“His whole planet was destroyed. He’s the last of a holocaust. He grew up in the dirt. Finding out slowly how different he was. A stranger discovering every day how strange he was. He has the power to tear the world apart. And he could. With a pinkie. It’s not his world. We’re not his people. We should be ants to him. Imagine that. Always being on the outside. The pain that would come from always being on the outside. And yet, he took that pain and became the symbol of hope. “
Episode Length: 01:05:45
Superman Created By Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster
First Appearance: Action Comics #1 (1938)
THE MAN OF STEEL
The Man of Steel was a six-issue limited series published on a bi-weekly basis from October until December of 1986. Written and drawn by John Byrne, the series reimagined the origin of Superman and provided a snapshot of the events that first inspired him to become the Man of Steel. This series represents the first official appearance of the Post-Crisis Superman and ignores the continuity presented in previous works.
Chapter One: The Secret
Years later in Smallville, teenager Clark Kent single-handedly wins the high school football championship for Smallville High. As the crowd carries him off on their shoulders, his father Jonathan Kent approaches and beckons him away. He drives Clark back to the Kent family farm and warns him about showy displays of his powers. As they return home, Jonathan takes him to an abandoned section of field, where he reveals the buried remains of the Kryptonian Birthing Matrix Clark landed in. Jonathan explains how his wife Martha and he found the birthing matrix in their field eighteen years ago, and had been concealing it ever since. Dealing with not only being an alien, but also being adopted, Clark determines that his days of irresponsible usage of his abilities must come to an end. He decides to leave Smallville, in search of places where he can do greater good.
Chapter Two: The Exposure
At the 250th anniversary celebration of Metropolis, where Clark Kent has been making his home for the past several years, a special NASA shuttle-craft named the Constitution prepares to land at Metropolis International Airport. Suddenly, a passenger plane enters the no-fly zone and collides with the Constitution. The shuttle goes into a tailspin and begins to falter. From the assembled crowd below, Clark Kent realizes that he has no choice but to save the people on board, even if it means revealing himself to the world. He flies upward and saves the shuttle. One of the passengers is Daily Planet reporter, Lois Lane. An interaction almost occurs between the two as she’s about to begin asking him questions, but they are swarmed by a crowded mob, which Superman flies away from and escapes. He returns to Smallville and confides in his parents, upset that despite his desires for secrecy, he was treated terribly like any commercial celebrity.
Epilogue: The Super-Hero
Jonathan concocts a way that Clark can continue to publicly use his abilities while simultaneously concealing his true identity. Martha Kent sews together a colorful, symbolic uniform for Clark to wear, using a gigantic “S” logo created by Clark and Jonathan. Although it is created with normal cloth, Martha long ago noticed that any fabric pressed right up close against him never tears anyway (although this will not protect his cape). Clark reinvents himself as Clark Kent into a humbler and meeker public identity with which to disguise himself, so he can lead a normal life. When it’s finished, he dons his costume for the first time, becoming… Superman.
Superman: Birthright is a twelve-issue comic book limited series published by DC Comics in 2003 and 2004, written by Mark Waid and drawn by Leinil Francis Yu and Gerry Alanguilan.
Originally, this series was intended to be a non-canon version of Superman, showcasing his origin and updating him for the 21st century. Soon after, it was decided to adopt the series as canon, and thus it replaced John Byrne’s The Man of Steel series as Superman’s canonical origin story. This editorial position lasted until the 2005–2006 Infinite Crisis crossover event, and the release of the new origin story; Superman: Secret Origin in 2009.
The cold, fairly dystopian re-imagining of Krypton created by John Byrne in the 1986 The Man of Steel limited series was jettisoned. Much like Jeph Loeb and others had done with their “Return to Krypton” arcs, Waid restored the idea of Krypton being more like it had been in the Silver Age, a place of great wonder and myth. In Jor-El’s words, the “people grew tired of war, so they made peace; they feared the unknown, so they conquered it with science; and they yearned for heaven, so they created it beneath their very feet…”. A substantial change was with the S-shield as well, no longer was it a symbol for his family’s house, as it had been in the Silver Age, or merely an “S” standing for Superman, as it had been in Byrne’s revamp, but now it was the Kryptonian symbol for hope. It was shown to be a popular symbol, used on flags, paintings, jewelry, and monuments all over Krypton. It was also on a red, blue, and yellow tapestry that was included in Kal-El’s rocket ship. Jor-El was still the scientist no one would believe, but instead of Kal-El being an embryo when he was rocketed off, he was again said to be a young child.
