Kal-El was an infant sent to Earth by his parents, Jor-El and Lara-El, prior to the destruction of their home planet Krypton. Kal-El's capsule landed near Smallville, Kansas where he was found by Jonathan Kent and Martha Kent and subsequently took a liking to both of them. The Kents adopted the young Kryptonian, naming him "Clark" after Martha's maiden name.
As a youth growing up in Smallville, Clark encountered Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl and Chameleon Boy prior to discovering the full extent of his powers. During this incident, he aided the trio in stopping Brainiac who had travelled back in time from the 30th century to kill Clark before he could become Superman. After defeating Brainiac, the trio returned to their time, but not before Saturn Girl removed all memory of the incident from his mind. Nevertheless, the incident depicted all the strength and courage Clark would imbue as Superman.
Some time later, Clark began to discover his powers, and was sometimes frustrated by his need to hide them from the public. His parents revealed to him the spaceship, as well as a hologram, that arrived with him when he first came to Earth. Clark was told of the destruction of his planet and briefly met his real mother and father.
Hero of Metropolis
As an adult, he moved to Metropolis and found employment as a reporter for the Daily Planet. In keeping with his civilian identity of Clark Kent, Superman maintained a high rise apartment and automobile of his own. Additionally, Clark often ate even though Superman received his sustenance from the yellow sun, and did not require food. Even beyond eating for the sake of appearances, as he has done so his entire life with his friends and family, he had become accustomed to food and drink, and even occasionally enjoyed them in private, especially pizza and root beer floats.
Regarding the dual nature of his identity, Superman explained that he needed to be Clark to keep him sane, and his adoptive father reinforced that "Superman just helps out now and then". An early appearance in costume, saving a young girl, attracted the attention of Lois Lane — as the story replaced one of her own. It was Lois who subsequently gave Clark's costumed persona the name "Superman". Superman gave Lois an exclusive interview, his motivation being to alleviate public fears by ensuring that people knew where he came from and why he was here — or, as his adoptive mother put it, so that people would not think he was like "that nut from Gotham City".
Shortly after his arrival in Metropolis, Superman met his greatest and most persistent adversary Lex Luthor. In the following months, a variety of costumed criminals — some with metahuman abilities — began to appear in Metropolis to oppose the Man of Steel. A by-no-means complete list would include the Toyman, the Parasite, Metallo, Livewire, Bizarro, Luminus and Volcana.
Superman would also encounter various beings who, like himself, hailed from other worlds, such as the renowned bounty hunter Lobo and the warrior queen Maxima, or even other dimensions, like the mischievous imp Mxyzptlk. He would even meet a few fellow survivors of Krypton: the Phantom Zone-exiled Jax-Ur and Mala, and — most chillingly — the artificial intelligence Brainiac.
Even as his roster of enemies continued to swell, Superman would also encounter many individuals whom he would come to consider staunch allies: the Flash, Batman, Dr. Fate, Steel, Aquaman, Robin, and the Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner). He also discovered, on Krypton's sister world, a young woman who would become not only a loyal ally but also a new (if adoptive) family member: Supergirl.
In time, Superman would also come into periodic contact with beings from the planet Apokolips, the realm of the malevolent entity who would become another of the Man of Tomorrow's most dangerous opponents: Darkseid. It was the diabolical Lord of Apokolips who would deal Superman many of his most humbling defeats; these included killing Superman's friend Dan Turpin, and brainwashing the Man of Steel and manipulating him into leading an assault on Earth. Although Superman recovered himself and defeated Darkseid, the immense damage to his reputation with Earth's populace was harder to repair. It would be some time before Superman could regain the people's trust entirely. In spite of this, he would continue his never-ending battle for truth and justice, although he would soon find that he would not need to continue it alone.
Protector of Earth and other worlds
After responding to the Imperium invasion, Superman joined with Batman, Flash, Green Lantern (John Stewart), Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl and J'onn J'onzz to form the Justice League. During this time, Superman and the Justice League would have many adventures, such as defeating Mongul on War World and exposing Lex Luthor as a criminal. Two of the more significant adventures for Superman would involve meeting an alternate universe team of the Justice League and face off once more against Darkseid and Brainiac. Both events would come back to haunt Superman in time.
During the Thanagarian invasion, Superman and the other founding members (minus Hawkgirl) were imprisoned, but managed to escape thanks to Wonder Woman. Going underground, Batman revealed that he knew Superman and Flash's secret identities, and told them to meet at Wayne Manor. After Hawkgirl gave them information on the Thanagarians' plans to build a Hyperspace Bypass Generator, Superman helped assault Hro Talak's mothership, but left to save Batman, who was driving the Watchtower into the Generator. With the threat passed, the Justice League debated on whether or not to allow Hawkgirl to stay. Superman wanted to believe her, but he feared the risk of further betrayal. Ultimately, Superman broke the tie: allowing Hawkgirl to stay in the League. However, Hawkgirl resigned before they could announce their decision. After that, the founding members reorganized the League and recruited the majority of Earth's costumed heroes, in what became loosely known as Justice League Unlimited.
