent) animated series from the mid-late 90's. Superman Adventures, or something like that? Written with a modern sensibility, with modern art style, and that might be the best fit of all for a a young child. Likewise, the Justice League Unlimited comics (also based on the Justice League/JL Unlimited animated series) would probably be enjoyed. Check to see if Amazon still has any of those collections available.
Superman - The Animated Series and Justice League are also all available on DVD and very much worth having. Cartoon Network/Boomerang used to run those shows all the time, but they aren't anymore. Not every episode is gem, but most of them are. Highly recommended.
I just took a quick look... Looks like the Superman Adventures collections for kids are out of print, but you can get them from third party sellers here on Amazon for pretty cheap. They were written by Mark Millar, who's well known in comics circles so they're probably pretty good.
Some of the Justice League Unlimited collections appear to still be in print, and some might not be.
Superman For All Seasons is still in print and is definitely worth getting, for Superman fans both young and old. I haven't read the new Superman: Secret Origin miniseries that DC has been publishing, but once that gets collected into a trade paperback that might be worth it too. The author, Geoff Johns, generally does really good work.