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"Early, Clark decided he must turn his titanic strength into channels that would benefit mankind...and so was created SUPERMAN, champion of the oppressed, the physical marvel who had sworn to devote his existence to those in need." -- Action Comics No. 1, 1938



Superman pastel by co-creator Joe Shuster.


A world-famous crime-fighter and adventurer who has, for seven decades, battled the forces of crime and injustice with the aid of an awesome array of superhuman powers, including X-ray vision, the power of flight, and strength far beyond that of any ordinary mortal. Born on the planet Krypton, the son of the scientist Jor-El and his wife Lara, he was launched into outer space in an experimental rocket ship to enable him to escape the cataclysm that destroyed his native planet, and, arriving on Earth, was taken into the home of Jonathan and Martha Kent, who named him Clark Kent and raised him to manhood as their adopted son. Endowed with mighty super-powers in the alien environment of Earth, this orphan from Krypton--named Kal-El by his parents--has, since mid-1938, battled the forces of evil as Superman, while concealing his true, extraterrestrial identity beneath the alternate identity of Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for the Metropolis Daily Planet, more recently a full-time newscaster for Metropolis television station WGBS-TV.

Superman is "Earth's mightiest hero" (S No. 128/1, Apr 1959: chs. 1-2-"Superman versus the Futuremen"; "The Secret of the Futuremen"), a "colorfully-costumed, mighty-sinewed man of might" engaged in "an unrelenting battle against the forces of evil" (S No. 21/4, Mar/Apr 1943: "The Ghost of Superman!"). He is "the world's number one champion of justice and fair play" (S No. 130/3, Jul 1959: "The Town That Hated Superman!") and "mankind's foremost crusader for good" (S No. 181/2, Nov 1965: "The Superman of 2965!"), "a fighting champion of justice who is famous the world over" (Act No. 45, Feb 1942). Described as "the world's most dynamic man" (WF No. 8, Win 1942: "Talent, Unlimited!") and the "world's mightiest mortal" (WF No. 116, Mar 1961: "The Creature from Beyond!"; and others), he is "mankind's greatest friend" (Act No. 310, Mar 1964: "Secret of Kryptonite Six!"), a "mighty foe of all evil" (Act No. 91, Dec 1945: "The Ghost Drum!"), a super-powered "savior of the helpless and oppressed" (Act No. 18, Nov 1939).

Superman No. 1/1 calls Superman "the greatest exponent of justice the world has ever known" (Sum 1939), and other texts describe him as "the law's most powerful defender" (Act No. 177, Feb 1953: "The Anti-Superman Weapon"), as "the greatest of all heroes" (Act No. 210, Nov 1955: "Superman in Superman Land"), and as a "defender of democracy" (S No. 13/1, Nov/Dec 1941) who has chosen to "dedicate [his] powers to the good of all humanity!" (S No. 121/1, May 1958: "The Bride of Futureman!"). "There is one man that people throughout the world honor and respect," notes Superman No. 128/1,, "--and that man is Superman!" (Apr 1959: chs.1-2-"Superman versus the Futuremen"; "The Secret of the Futuremen").

Superman is "an incredibly muscular figure" (WF No. 6, Sum 1942: "Man of Steel versus Man of Metal!"), "indestructible and cosmic in his gigantic strength" (Act No. 131, Apr 1949: "The Scrambled Superman!"), a tireless "sentinel for the world" (Act No. 282, Nov 1961: "Superman's Toughest Day!") whose "incredible super-powers. ..have made him a living legend...!" (S No. 160/1, Apr 1963: pts. I-II-"The Mortal Superman!"; "The Cage of Doom!"). He is also the "most famous man in America" (Act No. 143, Apr 1950: "The Bride of Superman!"), "patriot number one" (S No. 12/3, Sep/Oct 1941), the indefatigable "foe of all interests and activities subversive to this country's best interests" (S No. 10/4, May/Jun 1941). Everywhere, "in big cities...small towns...rural villages...the name of Superman is honored and loved!" (S No. 130/3, Jul 1959: "The Town That Hated Superman!").

Indeed, "throughout the universe, Superman is hailed as a mighty champion of justice" (Act No. 319, Dec 1964: "The Condemned Superman!"), as a "champion of the weak and helpless" (Act No. 4, Sep 1938) whose life is a "constant battle against evil. .." (Act No. 280, Sep 1961: "Brainiac's Super-Revenge!"). "Not only on Earth is Superman the greatest and most acclaimed of heroes," proclaims Superman No.168, "but on many other worlds across the universe as well!" (Apr 1964: pts. I-II-"Luthor--Super-Hero!"; "Lex Luthor, Daily Planet Editor!").

"Everyone knows that Superman is the greatest hero of all time!" states Superman No. 165/1. "A man who can move mountains, even planets...a man who has defeated the worst villains in history!" (Nov 1963: pts. I-II-"Beauty and the Super-Beast!"; "Circe's Super-Slave").

"Today ," notes Superman No. 144/2, "Superman is the most famous crusader in the world, idolized everywhere for unselfishly using his incredible super-powers in behalf of justice" (Apr 1961: "Superboy's First Public Appearance!").

In addition, the texts contain these descriptions:

Action Comics No. 6, November 1938:

Dedicated to assisting the helpless and oppressed, is a
mystery-man named SUPERMAN. Possessing super-strength,
he can jump over a ten-story building, leap an eighth of a
mile, run faster than an express train, lift tremendous
weights, and crush steel in his bare hands!-- His amazing
feats of strength become more apparent day after day!

Action Comics No. 7, December 1938; and others:

Friend of the helpless and oppressed is SUPERMAN,
a man possessing the strength of a dozen Samsons! Lifting
and rending gigantic weights, vaulting over skyscrapers,
racing a bullet, possessing a skin impenetrable to even
steel, are his physical assets used in his one-man battle
against evil and injustice!

Action Comics No. 8, January 1939:

Leaping over towering buildings, rending steel in his bare
hands, lifting incredible weights high overhead, impervious
to bullets because of an unbelievably tough skin, racing at
a speed hitherto unwitnessed by mortal eyes...these are the
miraculous feats of strength which assist SUPERMAN in
his one-man battle against the forces of evil and oppression!

Action Comics No. 27 , August 1940:

Heartless criminals exploit the helpless and unfortunate!
Clark Kent and his dual self, dynamic SUPERMAN, battle
side by side with pretty Lois Lane, courageous girl reporter,
to stamp out the evil geniuses of crime and corruption!

Superman No. 10/4, May-June 1941:

Foe of all interests and activities subversive to this
country's best interests, SUPERMAN loses no time
in going into action when he encounters a menace to
American democracy. Super-strength clashes with evil
super-cunning in another thrilling, dramatic adventure
of today's foremost hero, the daring, dynamic MAN OF

Superman No. 16/4, May-June 1942: "Racket on Delivery":

No sterner or more courageous battler in behalf of justice
is there than Superman, amazingly strong champion of
the helpless and oppressed!

Superman No. 25/1, November-December 1943: "The Man Superman Refused to Help!":

Superman, amazing nemesis of evildoers, champion of
the helpless and oppressed, comes to the aid of all worthy
individuals in need of assistance.

Superman No. 64/1, May-June 1950: "Professor Lois Lane!":

Faster than a speeding bullet! Able to hurdle the highest
mountain! More powerful than an atomic cyclotron! That's
Superman, eternal foe of the underworld, champion of
the underdog!

Action Comics No. 204, May 1955: "The Man Who Could Make Superman Do Anything!":

Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive
Able to leap the highest mountain! That's Superman; the
world's mightiest mortal.

Superman No. 96/1, March 1955: "The Girl Who Didn't Believe in Superman!":

From the jungle-wilds of Africa, to the skyscrapers of New York,
the name of Superman has spread its fame! His Herculean
strength, his super-battles against evil, are familiar to all....

Superman No. 120/3, March 1958: "The Human Missile":

Stronger than the very gravity that holds Earth in place...faster
than the swiftest jet...more invulnerable than a mile-thick slab of
steel, the incredible Superman can scoff at all weapons aimed
at him!

Superman No. 152/2, April 1962: "Superbaby Captures the Pumpkin Gang!":

Today the whole world rings with Superman's fame! In the far
corners of the Earth men tell of how the Man of Steel uses his
fantastic super-powers to help the forces of law and order against

Friend and foe alike have paid tribute to Superman's heroism, and the texts have hailed him as "a giant among men" (S No. 70/2, May/Jun 1951: "The Life of Superman!") and as the "mightiest of mortals" (S No. 84/2, Sep/Oct 1953: "A Doghouse for Superman!"). An unidentified U.S. Navy admiral once described Superman as "the greatest hero of all time" (Act No. 284, Jan 1962: "The Babe of Steel!"), and the master of ceremonies on a television special glowingly introduced him as "our greatest American hero" (Act No. 309, Feb 1964: "The Superman Super-Spectacular!").

"How fortunate we are here in America to have someone of Superman's calibre to aid us!" remarked Secretary of the Navy Hank Fox in March-April 1942. "In my opinion, he's worth several armies and navies!" (S No. 15/2).

Jimmy Olsen has called Superman "the champion of justice and the enemy of evil all over the world" (S No. 176/2, Apr 1965: "Tales of Green Kryptonite No. 2"), and Lois Lane has described him as "the smartest, handsomest, strongest man in the universe" (S No. 176/3, Apr 1965: "Superman's Day of Truth!") and as an "--American crusader, crime's greatest foe, enemy of all injustice, the most powerful force for good the world has ever seen...!" (S No. 17/1, Jul/Aug 1942: "Man or Superman?").

In May 1962, an unidentified escapee from the Phantom Zone refers to Superman as "Earth's greatest defender" (S No. 153/3: "The Town of Supermen!"), and in August 1964 the extraterrestrial gambler Rokk (see Rokk and Sorban) calls Superman the "guardian of Earth" (S No. 171/1: "Super- man's Sacrifice!").

