Superman is the world’s greatest superhero and one of the most important and famous characters of DC Comics. His abilities include incredible Superhuman Strength, Superhuman Speed, Invulnerability, Super Breath, Flight, and Heat Vision. He was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, making his first appearance in Action Comics #1. Since then, Superman has gone through several changes and variations through his history in an effort to make the character more accessible to modern audiences.
Despite this, all versions of Superman follow the same basic premise: he was born Kal-El on the planet Krypton. His parents Jor-El and Lara placed him in a rocket and sent him to Earth so that he could survive Krypton’s destruction. Kal-El was discovered by the kindly Jonathan and Martha Kent, who adopted him as Clark Kent in the town of Smallville, Kansas. When he grew up, Clark discovered he had extraordinary powers, and he resolved to use them for the good of mankind. Superman operates in the city of Metropolis, and on his secret identity, he works as a reporter for the Daily Planet. There, he interacts with his love interest Lois Lane and co-workers Perry White and Jimmy Olsen. His greatest enemy is the scientist villain Lex Luthor.
Prime Earth Superman
- Main article: Superman (Clark Kent)
The Prime Earth Superman is the modern version of the character. Debuting on the Man of Steel mini-series by John Byrne, Superman's history was rebooted after the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Since then, his origin has been rewritten in Superman: Birthright, Superman: Secret Origin; and more recently, in Action Comics Volume 2.
Many aspects of Superman's history have changed across the Modern Age, such as the status of his parents, his tenure of Superboy, his allegiance to the Legion of Super-Heroes, and his first public appearance. For example; Man of Steel states that Clark was never Superboy and he started developing his powers when he reached adulthood. Secret Origin, however, dictates that Clark was indeed Superboy and became involved in the Legion's adventures.
The New 52, DC Comics's 2011 initiative, changed many aspects of Superman's history. For example, he is no longer married to Lois Lane and his adoptive parents died while he was in high school.
Before the Crisis on Infinite Earths, there have been several alternate versions of Superman throughout the DC Multiverse.
- Main Article: Superman (Earth-One)
- 'Main Article: Superman (Kal-L)
The Earth-Two Superman is the version of Superman retconned in the 1960s as the primary separate incarnation who was active during the Golden Age (roughly 1938-1951) to explain how Superman could have been active as a young man in the 1930s when later stories show Superman still youthful in the 1960s with the emergence of the Silver Age incarnation of DC heroes such as Barry Allen as the Flash and Hal Jordan as the Green Lantern. Kal-L is the first primary superhero of Earth-Two and emerges before World War II. He is a member of the Justice Society and, during World War II, the All-Star Squadron. As Clark Kent, he works for the Daily Star as a reporter and eventually becomes Editor-in-Chief. Clark eventually marries Lois Lane and settles down with her for several decades, and when Kal-L's long-lost cousin Power Girl arrives on Earth, they become her surrogate parents. Kal-L is erased from Earth's history after the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, but survives and enters a "paradise" dimension, where he remains until the events of Infinite Crisis. Shortly after his wife passes away, Kal-L dies at the conclusion of Infinite Crisis battling Superboy-Prime.
These Supermen are alternate version that live in one of the universes of the Multiverse created at the end of Infinte Crisis.
Earth-1 SupermanEarth-One Superman debuted in Superman: Earth One. Adapted by J. Michael Straczynski and Shane Davis, this Superman is essentially a 21-year-old who has just finished college. Straczysnki and Davis modified several aspects to Superman's world to further distinguish it from New Earth, in an effort to make it similar to the real world.
In Earth-1, Kal-El was sent to Earth to spare him from Krypton's war against the Dheronians, a species that lived on the same star system as the Kryptonians. Jonathan and Martha find Kal-El and raise him as their son Clark. As soon as he finishes college, Clark seeks his purpose in life. Earth comes under attack by Tyrell, a Dheronian warlord who seeks to kill the last Kryptonian. Assuming the identity of Superman, Clark defeats Tyrell and becomes protector of the world. He also obtains a job as a reporter for the Daily Planet.
- Main Article:Superman (Kal-L)
Captain Allen Adam
The Superman of Post-Crisis Earth-4 is Captain Allen Adam, the Quantum Superman, and one of the most powerful beings in all of the 52 Earths. An amalgamation of Superman, Captain Atom, and Dr. Manhattan of the Watchmen maxi-series, Air Force Captain Allen Adam gained his quantum abilities when he was disintegrated in a blast caused by an experimental U-235 engine. The U-235 particles fused with his body, and his disembodied consciousness built an enhanced copy of his former body, but he keeps his "quantum senses" at a managed level by using drugs. He is one of the Supermen from throughout the Multiverse who are recruited by Monitrix Zillo Valla in Final Crisis: Superman Beyond, and allows the drugs in his system to wear off in order to reach a grander state of being, fusing the consciousness of Ultraman and Superman together in order to operate the Superman Robot in the Monitor world and fight Mandrakk, the Dark Monitor.
