- Where did I come from? What am I doing here? Who am I? What am I?
- — Clark Kent src
Kal-El was born on planet Krypton as the son of Jor-El and Lara Lor-Van. Discovering that Krypton was about to explode, Jor-El and Lara constructed a ship to save their son. In their last moments, they sent Kal-El to planet Earth, where the yellow sun would give Kal-El extraordinary powers.
Crash-landing in Kansas, Kal-El was discovered by Jonathan and Martha Kent, who barely managed to escape the site before the military arrived and took custody of Kal-El's ship. On the way home, Kal-El bent a metal bar with his own hands, and the Kents discovered that Kal-El was special. The Kents decided to adopt the boy, naming him Clark.
Childhood and teenage years
Clark rapidly developed abilities beyond those of human beings. However, Clark always felt insecure on his place on the world, often wondering who or what he was, compounded by bullying from his classmates. When he was seven, Jonathan and Martha revealed to Clark that he came to Earth in a spaceship, telling him that he was an alien. Jonathan gave Clark a piece of metal from his ship.
Although Clark was confused, Jonathan and Martha kept telling him that no matter what happens, he can decide what to do with his life, and they will always be proud of him. In case Clark wanted to reveal his gifts to the world, his mother made a special costume for him from the indestructible blankets he was swaddled in inside his ship. When Clark asked why the costume did not have a mask, Martha replied that people need to see his face so that they can see he is honest about his good intentions, and that he pursues this path, it is in his day-to-day identity that he will have to hide who he really is. When he asks about the stylized "S" symbol on the front, his parents admit they each had a different idea as to it meaning: Martha thought of it as standing for "son", as Clark is a son of both Earth and the world of his birth, while Jonathan, having spoken with a cousin of his in advertising and believing Clark needs a simple, effective way of communicating who and what he is - that being that he is different and greater - believes it should stand for "Superman".
At some point in Clark's teenage years, Jonathan died. Clark resolved to get a good job when he was an adult so that he could provide money to his mother, although Martha told him that he must be careful in choosing what he wants do. When Clark finished Smallville Junior College, he moved to Metropolis, taking with him a bag with his suit and his ship fragment.
Rise of Superman
Arriving at Metropolis, Clark rents a room at Metropolis Hotel and goes around the city to get a job. Clark tries out for the Metropolis pro football team. Because he is much smaller than the other recruits, he is met with extreme skepticism and some derision. But as soon as Clark shows what he can do, the coach is beside himself to get Clark to sign a contract.
Clark has similar experiences at a major scientific research company, a financial services institution, and trying out for the Metropolis Major League Baseball team. Calling his mother at night, Clark tells her he can work anywhere, and earn pretty much whatever he wants, giving both of them comfortable lives. She says she really has everything she needs, and reiterates that what she really wants, and Jonathan wanted too, is to have Clark expose his abilities to the world and make it his mission to help people, though she emphasizes that it is Clark's decision to make.
Clark heads to the Daily Planet, and meets Perry White, Lois Lane, and James Olsen. Perry tells Clark that the Planet has declined from its glory days. Perry has no opening right now, but expects one to come up because of the high turnover rate. But Clark will have to prove himself, and the starting pay will not be very high. Leaving the Daily Planet building, Clark flies into space to think about everything that's happened, and goes to his father's grave. Clark admits that he desperately wants a chance to fit in, and fears that living his parent's dreams as a champion for humanity may endanger that; he apologizes to the memory of his father, and says that he's chosen to live a normal, happy life. Later, Clark returns to Metropolis and discovers his apartment in on fire. Racing up ahead of the firemen, Clark saves his costume and his ship fragment. When Clark feels the fragment is white-hot, he begins to think that for some reason, the fragment started the fire.
The fragment emits some kind of energy and Clark examinations it with his microscopic vision, discovering Kryptonian symbols in the fragment's atoms. Then, the fragment releases an energy bursts at Clark's head, leaving him unconscious. In his mind, Clark sees images of Krypton, and of his parents putting him into the spacecraft and sending him off just as Krypton explodes.
As Clark awakens, he sees an alien fleet invading Earth. The invasion commander, Tyrell, explains that he is prepared to kill millions of people from Earth, in his quest to find one specific individual. He demands that his target must reveal himself and surrender, or else witness the carnage that will follow.
Clark, moving at invisible super speed, takes out several of the attack ships. Then, Clark realizes he cannot stay hidden and must enter the battle. He then puts on his costume and accepts the name his father made for him: Superman. Revealing himself to the world, Superman fights Tyrell.
