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Real name Clark Joseph Kent, né Kal-El (véritable identité)Superman is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. The character is considered an American cultural icon. The Superman character was created by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster in 1933; the character was sold to Detective Comics, Inc. (later DC Comics) in 1938. Superman first appeared in Action Comics #1 (June 1938) and subsequently appeared in various radio serials, newspaper strips, television programs, films, and video games. With the character's success, Superman helped to create the superhero genre and establish its primacy within the American comic book.
Superman's appearance is distinctive and iconic; he usually wears a blue costume, red cape, and stylized red-and-yellow "S" shield on his chest. This shield is used in a myriad of media to symbolize the character. The origin story of Superman relates that he was born Kal-El on the planet Krypton, before being rocketed to Earth as an infant by his scientist father Jor-El, moments before Krypton's destruction. Discovered and adopted by a Kansas farmer and his wife, the child is raised as Clark Kent and imbued with a strong moral compass. Very early on he started to display superhuman abilities, which, upon reaching maturity, he resolved to use for the benefit of humanity. Superman resides and operates in the fictional American city of Metropolis. As Clark Kent, Superman's secret identity, he is a journalist for the Daily Planet, a Metropolis newspaper. Superman's primary love interest is Lois Lane, and his archenemy is supervillain Lex Luthor.
Superman has fascinated scholars, with cultural theorists, commentators, and critics alike exploring the character's impact and role in the United States and worldwide. The character's ownership has often been the subject of dispute, with Siegel and Shuster twice suing for the return of legal ownership. Superman has been labeled as the greatest comic book hero of all time by IGN, as the editors pointed out that Superman was the blueprint for superheroes as we know them today. Like other characters in the DC Universe, several alternative versions of Superman have been produced.
Given the serial nature of comic publishing and the length of the character's existence, Superman has evolved as a character over the years. The details of Superman's origin, relationships and abilities changed significantly during the character's publication, from what is considered the Golden Age of Comic Books through the Modern Age. Superman's powers and villains were developed through the 1940s, with Superman developing the ability to fly, and costumed villains introduced in 1941. The character was shown as learning of the existence of Krypton in 1949. The concept itself had originally been established to the reader in 1939 in the Superman comic strip.
The 1960s saw the introduction of a second Superman. DC had established a multiverse within the fictional universe its characters shared. This allowed characters published in the 1940s to exist alongside updated counterparts published in the 1960s. This was explained to the reader through the notion that the two groups of characters inhabited parallel Earths. The second Superman was introduced to explain to the reader Superman's membership in both the 1940s superhero team the Justice Society of America and the 1960s superhero team the Justice League of America.
The 1980s saw radical revisions of the character. DC decided to remove the multiverse in a bid to simplify its comics line. This led to the rewriting of the back story of the characters DC published, Superman included. John Byrne rewrote Superman, removing many established conventions and characters from continuity, including Superboy and Supergirl. Byrne also re-established Superman's adoptive parents, The Kents, as characters. In the previous continuity, the characters had been written as having died early in Superman's life (about the time of Clark Kent's graduation from high school).
In 1992 Superman was killed by the villain Doomsday, although the character was soon resurrected the following year. Superman also marries Lois Lane in 1996. His origin is again revisited in 2004. In 2006 Superman is stripped of his powers, although these are restored within a fictional year.
After a confrontation with Brainiac that results in his father's death, Superman discovers the lost city of Kandor, which contains 10,000 Kryptonians. Their stay on Earth causes trouble, and the Kryptonians create their own planet, New Krypton. Eventually, New Krypton wages war against Earth. The two sides sustain major casualties and most of the Kryptonians are killed. Superman then starts a journey to reconnect with his adopted home world.
In 2011, DC Comics relaunched its entire line of comic books, including the Superman franchise, in order to make the characters more modern and accessible. In the new continuity, Clark is no longer married to Lois and his parents died when he was in high school. Superman wears a ceremonial battle armor which pays tribute to his Kryptonian heritage. The armor is similar to his classic outfit, with the difference of lacking the traditional red briefs. In Superman (Vol 3) #38 (February 2015), the armor was destroyed and he received a new cloth costume with a few cosmetic differences. As of March 2015, it was announced Superman would be using a different outfit, consisting on a simple blue T-shirt with the 'S symbol', and regular jeans and tennis shoes, for Action Comics vol. 2 #41 (June 2015) as part of a storyline in which Superman is significantly depowered and his secret identity exposed to the whole world, forcing him to drastically change his approach to heroism and struggle with weakness for the first time.