The Kents were still farmers, as always, but they were even younger than they had been before. Whereas John Byrne had portrayed them as perhaps in their early to mid thirties when they found Kal-El (making them in their mid sixties or perhaps even seventies during Superman’s adventures), Waid portrays them as being between 20 and 25 (again to make them closer to their Smallville counterparts). Their characters are also given an overhaul in their personalities to make them more “modern.” Martha, for example, is far from the simple lovable, wise farmer’s wife who loves to bake and knit. She is portrayed as being fascinated with aliens, U.F.O.s, etc., and even runs her own website dedicated to such stuff when Clark is in his twenties.
The entire dynamic between John and Clark regarding his Superman identity has also been reversed. In Byrne’s era, Superman was committed to using his powers in secret, and once “outed” he retreated to Smallville, unsure of what to do. It was Jonathan’s suggestion that he adopt a costume and dual identity, inspired by the JSA of the 1940s. Waid’s story, however, has Clark coming up with the idea of the costume and identity, and shows Jon dismayed at the idea, feeling like Clark is trying to abandon his identity (and, by extension, his connection to his earth family).
Waid also brought about a new (or arguably, reintroduced an old) vision power, sometimes referred to as “soul vision.” Essentially, Clark can see the “aura” surrounding a living being, an aura that disappears when they die. Waid introduced this as a way of explaining why Clark feels so compelled to defend life, as he can literally see it. Going along with this power, Waid also changed Clark into a vegetarian. These decisions have met with mixed reactions from fans.
Superman: Secret Origin is a 2009 miniseries by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank. Superman’s origin story, most recently told in 2003–2004’s Superman: Birthright limited series, has received numerous retcons and changes in the aftermath of the Infinite Crisis storyline. Starting with Clark Kent in his pre-teens as Superboy.
Within the series he goes on to meet a young Lex Luthor and the Legion of Super-Heroes in Smallville, Kansas, and soon heads to Metropolis where a young adult Clark debuts as Superman.
Secret Origin was told from the perspective of Clark Kent and no single issue took place on his homeworld of Krypton.
While playing football, a young Clark Kent accidentally breaks Pete Ross’s arm. The next day, Clark panics when he discovers x-ray vision and nearly burns his school down with his heat vision upon kissing Lana Lang. Clark’s parents Jonathan and Martha Kent realize it is time and they show him the rocket that brought him to Earth. The rocket reveals a holograph of Jor-El and Lara, who tell him about themselves and the planet Krypton, and that he is not one of “them.” Elsewhere in Smallville, a young Lex Luthor discovers a chunk of Kryptonite and takes it to a street fair the next morning where he is selling his stuff. There he meets Clark, who is now wearing glasses. After Clark becomes weak and almost damages the Kryptonite, a tornado appears without warning and he rescues Lana while learning he can fly.
Later, he tells his parents what happened and that he wants to help people; Martha determines he will need an indestructible outfit and makes one based on one of the wardrobes from the holographic images. Clark tries it on and swears that he will never wear it again. A drunken Lionel Luthor, Lex’s father, drives off a cliff but is rescued by Clark. Because he is embarrassed by the costume, no one sees the rumored “flying boy.” After Lex refuses to be friends, Lana leaving because he wants to be just friends, and overhearing other kids teasing him, a depressed Clark is amazed to meet Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad of the Legion of Super-Heroes. The Legionnaires bend their rules to take Clark to the future, but once they arrive, they fight a group of human supremacists. After the fight, Brainiac 5 angrily reminds them of the consequences of their actions and the Legionnaires return Clark to the present. They leave Clark with a Legion flight ring to which to communicate, though agreeing telepathically not to tell him about his future. As Clark describes the future to his parents, Clark stops a rocket heading toward their house to reveal Krypto inside. Later, upon hearing his father died from heart failure, a gleeful Lex Luthor plans to use Lionel’s insurance policy to go to Metropolis.
Years later, a now adult Clark Kent walks around Metropolis, awestruck. Arriving at the dilapidated Daily Planet, he meets Rudy Jones, the overweight janitor, as well as the staff that consists of Ron Troupe, Steve Lombard, Cat Grant, photography intern Jimmy Olsen, and finally Lois Lane and Perry White. Because billionaire and businessman Lex Luthor nearly killed the Planet financially because of a story they had about him, Perry forbids Lois to get involved with Luthor. Ignoring the warning, Lois takes Clark, her new partner, to Lexcorp. Lois disguises herself and sneaks inside Lexcorp while Clark distracts the guards as Planet reporters are not welcomed. Lois watches as Lex unveils Metallo, his powered exoskeleton battlesuit, but is found by the security guards. She flees, but a mistake sends her falling from the roof. Clark sneaks into an alley, changes into his costume, and rescues her, revealing his superpowered self to the public. While in awe over the “flying man”, others are scared and the police question him. Clark flees, fearing that he has made a “big mistake.”
