- I feel like I live in a world made out of cardboard. Always taking constant care not to break something. To break someone. Never allowing myself to lose control, even for a moment, or someone could die. But you can take it, can't you, big man? What we have here is a rare opportunity for me to cut loose, and show you just how powerful I really am!
- — Superman src
Superman (real name Clark Kent, born Kal-El) is the last Kryptonian and Earth's premiere superhero, often considered the first among equals of the founding members of the Justice League. Kind, compassionate, and emotional, he protected his home city of Metropolis from various threats, including Lex Luthor, Brainiac, and Darkseid, along with his friends and allies. In his later years, he joined the Justice League Unlimited alongside the second Batman.
The infant Kal-El was sent to Earth by his parents, Jor-El and Lara, prior to the destruction of their home planet, Krypton. Kal-El's capsule landed near Smallville, Kansas, where he was found by Jonathan and Martha Kent. The Kents adopted the young Kryptonian, naming him "Clark", after Martha's maiden name.
Clark began to discover his powers while growing up in Smallville, and was sometimes frustrated by his need to hide them from the public.
When Clark encountered Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl and Chameleon Boy from the future superhero team, the Legion of Super-Heroes, he did not use his powers very much. During this incident, he aided the trio in stopping Brainiac (from the 30th century) from destroying the Legion of Super-Heroes by killing Clark before he could become Superman. However, after Clark said his goodbyes to the team, Saturn Girl removed all memory of the events of that period from his mind. Nevertheless, this incident depicted all the strength and courage Clark would imbue as Superman.
Hero of Metropolis
As an adult, Clark moved to Metropolis and found employment as a reporter for the Daily Planet. 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 Lex Luthor, who would become one of his greatest and most persistent adversaries, and defeated terrorist John Corben. 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, Livewire, Metallo, Bizarro, Volcana and Luminus.
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 known as 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 Argos, 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, Green Lantern, Flash, 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 Warworld> and expose Lex Luthor as a criminal. Two of the more significant adventures for Superman would involve meeting an alternate universe team of the Justice League called the Justice Lords and face off once more against Darkseid and Brainiac, who were seemingly destroyed by Superman. 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 for the reformed Justice League.
After a faux U.S. Presidential bid by Lex Luthor, Superman and the Justice League found themselves at odds with Project Cadmus. Cadmus was formed after the brainwashed Superman's 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 cannon, 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 Luthor, 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 the Justice League, and that the League needed Superman. 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 the destroyed Brainiac, going so far as to overthrow Gorilla Grodd as the leader 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 Darkseid could complete his victory, he was diverted by Luthor, who had 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.
The Later Adventures
Controlled by the parasite, Superman attempted to destroy the Justice League Unlimited and take over Earth. However, through the efforts of Bruce Wayne, Terry McGinnis, and the League, the parasite was defeated and Superman regained control of himself. Terry McGinnis told Superman that he declined his offer to join the Justice League. Proud of Terry, Superman told Terry that he was like Bruce Wayne, indicating he was aware of Terry's original parentage.
The older Bruce Wayne made comments that suggested Superman's Kryptonian DNA had slowed his aging. Whether this had detrimental effects on Superman's relationship with Lois Lane or upon his Clark Kent identity is unknown.
Powers and Abilities
- Kryptonian Physiology: Under the effects of a "yellow" sun, Superman possesses the same potential powers as an average Kryptonian. These include:
- Solar Energy Absorption: Under optimal conditions, this is the main source of Superman's super powers as they are contingent upon exposure to solar radiation from a yellow sun star system. His biological make up includes a number of organs which lack analogues in humans and whose functions are unknown. It is believed that between one or more of these and his bio-cellular matrix, "yellow" solar energy is stored for later use. This allows for the use of these powers to fade when yellow solar radiation is not available instead of immediate failure.
- Heat Vision: Superman can, as a conscious act, fire beams of intense heat at a target by looking at it. He can vary the heat and area affected.
- Super-Hearing: Superman's hearing is sensitive enough to hear any sound at any volume or pitch. With skill and concentration, he can block out ambient sounds to focus on a specific source or frequency.
- Enhanced Vision: Superman's vision processes the entire electromagnetic spectrum as well as allowing vast control over selective perception and focus.
This umbrella ability includes the following:
- Electromagnetic Spectrum Vision: Superman can see well into most of the electromagnetic spectrum. He can see and identify radio and television signals as well as all other broadcast or transmitted frequencies. Using this ability, he can avoid detection by radar or satellite monitoring methods. This also allows him to see the aura generated by living thing.
- Telescopic Vision: This is the ability to see something at a great distance, without violating the laws of physics. Though limited, the exact extent of the ability is undetermined. In function, it is similar to the zoom lens on a camera.
- X-Ray Vision: This is the ability to see through any volume of matter except lead. Supermans can see things behind a solid, opaque object as if it were not there. He can focus this ability to "peel back" layers of an object, allowing hidden image or inner workings to be observed. The exact type of energy perceived—such as x-rays, cosmic rays, or some other energy invisible to normal humans—is unclear. This ability perceives an ambient energy source though, it does not involve the eye projecting a concentrated, possibly toxic, beam to be reflected back from objects.
- Microscopic Vision: This is the ability to see extremely small objects and images down to the atomic level.
- Infrared Vision: Superman can see with better acuity in darkness, and to a degree in total darkness.