Age and birthday
Superman's age has varied through his history in comics. His age was originally left undefined, with real time references to specific years sometimes given to past events in Golden Age and early Silver Age comics. In comics published between the early 1970s and early 1990s, his age was usually cited as 29 years old. However, during "The Death of Superman" storyline, Clark's age was given as 34 years old (in a fictional promotional newspaper published), while 1994's "Zero Hour" timeline established his age as 35.
In the Golden Age, 1950's Action Comics #149 gives October as Superman's birthdate. In Silver Age and Bronze Age stories, Superman's birthday is described as being on February 29, as shown in Superman Annual #11 in 1985. Clark Kent, meanwhile, would celebrate his birthday on June 18, the date the Kents first found Clark (June 18 is also the birthdate of Superman voice actor Bud Collyer.) Post-Crisis stories also reference February 29 as Clark Kent's birthday, as shown in Action Comics #655 (July 1990). However, 2009's Superman: Secret Origin depicts Clark celebrating his birthday on December 1.
In the original Siegel and Shuster stories, Superman's personality is rough and aggressive. The character often attacks and terrorizes wife beaters, profiteers, lynch mobs, and gangsters in a rough manner and with a looser moral code than audiences today might be used to. Although not as ruthless as the early Batman, Superman in the comics of the 1930s is unconcerned about the harm his strength may cause. He tosses villainous characters in such a manner that fatalities would presumably occur, although these are seldom shown explicitly on the page. This came to an end in late 1940 when new editor Whitney Ellsworth instituted a code of conduct for his characters to follow, banning Superman from ever killing. The character was softened and given a sense of humanitarianism. Ellsworth's code, however, is not to be confused with "the Comics Code", which was created in 1954 by the Comics Code Authority and ultimately abandoned by every major comic book publisher by the early 21st century.
In his first appearances, Superman was considered a vigilante by the authorities, being fired upon by the National Guard as he razed a slum so that the government would create better housing conditions for the poor. By 1942, however, Superman was working side-by-side with the police. Today, Superman is commonly seen as a brave and kind-hearted hero with a strong sense of justice, morality, and righteousness. He adheres to an unwavering moral code instilled in him by his adoptive parents. His commitment to operating within the law has been an example to many citizens and other heroes but has stirred resentment and criticism among others, who refer to him as the "big blue boy scout." Superman can be rather rigid in this trait, causing tensions in the superhero community. This was most notable with Wonder Woman, one of his closest friends, after she killed Maxwell Lord. Booster Gold had an initial icy relationship with the Man of Steel but grew to respect him.
Having lost his home world of Krypton, Superman is very protective of Earth, and especially of Clark Kent's family and friends. This same loss, combined with the pressure of using his powers responsibly, has caused Superman to feel lonely on Earth, despite having his friends and parents. Previous encounters with people he thought to be fellow Kryptonians, Power Girl (who is, in fact from the Krypton of the Earth-Two universe) and Mon-El, have led to disappointment. The arrival of Supergirl, who has been confirmed to be not only from Krypton but also his cousin, has relieved this loneliness somewhat. Superman's Fortress of Solitude acts as a place of solace for him in times of loneliness and despair.
In Superman/Batman #3 (Dec. 2003), Batman, under writer Jeph Loeb, observes, "It is a remarkable dichotomy. In many ways, Clark is the most human of us all. Then ... he shoots fire from the skies, and it is difficult not to think of him as a god. And how fortunate we all are that it does not occur to 'him'." In writer Geoff Johns' Infinite Crisis #1 (Dec. 2005), part of the 2005–2006 "Infinite Crisis" crossover storyline, Batman admonishes him for identifying with humanity too much and failing to provide the strong leadership that superhumans need.
Both the multiverse established by the publishers in the 1960s and the Elseworlds line of comics established in 1989 have allowed writers to introduce variations on Superman. These have included differences in the nationality, race and morality of the character. Alongside such reimaginings, a number of characters have assumed the title of Superman, especially in the wake of "The Death of Superman" storyline, wherein four newly introduced characters are seen to claim the mantle. In addition to these, the Bizarro character created in 1958 is a weird, imperfect duplicate of Superman. Other members of Superman's family of characters have borne the Super- prefix, including Supergirl, Krypto the Superdog, and Superwoman. Outside comics published by DC, the notoriety of the Superman or "Übermensch" archetype makes the character a popular figure to be represented through an analogue in entirely unrelated continuities. For example, Roy Thomas based rival publisher Marvel Comics' Hyperion character on Superman.
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