Lex’s daily tradition is to select someone from a crowd around his tower, and provide them with a new life; the newest member happens to be Rudy. Rudy is brought in and offered all he can eat. He eats a donut that was dropped in bio-waste, which causes him to turn into something hideous. Curious about the “flying man”, Lex meets with Lois and Clark. Clark leaves to confront Rudy as the Parasite. Clark manages to get Parasite out of the building and freeze him. The people are grateful but don’t know what to make of Clark. It becomes worse when Lex arrives and claims the “flying man” isn’t even human. Clark leaves, and on the roof of the Daily Planet, sees Jimmy on the ledge. They talk about how they’re currently feeling, with Jimmy thinking of returning to New York. Clark persuades Jimmy to stay, since he’s his “only friend” in Metropolis, and lets Jimmy take his picture. The next issue of the Daily Planet runs with Lois’s story and Jimmy’s picture, naming “Superman” as the city’s new savior. Lex, furious, declares a personal war on Perry White.
After Superman puts out a fire in the Daily Planet’s main warehouse, he tells Jimmy and Lois that the fire was arson, part of an attack on Planet. While still wary, public opinion is improving on Superman thanks to the Planet, and their circulation rises by 700%. Lex calls upon General Sam Lane, Lois’ father, who agrees to help Lex in exchange for weapons technology. Lex reveals that Superman is an alien, and can likely be stopped by the kryptonite rock Lex has, which also powers the Metallo battlesuit. Lois is greeted by Sgt. John Corben, with whom her father prefers she has a relationship. Lois refuses to date him, but John persists, and Clark steps in when Corben gets abusive.
John leaves to meet Lex and Sam and agrees to pilot Metallo. Clark takes Lois to lunch, where she continues to notice that he’s not all he seems to be. Clark hears an explosion and leaves to become Superman but the explosion was a fake; Sam Lane had caused it in order to meet Superman. Sam accuses him of being an alien and wants to know what his goals are, particularly with Lois. Superman, feeling as if he is being interrogated, and tries to leave, but Sam tells Superman that if he leaves he’ll be declared an enemy. Superman leaves anyway, and Sam orders the Army to attack. The soldiers do little to Superman, but John, in the Metallo suit, manages to weaken him by exposing him to the kryptonite. Ricocheting bullets hit the kryptonite, which explodes and injures John and allows Superman to escape. Sam and his troops arrive at the Daily Planet, and orders it shut down until they can get definitive answers about Superman.
Lex takes John into surgery and replaces his heart with a kryptonite generator, turning him into Metallo. Sam reveals to Lois, Perry, and the Daily Planet staff that Superman is an alien. While Jimmy distracts the soldiers with his camera, Lois escapes. Soldiers find Superman in the sewers and the battle erupts onto one of the main streets of the city. Metallo enters the fight, injuring his own soldiers in order to get to Superman. Lois arrives to warn him about the kryptonite and tells him to leave, but he refuses to give up. Metallo attacks Superman with a kryptonite ray, threatening the bystanders. Superman melts a manhole to cover the kryptonite and flies Metallo into space until the lack of oxygen knocks him out. Sam arrives and orders Superman and Lois arrested.
The crowd turns on the Army, and Superman orders the crowd to stop, telling them that they are meant to be Metropolis’s saviors. Not the Army, not Lex Luthor, nor Superman himself. Superman meets with Lex and tells him Metropolis does not belong to him anymore. Lex angrily objects since Superman is not from Earth. Superman replies, “This is my home,” and leaves. Later, Lex goes to pick another person from the crowd to give a new life, only to find no one there. The Daily Planet celebrates becoming the top-selling newspaper in the city. Superman visits Lois atop the Daily Planet building and thanks her for making him feel like he belongs there. He starts the Planet’s rusty globe spinning again. Lois asks, “Are you a man or an alien?” His response is, “I’m Superman, Lois” and then flies across Metropolis.
The Final Days of Superman
Superman: The Final Days of Superman is the final arc of Superman (Volume 3), which features the last days of the Superman of the New 52. Immediately following this story, the character was rebooted as part of Rebirth, where elements of the Prime Earth and New Earth continuity were merged for Superman: Reborn.
Clark Kent, his wife Lois Lane and Jon Kent are having a party for their anniversary where Jon gives his mom a journal and a farming book for his dad. The family hear ringing on their doorbell and Jon sees a human Clark walking off while leaving a blank book.
