|[encyclopædia] [all entries] A B C D F J K L M P PROFESSOR R S SUPER T U V W|
Superman, the world-famous crime-fighter and adventurer who masks his true identity beneath the mild-mannered guise of his alter ego, journalist Clark Kent, is the hero of the Superman chronicles and the veteran of well over thousands of adventures. He is the close friend and frequent crime-fighting ally of Batman, the cousin and crime-fighting ally of Supergirl, the owner of Krypto the Superdog, and the close personal friend of Jimmy Olsen and Perry White.
Operating from the Fortress of Solitude, his impenetrable secret sanctuary located in the barren Arctic wastes, Superman wages an unrelenting battle against the forces of evil and injustice, aided by his mighty super-powers and by a sophisticated arsenal of special equipment.
Superman's most important relationship is the one he shares with Lois Lane, but Superman also has enjoyed romantic involvements with such beautiful, talented, and fascinating women as Lana Lang, Lori Lemaris, Lyla Lerrol, and Sally Selwyn.
It is common knowledge in the world of the chronicles that Superman has another identity, but exactly who he is when he is not being Superman is one of the world's most closely guarded secrets.
Superman is over 30 years of age, with black hair and blue eyes. Described as an incredibly muscular figure with a physique of magnificent symmetry, he is 6'2" tall, with a chest measurement of 44" and a waist measurement of of 34". Because he was born on the distant planet Krypton, his atomic structure is different from that of ordinary people and his blood, according to one text, conforms to all four types.
A U.S. Army doctor once described Superman as "the finest physical specimen on Earth" and Lois Lane has referred to him as "the smartest, handsomest, strongest man in the universe."
According to Superman #75, the proud parents named their son Jor-El, 2nd, but an overwhelming preponderance of texts assert that they named him Kal-El. By all accounts, the dark-haired youngster bore an unmistakable resemblance to his father.
As the newest member of the House of El, Superman was born into a family with a centuries-long heritage of achievement in the fields of science, statesmanship, and exploration. His ancestry teemed with such men of lasting distinction as Val-El, an explorer and discoverer who was the moving force behind Krypton's great Age of Exploration; Sul-El, the inventor of Krypton's first telescope, who charted many distant stars, including Earth's sun; Tala-El, the author of Krypton's planet-wide constitution; Hatu-El, a scientist and inventor who discovered the nature of electricity and devised Krypton's first electromagnet and electric motor; and Gam-El, the father of modern Kryptonian architecture.
Superman's uncle Nim-El, his father's identical twin brother, was a distinguished scientist. Superman's uncle Zor-El and the woman he would later marry, Alura, survived the death of Krypton and now reside in Kandor. Their daughter Kara, known to the world as Supergirl, is Superman's first cousin. Van-Zee, a distant kinsman of Superman's, resides in Kandor with his wife, Sylvia.
While Superman was still an infant, his native planet exploded into fragments as the result of a cataclysmic chain reaction originating at the planet's core, but not before his parents had placed him in an experimental rocket ship and launched him toward the safety of the planet Earth. There the Kryptonian infant Kal-El, who would one day be known throughout the universe as Superman, was found and adopted - and renamed Clark Kent - by a kindly couple, Jonathan and Martha Kent
It was the Kents, in fact, who urged upon their adopted son the importance of keeping his super-powers secret and of using them to aid humanity.
"Now listen to me, Clark, cautioned Jonathan Kent while Clark was still a youngster, "This great strength of yours - you've got to hide it from people or they'll be scared of you!"
"But when the proper time comes," added Martha Kent, "you must use it to assist humanity."
According to the earliest accounts, Clark Kent embarked on his super-heroic career as Superman only after reaching adulthood, and first learned of his extraterrestrial origins as late as November 1949.
In the years that followed, however, these early accounts underwent substantial revision. In the newer version, Superman was portrayed as having battled crime and injustice as a youngster - as Superboy - prior to embarking on his adult crime-fighting career as Superman, and he was described as having learned of his extraterrestrial origins while still a boy by overtaking and photographing light rays that had left Krypton before it exploded. In addition, it was stated that "Because of his super-memory, Superman can recall all the incidents of his childhood!"
Despite this revision, however, all the texts of the Superman chronicles agree that Superman has lived a double life since the onset of his super-heroic career, using his super-powers openly only as Superboy or Superman while concealing his true, extraterrestrial identity beneath the deceptive guise of mild-mannered Clark Kent.
The Clark Kent persona enables Superman to catch the criminal element unawares and to safeguard his friends and intimates against gang-land reprisals. It affords him a refuge from his life as a super-hero, making it possible for him to escape the ever-present adulators and curiosity seekers and to relate to ordinary Earth folk on everyday human terms.