"Though he wasn't born on this world," notes scientist Mel Evans at the annual Superman's Earthday celebration in Smallville in April 1960, "he has become Earth's greatest and most generous citizen!" (S No. 136/2: "The Secret of Kryptonite!").

Indeed, preliminary indications are that Superman's fame will be even greater in the future than it is today. A scientist of the thirtieth century A.D. has called Superman "the greatest hero in history" (WF No. 91, Nov/Dec 1957: "The Three Super-Sleepers!"), and a man of the fiftieth century A.D. has echoed the sentiment, describing Superman as "the greatest hero in Earth's history" (S No. 122/1, Jul 1958: "The Secret of the Space Souvenirs").

In the texts, Superman is frequently referred to as the Man of Steel and the Man of Tomorrow. He is also referred to as the Action Ace, the Champion of Democracy, and the King of Speed.

In addition, the texts describe Superman as a "champion of justice" (S No. 9/1, Mar/ Apr 1941), an "amazing champion of the helpless and oppressed" (S No. 13/4, Nov/Dec 1941), "the world's foremost crime crusader" (S No. 18/3, Sep/Oct 1942: "The Man with the Cane"), "the world's foremost justice-dispenser" (S No. 25/1, Nov/Dec 1943: "The Man Superman Refused to Help!"), "Earth's mightiest warrior" (S No. 38/1, Jan/Feb 1946: "The Battle of the Atoms!"), "the world's mightiest citizen" (S No. 40/2, May/Jun 1946: " A Modern Marco Polo!"), the "world's mightiest being" (S No. 65/3, Jul/ Aug 1950: "Three Supermen from Krypton!"), "the world's most famous citizen" (Act No. 150, Nov 1950: "The Secret of the 6 Superman Statues!"), "the most amazing human of our century" (Act No. 171, Aug 1952: "The Secrets of Superman!"), "the world's mightiest defender of justice" (Act No. 178, Mar 1953: "The Sandman of Crime!"), "the mightiest man alive" (Act No. 181, Jan 1953: "The New Superman"), "the world's mightiest man" (Act No. 182, Jul 1953: "The Return of Planet Krypton!"; and others), "Earth's mightiest champion of justice" (Act No. 225, Feb 1957: "The Death of Superman"), the "mightiest human being in all the world" (Act No. 235, Dec 1957: "The Super-Prisoner of Amazon Island"), "Earth's mighty champion" (Act No. 242, Jul 1958: "The Super-Duel in Space"), "the mightiest man on Earth" (Act No. 247, Dec 1958: "Superman's Lost Parents!"; and others), "the Earth's most powerful man" (Act No. 269, Oct 1960: "The Truth Mirror!"), a "famed battler against crime and injustice" (Act No. 287 , Apr 1962: "Perry White's Manhunt for Superman!"), "Earth's protector" and "the heroic champion of Earth " (Act No. 327, Aug 1965: "The Three Generations of Superman!"), "the world's greatest hero" (Act No. 328, Sep 1965: "Superman's Hands of Doom!"), "a defender of the weak and oppressed" and "the mightiest of all men" (S No. 164/1, Oct 1963: pts. I-II-"The Showdown Between Luthor and Superman!"; "The Super-Duel!"), the "greatest lawman of them all" (S No. 178/2, Jul 1965: "When Superman Lost His Memory!"), and as "a defender of the helpless, [and] a champion of the underdog" (S No. 146/1, Jul 1961: "The Story of Superman's Life!").


"Out of the infinite reaches of interstellar space came Superman, son of the doomed planet Krypton, to fight the forces of evil upon Earth...!" (Act No. 63, Aug 1943: "When Stars Collide!").

The Original Account

Action Comics No. 1. Art by Joe Shuster.

"As a distant planet was destroyed by old age, a scientist placed his infant son within a hastily devised space-ship, launching it toward Earth! "When the vehicle landed on Earth, a passing motorist, discovering the sleeping babe within, turned the child over to an orphanage. "Attendants, unaware the child's structure was millions of years advanced of their own, were astounded at his feats of strength. "When maturity was reached, he discovered he could easily: Leap 1/8th of a mile; hurdle a twenty-story building...raise tremendous faster than a express train... and that nothing less than a bursting shell could penetrate his skin! "Early, Clark decided he must turn his titanic strength into channels that would benefit mankind. And so was created... "SUPERMAN! Champion of the oppressed, the physical marvel who had sworn to devote his existence to helping those in need!" (Act No. 1, Jun 1938).

Addenda and Revisions

Since the appearance of this original account many years ago, the story of Superman's origin has been greatly revised and expanded to accomodate a wealth of new detail. Later texts, for example, gave the name of Superman's native planet as Krypton and described its people and civilization in great detail. Superman's parents, Jor-El and Lara, were introduced, and the events leading up to the cataclysm that destroyed Krypton were extensively chronicled. The "passing motorist" who found the infant Superman became a couple, Jonathan and Martha Kent, who adopted the orphan from space and named him Clark Kent. Conflicting accounts were offered of the infant's brief stay in the orphanage, including how long he remained there and whether his super-powers were actually revealed there. Later texts asserted that Superman embarked on his super-heroic career while still a youngster in Smallville rather than waiting until "maturity was reached." And, finally, the range and extent of his superhuman powers were continually expanded and the explanation of how he aquired them was periodically revised (see section 5, the super-powers). For complete accounts and analyses of all the supplementary data concerning Superman's origin, consult the various entries cross-referenced above.

The Secret Identity


"The fact that Clark Kent, Newspaper reporter, and Superman, the mighty Man of Steel, are one and the same person, is the most closely guarded secret in the world!" (Act No. 189, Feb 1954: "Clark Kent's New Mother and Father!")

Within days of his arrival on the planet Earth, the infant Superman had two identities: on the one hand, he was Kal-El, an orphaned native of the exploded planet Krypton, and on the other hand, he was Clark Kent, the adopted son of Jonathan and Martha Kent. It was the Kents, in fact, who urged upon him 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." (S No. 1/1, Sum 1939)

There were also other reasons for keeping Clark's super-powers secret: Jonathan Kent feared that unscrupulous individuals would try to exploit his super-powers for evil purposes. (WF No.57, Mar 1952: "The Artificial Superman!"), and Clark himself soon realized that if he used his super-powers openly against the underworld, his foster parents would inevitably become the helpless targets of gangland retribution (S No. 146/1, Jul 1961: "The Story of Superman's Life!"; and others).

In addition, the use of an alternate identity gives Superman the advantage of surprise over the criminal element and enables him to conduct investigations discreetly as journalist Clark Kent. "If, by accident, Lois Lane ever reveals my secret to the world," muses Superman during an anxious moment in October 1960, "my undercover role as Clark Kent will be ruined. I will no longer be able to investigate criminals as 'meek' Clark Kent so that they can later be captured by Superman! And it may take me years to set up a new identity!" (Act No. 269: "The Truth Minor!").

And Action Comics No. 61 observes that:

The matter of Superman's secret identity is one of utmost importance. disguised as Clark Kent, the Man of Tomorrow finds it possible, secretly, to ferret out crimes that need solving, and injustices that cry out to be righted [Jun 1943: "The Man They Wouldn't Believe!"].

The Costume


"Once he is out of view, the timid reporter switches to a colorful costume known with fear, admiration, and respect in every corner of the Globe!"

The Evolution

Throughout the course of his nearly half-century career, Superman's chroniclers have portrayed him in a wide variety of artistic styles - but the basic details of his costume have remained substantially unchanged. Superman wears a blue costume complemented by red trunks, red boots, and a long, flowing red cape. A yellow belt encircles his waist, and there is a highly stylized Superman insignia - consisting of a large red letter "S" inscribed within a yellow shield, which is bordered in red - emblazoned on his chest. The back of Superman's cape bears a similar insignia, except that this one consists of a yellow letter "S" inscribed within a yellow shield bordered in yellow.

What minor changes there have been in Superman's costume over the years have generally been in terms of coloring. His boots, for example, which are blue in a number of very early adventures (Act Nos. 4 & 5) and yellow in at least one other (Act No. 7), have been consistently colored red since the end of the 1930s.

The stylized "S" insignia on Superman's chest, small and sleek in Superman's earliest adventures, soon becomes larger, more highly stylized, and more distinct. In a number of early adventures, the shield is portrayed (in various colors) with a yellow border, but the red border has become standard by the beginning of the 1940s.

Inconsistencies persist for nearly twenty years, however, regarding the coloring of the insignia on Superman's cape. Missing entirely from Superman's costume in a number of texts, it is sometimes portrayed as a blue "S" on a yellow shield, sometimes as a yellow "S" on a blue shield, sometimes as a yellow "S" on a red shield, sometimes as a red "S" on a yellow shield, and sometimes as a yellow "S" on a yellow shield.

Not until the late 1950s does a yellow letter "S" inscribed within a yellow shield become the standardized form of the insignia emblazoned on the back of Superman's cape.

Secret Origin

The origin of Superman's costume has been treated inconsistently in the chronicles, although there is virtually unanimous agreement among the texts that the costume is as indestructible as the Man of Steel himself. In Summer 1940, Superman describes his costume as "constructed of a cloth I invented myself which is immune to the most powerful forces!"

By the early 1950s, however, the texts have begun to describe Superman's costume as having been fashioned by Martha Kent out of the colored blankets she and her husband found wrapped around the infant Superman when he arrived on Earth in a rocket from the doomed planet Krypton.

At this point in the chronicles, numerous texts describe Superman's costume as having been fashioned from an inherently indestructible material from Krypton. Superman No. 112 offers this observation:

Indestructible as time itself, Superman's costume, woven of a strange cloth from his native planet, Krypton, has aided him in unique ways, many times in the past!