The family look into the book, and they see pictures of themselves from another time (before The New 52) with Jon asking why isn’t he in these pics.Superman realizes their house is engulfed with blue fire but the house is being erased by something magical. Jon is caught by the flames and his parents attempt to put the flames out, but Jon suddenly vanishes without a trace. A few moments later, he reappears in a different room within the house. Superman covers Jon with his cape and the family makes their way outside. The flames consume the entire neighborhood, leaving no trace. Superman and Lois realize that their son was taken by the doppleganger and vow to get him back.
Superman flies Lois toward the apartment of the human doppleganger and while they are looking around they are confronted by the doppleganger. The doppleganger reveals himself as Mister Mxyzptlk and explains the reason why he took Jon away was because Superman never looked for him ever since he was captured and Superman cared more for Jon than him. Mr. Mxyzpltk also explained that he was the reason why the majority of the world forgot Superman’s identity and has hidden Jon somewhere where Superman cant find him. Mr. Mxyzpltlk disappears leaving Superman and Lois alone in the apartment. To make matters worse, Mxyzptlk erases Lois’ memory of Jon as another way to demoralize Superman.
Mr. Mxyzptlk goes to Jon and explains his history to him, and reveals that when he arrived in The New 52 universe he was suddenly taken away by a transdimensional booby trap by Mr. Oz. Mr Mxyzptlk waited for Superman but after years had passed he realized Superman didn’t care that he was gone and was angry and sad. Mr. Mxyzptlk says his name backwards multiple times until he was free, then disguised himself as Clark Kent to escape Mr. Oz, but in the process Mr. Mxyzptlk loses his memory. Jon wants to leave the dimension, and Mr. Mxyzptlk agrees to do it, but only if Jon picks the correct door. Jon picks the corrrect door, but he is back to where he was started
Jon is transported to a blue dimension where he sees blue glowing pictures of his family. Back on Earth, Superman tries to get Lois to remember, but when Lois doesn’t Superman gets angry and calls out Mr. Mxyzptlk who then appears and agrees to play a game with him. Both of them are transported in a different dimension, and Mr. Mxyzptlk admits that he can’t seem to separate the two of them since their love is so powerful, while also revealing that Superman was split into two beings (Pre-Flashpoint and New 52 Superman) which is the reason why Superman doesn’t feel “whole.” When New 52 Superman and Lois Lane died, they were made up of red energy while the current Superman and Lois Lane are made up of blue energy.
Jon Kent admits he misses his parents when red orbs come flying toward him, and it’s revealed to be the New 52 Superman and Lois Lane. Mxyzptlk creates an enormous building that he calls “The Infinite Planet” and says that Jon is waiting for his parents at the very top. If Superman and Lois reach the top and reunite with Jon, Mxyzptlk will leave and never return; but if they fail, Jon will remain by Mxyzptlk’s side forever and his parents will remain lost and forgotten. The terms are written in a contract that Superman and Lois reluctantly sign. The game begins and Mxyzptlk warns husband and wife that the higher they climb, the faster the blue energy they are composed will fade away. Superman and Lois beat the challenge, but Mr. Mxyzptlk accuses them of cheating and nearly kills them but Jon Kent breaks free of his prison touching his parents, but he transform them back to New 52 Superman and Lois Lane.
New 52 Superman and Lois Lane don’t recognize Jon Kent (since they never had kids or were in a relationship) and Mr. Mxyzptlk tries to take Jon but New 52 Superman stops him. Jon sees blue orbs and realizes that its his true parents souls and he blasts Mr. Mxyzptlk away. Mr. Mxyzptlk senses Jor-El found him and disappears. The Blue orbs merge with New 52 Superman and Lois Lane, and they both remember Jon Kent. There is a huge blue light and the timelines from New 52 Superman and Pre-Flashpoint Superman merge to form one new timeline with everyone regaining their memories of what happened before Flashpoint. The family escapes the dimension, and Mr. Oz congratulates the family before wondering if that someone has noticed what had happened.
SPOTLIGHT: ACTION COMICS #1000
Celebrate the comic that started it all! From today’s explosive action to a previously unpublished tale illustrated by the legendary Curt Swan to the Man of Tomorrow’s future—this very special, oversized issue presents the best of the best in Superman stories!
- From The City That Has Everything
- Never-Ending Battle
- An Enemy Within
- The Car
- The Fifth Season
- Of Tomorrow
- Five Minutes
- Faster Than A Speeding Bullet
- The Truth
Our Worlds At War
Superman For All Seasons