Superman was not always famous. In the early days of his career, he actively sought anonymity and was relieved when newspaper accounts of important events omitted mention of his participation in them and, even as late as 1941, many of the people he encountered expressed surprise that he was more than a legendary character.
In 1942, Action Comics #45 describes Superman as "a fighting champion who is famous the world over," but but even as late as 1945 there were people who doubted Superman's existence.
In general, however, since the early 1940s, Superman has been known in every corner of the globe, receiving literally tons of fan mail, and being continually besieged by youngsters seeking his autograph.
Code of Ethics
Superman is a man of high ideals, and much of his behavior is motivated by an abiding sense of honor and principle. Among his deeply held convictions is the sacredness of human life, which forbids him from ever taking a human life, even that of the vilest villain.
Superman always keeps his word and it's against his code to resist the law, even when the law seems unreasonable or unjust.
Superman is vigorously opposed to slot machines and all other forms of gambling, for he regards them as a parasitic vice that has no place in a decent town.
One of Superman's most deeply held convictions is that he must never use his super-powers for profit or personal aggrandizement. He has always rejected remuneration for his super-heroic deeds, although he has, on occasion, performed services for others in return for the promise of contributions to charity.
Indeed, virtually from the onset of his career, but particularly since the early 1950s, Superman has displayed unstinting devotion to worthy causes, staging spectacular exhibitions of his super-powers at orphanages and other institutions; appearing on telethons; making public-service films; building orphan asylums; conducting guided tours for charity through his Fortress of Solitude and otherwise donating his super-services; and helping to promote innumerable charity drives, particularly those sponsored by the Daily Planet.
The Never-ending Battle
During the first three years of his career, more than any other period since, Superman exhibited an abiding concern for such pressing social issues as wife beating, juvenile delinquency and urban renewal, prison reform, traffic safety, crooked unions, illegal gambling, corrupt municipal government, and the rights of accused persons to fair and impartial justice. Frequently, Superman fought for radical social change in ways that put him at odds with legitimate authority. Since the end of 1940, however, Superman has been more allied with the establishment and has spent most of his efforts combating crimes.
Superman regularly patrols Metropolis - sometimes at night and sometimes during the daylight hours - in search of crimes in progress and other emergencies requiring his attention. Because Superman is widely known as Clark Kent's best friend, individuals seeking Superman's help often contact him through Clark Kent at the Daily Planet.
For recreation and relaxation, Superman avails himself of the various hobbies and recreation facilities in his Fortress of Solitude. Superman is also the inventor of Supermanium, the hardest substance in existence.
On approximately half a dozen occasions between 1942 and 1948, Superman has launched himself into the sky with the cry "Up-up-and away!" but the phrase has appeared in the chronicles only rarely since then.
Although Superman hates being glorified and has always modestly shunned the spotlight of public acclaim, few individuals in history have been accorded such widespread honor and distinction. His exploits have been celebrated and immortalized in every know medium: on radio, on "The Adventures of Superman" series and on the "Thrill-a-Minute Program" on television, on station WMET-TV's "Our American Heroes" series; and on film, in Superman animated cartoons, a Superman newsreel, and in such live-action movies as Jack Allen's Superman in Valhalla and Charles Lamont's The Life of Superman.
Superman has been the recipient of numerous awards, trophies, citations, and other honors, including Metropolis's Outstanding Citizen Award for 1954, presented to Superman in honor of his conspicuous efforts to improve Metropolis; the plaque awarded him in 1958 in recognition of his efforts on behalf of Metropolis's orphans; the golden Superman statuette presented to Superman by the president of Borkia in 1959 in appreciation of his having thwarted the dictatorial ambitions of General Malvio; the certificate of honorary citizenship in all the countries of the United Nations awarded Superman by the U.N. in 1961, and the key to the city presented to Superman by the mayor of Metropolis in 1965. Each year, in Superman's honor, the Metropolis Police Department awards a Superman Medal to the person whose heroism helped Superman the most during the preceding year. All of Superman's plaques and awards are housed in a room set aside for them in his Fortress of Solitude.
Statues and other artistic tributes to Superman abound, particularly in Metropolis, including the statue of Superman in the Metropolis Hall of Fame, the colossal steel statue of Superman in Metropolis Park, the monumental statue of Superman towering over Metropolis Harbor like the legendary Colossus of Rhodes, and the marble statue of Superman unveiled in Planet Square in 1946.