As Superman and Tyrell fight, Tyrell tells him that he is a Dheronian, a member of an alien race at war with the Kryptonians. Both species were enemies and fought each other for many years, preventing either race from fully developing the capability of space travel. Eventually, a mysterious person came to Dheron and offered the Dheronians a chance to defeat Krypton. Implanting special drills in Krypton's core, the Dheronians were responsible for Krypton's destruction, not an accident. He came to kill Superman, the last Kryptonian, and he is prepared to destroy Earth to do so.
He then hit's Superman with a high-gravity red-sunlight beam. Jimmy tries to help him, but the gravity is too much for him to endure. Then, Lois and Jimmy drive a heavy duty cement truck into and out of the gravity beam, dragging Superman to safety. Superman immediately recovers and engages Tyrell again.
In that moment, Superman's ship, having escaped from military custody, finds Superman, who pilots it into Tyrell's command ship. Entering Tyrell's ship, Superman heavily damages the ship's fusion reactor. The ship's red sunlight strips Superman and Tyrell of their powers, and Superman defeats Tyrell in combat, one of his punches leaving Tyrell impaled on a nearby piece of machinery. Then, Clark escapes from the ship before it explodes, leaving Tyrell to die.
Afterwards, Superman destroys all the drills Tyrell had placed around Earth to destroy the planet's core, effectively ending the Dheronian threat, and realizing that acting and using his powers publicly is what gives him true satisfaction, decides to continue acting as a "superhero".
After the battle has ended, Clark buys some clothes and glasses to make a disguise he can use to conceal his identity, returns to the Daily Planet, and presents Perry an interview he wrote about the new hero, saying that the hero is named "Superman." Amazed by Clark's story, Perry gives him a job as a reporter.
Superman goes to the Arctic and makes a cave where he can be alone with his starship, believing it to be sentient. He asks the ship to his purpose on Earth, and the ship replies that Superman must use his powers with wisdom and avenge the death of his home world. Accepting his new place as protector of Earth, Superman returns to Metropolis and Jimmy takes a picture of him.
Attack of the Parasite
Some time after Superman's first victory, Clark has continued his work on the Daily Planet. Clark also moves into a new apartment building and befriends his neighbor Lisa Lasalle. They both go to watch a movie together but Clark has to leave when he gets news about a tsunami hitting the island of Borada. Putting on his costume, Superman flies to address the emergency.
Arriving at Borada, Superman uses his speed to dissipate the tsunami and save civilians. However, General Samsa, the nation's dictator, believes Superman to be a threat and orders him to leave, otherwise he will kill his own people. Horrified by Samsa's cruelty, Superman agrees to leave. As he returns to work, Clark hears on the radio that the situation on Borada is getting worse and so far, the government has refused any kind of international help. Frustrated, Clark crushes a stapler.
As Clark returns home, he finds that Lisa has arranged a special dinner at her apartment. Lisa then puts on a night gown, teasing Clark about sex and making him nervous. As they share their dinner, the building loses power. Clark and Lisa then realize a few city blocks have lost power as well. Clark then leaves Lisa to investigate.
Superman goes to the emergency site and discovers a large creature, a Parasite, destroying everything in sight. As the two clash, Superman begins to feel weaker and the creature gains the upper hand. Realizing the Parasite is absorbing his energy, Superman decides to retreat and goes to the Arctic, where his ship has constructed a large structure under an icepack. He asks the ship if there is a way to protect himself from his new enemy and the ship theorizes that it could build a protection warsuit for Superman but it will take time.
However, the Parasite continues his attack and threatens to kill his friends on the Daily Planet. The ship advises Clark that if continues to exert himself with his powers weakened, his cells could suffer permanent damage and his powers could be gone forever. Ignoring the ship, Superman returns to Metropolis and pushes the Parasite away from his friends, taking the fight to an abandoned street. However, the Parasite absorbs Superman's energy and escapes.
Weakened, Clark takes off his suit and hides it within the wall of an abandoned building and returns to Lisa's apartment, passing out from his injuries. Lisa takes care of Clark until he wakes up. Lisa is amazed that his injuries healed so quickly. Then, Clark and Lisa have an intimate moment and share a kiss, until Clark's x-ray vision is restored.
Clark then retrieves his outfit and goes back to the Arctic, where the ship explains that the yellow sun has slowly begun to heal his bodies. The ship also outfits Superman with the now completed warsuit. Superman then goes to fight the Parasite, who is once again attacking Metropolis.
The fight is fierce and both opponents wear each other down. The Parasite breaches the warsuit and is about to absorb Superman's powers until his sister, Theresa, arrives. Breaking away from the fight, the Parasite tries to hugs her but ends up killing her with his powers. Grief-stricken, the Parasite blames Superman for her death and continues his attack. Superman punches the Parasite down with all his strength, finally defeating him.
