You're neglecting the fact that his run was massively delayed. Pa Kent was killed in like his 3rd story arc.
May 2006 - November 2008 = 31 months
#869 - #837 = 32 issues
Yeah some issues were delayed but he still put out more issues than months. And for there to only be 'like' 3 story arcs means each arc would have had to be 10-11 issues long (they weren't).
From memory I know there was: Up Up and Away, that alien auction guy arc with those Gibbons newspaper covers, Bizarro, Bizzaro World, the Legion and finally the Brainiac ard (with plenty of other issues interspersed).
And 3 arcs or 8 or even 1 doesn't change the fact that you were way off base saying Pa's death was a 'first' thing.