More recent texts, however, have greatly modified this position. Although Superman's costume is still described as having been fashioned from a fiber of Krypton, this cloth is now said to have acquired its indestructibility just as Superman acquired his super-powers - as the result of having been transported from the planet Krypton to the vastly different environment of Earth.

According to Superman No. 146, Martha Kent was moved to fashion a super-playsuit for the infant Superman because the child was constantly destroying his store-bought clothes by engaging in various forms of super-powered play. Fortunately, the Kents had had the foresight to save the three blankets - one red, one blue, and one yellow - in which the infant Superman had been swathed when he arrived on Earth in his rocket. Because the blanket material was indestructible and therefore could not be cut by any scissors, the Kents unraveled some loose ends and then coaxed their super-powered infant into using the heat of his X-ray vision to cut the unraveled thread so that Martha Kent could use it to sew the Kryptonian blankets into a super-playsuit. Years later, Martha Kent unraveled the playsuit and rewove the thread into Superman's now-famous costume. According to one of the stories in Superman Annual No. 8 (1963), the young Superman used "strips of rubber padding" salvaged from the wreckage of his rocket to fashion a pair of bright red boots, while a yellow strap, also salvaged from the rocket, became his belt.


Superman's costume is, by all accounts, absolutely indestructible. Fire cannot burn it, the strongest shears cannot cut it, and neither bullets nor lightning can make a mark on it. Not even the force of six atomic bombs exploding inside it can do harm. (Superman No. 78, 1952)

So long as it remains on Earth, or in some other environment where Superman would ordinarily have super-powers, Superman's costume retains its indestructibility. This remains true even if, for some reason, Superman has temporarily lost his powers. Similarly, the costume retains its indestructibility even if someone other than Superman wears it, rendering the wearer invulnerable to bullets and other weapons so long as the weapons strike the costume and not the wearer.

According to the most recent explanation of Superman's powers, Superman derives his super-powers, in part, from the peculiar radiations of Earth's yellow sun. On planets revolving around a red sun, however, such as the planet Lexor, or the planet Krypton before it exploded, Superman has no super-powers. Similarly, on red-sun planets, Superman's costume loses its indestructibility and can be torn and damaged like any ordinary garment on Earth. If Superman's costume is ripped or damaged during a visit to a red-sun world - or during a visit to the bottle city of Kandor, where red-sun conditions prevail - Superman must take care to repair the damage before returning to Earth, where the costume will once again become indestructible and therefore impossible to cut and sew.

The Fortress of Solitude


The impenetrable fortress, carved out of a mountainside amidst the barren Arctic wastes, and serving as both as a retreat and a headquarters, it is Superman’s secret sanctuary. Far from civilization with an extraordinary trophy room, it houses the hard won memorabilia of more than a thousand adventures, a workshop and super-laboratory, where Superman labors in search of an antidote to Kryptonite and performs other experiments and the gymnasium and recreation facilities where Superman exercises, relaxes, and indulges in a variety of super hobbies. It also houses an interplanetary zoo, containing live species of wildlife from distant planets, as well as special rooms and memorials in honor of Superman’s parents, foster parents, and closest friends. The Fortress of Solitude is also home to the amazing bottle city of Kandor, a city of the planet Krypton that was reduced to microscopic size and stolen by the space villain Brainiac sometime prior to the death of Krypton. In the Fortress of Solitude, there are also special monitors for communicating with Kandor, the undersea realm of Atlantis, the Phantom Zone, countless distant planets, and alien dimensions. The Fortress of Solitude also houses an incredible collection of Superman-robots, other special equipment, numerous other rooms, exhibits, weapons, machines, and scientific devices. Indeed, since the invasion of the Fortress of Solitude by an outsider could result in the placing of these devices in the hands of evildoers, as well as endanger Superman’s secret identity, the exact location of the Fortress of Solitude remains one of the world’s most closely guarded secrets.

The Super-Powers

"The super-powers of the Man of Steel are legendary! The whole world marvels at his invulnerability, super-speed, super-strength, and other super-skills" (Act No. 251, Apr 1959: "The Oldest Man in Metropolis!").

Derivation of the Super-Powers

Superman's super-powers are by and large, extraordinary magnifications of ordinary human abilities. Just as an ordinary man can hurl a baseball, Superman can hurl an entire planet. Just as an ordinary man can see across the room, Superman can see across the universe.

Compared with the powers he possesses today, however, the powers employed by Superman in the early texts are modest indeed. Action Comics No. 1 (Jun 1938), the first comic book in which Superman appeared, claimed only that its hero could "leap 1/8th of a mile; hurdle a twenty-story building... raise tremendous weights... run faster than an express train... and that nothing less than a bursting shell could penetrate his skin!".

As the years passed, however, the chroniclers endowed the Man of Steel with ever more spectacular powers to enable him to meet ever more exacting challenges. Today Superman can withstand the heat at the core of the sun, soar through the air at a speed thousands of times the speed of light, and extinguish a star with a puff of his breath as though it were merely a candle on a birthday cake.

Along with a steady expansion of Superman's powers has come a series of changing explanations of how he came to acquire those powers. Action Comics No. 1, for example, contains this "scientific explanation of his amazing strength":

   Kent had come from a Planet whose inhabitants' physical
structure was millions of years advanced of our own. 
Upon reaching maturity, the people of his race became
gifted with titanic strength!
   --Incredible?  No!  For even today on our world exist creatures
with super-strength!
  The lowly ant can support weights  hundreds of times its own. 
The grasshopper leaps what to a  man would be the space of several
city blocks. {Jun 1938}

For approximately the first decade of Superman's career, the texts advanced the thesis that Superman's powers were merely those possessed by all the inhabitants of his native Planet. These texts described the men and women of Krypton as a "super-race" (S No. 73/2, Nov/Dec 1951: "The Mighty Mite!") who were gifted with X-ray vision and other powers and who were thousands of eons ahead of earthlings, both mentally and physically. (S No. 53/1, Jul/Aug 1948: "The Origin of Superman!").

According to Superman No. 33/1, "...Superman-- a native of the ill-fated planet of Krypton---is of a different structure than than the natives of Earth! Neither his mind nor his body are susceptible to the influences that can overcome other human beings!" (Mar/Apr 1945: "Dimensions of Danger!").

"Where we come from," gloats the Kryptonian villian U-Ban in July-August, "everyone has see-through vision, extra-strength and extra-speed!" (S No. 65/3: "Three Supermen from Krypton!").

By the late 1940s, however, the texts had begun to describe the people of Krypton as more or less ordinary human beings and to attribute Superman's powers to the vast differences between the gravitational pull and atmospheric conditions of Krypton and those of the Planet Earth. In the words of Superman No. 58,

Everyone knows that Superman is a being from another Planet,
unburdened by the vastly weaker gravity of Earth.  But not everyone
understands how gravity affects strength!  If you were on a world
smaller than ours, you could jump over high buildings, lift enormous
weights... and thus duplicate some of the feats of the Man of Steel!
[May/June 1949: "The Case of the Second Superman"].

Subsequent texts continued to cite the importance of the gravitational difference between Earth and Krypton while laying increasingly greater stress on the significance of Krypton's unique atmosphere in accounting for the awesome powers a Kryptonian acquired once he was free of his native Planet. "Obviously, Krypton is such an unusual Planet," Superman's father, Jor-El, once noted, "that when a native Kryptonian is elsewhere, free of Krypton's unique atmosphere and tremendous gravitational pull, he becomes a superman!" (Superman No. 113, May 1957: chs. 1-3-"The Superman of the Past"; "The Secret of the Towers"; "The Superman of the Present").

Since, according to this theory, Superman owes the existence of his super-powers to the fact that he is no longer on the Planet Krypton, it follows that Superman has no super-powers wherever atmospheric and gravitational conditions prevail that are identical to those of his native planet.

Indeed during a visit to a man-made duplicate of the planet Krypton, in July 1953, Superman finds that he can no longer fly, "since [the planet's] tremendous gravitational power neautralizes [his] strength!"

"And because of the greater atmospheric density on this world," notes Superman, "I can't (ugh) use my X-ray vision here either!" And moments later he adds, "I--I could stay under water almost indefinitely on Earth---but not on [the duplicate] Krypton! Because of the greater exertion, I need more oxygen!" (Act No. 182: "The Return of Planet Krypton!").

An identical loss of super-powers befalls Superman whenever he journeys through the time barrier to Krypton at a time prior to the its destruction or pays a visit to the bottle city of Kandor. "...[W]here Krypton's non-earthly gravity conditions are in force," muses Superman during a visit to Kandor in October 1958, "I have no super-powers!I-I'm just an ordinary man!" (Act No. 245: "The Shrinking Superman!").

According to a revised theory of Superman's powers, first advanced in 1960, the Man of Steel derives his super-powers partly from [the] lesser gravity of Earth and partly from the unique "ultra solar rays that penetrate Earth day and night."

"These rays," explains Superman to Supergirl in March 1960, "can only affect people who were born in other solar systems than Earth's! And only yellow stars like Earth's sun emit those super-energy rays! On planets of non-yellow suns, we would not be super-powered, even under the low gravity!" (Act No. 262: "Supergirl's Greatest Victory!").

This theory is restated in Superman No.141. “What gave me super-powers on Earth,” explains Superman, “was Earth’s lesser gravity and the fact that, unlike Krypton’s red sun, Earth’s solar system has a yellow sun....Only yellow stars radiate super-energy rays which give super-powers to people born in other solar systems!” (Nov 1960: pts. I-III-"Superman Meets Jor-El and Lara again!"; "Superman’s Kryptonian Romance!"; "The Surprise of Fate!").