Later, Clark talks with his mother on the phone and tells her about his experience with the Parasite and his brief power loss. He says that when he lost his powers, he felt vulnerable for the first time, but he also felt how brave people can be to live their lives. In that way, he has begun to admire humans more than ever. Suddenly, Clark hears Lisa is in danger and goes to her apartment, finding a man attacking her. Putting on his Superman outfit, he flies her attacker to Alaska and warns him not to get near her again.
That night, Lisa goes to visit Clark at his apartment and confesses that she has been working as a prostitute to earn extra money and make ends meet. She did not say anything because Clark is one of the very few people who have ever been nice to her and she did not want to lose him. Clark is upset but still agrees to remain friends with her.
Superman returns to Boroda and instigates a violent rebellion against General Samsa, inspiring a democratic reform. Clark then returns to his apartment and realizes that Eddie Monroe, one of his neighbors, died of a heroin overdose. At work, Clark writes an article about Eddie to raise awareness of substance abuse. Clark also receives a call from his old junior high teacher, Jo Ann Massie, who tells him that Lois Lane asked her about his backgrounds and interests. Clark then realizes that Lois wants to find out the truth about him.
Coming of General Zod
One week after the fight with the Parasite, Clark has a vivid dream about his parents back on Krypton. Around that time, he and Lisa had become closer and began harboring romantic feelings for one another. On the Daily Planet, Clark and Jimmy have a talk about Lois investigating Clark behind his back. Meanwhile, Lois had installed a distress signal on a rooftop to summon Superman, who answers her call. She warns him that she learned from her uncle, a United Nations delegate, that the U.N is developing fail-safes against Superman. He does not take her concerns seriously, as he does not have any quarrel with the government.
Later at the Daily Planet, Clark confronts Lois about her research on him. Lois agree to drop her investigation, as she had come to trust Clark. Upon returning home, Clark attempts to have another intimate moment with Lisa until he hears an emergency and is forced to leave. The emergency in question is a collapsing bridge. When Superman intervenes, he comes across a mysterious cloaked figure, who identifies himself as Zod-El, claiming to be Superman's uncle. Although Superman is glad to find a fellow Kryptonian survivor, he has reservations about whether or not Zod can be trusted. Zod understands and leaves to explore Earth, telling Superman he will find him later.
Back home, Clark recieves advise from Martha about asking his ship about Zod. Martha also advises Clark to be more open about Lisa. When Clark leaves his apartment, his landlord informs him Lisa briefly entered his apartment when Clark was out, worrying Clark. Afterwards, Superman finds Zod above Metropolis, and Zod offers to inform Superman about his family and Krypton's history. Superman accepts and both Kryptonians leave Metropolis.
Zod takes Superman to his spacecraft, landed in a remote desert. When Zod opens his ship's canopy, Superman is exposed to strange green radioactive rocks that severely weaken him. In that moment, Zod brutally attacks Superman, revealing he has come to Earth to kill him. The green rocks are in fact Krypton's radioactive remains; Zod had gathered them to use them as a weapon against Superman; but they are harmless to Zod because he had his suit equipped with countermeasures. However, Superman is able to break a water duct nearby and use the water within to shortcircuit Zod's suit, rendering him vulnerable to the rocks as well.
Superman barely escapes from Zod and reaches a U.S. military base. There, he asks the soldiers for help, but the commanding officer reveals Zod convinced the world governments to declare Superman an international enemy; therefore, every military and police force on Earth will not intervene in Zod's campaign. Superman flies to the Arctic, asking his ship about Zod. The ship reveals Zod incited a military coup to take over Krypton but was defeated and fled. Then, Zod travelled to planet Dheron and helped the Dheroians in their own war against Krypton, supplying them with Kryptonian technology. He gave them one condition: to exterminate every Kryptonian in sight, and if they could not do it, he would do it himself. That was the reason Tyrell invaded Earth in the first place; and now, Zod had come to finsh the job.
Horrified by Zod's cruelty, Superman resolves to stop Zod, no matter the cost. The ship informs Zod is travelling to Clark's apartment building, where he keeps information about his family and friends. Superman is barely able to intercept him, and they engage in battle. Zod taunts him about killing everyone Superman, enraging him. In that moment, he sees the distress signal in the sky and flies off to meet Lois. But when he reaches the building, he does not find Lois; instead he comes across Doctors Lex and Alexandra Luthor, a duo of scientists who had developed a red sunlight weapon. The weapon's effects drain his powers and leave Superman at Zod's mercy.
