- Listen to me, Clark. Of all the things you can do...all your powers...the greatest has always been your instinctive knowledge...of right...and wrong. It was a gift of your own humanity. You never had to question your choices. In any situation...any crisis...you knew what to do. But the minute you made the super more important than the man...the day you decided to turn your back on mankind...that completely cost you your instinct. That took your judgement away. Take it back. If you want redemption, Clark...it lies in the very next decision you make. Make it as a man...and make it right.
Superman was an alien immigrant named Kal-El from the doomed planet Krypton and was raised in Smallville, Kansas, to become an American superhero. Raised with high moral ideals and possessing incredible powers, Superman was the most highly respected hero on Earth.
Over the years, Superman worked in his secret identity of journalist Clark Kent, working for the Daily Planet, and soon fell in love and wed with his fellow reporter Lois Lane. However, tragedy struck for Superman in which he was too late to save his wife and the staff members at the Daily Planet from a gas attack by the Joker. Superman arrived to find that his wife has survived the initial attack due to her concealed gas mask, but suffered a fatal injury to the skull. She survives long enough for her husband to find her dying. Using his x-ray vision he finds that he cannot save her, but Lois makes the visibly murderous and angry Superman promises not to kill the Joker in retribution; he solemnly agreed as she dies. Trying to maintain his faith in humanity, he arrested the Joker, but only for the villain to be killed by a new superhero named Magog.
Although Superman had Magog put on trial for his murder, Magog was acquitted for his cold-blooded act as the people accepted him for permanently ridding a very dangerous criminal. This act shattered Superman's faith in general goodness over the general populace's acceptance of murder as a reasonable way to deal with the criminal problem while overtly grown weary of superheroes like Superman whose refusal to kill allowed super-villains to terrorize the populace again and again once they escaped or were paroled. Feeling defeated by the public's perception, Superman gave up his heroic ways and retreated from the world at large by spending his time in the Fortress of Solitude where he merely observed the acts of humankind rather than acting, until new events inspired his return less than a decade later.
Second Coming of Superman
During Superman's absence, he intentionally failed to realize his importance as a constant inspiration/role model to other heroes. Other heroes, equally disturbed at the public's overwhelmingly positive reaction to Magog's actions, withdraw from the world at large or travelled to the far-flung future, leaving a power vacuum that is soon filled by the new generation of "heroes" Magog represents.
Without the moral restriction on superpower actions provided by Superman and his generation even the aggressive though still non-lethal Batman, there is little or no distinction between 'heroes' and 'villains' in the new superpowered combatants. Metahumans battle openly in the streets without true cause, concern for collateral damage, or innocent passersby. Average humans, demoralized by the loss of their true heroes, the disregard for them the new generation displays, and their inability to do anything about the state of affairs, had fallen into a societal depression. Efforts that celebrate human achievement, like professional sports, the Olympics and Nobel Prizes, have been abandoned. The dark state of the world comes to a head when the Justice Battalion, led by Magog, attacked the Parasite with excessive and unnecessary force, which indirectly resulted in the irradiation of the entire state of Kansas and parts of the surrounding states, taking out a large portion of America's food production.
Superman was coaxed back into action by Wonder Woman, who convinced him to return to Metropolis and reform the Justice League. The yellow aspects of his costume replaced by black as a badge of mourning for those lost in the Kansas disaster, Superman intended to enforce morality upon the metahumanity by offering them a choice: Join his League and abide by a code of ethics, or be made a prisoner by it. He managed to collect former heroes (including Green Lantern, the Flash, Hawkman and Dick Grayson, now known as Red Robin), reformed "new heroes," such as Avia (Mr. Miracle and Big Barda's daughter) and even a time-travelling member of the future Legion of Super-Heroes and his cousin's child, Brainiac's Daughter.
But Batman, one of the most prominent of the old guard, refused to join Superman's crusade. Batman believed Superman's idealist notions are outdated and that his interference will only exacerbate the problem. He interpreted Superman's plan as an example of the strong exerting their will upon the weak, something to which he will not be a part of. He instead began to organize a third group of heroes, made up largely of non-powered heroes like Green Arrow and the Blue Beetle, as well as second and third generation heroes like Jade, daughter of the first Green Lantern, and Zatara, son of Zatanna and grandson of the first generation hero whose name he shares.