After a faux U.S. Presidential bid by Luthor, Superman and the Justice League found themselves at odds with Project Cadmus. Cadmus was formed after Superman's brainwashed invasion of Earth and the Justice Lords incident, and claimed its only goal was the defense of humanity. However, several members of Cadmus would have their own personal agendas separated from the alleged greater goal. Ultimately, Luthor hijacked the Watchtower's Binary Fusion Generator, making it appear as though the Justice League was responsible for attacking Cadmus' base. Superman decided that the best way to lower tensions was to turn themselves over to the government. However, Batman convinced Amanda Waller that Luthor was responsible. Confronting Luthor, Brainiac revealed that he was in control of him, and merged with him. Flash managed to destroy Brainiac, but appeared to die in the process. Though he nearly killed Luthor, Superman realized that he was not a Justice Lord. After that, Superman decided that the Justice League had to be disbanded, but an impassioned speech by Green Arrow convinced him that the world needed a group of superheroes, and that the League needed the Man of Steel. The outpour of appreciation also convinced Superman that he had regained the trust he had lost after being brainwashed by Darkseid, and Superman stayed on.
Luthor became obsessed with resurrecting Brainiac, going so far as to overthrow Gorilla Grodd as the leader of a virtual army of supervillains that Luthor would now use as his pawns. Brainiac's thought patterns were now intermingled with Luthor's, tempting the obsessed human with their knowledge and power. In his mad quest to resurrect Brainiac, Luthor would instead bring Darkseid back to life by accident. Darkseid launched a final massive attack against Earth, which required the mobilization of the Justice League's entire extended roster. After an incredible fistfight, Darkseid resorted to a secret weapon to disable Superman, but before the warlord could complete his victory, he was diverted by Luthor having found the prized Anti-Life Equation. Superman's two greatest enemies disappeared in a flash of brilliant light and have yet to be seen again in the present day.
Superman continued to manage the creatures he was previously imprisoned with to his Fortress of Solitude. One of these creatures seized control over Superman in the 2040s and held sway over him for several years.
Controlled by the creature, Superman attempted to destroy the Justice League Unlimited and take over Earth. However, through the efforts of the new Batman, the parasite was defeated and Superman regained control of himself. Batman told Superman that he declined his offer to join the Justice League. Proud of the second Batman, Superman told Terry that he was like the original Batman. He would also contact Bruce on business, such as requesting Terry's assistance on a case.
Whether Superman's Kryptonian DNA slowing his aging (he was still showed signs of aging, but only minor as he appeared more like a man in his mid-late 40's) had detrimental effects on Superman's relationship with Lois Lane or upon his Clark Kent identity is unknown.
Superman's secret identity
- Main article: List of people who know Superman's secret identity
While Superman kept his identity a closely guarded secret, there were a number of individuals to whom he had either revealed his identity or who had discovered it. Among the most prominent ones are Supergirl, Batman, Lana Lang, Terry McGinnis, the core Justice Leaguers, and at least the initial three members of the Legion of Superheroes that he encountered during his youth.
When Lois first heard of Superman, she didn't believe him to be real, but after saving her for the first time, she was awestruck. Lois would regularly write stories regarding Superman, while also growing more closer towards him. Lois would also become constantly saved by Superman as she would go so far to get a story, she would get caught in the crossfire. Lois would also intervene in fights, where she sometimes tried to save Superman from a villain, showing that she cares so much for him, she would put her own safety at risk time and again. Eventually as time went on, both Lois and Superman eventually started to develop romantic feelings for each other, Lois even tried to admit her feelings for him, but were interrupted as Superman had to shortly leave to save Metroplis yet again. Lois sometimes had doubts that a relationship would work between them as they both seemed so different, but their feelings only grew more stronger as time went on.
The attraction between the pair didn't go unnoticed as a few people had pointed it out on a few occasions. Superman was also shown to become jealous, when Lois was interested in someone else as when Bruce Wayne stayed in Metroplis for a short amount of time. Eventually, Lois and Superman finally admitted their feelings and soon they started a relationship. The two continued to date for several years and at one point were even seen going on a date.