Superman No. 146/1 refines this theory still further, attributing Superman’s “muscular powers” - super-strength, super-breath, super-speed, and the power of flight – to Earth’s light gravity, and his “super-senses and mental powers” - X-ray vision and other optical powers, super-hearing, and various intellectual powers – to the ultra solar rays of Earth's yellow sun. In a flashback sequence, Superman explains that, as the result of his having been born

on a giant world with heavy gravity, my muscles automatically
became super-strong in Earth’s light gravity! I’m like the ant,
which, if it were man sized, could carry a locomotive! Grasshoppers
could leap over buildings!
   Now notice that Krypton had a red sun…! But only the ultra solar
rays of Earth’s yellow sun can super energize my brain and five senses
to give me the other non-muscular super-powers!
   Also, those yellow-sun rays, which only tan Earth people’s skin,
hardened mine like steel! Radium rays…lightning…fire…nothing can harm
me! (Jul 1961: “The Story of Superman’s Life!”.)

In the logic of this latest refinement, all Kryptonian objects acquire indestructibility in the yellow-sun environment of Earth, and all native Kryptonians - such as Supergirl or Krypto the Superdog - acquire super-powers identical to Superman's. However, the indestructibility of these objects and the super-powers of the various Kryptonian survivors remain proportional to what they would have been had they remained in their native Kryptonian environment. Superman is stronger than Supergirl, for example, just as an ordinary human male is normally stronger than his female counterpart. Similarly, a Kryptonian gorilla on Earth would be stronger than Superman, just as an ordinary gorilla is more powerful than an ordinary man.

It is this phenomenon to which Superman refers in February 1962, when, after having been bitten severely on the hand by a Kryptonian “flame dragon” (see Flame Dragon), he remarks that “The beast’s bite penetrated my skin…which is invulnerable to everything to everything except the bite of a Kryptonian creature who would have normally been stronger than me if both of us were on Krypton, minus our super-strength!” (S No. 151/3: “Superman’s Greatest Secret!”.)

Because Superman is now said to derive his powers, in part, from the ultra solar rays of Earth's yellow sun, he has no powers on any Planet revolving about a red sun, such as the Planet Lexor (Act No. 318, Nov 1964: “The Death of Luthor!”; and others) or the world of the Thorones (Act No. 321, Feb 1965: “Superman—Weakest Man in the World!”).

The mighty super-powers that Superman employs today are the products of a gradual evolution spanning decades of texts. Following is an inventory of Superman's super-powers, along with the history and evolution of each super-power.

Super-Speed and the Power of Flight

In the early years of his super-heroic career, Superman was not endowed with the power of flight. Although he possessed superhuman speed, he moved from place to place by running or by executing gigantic leaps. Month by month, however, Superman's running speed increased, along with the length of his leaps and the complexity of the aerial maneuvers he was able to perform once he had left the ground. The transition from leaping to actual flying was extraordinarily gradual and was punctuated with a great deal of inconsistency. Not until May 1943 is Superman explicitly referred to as a "being who can fly like a bird" and not until later that same year can it be said, without qualification, that Superman actually possesses the power of flight.

By 1945, Superman is able to fly from Metropolis to Burma in the wink of an eye. "Light travels 186,000 miles a second, but has nothing on Superman," notes the text, "who finds himself hovering over the jungles of Burma in the wink of an eye!"

Superman traveling backwards through time.

In November 1946, Superman demonstrates the ability to stand invisibly on one spot by oscillating his body so fast that the human eye cannot see him. During this same period, Superman protects bystanders at a navy yard from the effects of a devastating explosion by spinning around the blast area at super-speed. With the speed of light, Superman makes a wall of his revolving body, through which the expanding gases of the explosive cannot penetrate. Then, funneling upward, Superman directs the blast toward the sky.

In August 1947, Superman successfully photographs a series of past events by flying into outer space faster than the speed of light and overtaking the light waves leaving Earth which contain the images of the events he wants to record on film.

Later in 1947, Superman single-handedly constructs an entire underground city in a matter of seconds. (S No. 48) During this same period, Superman uses his command of super-speed to travel through the time barrier into the past.

Virtually all texts agree that to penetrate the time barrier (travel backwards through time), Superman must move at a speed exceeding that of light.

It's often a debated point on who is faster, Superman or the other superhero famous for his speed, The Flash. The two heroes have frequently explored the question with a number of friendly competitive foot races that all have proved inconclusive. (S No. 199, Aug 1967: "Superman's Race With the Flash!", see Flash for other references)



There have been many strong men in the world, but none with the amazing power of Superman, whose rippling steel muscles can blast boulders to dust and move mountains.

Like Superman's other powers, his strength has been continually magnified over the years.

In June 1938, Superman, described as a man of titanic strength with the ability to raise tremendous weights, lifts an automobile over his head with one hand, shakes its hoodlum occupants out on the the ground, then smashes the car to bits against the base of a cliff.

In Spring 1940, when Metropolis is ravaged by a man-made earthquake, Superman supports tottering buildings while terrified occupants dash to safety.

In 1941, Superman swims through a raging flood using only one hand, while holding a mansion aloft with the other hand. To divert the floodwaters, Superman digs a huge, mile-long ditch with his bare hands in a matter of moments.

In 1942, Superman seizes a set of brass knuckles and crushes the cowardly instrument in his palm as easily as though the metal were putty; he smashes his way through the side of a mountain; and, while clinging to the side of a moving train, Superman performs an amazing stunt - he opens a Pullman window! By September of the same year, his strength has grown to the point where he can wrench apart a pair of twin mountain peaks with his bare hands.

In 1943, when Superman acts to avert the collapse of a massive undersea cavern, his mighty shoulders bear the weight of thousands of tons of rock and the terrific pressure of the ocean above it. (Act No. 62, "There'll Always Be a Superman!") He also hits a baseball so hard that it circles the world.

In 1946, Superman uses his super-strength to mend a gaping hole in the hull of a sunken freighter, welding the torn steel plates into place by rubbing them with his hands until they're white hot. Later texts refer to this process as the application of "super-friction."

1947 brings us the first time that Superman transforms a lump of coal into a glittering diamond. In the words of the text, "Incalculable tons of pressure exerted by the Man of Steel's mighty fist duplicate the work of eons to fuse the opaque coal carbons into the translucent perfection of a glittering diamond!" (Act No. 115)

In 1948 he uses the super-pressure of his thumbnail to cut sheet metal.

By 1949 he has single-handedly created a sun for the Planet Uuz by crashing together its two uninhabited moons and then fueling the resultant atomic blaze with drifting meteors.

In November 1953, when a great dark star that's rushing through the solar system begins causing the Earth to spin faster on its axis, Superman finds himself confronted by the greatest challenge of his career, that of devising a means of slowing down the Earth. After fashioning a gigantic metal drill from ore-bearing rock, Superman drills through the Earth to the red-hot rocks inside Earth's crust and then, using his own body as a high-speed chisel, gouges a canal from the sea to the hole he has drilled in the Earth. When the seawater rushing through Superman's man-made canal washes over the red-hot rocks at the Earth's core, the result is a continuous blast of steam that makes a great jet-blast, pushing against the rotating Earth to slow it down. When it's back to normal, Superman closes off the canal.

But by 1957, Superman is able to hurl an uninhabited Planet through space (S No. 110) and in 1958 can produce a small earthquake with a super-clap of his hands.

In March 1965, Superman seizes a spacecraft manned by members of the Superman Revenge Squad and hurls it into a far distant galaxy light-years away from Earth.

In July 1967, Superman as Superboy has pulled a chain of a dozen worlds from their own dying galaxy to new suns at the other side of the universe, saving billions of lives (SB No. 140).

In October 1980, Superman fights the alien villain, N'Gon, who has stolen Green Lantern's power ring, one of the most powerful weapon types in the universe. To finally defeat the villain, who has a force field generated from the ring to protect himself, Superman punches the field with all his strength. The blow is so powerful that it creates a massive thundering sonic boom-like sound that overcomes the force field and overwhelms the villain (DCCP No. 26, Oct 1980: "Between Friend and Foe!").



Of all the awesome capabilities of Superman, one of the most important is his invulnerability. Fire can't burn him, knives can't cut him, bullets can't hurt him. In fact, there's nothing known to man that can harm even a hair of Superman's head.

In June 1938, a bullet ricochets off Superman's tough skin and a knife blade shatters when it strikes his body. Nothing less than a bursting shell could penetrate his skin. Subsequent texts describe Superman as possessing a skin impenetrable to even steel and as being impervious to bullets because of an unbelievably tough skin. A text dated January 1945 notes that "Unlike ordinary people, the Man of Steel can do without food if necessary," but a later text contradicts this, noting that Superman could indeed "starve to death."

In September 1945, Superman holds open an earthquake fissure with his bare hands until Lois Lane has had a chance to climb to safety. "The most powerful muscles on Earth," notes the text, "withstand the tremendous pressure of thousands of tons of rock!" "If the fissure had closed on me," remarks Superman, "the only damage would have been to the rock!"

In 1946, Superman flies onto an atomic-bomb test site and withstands the successive impact of two atomic bombs. He also withstands the intense heat of the Earth's molten core. (S No. 43)

In 1950, Superman swims underwater thousands of fathoms deep, down to the ocean bed itself, and suffers no ill effects from the crushing water pressure. He withstands the heat at the rim of the sun, estimated at a few billion degrees.

By 1951, Superman can withstand the heat at the core of the sun. (Act No. 161) By this date, Superman's Herculean body has become immune to all ills and it's impossible for him to get sick. Superman is not immune, however, to certain extraterrestrial illnesses, such as the mysterious space virus that temporarily transforms his X-ray vision into "deep-freeze" vision in November, 1957, and Virus X, native to the Planet Krypton.