Superman's Justice League gathered more captives than converts, and his requests to build a prison safely away from humanity were refused by both Aquaman, who wants no part of the coming war to reach his undersea kingdom, and Orion, who has wrested control of Apokolips from his father Darkseid, and saw the inherent flaws and inevitable collapse in Superman's plan.
Superman and the League end up building the Gulag, a massive penal colony in the Kansas wastelands. Security for the Gulag is designed by Scott Free, the universe's ultimate escape artist. The prison was filled to capacity almost as soon as it is built. Superman designated Captain Comet as warden and works to persuade the inmates that their methods are wrong-headed and dangerous, but his entreaties fall upon deaf ears. With hostile hero-villains like 666, Kabuki Kommando, and Von Bach locked up together, pressure builds. Meanwhile, Superman, urged on by Wonder Woman, reacts with increasing inflexibility toward the inappropriate behavior of the metahuman community. He learned that Wonder Woman's ardent militant stance may be influenced by her recent exile from Paradise Island: In the eyes of the Amazons, her mission to bring peace to the outside world has failed.
At the midst of this, Superman's nemesis, Lex Luthor, had organized the Mankind Liberation Front, which the MLF work to wrest control of the world away from the heroes. To proceed in this plan, Luthor captured Captain Marvel years earlier, had him under his thrall, and planned on using him to exacerbate the conflict between the League and the inmates by setting Captain Marvel against the League, the Gulag and Superman. The ensuing chaos will afford Luthor an opportunity to seize power. However, Batman, after appearing to made an alliance with the MLF, turned his forces on Luthor and his co-conspirators, but were unable to restrain Captain Marvel.
When the Gulag's inmates riot, killing Captain Comet, Wonder Woman convinced the members of the League to use deadly force to deal with the inmates of the Gulag. Superman was the only one who objected, and later finds Batman and forces him to recognize that they may very well be facing the end of the world. Superman knows that Batman will act, because his entire crime-fighting life was based upon the desire to prevent the loss of human life.
Upon arriving at the Gulag, Superman and Captain Marvel battle. As conditions worsen, the United Nations, fearful of the superhuman war and community in general, decided to drop a nuclear bomb on the site of the superhuman battle. Superman was able to break Captain Marvel free from his brainwash and attempted to stop the bombing, but Captain Marvel sacrificed himself in Superman's place. However, the blast still killed most of the superpowered fighters in the immediate area.
Arrival on New Earth
At the immediate interval of the explosion, Superman was taken from his own dimension to New Earth. This passage to New Earth was a result of a dimensional portal created inadvertently by Starman (Thom Kallor), when he used his powers to stop a raging mystical fire that was emanating from the hole in the chest of the villain Goth which the Justice Society of America couldn't otherwise contain. Starman succeeded in creating a black hole and placing Goth inside it; although it seemed that Goth's powers harmlessly erupted in the black hole, it also caused a dimensional rift that brought this Superman to New Earth.
Superman was greatly depressed, due to his own life events and in part made worse by seeing the counterparts of his dead Earth-22 friends at JSA Headquarters. Although the JSA sought to unravel the mystery of his appearance and identity, he made what appeared to be an (eventually successful) escape attempt, during which he exerted an impressive level of power, including defeating Starman's gravity powers which had made Superman ten times heavier than normal. It was soon revealed, however, that his 'escape' was not an effort to run from the JSA, but rather to save a young woman who was attempting suicide. He had heard her mumble about how the "world doesn't need her" from blocks away, and her depth of despair snapped him out of his own feelings of failing and loss. Upon her rescue he says, with words meant for them both, that "Giving up never helped anyone miss. Trust me on that." In saving her, he began to save himself. Superman then returned to the JSA headquarters and met with the JSA, the Justice League, and his own younger counterpart, the Superman of New Earth, to discuss his real identity and background.
The struggles and depression caused by Superman's life thus far continued to color his outlook for some time. This could be seen, for example, such as when dealing with Japanese metahuman assassins who were trying to kill the new Judomaster, Superman showed he had little or no problem threatening the lives of his opponents. Whereas, in the past he would have first sought to prevent a villain from causing civilian casualties, it is shown that he would sooner assault or harm the villain directly rather than remove them from the area. However, Kal-El also sought an understanding with Power Girl such that they could act as each others' family, since each of them reminded the other of deceased family members, which Power Girl accepted.