Superman attempts to escape while waiting for his powers to return. He asks the afraid civillians for a cellphone and one citizen complies, allowing Superman the opportunity to speak to Martha, possibly for the last time. When Zod is about to attack him again, he is then slammed by a cement truck driven by Lisa, who is left heavily injured and begs Superman to escape. Coming to the realization that Lisa knows his secret identity, Superman chooses to go down fighting.
Then, Zod is hit by another red solar blast fired by Lex Luthor, who had decided to help Superman. With the odds even, Superman attacks Zod and gives Luthor enough time to shoot Zod again. But just as he is hit by the weapon's shot, Zod impales Lex with rebar, mortally wounding him. In that moment, Alexandra shoots Zod multiple times with a handgun, killing him. As Lex dies in Alexandra's arms, she blames Superman for her husband's death and shoots him; but Superman's powers fully return and the bullets have no effect on him. Superman takes Luthor's red solar weapon and flies away, apologizing to Alexandra for what happened.
The next morning, Clark visits Lisa at the hospital, where they profess their love for one another and finally enter a relationship. To make sure Lisa gets the best care, Clark pays the hospital with pure diamonds. Later, Superman berates the United Nations for aligning themselves with Zod. Although he understands their distrust of him, Superman says that someone with the strength and the lack of morality to kill him might not stop with him, so perhaps it is better for the world if Superman is around. No matter what happens, Superman will never stray from his mission to protect Earth. After concluding his speech, Superman asks Lois to be his political conscience and she agrees.
After Lisa checks out of the hospital, Clark finally introduces her to Martha and comforts Martha over what happened with Zod. Also, the ship had created a new protective suit for Superman, who uses it in order to extact the radioactive material in Zod's ship. But when he opens Zod's ship, Superman finds the radioactive rocks have vanished. Much later, Clark and Lisa are watching TV until he spots the distress signal and Lisa encourages him to go, accepting his double life. Motivated by Lisa's understanding, Superman flies into action.
Growing up as the only one of his kind and alienated by his peers, Clark was a very confused, lonely and lost person in his adolescence and young adulthood, and remained socially awkward well into maturity. Advised by his parents to seek his own happiness after his lonely childhood, Clark was initially extremely conflicted about assuming the role of Superman, considering using his powers to achieve career and financial success; Clark in fact chose prior to the Dheronian invasion not to assume the role, believing it would forbid him from living an ordinary life. Additionally, he is occasionally known to be exceedingly ruthless against enemies such as Tyrell or General Samsa, short-sided of the repercussions of his actions (which he attempted to account for by asking Lois Lane to help guide him in political areas), and headstrong when dealing with those he believes to be in the wrong, such as the government and military due to their distrust of him and willingness to sacrifice him. However, Superman does wish to use his powers for the good of humanity, acting courageously in its defense against powerful enemies and willing to admit to his mistakes when he realizes them.
- Kryptonian Physiology: Under the effects of a "yellow" sun, Kal-El possesses the same potential powers as an average Kryptonian. These include:
- Solar Energy Absorption: Under optimal conditions, this is the main source of Kal-El'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: Kal-El 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: Kal-El'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: Kal-El'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: Kal-El 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. Kal-Els 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: Kal-El can see with better acuity in darkness, and to a degree in total darkness.
- Flight: Kal-El 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, Kal-El is nigh-invulnerable to extreme energy forces. In addition, his extends this protection against toxins and diseases.
- Superhuman Stamina: Kal-El 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: Kal-El'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: Kal-El 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: Kal-El 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: Kal-El can live longer than regular humans, remaining at his prime as long as he was under the exposure of the "yellow" sun.
- Eidetic Memory: Clark has the ability to recall everything he has ever read or heard with absolute precision.
- Enhanced Intellect: Superman possesses incredible intelligence and computational abilities.
- Expert Combatant: In combat situations, Superman makes use of an improvised fighting style that relies on overwhelming force and speed. Despite his lack of military training, Superman was able to hold his own against trained soldiers such as Tyrell and General Zod. Superman claims he became good fighting because he was bullied at school.
- 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. Over time, Superman becomes more optimistic and shows a refusal to give up, even when things look bad.
- Journalism: Clark is one of the top reporters on the Daily Planet, rivaled only by Lois Lane.
- Superman was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, first appearing in Action Comics #1. However, in the Earth-1 universe, his first appearance is in the first book of J. Michael Straczynski's Superman: Earth One series.
- 8 Appearances of Kal-El (Earth-1)
- 50 Images featuring Kal-El (Earth-1)
- 2 Quotations by or about Kal-El (Earth-1)
- Character Gallery: Kal-El (Earth-1)
Daily Planet Staff member