In February 1954, Superman withstands the explosion of a hydrogen bomb, although it does leave him with a slight headache. (S No. 87)

A text dated April 1960 observes that the rifle-like non-super-ray weapon employed by the Bizarros of the Planet Htrae could permanently rob Superman of his super-powers. Another text for this period strongly implies that Superman is invulnerable to the aging process and therefore immortal (S No. 136, Apr 1960), but Superman No. 181 contradicts this, noting that "Though Superman is the mightiest man on Earth, even he cannot live forever!" (Nov 1965, "The Superman of 2965!")

A text dated April 1965 notes that Superman is invulnerable to drowning, and can remain underwater as long as he wishes.

Because Superman is invulnerable, he cannot blush and because his skin is never affected by the sun, he is impervious to sunburn.

Superman's hair is indestructible and can neither be cut nor can it grow in Earth's atmosphere. (S No. 132, Oct 1959)

Any attempt to cut Superman's hair by ordinary means results only in the shattering of whatever scissors are being used, but Superman can cut his own hair when absolutely necessary by subjecting it to the concentrated power of his own X-ray vision. In a red-sun environment, however, where Superman has no super-powers, his hair loses its indestructibility and begins to grow. If Superman undertakes a mission to a red-sun Planet, it is best for him to shave and trim his hair before returning to the yellow-sun environment of Earth, where his hair will once again become indestructible.

Similarly, Superman's fingernails and toenails, which are indestructible and do not grow in the earthly environment, do grow and are destructible on Planets revolving about a red sun.

X-Ray Vision and the Other Optical Powers


With telescopic vision, he has spanned the solar system - his microscopic vision has seen the tiniest dust particle - while his X-ray vision has pierced every substance except lead.

Today's Superman possesses a wide range of optical super-powers, including X-ray vision, which enables him to see through all substances except lead; telescopic vision, which enables him to focus on objects millions of miles away; super-vision, a combination of X-ray vision and telescopic vision, which enables him to perform such optical feats as peering through the wall of a house thousands of miles away; microscopic vision, which enables him to examine the tiniest atomic particles; heat vision, which enables him to apply intense heat to any substance except lead; infrared vision, which enables him to see objects lying outside the visible spectrum at its red end; radar vision, a term denoting infrared vision used at low power, which enables him to see in pitch darkness; and photographic vision, which enables him to perform such feats as memorizing whole books at a single glance.

In Superman's earliest adventures, however, he exhibited no special optical powers, and the vision abilities he employs today are the products of a gradual evolution spanning many years of texts. Tracing the evolution of these abilities is difficult, for the terminology used to describe them is often haphazard and confusing. "Telescopic X-ray vision," for example, used as a general term in many early texts to denote Superman's ability both to see through objects and to see objects from far away, later comes to refer to the use of both of these visions simultaneously.

"Super-vision," however, both with and without the hyphen, has been employed at various times in the chronicles as a synonym for telescopic vision; as a means of describing Superman's ability to perform some complex optical feat, such as tracing television broadcast signals to their source; and as a term denoting a combination of X-ray vision and telescopic vision, the meaning it has today.

Similarly, Superman used his X-ray vision to analyze the chemical composition of substances, to melt solid objects, and to see in pitch darkness long before the more specialized terms microscopic vision, heat vision, and radar vision ever appeared in the chronicles.

Some terms, such as "super-sensory sight," "super-sensory-vision," and "supernormal vision" are used in the texts without ever being defined precisely.


Today Superman's super-hearing - ordinary human hearing multiplied countless thousands of times - enables Superman to detect the footfall of an ant 1,000 miles away or trace the source of sound waves across millions of miles of interstellar space.

In his very earliest adventures, however, Superman exhibited no special aural powers, and the super-hearing he employs today is the product of a gradual evolution spanning many years of texts. The term "super-hearing" first appears in the chronicles in Fall 1939. Nevertheless, during the first two decades of Superman's career, the texts also employ such other descriptive terms as "super-acute hearing," "super-sensitive hearing," "hyper-keen hearing," and "super-keen hearing."

In January 1939, Superman is described as having "sensitive ears," which enable him to hear things ordinary human beings cannot.

In November 1940, Superman's super-sensitive ears enable him to pick up radio waves so that he can listen in on a radio news broadcast without a radio. In 1942, his super-sensitive hearing enables him to trace radio waves to their source.

In June 1946, Superman's hyper-keen hearing enables him to trace a telephone call across the phone wires to its source.

By 1950, Superman's super-hearing enables him to hear the low humming sound of a machine 1,500 miles away. In 1953, he exhibits the ability to focus his super-hearing so precisely that, while flying high over Metropolis, he can eavesdrop on a conversation taking place in one specific apartment.

In January 1960, Superman's super-hearing enables him to trace sound waves to their ultimate source: a space ship millions of miles from Earth (Action Comics #260) and by December of the same year, Superman can hear Big Ben chiming the hour in London while he is in the Sahara Desert.

Super-Breath and Related Powers

Andy Warhol breath.jpg

Like Superman's other super-powers, his super-breath and related powers have undergone continual expansion and magnification.

A text dated August 1939 notes that Superman can hold his breath for hours underwater.

In January 1940, he blows out a flaming torch with a powerful puff of his breath.

A text dated March 1941 notes that Superman's lungs can withstand any air pressure, no matter how great, and a later text observes that Superman can swim thousands of fathoms deep, down to the ocean bed itself, without suffering any ill effects.

In June 1941 Superman extinguishes a raging fire with a terrific gust of breath and in 1947 he extinguishes a bonfire by inhaling the flames.

In November 1947, when the Toyman attempts to make good his escape astride a rocket-powered hobbyhorse, Superman draws him back to earth with a deep inhalation of breath.

In March 1949, after having been locked inside a skyrocket by Lex Luthor, Superman uses his super-breath in place of rocket fuel to launch the skyrocket into the stratosphere. "And with super-breath," notes the text, "the Man of Steel lifts the projectile into the sky!" Superman performs a similar feat in July 1960, climbing into the exhaust apparatus of a jet aircraft disabled in midair and using his superbreath as jet propulsion to guide it to a safe landing.

In September 1949, Superman extinguishes a chemical fire by inhaling all the air around it. "The deadly flames are no menace to Superman," notes the text, "who smothers them by momentarily drawing all the air in the room into his own mighty lungs!"

In July 1953, Superman notes that he can stay underwater almost indefinitely.

In July 1954, Superman paints a house by using his super-breath to blow paint out of a paint bucket onto the house. "Super-breath comes in handy in many ways," muses Superman, "but this is the first time I've used it as a paint sprayer!"

In August 1954, far out in space, Superman extinguishes a star with a blast of his super-breath. (Superman #91)

In July 1959, Superman halts a massive tidal wave by freezing it into a solid iceberg with a blast of his super-breath.

In March 1960, Jimmy Olsen remarks that Superman can live for years underwater.

In October 1960, after engraving an inscription with his fingernail into the frame of a mirror, Superman blows on the inscription with this super-breath in order to imbue it with an antique appearance. "The force of my super-breath will create an artificial aging effect," observes Superman, "so the writing will appear centuries-old!" (Action Comics No. 269)

In February 1961, after Mr. Mxyzptlk has loosed a cloud of magic sneezing powder on Metropolis, Superman finds himself forced to give vent to a super-sneeze that literally destroys an entire distant solar system.

In April 1963, Superman disarms a gang of bank robbers by using his super-cold breath to freeze the air around their guns into clocks of ice. "Puffing my super-cold breath at them," muses Superman, "I've condensed the moisture in the air around their guns into ice! Now that their numb fingers can't pull triggers, innocent bystanders won't get hurt!"

A text dated April 1965 notes that Superman is invulnerable to drowning and can remain under-water as long as he wishes.

Vocal and Ventriloquistic Powers

Like Superman's other super-powers, his vocal and ventriloquistic powers have been continually magnified and expanded in the course of his career.

In 1941, Superman employs ordinary ventriloquism to distract the attention of criminals holding Lois Lane.

In March 1942, Superman exhibits the ability to mimic voices when he expertly disguises his voice so that it sounds exactly like a gang-leader's. In September of the same year, in order to warn the people of Metropolis of a Nazi invasion, Superman shouts a warning in such dynamic tones his voice carries for miles.

In May 1943 Superman summons police to an underworld hideout by broadcasting his voice with the aid of his super-powers so that it materializes in police radio sets.

In 1947 Superman shatters a thousand-ton block of ice into tiny fragments with a mighty shout.

In January 1950, Superman ventriloquizes over a considerable distance in order to make a painted image of himself appear to talk and in order to make his voice materialize from a police-car radio. This technique, which later becomes known as "super-ventriloquism," enables Superman to project his voice over immense distances and yet have his voice heard only by those whom he is directly addressing.

In July 1950, one of Superman's super-yells is monitored at over 1,000,000 decibles. (S No. 65) One later text notes that "Superman's tremendous shout echoes like a thousand thunderstorms in the sky," while another observes that his "super-voice resounds like 1,000 loudspeakers," enabling everyone within a five-mile radius to hear it.

In August 1950, while standing with Lois Lane in an office at the Daily Planet, Superman uses ventriloquism to make Clark Kent's voice come over the telephone so that Lois will believe that Kent and Superman are two different men.

In September 1955, Superman shatters a diamond into powder by using his super-voice to produce extraordinarily high-pitched musical notes.

In July 1961, Superman converses with Supergirl over an immense distance by means of super-ventriloquism, a voice throwing technique that enables them to converse over long distances without being overheard by anyone in between.

In July 1962, Superman summons Krypto the Superdog by means of super-ventriloquism, but in November 1963 he speaks of summoning Krypto via supersonic ventriloquism, a technique that enables him to throw his voice at such a high pitch that only Krypto's super-canine hearing could possibly hear it.

Mental and Intellectual Powers


Along with his other super-powers, Superman also possesses a super-intellect and other superhuman mental powers.