In his high school years, Clark had started a relationship with Lana Lang, who was revealed to have had a childhood crush on him. The two dated during high school, but their relationship didn't last. Eventually, Lana and Clark went their separate ways as Clark had soon discovered his powers and became Superman, while Lana went on to become a famous fashion designer. Though later, Lana and Clark would eventually reunite with each other, around the same time Lana had started a relationship with Lex Luthor.
When Clark as Superman first rescued Lana she revealed that she was already aware of his secret identity as having witnessed him developing his powers in high school and seeing that Clark Kent and Superman arrived in Metropolis around the same time. During her time reuniting with him, Lana helped him by spying on Luthor while also realizing that she still had feelings for him and wanted to start a team together. Eventually, after putting herself in danger, Lana learned her lesson and she and Clark departed on good terms with each other. Lana and Clark remain good friends as Lana would later return to help Clark regarding his "death".
Powers and abilities
Superman possessed powers of vast superhuman strength and speed, near-invulnerability, flight, super breath, heat vision, X-ray vision, telescopic/microscopic vision, super hearing, and a computer-like mind. He also has precise control over his body's muscles which gives him the ability to mimic seemingly anyone's voice, he once used this when impersonating a missing Batman. Lana Lang referred to him as a "boy genius."
While Superman was immensely strong both in terms of muscle power and ability to take physical punishment, he was not invincible. He could be injured, bleed, and conceivably be killed, and has sometimes been known to strain and sweat when performing superhuman feats of strength. In one notable instance, Superman was ambushed by Darkseid while catching his breath after using his own body to drill several holes in the ocean floor. In addition, being hit by the outer fringes of a blast from the Watchtower's Binary Fusion Generator, which was directly stated to have the punch of a small nuclear weapon, was sufficient to both cause severe pain, and leave Superman floating unconscious in space, to the point where he had to be retrieved by Dr. Light while still incapacitated.
At full power, Superman was shown to be physically superior to the resurrected Darkseid, as he has defeated him many times. His physical strength surpasses that of Darkseid and rivals that of Doomsday. In addition, Superman rarely used all his powers to their full extent. On one occasion, he finally cut loose, revealing to Darkseid that the world was like cardboard to him before proceeding to send him across the city and through at least three or four skyscrapers with one punch. He was also able to hurl a huge comet through space to stop it from hitting Earth. When he was under Darkseid's control, Superman disintegrated the main wall of an alien fortress with his heat vision, then used it to make the building explode. He also killed a whole army of Parademons with a huge blast of heat vision. In the Batman Beyond timeline, Superman has shown to be strong enough to lift a skyscraper.
Being a Kryptonian, Superman ages much slower than a normal human, as shown in Batman Beyond, where he had remained in activity and was still in excellent physical condition (being only slightly wrinkled), while Batman had been forced to retire from his superhero career over 20 years earlier due to his old age.
Superman derived his power from the yellow sun of Earth. Forced under a red sun akin to that of his homeworld of Krypton, Superman rapidly lost his powers, reverting to the stature of a normal human. Artificially-created red sun radiation had the same effect although depending on the amount, it can do anything from either completely depriving Superman of his powers or just weakening him.
Aside from red sun radiation, Superman's main weakness was Kryptonite, radioactive shards of his destroyed home planet. Exposure to Kryptonite would rob Superman of his power and cause him great pain, and prolonged exposure could kill him.
Superman's only other known weaknesses were magic and power draining, which could injure him as easily as it can any other being. In fact, Superman seemed even more vulnerable to magic than an average human, even with powers. In addition, Superman would display an intolerance to electricity-based attacks but this would vary depending on opponents and given circumstances.
Appearances and references
|Members of the Justice League|
|Batman • The Flash • The Green Lantern • Hawkgirl • J'onn J'onzz • Superman • Wonder Woman|
|Aquaman • The Atom • Atom-Smasher • Aztek • B'wana Beast • Black Canary • Blue Devil • Booster Gold • Captain Atom • Captain Marvel • Commander Steel • The Creeper • The Crimson Avenger • Crimson Fox • Dove • Dr. Fate • Dr. Light • Dr. Mid-Nite • Elongated Man • Etrigan • Fire • Green Arrow • Gypsy • Hawk • Hourman • Huntress • Ice • Long Shadow • Metamorpho • Mr. Terrific • Nemesis • Obsidian • Orion • Plastic Man • Question • The Ray • Red Tornado • Rocket Red • Sand • Shining Knight • Speedy • Stargirl • Starman • Steel • S.T.R.I.P.E. • Supergirl • Johnny Thunder • Thunderbolt • Vibe • Vigilante • Vixen • Waverider • Wildcat • Zatanna|
|Members of the Justice League Unlimited|
|Aquagirl • Batman (Terry McGinnis) • Big Barda • Green Lantern (Kai-Ro) • Micron • Static • Superman • Warhawk|