REAL NAME: Kal-El
AFFILIATION: The Justice League
FIRST APPEARANCE: Action Comics #1
Kal-El was born on the distant planet of Krypton to scientist Jor-El and his wife, Lara. Fearing that the destruction of the planet was imminent, and ridiculed by his peers, Jor-El built a rocket in secret to transport his family away from the dying world. But with his time limited, Jor-El was only able to send his infant son, as he and his wife perished alongside their home-world.
Spirited away to the planet Earth, baby Kal was found by farmers Jonathan and Martha Kent, who, unable to have a child, took him in as their own and raised him under a new name, Clark.
Growing up in Kansas, Clark learned to respect Truth, Justice and the American Way, and basking in the light of our yellow sun, he developed miraculous powers.
Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, Clark decided to use his continuously developing powers, such as flight and heat-vision, to become Superman.
Moving to Metropolis and becoming a reporter to remain close to the action, Clark adopted a disguise consisting of an act and a pair of glasses, to trick those around him into believing that ‘Superman’ had no secret identity, therefore being able to live a safe, dual life with his loved ones, such as fellow reporter Lois Lane.
POWERS & ABILITIES
As Superman, Clark has an array of powers that make him one of the most powerful beings in the universe. Having absorbed solar radiation for the majority of his life, he is one of the strongest people on Earth, able to shatter whole planets with a punch, were he to fully exert himself. He is also one of the fastest beings on Earth, able to keep pace with the Flash. He can fly both at regular and super-speeds, and paired with his enhanced senses, this allows him to find and seek out crises around the globe. His eyes can see on a different spectrum to humans, gifting him with the ability to see through objects, should he so desire. He can also shoot concentrated heat from his eyes, and blow freezing hurricane-force winds.
Superman is also invulnerable and has the capacity to be extremely long-lived. However, he is weakened by a mineral called Kryptonite, which saps his strength and poisons him. Similarly, his powers are ineffectual against magic.
As a last resort, Superman can expel all his stored energy in a ‘solar flare’. However, this leaves him effectively human for about twenty-four hours.
The Kents are Clark’s adoptive parents on Earth. Having found Clark’s rocket when he was a baby, Jonathan and Martha took him in and raised him as their own. As friendly, hardworking people, the farmers instilled a variety of beliefs in Clark that would serve him well as Superman. Jonathan’s passing was one of the most revelatory moments in Clark’s life; as he died from a heart attack, teaching Clark that he couldn’t save everyone.
Clark’s primary link to humanity is through his job at The Daily Planet. Initially taking the job to keep his ear to the ground and listen out for any dilemmas that may threaten humanity. As such, he’s made firm friends with the rest of the staff. His best friend at the Planet is probably the exuberant young photographer Jimmy Olsen. Dubbed ‘Superman’s Pal’, Jimmy has a special watch that sends out a frequency only Superman can hear. Other members of the Planet include Perry White, Clark’s editor and mentor; flirtatious gossip columnist Cat Grant; the level-headed political columnist and Clark’s rival Steve Lombard, the bravado-fueled sports writer.
Although Clark has had many girlfriends; Lana Lang, Lori Lermaris, Wonder Woman; his greatest love is ace-investigative reporter Lois Lane. For years, Lois worked alongside Clark, and wouldn’t give him the time of day due to her fascination of Superman, unaware that the bumbling Kent was in fact the man she lusted after and who shared her affections. Eventually, the two would marry and have a child, Jonathan Kent, who looks to take after his father’s footsteps as Superboy.
Despite his network of family and friends, Clark still felt alone on some level, due to the destruction of his home planet. After some time operating on Earth, Clark would learn that his Kryptonian teenage cousin, Kara, was meant to watch over him as he arrived on Earth, but he rocket was knocked off course. Arriving several decades late, Kara had to acclimatise to a new dynamic where she was the younger cousin, and eventually followed in Clark’s footsteps, becoming the superheroine Supergirl. Another Kara from another dimension; this one older and more experienced, has also joined Superman and Supergirl as heroes on their world, operating under the alias of Power Girl.
Since his first public appearance, Superman has been despised by the businessman Lex Luthor. A self-made man, Luthor thinks himself the embodiment of the pinnacle of human achievement; strong, cunning and dangerously smart. Feeling that humanity deserves a saviour from its own planet, he has frequently tried to destroy Superman, even empowering some of Superman’s other enemies, like the Kryptonite-powered cyborg Metallo, the flawed clone Brainiac and the power-sucking Parasite, to take Superman down. Using an armoured suit, Luthor has occasionally gone toe-to-toe with the ‘Man of Steel’, but in recent years, he has chosen to take a new path to prove his superiority; one where he acts in the service of good.
Alongside Supergirl, other survivors from Krypton have also appeared on Earth. A general from Krypton, Zod was imprisoned in the Phantom Zone, a parralell dimension discovers by Superman’s father Jor-El. Eventually breaking free after Krypton’s destruction, Zod has plagued Superman and the Earth alongside his soldiers and followers – despising Superman for his legacy and his lack of desire to form a new Krypton.
Although it varies depending on the continuity, the robotic life-form Brainiac is an enemy of both Superman and the Kryptonian culture as a whole. Theorised to be responsible for Krypton’s destruction, Brainiac is a collector, who abducts whole cities before their planet of origins’ destruction, and stores them, miniaturised, on his ship. Fiercely intelligent, Brainiac has developed several bodies for himself, each with varying powers and capabilities, which mean that it is always unclear if the heroes have every truly defeated him.
While not a frequent foe, Doomsday is notorious for being the first villain to kill Superman. A monstrous being of incredible strength, Doomsday was genetically engineered in the pre-historic times of Krypton. Filled with rage and hatred, Doomsday is nigh-unstoppable, having taken out the entire Justice League in his first appearance on Earth. His strength is such that Superman was only able to defeat him by truly cutting loose, the the fight that ensued left them both seemingly dead. However, due to the make-up of his body and his nature to adapt to previously lethal attacks, Doomsday would return growing stronger each time.
CURRENTLY APPEARS IN: Action Comics, Justice League, Superman & Trinity