After Mr. America brings word of his run-in with William Matthews, also known as Gog, to the JSA, Superman then visits Metropolis. While there he uses his powers to hear the various conversations around the city and to check for his New-Earth counterpart, which leads him eventually to the Daily Planet. While there he is almost overwhelmed by the sight of his friends, and, more profoundly, the sight of Lois being alive. This emotional tumult is interrupted by the New Earth Superman's arrival, however, and they talk about Gog and the danger he represents. The differences between the two Supermen is further shown when Kal-El demonstrates how much more powerful he is over the New Earth Superman by hearing something in Gotham City with his super-hearing that the New Earth Superman cannot, and it pertains to Gog. Arriving in Gotham City, they both address Hercules, who had been fighting Gog and had survived his attack. When New Earth Superman goes to question him, Hercules elbows him in the face causing Superman to bleed and then he punches him, causing him to fly into a building. When Hercules comes face to face with Earth-22 Superman, Hercules goes to punch him, only to find out his attack has no effect whatsoever, except to damage Hercules' hand. The Earth-22 Superman smacked Hercules away in the same way Hercules had done earlier to the New Earth Superman.
Returning to the JSA headquarters, Superman and the JSA discussed the coming battle with Gog. Shortly, the headquarters was invaded by Gog himself, who incapacitated most of the team. Eventually the fight spilled into the street, where Power Girl managed to knock Gog down, causing him to drop his staff and allowing Amazing-Man to absorb its properties. The fight then goes to the African Congo where Matthews is attacked by his revived namesake, who states that Williams has abused his powers. Gog then absorbs Matthews, reclaiming all of his powers.
Kingdom Come: Again
Later, Kal-El becomes suspicious of David Reid, who had been revived by Gog as Magog, and he was fearful that if Reid is like the being he knew on Earth-22, New Earth is in great danger as well. To address this concern, Superman meets with Lois Lane and others to get some perspective on what has happened and what can possibly happen.
He then confronted Gog about the danger to the future, and a battle between the Old God and the JSA commenced. In the end, Gog was knocked down by Citizen Steel and beheaded by Magog. Superman and Starman took the severed head to the edge of the universe and place it in the Source Wall, where the rest of the Old Gods were also entombed. Gog ridicules Superman for leaving his world to die, saying that Earth-22 survived the nuclear war and Superman was being a coward for staying on New Earth rather than returning to his own Earth-22. Superman decided that he must go back and try even if there waa nothing left. He asked Starman to teleport him back to Earth-22 at the exact moment he took him from there, using his own suit as it is a map to the current Multiverse. He decides to avoid a long goodbye to his friends in the JSA, asking that Starman deliver his "thank you" to them.
When he returned to Earth-22, Superman arrived at the point shortly after Captain Marvel had set off the metahuman-destroying bomb over the Gulag. Enraged at what became of his friends, Superman proceeds to the United Nations, where he was intent on bringing down the building with all foreign dignitaries in it. He is intent, that is, until he is intervened by Norman McCay and shown how to see compassion and to remember what he once stood for. Kal-El is immediately ceased of his rampage and was then stunned to see his old friends enter the building alive and was handed Captain Marvel's cape, the only remnant of the hero, and then announcing to the U.N. that he will use his wisdom to guide, rather than lead, humankind. Superman tied Captain Marvel's cape to a flagpole and raises it among the flags of the member nations of the U.N.
Kal-El retreated to Kansas and spends the next few months creating a great memorial to those who died, as well as the innocents who lost their lives. It is here that Wonder Woman arrived and presented Kal-El with a duplicate round pair of glasses he wore in his Clark Kent identity. From then on, Kal-El, as Clark Kent, married Diana and had a son together named Johnathan Kent, who would also be trained by Bruce Wayne before Wayne died of old age and integrate all three of his parents into his costumed persona.