In Spring 1940 Clark Kent exhibits the ability to temporarily halt the beating of his heart. In several occasions in subsequent years, Superman employs this unique ability in order to enable him to feign death. Superman #21 alludes to Superman's having temporarily halted the beating of his heart and put himself into a state of suspended animation, and World's Finest Comics No. 54 cites Superman's ability to control his heart action in order to simulate the signs of death. Control of one's heartbeat would seem to involve mental control of one's physical functions, but in his only clear description of this feat, Superman describes it as one of "super-muscular control." "To make you think I had 'died,'" he remarks to a group of captured criminals in January 1958, "I used super-muscular control to stop my heart from beating - just as I'm doing now to make it beat faster and louder, listen!"

In Summer 1940, Superman is described as possessing a photographic memory.

In January 1941 Superman cures Lois Lane of her amnesia by means of hypnosis and a month later, as Clark Kent, he hypnotizes her into forgetting the super-feats he is about to perform so that he can rescue her from a burning cabin in his role as Clark Kent without betraying his dual identity.

In January 1942, Superman is able to converse fluently with a mermaid despite the fact that her tongue is completely foreign to him because his advanced intellect instantly comprehends her strange language. (S No. 14)

In July 1943, Superman is described as having a "super-brain," but later texts refer to Superman as having a "super-intellect."

In January 1945, Superman visits the public library and reads through a mountain of books and articles about himself in only five minutes, and in November 1945, he is described as reading a 500-page book in ten seconds flat.

In September 1947, Superman is described as having a super-instinct that alerts him to the fact that someone is watching him.

In July 1948, Superman demonstrates the ability to solve complex mathematical equations with the speed and accuracy of a giant computing machine.

In July 1950, Superman's super-intellect enables him to solve, in seconds, a complicated mathematical problem that the Metropolis Science Foundation's mighty electronic brain takes ten minutes to solve.

In July 1951, Clark Kent memorizes a 400-page book in a matter of seconds, and in September of the same year, Superman comments that, for the sake of convenience, he has memorized the entire Metropolis phone book.

In November 1953, Superman is described as having a "super-memory."

In March 1954, Superman's super-intelligence enables him to solve a complex equation that involves dealing with mathematical ideas unknown to ordinary men.

In March 1955, Superman memorizes all the existing books on eye surgery preparatory to performing a complicated eye operation.

In April 1955, Superman is described as having used his photographic memory to memorize all the files of the Daily Planet.

In May 1956, Superman is described as being able to recall every action of his life with his "super-human memory." Subsequent texts refer to Superman's "power of total memory" or "total-recall memory," noting that it enables the Man of Steel to remember everything he ever said or did.

In January 1958, Superman is able to match up a suspect's fingerprints with those on file in Washington, D.C., as the result of having used his super-memory to memorize the entire fingerprint file of the F.B.I.

In June 1958, while relaxing at his Fortress of Solitude, Superman defeats a great robot he has built in a game of super-chess, despite the fact that the robot - which possesses a super-electronic brain - can think and play with the speed of lightning and plans a million moves at once.

In November 1960 Superman is described as having mastered Kryptonese, the language of Krypton, through his memory's power of total recall.

A text dated August 1963 notes that Superman possesses the super-intellect of a score of the world's most brilliant minds put together.

Miscellaneous Powers

In addition to the super-powers enumerated in the foregoing subsections, Superman has displayed other unique abilities that are not readily classifiable.

Several texts describe Superman as possessing super-senses which, among other things, enable him to sense the presence of an electrical discharge or the close proximity of Lori Lemaris.

Superman's supersensitive nostrils enable him to detect the faint odor of nitroglycerine in a cache of dynamite or to stand atop a Metropolis skyscraper and pinpoint Lois Lane's exact location by her perfume.

According to one text, Superman possesses a super-sensitive nerve structure, rendering him extraordinarily sensitive to the effects of cosmic disturbances. Another text notes that Superman's fingers are super-sensitive, enabling him to distinguish between types of metal ores by their touch even when he cannot see them.

Superman's super-coordination enables him to sign two autographs simultaneously, one with each hand, and a transfusion of his alien blood has the power to make a critically ill person well again within a matter of moments. (S No. 6, 1940)

Superman No. 133 asserts that Superman could consume virtually endless quantities of food, and Action Comics No. 306 suggests that Superman can perform feats of lovemaking of which an ordinary man would be quite incapable: forced into the position of having to kiss Lois Lane beneath the mistletoe at a Daily Planet Christmas party in 1963, Clark Kent mischievously decides to shock the daylights out of Lois by giving her a super-kiss, in the manner of Superman, instead of the mild-mannered kiss she would be likely to expect from Clark Kent. Indeed, when Kent finally releases Lois from his embrace after giving her a super-soulful kiss, Lois is glassy-eyed and on the verge of swooning.

"Holy Toledo, Clark," exclaims someone at the party, " - where'd you learn to kiss like that?"

"Yes," stammers Lois, plainly impressed, "for a while I thought you were - er - someone else! Where'd you pick up this technique?"

"Maybe it's sort of a hidden talent!" replies Kent. "After all, you don't know everything about me!" And then Kent thinks: "True indeed! Lois would pass out if she knew it was Superman, my other identity, who kissed her!"

One super-power that has long since been discarded by the chroniclers is Superman's ability, displayed on a number of occasions in the 1940s, to radically alter his facial characteristics and even his size through what was described as "superb muscular control" of his "plastic features."

The Vulnerabilities

Despite his awesome super-powers, Superman continues to be afflicted with certain important vulnerabilities.


The term used to designate any surviving fragment of the exploded planet Krypton, home world of Superman. These varieties of kryptonite are similarly hazardous to Supergirl, Krypto the Superdog, Beppo the Supermonkey, and all other surviving natives of Krypton, unless otherwise noted.

Green Kryptonite

Green Kryptonite, is fatal to superpowered Kryptonians but harmless to non-superpowered Kryptonians, It induces lassitude and inertia followed by death if not removed in time from Superman's presence.

Red Kryptonite

Red Kryptonite inflicts bizarre and unpredictable—albeit temporary and nonfatal—symptoms, as when it divides Superman into twins or transforms him into an infant or a giant ant. It's effects last only 48 hours and is never repeated on the same Kryptonian again.

Gold Kryptonite

Gold Kryptonite permanently takes away Superman's powers

Blue Kryptonite

Blue Kryptonite is harmful to Bizarro Supermen in the same way that Green Kryptonite is to Superman

White Kryptonite

White Kryptonite is harmful only to plant life, though it can also affect some vareties of microbe.

  • For more varieties of kryptonite, please see the Kryptonite entry.


Although this subject is not treated in the chronicles with absolute consistency, it is generally agreed that Superman's power of invulnerability does not protect him from Magic. As Superman notes ruefully in August 1964: "My invulnerability can't protect me from magic or a sorcerer's spell!" (S. No. 171, Aug 1964: "The Curse of Magic!")

In 1971, Superman consults the wizard, Doctor Fate of Earth-2 to see if he can remove his vulnerability to magic. However upon arrival on Earth-2, the planet is threatened by aliens and defeating them requires that Dr. Fate cast a spell on Superman that allows him to fight them. The Man of Steel then understands that the ability to be helped by magic is a benefit and declines to have Doctor Fate change this fact (WF No. 208, Dec 1971: "Peril of the Planet Smashers").

Virus X

This deadly Kryptonian virus, for which no cure has ever been discovered, is described in Superman No. 156 as "a contagion fatal in 30 days to any native of Krypton...." Because living X viruses—if, indeed, any survived the destruction of Superman's native planet—would acquire super-virulence in the alien environment of Earth in the same manner whereby Superman acquired his super-powers, Superman and all other surviving natives of Krypton are vulnerable to this killer virus just as they would have been had Krypton never exploded and they, and the virus, remained on Krypton.

In his experiments with Virus X prior to the death of Krypton, the Kryptonian scientist Tharb-El discovered that he could destroy the virus with "element 202." Because element 202 is fatal to human beings, however, Tharb-El was unsuccessful in his efforts to produce a viable cure (S No. 156, Oct 1962: "The Last Days of Superman!" pts. I-III—"Superman's Death Sentence!"; "The Super-Comrades of All Time!"; "Superman's Last Day of Life!").

Other Vulnerabilities

In addition to the vulnerabilities enumerated in the preceding subsections, there remain other situations in which Superman is vulnerable.

He is susceptible to being overpowered and even destroyed by other Kryptonian survivors or by Kryptonian machinery and weapons to which he would have been vulnerable on Krypton.

He can be held or destroyed by some aliens and alien monsters, which, because of peculiarities of their own native planets, acquire super-powers even greater than Superman's. One example includes Darkseid's Gravi-Guards, ponderous beings able to summon great gravity from heavy mass galaxies (see The Forever People No. 1, Feb/Mar 1971: "In Search of a Dream!").

All of his super-vision abilities are blocked by lead and he cannot melt it with his heat vision.

Superman loses his super-powers completely upon entering a solar system whose planets revolve about a red sun. In addition, he is susceptible to losing his super-powers completely, or having them drastically curtailed, if he visits a planet revolving about any non-yellow sun, even if that sun’s color has changed from yellow to another color by artificial means, such as by using a colossal blue filter mounted atop a robot-controlled space station to transform yellow sun into a green sun (S No. 155, Aug 1962: "Superman Under the Green Sun!"). Superman can be blocked by powerful temporal barriers and force fields, such as the Iron Curtain of Time.

In addition, Superman's own mind can be turned against him. For instance, Lex Luthor, using lifelike android duplicates of the Flash and Batman as children, once successfully convinces Superman that he has found a way to reduce his age. Superman is subconsciously convinced enough that his body literally de-ages until he realizes the deception (Act Nos. 465-466, Nov 1976-Dec 1976: "Think Young and Die" and "You Can Take the Man Out of the Super, But You Can't Take the Super Out of the Boy").