Other artistic tributes to Superman include the monumental Superman statue blasted out of an entire mountaintop somewhere in the United States by members of the Super-Saved Club in July 1949; the colossal head of Superman, carved into the side of a mountain, which appears briefly in Action Comics #282; the huge bronze statue of Superman constructed atop a penitentiary roof by the Toyman as part of a prison-escape scheme; the various Superman statues in the bottle city of Kandor; and the standing statue of Superboy in the town of Smallville.
A heroic portrait of Superman was commissioned by Metropolis's mayor and city council in April 1946. Two commemorative stamps have been issued in honor of Superman, one by the U.S. Government (Superman #91, 1954), the other by the city of Rangoon, Burma (1962).
Buildings and public places dedicated to Superman or devoted to his exploits include the Superman Land amusement park, the most colossal, super-stupendous amusement park in the world; Jonas Smith's Krypton Island, now renamed Kryptonopolis; Superman Skytower, an unfinished Metropolis skyscraper which was completed single-handedly by Superman in 1958; and Metropolis's famed Superman Museum, which houses an extensive collection of Superman memorabilia.
The inhabitants of a far-distant planet once reshaped their entire world into a colossal three-dimensional portrait of Superman in gratitude for his having liberated them from the oppressive yoke of a power-mad dictator, and a distinctive man-made island (Superman Island), fashioned in the Man of Steel's own image off the coast of Metropolis and then hurled into outer space by Superman in 1957, now wanders the universe as a Superman star.
Both in Metropolis and in Smallville, special holidays have been set aside in honor of Superman. Metropolis has celebrated Superman Day on at least two separate occasions, and in Smallville, Superboy Day is celebrated annually, as is Superman's Earthday, the anniversary of the day Superman landed on Earth from the doomed planet, Krypton.
Superman has been made an Indian chief, held the rank of General in the U.S. Army, and served as chairman of the Phantom Zone Parole Board in the bottle city of Kandor.
He is an honorary member of the Society of Adventurers, the chairman of the Club of Heroes, and a member of an organization of heroes known as the Justice League of America. From Winter 1940, the date of it's founding, through 1951, Superman served as an honorary member of the Justice Society of America, an organization of the mightiest champions of right and justice in the world. As a teenager, Superman was a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes. Clubs formed in honor of Superman include the Super-Saved Club and the Super Sorority.
Future generations will have little difficulty familiarizing themselves with Superman's exploits. The public library contains a veritable mountain of information about Superman: volume upon volume - books, magazines, newspapers, articles - all telling of the countless and incredible exploits of Superman.
Superman has written three autobiographies. The first, entitled Confessions of Superman, was published by Benny Call in 1947; the second, written for the Daily Planet in return for a $50,000 charitable contribution, appeared in July 1953; and the third, entitled I Superman, was published a few years prior to 1955.
In addition, a time capsule containing a newsreel account of Superman's exploits was buried on the site of the 1939 New York World's Fair, and in 1952 Superman buried a second time capsule, containing a complete picture record of his life, abilities, and exploits. A time capsule buried in 1958 contains a series of exotic space trophies designed to serve as a living memorial to Superman's achievements.
In September 1965, in conjunction with the festivities marking the celebration of Metropolis's Superman Day, Superman uses his awesome strength like a pile-driver to ram a Superman time capsule - marked Superman Time Capsule 1965 - deep into the Earth, down beside the many other capsules that mark his career. Visible in a hollow deep underground are four other time capsules - labeled 1961, 1962, 1963, and 1964, respectively - suggesting that a new time-capsule record of Superman's exploits is buried each year.
Indeed, indications are that the memory of Superman's mighty deeds will live forever. During a brief sojourn in the world of 2957 A.D., Superman, Batman, and Robin are feted as great heroes by worlds throughout the solar system. In the fiftieth century A.D., Superman will be acclaimed as the greatest hero in Earth's history. Even in the world of 824,057 A.D. - more that 800,000 years in the future - lifelike androids of Superman's friends and adversaries, created by the people of the far-distant future, will still march in Metropolis's annual Superman Commemoration Parade as immortal memorials of the greatest hero of this world.
Superman's most famous alternate identity is that of Clark Kent, but Superman has employed numerous aliases and alternate identities in the course of his career, including those of Tom Daly, Kenneth Clarkson, Bud Mack, Charlie Kendall, Mental-Man, Lightning-Man, Kirk Brent, Kent Clark, the Alchemist, Tigerman, Nightwing, Jim White, and Brad Dexter.
See also: Superboy, Superman Emergency Squad, Superman Robots, Superman's Costume, Superman's Family Tree, Superman's Super-Powers, Death of Superman, and Superman: The Man of Energy.
Text on this page taken from The Great Superman Book © 1978 by Michael L. Fleisher.
entry origin: stta 1.0
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