Superman would live a very long life. He and Diana would have four children with Bruce Wayne as their godfather. Twenty years later, Bruce Wayne would pass away and his funeral attended by Superman's family and many mourners. A hundred years later, Superman and Diana witnessed the advancement of humanity leaving Earth for the stars. Two-hundred years later, Superman and his family watch the old human civilization fall, until Superman helped in rebuilding Earth as a farmer in the next five-hundred years.
One thousand years later, Superman, now a very old and very retired man, takes appreciation at a galactic federation of planets protected by a Legion of Superheroes, based on the very concepts he upheld during his time. He smiles happily at his legacy.
This section of the history takes place during Convergence, a massive crossover event revisiting characters from past eras and realities. The villains Brainiac and Telos plucked them from their own timeline and stored them together, causing them to cross over into each others' reality. Its precise chronological placement and canonicity may be unclear.
Superman and Metropolis were taken to Convergence by Brainiac and Telos, where his city is placed under a dome and he loses his powers for a year. After the dome goes down, he personally fought Pre-Zero Hour Superboy. During their fight, Superman was surprised to encounter the Pre-Zero Hour Lois Lane, who asks him for an interview. During this interview, Superboy smashes a rock against his head, but part of the rock hits Lois and Flash rushes her to the hospital. Superboy then lets Superman knock him out in recompense.
In desperation to save his world, Superman and his Justice League allied with Deimos. But after Deimos reveals he was planning to kill them all anyway, Superman sided with the other heroes to defeat Deimos.
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.
Due to many decades of exposure to Earth's Sun, Superman has developed almost complete immunity to Kryptonite
- Kryptonian Physiology: Under the effects of a "yellow" sun, Superman possesses the same potential weaknesses as an average Kryptonian. These include:
- According to character supplement in Kingdom Come / Revelations, while making the concept art of Superman Alex Ross was following in the direction of Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, where Superman hadn't aged in 20 years. After being spoken by others that his drawings made Superman to have a "time-worn, weathered look," it gave Ross the idea that it is suitable for Superman to "experience as many of the humbling aspects of humanity as he could" and that aging naturally would offset his more godlike attributes. Ross credited the creation of the Kingdom Come Superman as his most satisfying visual and emotional accomplishment, as he stands out as the most compelling figure he illustrated.
- Superman's costume is based on Joe Shuster's original designs, and most heavily influenced by the Fleischer Superman cartoons according to Alex Ross in Kingdom Come / Revelations.
- While effectively continuations of the same individual, there are some differences between versions of this Kal-El; specifically, it is unlikely the Earth 22 incarnation of him went through the events of Thy Kingdom Come, due to the significant post-Flashpoint changes to the nature of Earth 0.
- This incarnation of Superman is briefly mistaken for the dead Earth-Two Kal-L by the JSA, though most of the JSA members immediately recognize that he is not the same man.
Main article: Kingdom Come
- Superman Recommended Reading
- Action Comics (Volume 1)
- Action Comics (Volume 2)
- Adventures of Superman (Volume 1)
- Batman/Superman (Volume 1)
- Batman/Superman (Volume 2)
- DC Comics Presents (Volume 1)
- Superman (Volume 1)
- Superman (Volume 2)
- Superman (Volume 3)
- Superman (Volume 4)
- Superman (Volume 5)
- Superman/Batman (Volume 1)
- Superman Confidential (Volume 1)
- Superman: The Man of Steel (Volume 1)
- Superman: The Man of Tomorrow (Volume 1)
- Superman/Wonder Woman (Volume 1)
- World's Finest (Volume 1)
- 59 Appearances of Kal-El (Earth-22)
- 50 Images featuring Kal-El (Earth-22)
- 6 Quotations by or about Kal-El (Earth-22)
- Character Gallery: Kal-El (Earth-22)
- Justice Society of America Kingdom Come Special Superman #1
- Kingdom Come #1
- Justice Society of America (Volume 3) #9
- Justice Society of America (Volume 3) #10
- Justice Society of America (Volume 3) #11
- Justice Society of America (Volume 3) #12
- Justice Society of America (Volume 3) #13
- Justice Society of America (Volume 3) #14
- Justice Society of America (Volume 3) #15
- Justice Society of America (Volume 3) #22
- Final Crisis #7
- Convergence: Superboy #1
- Convergence: Superboy #2
- Convergence #6
- Convergence #7
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.
Justice Society of America member
Superman Family member