Superman has been infected with other Kryptonian biological threats like the deadly Bloodmorel spore from the Scarlet Jungle of Kryption which nearly kills him. However in this case, it was successfully countered by the heroic plant monster, Swamp Thing, who uses his power over plants to stop the infection and cure Superman (DCCP No. 85, Sep 1985: "The Jungle Line!").

Perhaps Superman's greatest vulnerability is that his friends and loved ones do not possess super-powers, a fact which evildoers continually attempt to capitalize on, although invariably without success, in an effort to prevent Superman from apprehending them or to force him to do their bidding.

Lastly, "...despite all his tremendous super-powers, the Man of Steel has never been able to prevent a tragedy of the past, no matter how much he has tried! Always, fate has successfully resisted his attempts to change history!" (S No. 146, Jul 1961: "Superman's Greatest Feats!").

The Equipment

Lead Armor

In September 1948, after the cataclysmic explosion of an atomic reactor has temporarily rendered Superman so dangerously radioactive the he cannot come close to people without destroying them, the Man of Steel fashions himself a thick lead armor suit out of molten metal to enable him to shield those with whom he comes in contact from the deadly “radioactive rays” emanating from his body.

I couldn’t permit eye-holes in this suit,” notes Superman as he flies through the air in his armor suit, “… fatal radioactive rays could seep through them. I’ll see with my X-Ray vision!” (Act No. 124. Sep 1948: “A Superman of Doom!”) Please note that this text clearly ignores the fact that Superman’s X-Ray vision cannot penetrate lead.

In June 1958, Superman dons a suit of lead armor while experimenting with Kryptonite at his Fortress of Solitude. “In this lead armor,” observes Superman, “I’m immune to Kryptonite rays… and can study it to see if I can overcome its dangerous effect on me” (Act No. 241, Jun 1958: The Super-Key to Fort Superman!”).

Dummies, Robots, and Androids

Almost from the beginning of his long career, Superman has employed dummies and robots of Clark Kent and Superman - as well as of his loved ones and closest friends - to help him carry out his customary super-tasks and protect the secret of his dual identity. The greatest of these so-called "super-robots" - which are housed both at the Fortress of Solitude and behind a secret panel in Clark Kent's Metropolis apartment - are immensely sophisticated and complex, possessing mighty super-powers and capable of human emotion, independent thought, and autonomous action. In the early years of the chronicles, however, this was not the case, and the complex robots that exist more recently are the products of a gradual evolution spanning many years of texts.

In March 1944 Clark Kent uses a Superman dummy to help him outwit The Thinker, employing ventriloquism to make the dummy appear to talk.

In September 1949, Superman employs a Superman robot in an elaborate scheme to dupe a band of aliens from the planet Uranus into believing that all earthlings are actually robots. Superman makes his robot appear lifelike by manipulating it like a puppet at invisible super-speed while employing ventriloquism to make it talk (WF No. 42, Sep 1949: "The Alphabetical Animal Adventure!").

As the years progress, the Superman robots become progressively more advanced.

Arriving as a superman from Mercury in February 1952, Superman uses a robot named Krag which he manipulates "with control buttons and ventriloquism". He had to "switch makeup and costumes with Krag... so that sometimes [he] was Krag and the robot became Superman". He makes this robot defeat Superman so that he could meet the Crime Czar (Act No. 165, Feb 1952: "The Man Who Conquered Superman!").

In May 1952, the Clark Kent robot can move by itself, but Superman continues to throw his voice to make it talk. A bump in a boat shakes the robot's mechanism and makes it fail, so he makes it as if Clark had fainted by seeing a paper dinosaur on a ride, se he could be able to repair it later (S No. 75, May 1952: "Mrs. Superman!").

In December 1955, Superman creates a remote-controlled Superman robot that Jimmy Olsen can control while he is away in space diverting a runaway planet that was on a crash course with Earth. It was equipped with a "built-in tv screen originally devised by Dr. Ultra" so Jimmy could "see and hear everything, as if [he] was there [himself]." The robot has super-strength and can fly (SPJO No. 9: "The Missile of Steel").

By May 1958, Superman has succeeded in devising robots so sophisticated that his Clark Kent robot - kept concealed behind a secret panel in a supply room at the Daily Planet - is actually capable of carrying on his duties at the Daily Planet whenever his presence is required elsewhere as Superman. "The robot Clark will replace me here in the office, as usual!" thinks Superman. "Remote-control impulses from my X-ray eyes will guide him and operate his voice box!" Superman also utilizes a sophisticated Superman robot during this period to carry out a mission in outer space.

In December 1958, Superman has begun housing several Superman robots in a secret closet in Clark Kent's apartment, each equipped to duplicate one of Superman's super-powers, such as super-strength, the power of flight, X-ray vision, or super-breath. "Each is designed to use one of my super-powers when needed!" notes Superman. "I send out the robots when Clark's absence would be suspicious! Or when I suspect that criminals are waiting to use kryptonite against me!"

By January 1960 Superman has clearly increased the complexity of his robots even further, for he is now quoted in the Daily Planet as saying that "my robots possess all my super-powers." However, as a precaution in case they malfunction, Superman deliberately makes them weaker than himself so he can defeat them if it becomes necessary (WF No. 202, May 1971: "Vengeance of the Tomb-Thing!").

In February 1960, when Superman conducts guided tours through his Fortress of Solitude for the benefit of charity, two of his Superman robots stand outside, scanning the incoming crowds with their X-ray vision to ensure that no bombs or other dangerous devices are carried into the Fortress. Indications are that the robots are carrying out their duties autonomously, without any outside help from Superman.

In June 1960, Superman, busily occupied with putting on a demonstration of his super-powers for children at a local hospital, dispatches a Clark Kent robot to keep a lunch date with Lois Lane, confident that the robot is so thoroughly lifelike that Lois will not be able to tell it from a human being.

In March 1961, one of Superman's Superman-robots, acting entirely on its own volition, carries out an intricately convoluted ruse involving human emotion, sophisticated independent thinking, and the ability to invent and construct complex scientific devices. (Action Comics No. 274)

Since 1959, Superman's sophisticated super-robots have been housed in two principal locations: The Fortress of Solitude and the secret closet in Clark Kent's Metropolis apartment.

The closet, which is referred to as a "secret closet," is concealed behind a fake wall which slides open at the touch of a secret button. It also slides open when a special box on Clark Kent's table is opened. In the event an intruder inadvertently activates this sliding-wall mechanism and discovers the secret closet, however, a special security device on the closet door makes the phone in the apartment ring. When the intruder answers, he hears the voice of Superman, on a prerecorded tape, asking Clark Kent to return the robots he has recently "borrowed." This device has many times protected the secret of Superman's dual identity.

The robots used most often by Superman have been robots of Superman and Clark Kent, but the Man of Steel has also used robots of Lois Lane and Lana Lang, Supergirl, Krypto the Superdog, and robots of himself both as the teen-age Superboy and as a super-baby.

The robots address Superman as "master" and Superman addresses them, when he addresses them verbally, either by a number, such as "Robot One," or by a letter of the alphabet, such as "Robot Y."

The chronicles contain little real information concerning the workings of Superman's robots beyond that they run on sophisticated batteries, that they contain complex circuits and energy cells, and that each is controlled by an electronic control center located somewhere in its body.

Superman can activate and control his robots wither with verbal commands or by means of his X-ray vision. Even from a long distance away, Superman can summon his robots into action either with his X-ray vision or with a ventriloquistic signal. In the event of an emergency, Superman's robots can also be activated by the Superman Emergency Squad, but they will not respond to anyone's voice but Superman's.

Even if a villain could somehow succeed in commandeering one of Superman's robots, there are indications that the robots, having been created only to do good deeds, would refuse to perform evil ones. In addition, Superman has installed a special self-destruct mechanism in each of his robots - designed to destroy completely any robot that becomes disabled while performing a mission - to prevent unscrupulous individuals from cannibalizing the parts of disabled robots and using the sophisticated circuitry for evil ends.

Even though Superman's robots possess all of Superman's super-powers, they are not as powerful or as indestructible as Superman himself. Even Superman's best robots have been crushed by undersea water pressure, demolished by the flame-breath of a Kryptonian flame dragon, destroyed by a powerful electromagnet, repelled by a powerful anti-magnetic device, blacked out by sophisticated electronic machinery, shattered by Lex Luthor's vibro-gun, short circuited from sudden sunspot activity, or had their motors destroyed by a super-powered villain's X-ray vision. This partially by design so if a robot goes rogue, Superman can defeat it with reasonable ease.(WF No. 202, May 1971: "Vengeance of the Tomb-Thing!").

Although Superman's own costume is indestructible, the ones worn by his Superman robots are not.

Because Superman's robots are not vulnerable to kryptonite, they are extremely useful in certain emergencies in which Superman's life would otherwise be in jeopardy. Superman has programmed his Superman robots to feign vulnerability to kryptonite in public, however, to prevent outsiders from distinguishing the real Superman from his robot surrogates. This programming strategy enables Superman to use his robots to help protect his secret identity by standing in for him as Superman, while preventing anyone from realizing that they are dealing only with a Superman robot. It is common knowledge, however, that Superman has and uses Superman robots. All newly constructed Superman robots are forced to undergo a period of arduous training before they are permitted to work alongside Superman's other robots on an equal footing.

Over the years, a number of present and former Superman robots have played important roles in the chronicles, including Superman Robot Z (Act No. 274, May 1961), Wonder-Man (S No. 163, Aug 1963), Adam Newman (S No. 174, Jan 1965), Powerman and MacDuff.

Superman later retires his robots because of deleterious effects from pollution in the earth's atmosphere (first documented in WF No. 202, May 1971: "Vengeance of the Tomb-Thing!").