- Flight: Superman is able to manipulate graviton particles to defy the forces of gravity and achieve flight. This ranges from hovering to moving in any posture, in any direction.
- Invulnerability: Due to the interaction of his dense molecular structure and supercharged bio-electric aura, Superman is nigh-invulnerable to extreme energy forces. In addition, his extends this protection against toxins and diseases.
- Superhuman Stamina: Superman is able to maintain continuous strenuous physical action for an indefinite period of time. This based on his body converting yellow solar radiation directly to energy, but is limited by physiological and psychological needs to eat, drink, and sleep.
- Superhuman Strength: Superman's strength is augmented by yellow solar radiation interacting with the greater than human density, resilience and biological efficiency of his musculature. His strength is more an act of conscious will on energy fields than actual physical strength. It is this act of conscious will that enables him to perform physical feats that are beyond the mere application force, such as moving a mountain top without said rock crumbling under its own mass.
- Superhuman Speed: Superman is able to move at incredible speed by sheer force of will. This extends to his perceptions and allows for feats such as catching bullets in mid flight as well as covering vast distances in little or no time.
This also confers:
- Super-Breath: Superman is able to create hurricane force winds by exhaling air from his lungs. He can chill the air as it leaves his lungs to freeze targets. He can also reverse the process to pull large volumes of air or vapor into his lungs.
- Longevity: Superman can live longer than regular humans, remaining at his prime as long as he was under the exposure of the "yellow" sun.
- Animal Training
- Genius Level Intellect: Superman possesses incredible intelligence and computational abilities. During Clark's youth, Lana Lang referred to him as a "boy genius.
- Expert Combatant: During combat situations, Superman makes use of an improvised fighting style that relies on overwhelming force and speed. He was capable of adapting to and fighting on par with a computer base cyber ninja, resulting in defeating it in battle. He admits that he was trained by the first Batman thus defeating Jax-Ur in a intense battle, and even held his own for a while against Jax-Ur's minions after he was wore out; all when he was powerless.
- Indomitable Will: Superman has shown to have a powerful spirit, free of corruption and temptation. Having been raised by a kindly Kansas farmer and his wife, he was taught to protect life and help others. He is very optimistic and never gives up, even when things look bad.
- Journalism: Clark is one of the top reporters on the Daily Planet, rivaled only by Lois Lane.
- Leadership: Superman has proven many times over his ability to command respect and inspire others with his charisma, ardor, and idealism. He often serves as the primus inter pares of the Justice League.
- Kryptonian Physiology: Under the effects of a "yellow" sun, Superman possesses the same potential weaknesses as an average Kryptonian. These include:
- Lead: Superman cannot see through lead with his x-ray vision powers.
- This version of the character is exclusive to the continuity of the DC Animated Universe and is an adaptation of Clark Kent/Superman. The original character was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster and first appeared in Action Comics #1.
- His first animated appearance is Superman (1996 TV Series) Episode: The Last Son of Krypton, Part I, 3 years after his first appearance in the comics.
- Superman was voiced by five different actors:
- Tim Daly voiced the character for the animated series Superman
- George Newbern took over the character for the animated series Justice League and Justice League Unlimited
- Jesse Batten voiced the infant Kal-El for the episode "The Last Son of Krypton, Part I".
- Jason Marsden voiced the teenage Clark Kent for the episodes "The Last Son of Krypton, Part II" and "New Kids in Town"
- Christopher McDonald, who also voiced Jor-El voiced an older Superman in the animated series Batman Beyond.
- 357 Appearances of Kal-El (DCAU)
- 100 Images featuring Kal-El (DCAU)
- 36 Quotations by or about Kal-El (DCAU)
- Character Gallery: Kal-El (DCAU)
- Superman: "Knight Time"
- Batman Beyond Unlimited #9
- Superman/Batman Annual #4
- Superman: "The Last Son of Krypton, Part I"
- Superman: "The Last Son of Krypton, Part II"
- Superman: "New Kids in Town"
- Justice League: "Secret Origins, Part I"
- Justice League: "Secret Origins, Part II"
- Justice League: "Secret Origins, Part III"
- Justice League: "War World, Part II"
- Justice League: "Injustice for All, Part II"
- Justice League: "A Better World, Part II"
- Justice League: "Twilight, Part I"
- Justice League: "Twilight, Part II"
- Justice League: "Starcrossed, Part I"
- Justice League: "Starcrossed, Part II"
- Justice League: "Starcrossed, Part III"
- Justice League Unlimited: "Flashpoint"
- Justice League Unlimited: "Panic in the Sky"
- Justice League Unlimited: "Divided We Fall"
- Justice League Unlimited: "Destroyer"
- Batman Beyond: "The Call, Part I"
- Batman Beyond: "The Call, Part II"
- Superman (Volume 4) #16
- Superman: "Obsession"
- Justice League Beyond 2.0 #5
- Justice League Beyond 2.0 #6
- Justice League Beyond 2.0 #7
- Justice League: "Hereafter, Part II"
Daily Planet Staff member
|Justice League member|
This character is or was a member of the Justice League of America, or the Justice League in any of its various incarnations, sworn by a duty to act as guardians of America and the world by using their skills and/or superpowers to protect Earth from both interstellar and domestic threats.
Legion of Super-Heroes member
Superman Family member