Christopher Kent of Earth-16 was a far more evoled Superman who was able to reformat his power source to any energy source he could consciously choose. His power levels were able to allow him to successfully defeat both his Earth-30 and Earth-31 counterparts at the same time, though was still far below the Monarch's own energy manipulation levels. In a last ditch effort to defeat Monarch, Christopher used all the power that he had to stop him. Unfortunately, Chris's most powerful attack wasn't nearly enough to stop Monarch and he died from unleashing such a massive amount of energy. Christopher was radically different from Kal-El in appearance as he was far shorter than his Earth-30 and 31 counterparts, bald, had tattoos and kept red energy around his eyes and had external spinal bones on his shoulders and arms that appeared through his simple black pull-over/shirt.
The Superman of pre-Crisis Earth-17 was the original Overman, created by the government as were the other heroes of this Earth. Likewise, every other hero that was created were modified clones of Overman's cell scrapings, such as versions of Wonder Woman, Flash, and Green Lantern. Some time later, Overman went on a homicidal rampage (due to an STD which had affected his mind) and murdered everyone on the planet before he decided to commit suicide and destroy the planet at the same time with a doomsday bomb. However, this world was destroyed, and Overman was wiped out by the Crisis, until the Psycho-Pirate began bringing back characters which the Crisis had killed in Animal Man #23, Overman and bomb included, despite trying not to remember him. Overman fought against Ultraman and Animal Man, before Overman was dragged out of the comic book panels and wiped out by a closing panel, ranting that it wasn't his fault he was like that before Animal Man disarmed the bomb.
Apollo, a hero of the darker Wildstorm Comics imprint which is assigned the designation Earth-50, is also seen in Final Crisis #7. Apollo was genetically enhanced to be a solar powered super-being. Apollo is a member of his superhero team, the Authority, is openly gay and married to his superhero partner Batman analogue Midnighter. Unlike most Superman analogues, Apollo is human.
The superhero Mister Majestic of Earth-50 is shown in Final Crisis #7 as another Superman analogue. An alien from the planet Khera with advanced longevity, Majestros is a born warrior with great intellectual prowess and centuries of experience. Mr. Majestic is the strongest superhero in the Wildstorm universe and is an off and on member of the the superhero team the WildC.A.T.S. Majestic is almost as strong as New Earth Superman but is vastly more experienced than Kal-El.
Kon-El, the modern Superboy, a clone of the Man of Steel and Lex Luthor, arrives in Metropolis shortly after Superman's death. Originally, he has no name besides "Superman". When the original Superman returns, he tells the clone he had earned the name "Superboy", much to his dismay. He eventually becomes a hero is his own right, and Superman comes to think of him as family, giving him the Kryptonian name of Kon-El and the human alias Conner Kent, cousin to Clark. Early on they're told by Cadmus that Kon-El had been created from genetically engineered human DNA and made to look like Superman, but eventually this is retconned so that 50% of his DNA actually does come from Superman (despite Cadmus earlier concluding that this was impossible due to the far greater complexity of Kryptonian DNA, and having far more chromosomes than humans). They also learn that the engineered human DNA came from Luthor, rather than Paul Westfield as initially stated by Cadmus. In a future depicted in the Titans Tomorrow story arc, Conner becomes a tyrannical Superman after Kal-El dies again. Although Conner dies during the Infinite Crisis (2006), his future self, as Superman, is part of a story arc in Teen Titans published in late 2007. The second Titans Tomorrow Conner is Tim Drake's clone of the original.
Hank Henshaw was one of several to claim the name of Superman, following the original's death. To differentiate him from the others, the press dubbed him the Cyborg Superman. After the Coast City incident, he was referred to simply as the Cyborg (not to be confused with Victor Stone). Currently a member of the Sinestro Corps.
The Eradicator also emerged as a Superman impostor, "the Last Son of Krypton", during the Reign of the Supermen. No longer able to absorb energy directly from the sun, he used Kal-El's corpse as a power source. He eventually became delusional and believed himself to be Superman, but this taught him humanity, and he eventually gave his life to stop the Cyborg Superman and restore Kal-El's powers.
John Henry Irons made a suit of armor and cape emblazoned with the Superman-insignia, as tribute to the fallen Man of Steel. Unfortunately, he was lumped in with the other Superman impostors, even though he made no claim to the name. Eventually dubbed "Steel" by the resurrected Superman, he became a close ally and friend to Kal-El.
The Superman Dynasty is the line of Superman's descendants and successors, featured in DC One Million. In this story, his first direct successor was his son by Lois Lane, called Superman Secundus. In the 853rd century, Kal Kent is the last scion of the dynasty, and leader of Justice Legion A.