(see also the list of Superman Robots)

Miscellaneous Equipment

In his unceasing war against evil and injustice, Superman has also employed a variety of miscellaneous apparatus.

In January 1941, Superman has devised the Krypto-Raygun, a "startling invention with which he can snap pictures, they are developed right in the shape of a raygun, and can be flashed upon a wall!" (Act No. 32, Jan 1941: "The Preston Gambling Racket!")

In August 1948, Superman uses a miniature camera concealed inside a special ring to keep an incriminating photographic record of the attempts on his life made by Skid Russell and his fellow Metropolis "crime kings" (Act No. 123, Aug 1948: "50 Ways to Kill Superman!")

In July 1951, in the course of conducting a series of unsuccessful experiments “to find some way to fight against the power of Kryptonite,” Superman devises a so-called “K-Detector,” which “detects kryptonite as a Geiger counter does Uranium!” (Act No. 158, Jul 1951:”The Kid from Krypton!”) This device, which is also referred to as a “kryptonite detector,” is now housed in the Fortress of Solitude along with Superman’s “red kryptonite detector”.

During a period when Superman is temporarily bereft of his super-powers, as a result of Earth’s passing through a shower of kryptonite dust in space, the Man of Steel successfully carries out his customary super-tasks with the aid of an armada of ingenious “Super-Machines” that he had hastily constructed in anticipation of the crisis. Among them are the following:

  • 1. An armored tank-like vehicle equipped with a power scoop, a battering ram, and maneuverable mechanical arms
  • 2. A colossal earth boring machine
  • 3. A tank-like vehicle equipped with a gigantic electromagnet
  • 4. A “massive super-insulated suit” designed to render Superman invulnerable to fire and other dangers
  • 5. A jet-motor harness to endow him with the power of flight
  • 6. Various telescopes: designed to duplicate as nearly as possible, Superman’s super-vision
  • 7. Various fluoroscopes: designed to duplicate as nearly as possible, Superman’s super-vision
  • 8. Various microphone: designed to duplicate as nearly as possible, Superman’s super-hearing

(S No. 116, Sep 1957: “The Mechanized Superman!”)

In December 1959, Superman and Batman wear special “wrist-radios” designed to enable them to communicate with one another while Superman is in Metropolis and Batman is in Gotham City (WF No. 106, Dec 1959: “The Duplicate Man!”).

In November 1962, during a time-journey to Krypton, Superman wears a special “Anti-Gravity Belt” designed to enable him to escape from the planet so that, once having departed Krypton’s solar system and regained his powers, he can return through the time-barrier at super speed to the year 1962 (S No. 157, Nov 1962: “The Super Revenge of the Phantom Zone Prisoner!”).

When Superman and Jax-Ur undertake a time-journey to Krypton in March 1964, they make the trip in a spherical, transparent “Time Capsule” so that they will not become marooned on Krypton after losing their super-powers there (Act No. 310, Mar 1964: “Secret of Kryptonite Six!”).

In May 1965, as a means of testing the security of his secret identity, Superman uses an Amnesia Machine (“selective amnesia-inducer”) to erase from the minds of Batman and Robin the knowledge that Clark Kent is secretly Superman. Despite this selective loss of memory, the Dynamic Duo were able to deduce Superman’s secret on their own, but when the roles are reversed, and the device is used to erase Superman’s knowledge of the Dynamic Duo’s identities, Superman is unable to discover, try though he might, that Batman and Robin are secretly Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson (WF No. 149, May 1965: “The Game of Secret Identities!” and “The Super-Dectective!”)

Two 1955 texts feature the so-called “Super Signal” a giant searchlight that casts a circle of light against the sky containing a stylized “S” insignia patterned after the one emblazoned on Superman’s Chest.

In Jan-Feb 1955, Superman refers to it as “the emergency signal Batman and I agreed on in case of a crisis” clearly implying that the super signal is a device with which Batman summons Superman. (WF No. 74: “The Contest of Heroes!”)

In May-June 1955, however, Lois Lane displays the special searchlight to Batman and Robin, describing it as “the S-Signal which we use to call Superman,” clearly suggesting that the Super Signal is a device used by the officials of Metropolis to summon Superman. (WF No. 76: “When Gotham City Challenged Metropolis!”)

The Super Signal, in any event, never takes hold as a permanent feature and soon disappears from the chronicles entirely.

The Man Himself (as Clark Kent)

Clark Kent switches to Superman by artist Wayne Boring

The chief protagonist of the Superman chronicles is in one sense really two men. He is, of course, Superman, the world's mightiest hero, but he is also Clark Kent, mild-mannered journalist, for over 45 years the star reporter of the Daily Planet, more recently a full-time newscaster for Metropolis television station WGBS-TV (S No. 233, Jan 1971: "Superman Breaks Loose!"; and many others).

Appearance Clark Kent has black hair and blue eyes. He is 6'2" tall, with chest measurements of 44" and a waist measurement of 34" (Act No. 297, Feb 1963: "The Man Who Betrayed Superman's Identity!"; S. No. 178/1, Jul 1965: "Project Earth-Doom!"). According to one text, his blood conforms to ALL FOUR types!" (S. No. 6/4, Sep/Oct 1940).

Since Clark Kent and Superman are one and the same man, it is not surprising that some have noticed a strong resemblance between them. In February 1963 Perry White observes that Clark Kent "strongly resembles Superman" (Act No. 297: "The Man Who Betrayed Superman's Identity!"), and in November 1963 General Pedro Valdez informs Kent that "Without glasses and dressed like Superman, you could pass anywhere as his double!" (Act No. 306: "The Great Superman Impersonation!").

"Hmm ... there is a resemblance!" notes Lois Lane in December 1965. "That's why I've often suspected Clark might be Superman!" (Act No. 331: "Clark Kent's Masquerade as Superman!"). Despite this perceived resemblance, however, Clark Kent has succeeded in keeping his dual identity one of the world's most closely guarded secrets (see Secret Identity).

Name The identity of Clark Kent was conferred upon the infant Superman by Jonathan and Martha Kent, who adopted the orphan from the doomed planet Krypton soon after the rocket that had brought him safely to Earth had landed in an open field (Act No. 141, Feb 1950: "Luthor's Secret Weapon") on the outskirts of Smallville (WF No. 57, Mar/Apr 1952: "The Artificial Superman!"; and others). The proud foster parents named their new son Clark, which was Martha Kent's maiden name (S No. 146/1, Jul 1961: "The Story of Superman's Life!"; and others).

Childhood/Education Clark Kent's early childhood years were spent on his foster parents' farm outside of Smallville (S No. 152/2, Apr 1962: "Superbaby Captures the Pumpkin Gang!; and others). By the time Clark was old enough to attend elementary school, the Kents had sold their farm and moved to Smallville, where Jonathan Kent opened up a general store (S No. 146/1, Jul 1961: "The Story of Superman's Life!"); and others).

According to Superman 46/3, Clark Kent attended high school at Metropolis High, where he was nicknamed "Specs" and became known as his class's "quietest boy" (May/Jun 1947: "That Old Class of Superboy's!"). However, numerous other texts assert, far more plausibly, that Clark Kent grew up in Smallville, attending Smallville High School (WF No. 69, May/Apr 1954: "Jor-El's Last Will!"; and many others) and working afternoons after school in his foster father's general store (S No. 116/2, Sep 1957: "Disaster Strikes Twice"). His high school principal thought of him as "the shyest boy in our graduating class" (S No. 125/2, Nov 1958: "Clark Kent's College Days"), but his senior yearbook described him this way: "highest grades --boy most likely to become famous --" (S No. 144/2, Apr 1961: "Superboy's First Public Appearance!").

Following his graduation from Smallville High School, Clark Kent attended college at Metropolis University (S No. 125/2, Nov 1958: "Clark Kent's College Days"; and others). He lived in a dormitory, joined a fraternity (S No. 129/3, May 1959: "The Girl in Superman's Past!"), and yelled his heart out as a cheerleader for the college football team (S No. 125/2, Nov 1958: "Clark Kent's College Days").

He had already decided upon a career in journalism (Act No. 144, May 1950: "Clark Kent's Career!"). Nevertheless, he studied advanced science under Professor Thaddeus V. Maxwell (S No. 125/2, Nov 1958: "Clark Kent's College Days") and took courses in biology, astronomy, art, music, and other subjects. In his senior year he had a bittersweet romance with Lori Lemaris (S No. 129/3, May 1959: "The Girl in Superman's Past!").

Employment Following his college graduation, Clark Kent returned to Smallville, but not long afterward, both his foster parents passed away. It was a bereaved Clark Kent who departed Smallville to embark o his chosen career as a newspaper reporter in Metropolis (S No. 146/1, Jul 1961: "The Story of Superman's Life!").

Kent actually began his career as a reporter for the Daily Star, the forerunner in the chronicles of the Daily Planet. By thwarting a lynching at the county jail as Superman, and then phoning in an exclusive account of the events as would-be reporter Clark Kent, Kent pursuaded the paper's editor to hire him despite his lack of experience (S No. 1/1, Sum 1939). Since the appearance of this early account, however, two other, widley disparate, texts have appeared purporting to tell the true story of how Clark Kent came to acquire his job as a newspaper reporter (Act No. 144, May 1950: "Clark Kent's Career!"; S No. 133/2, Nov 1959: "How Perry White Hired Clark Kent!"). Both these accounts may safely be regarded as spurious. (See Daily Planet.)

Working as a reporter for a major newspaper enables Clark Kent to "investigate criminals without their suspecting [he's] really Superman" (S No. 133/2, Nov 1959: "How Perry White Hired Clark Kent!") and provides him with "the best opportunity for being free to help people as Superman" without having to explain his frequent absences from his place of employment (Act No. 144, May 1950: "Clark Kent's Career!"); and others. "As a reporter," notes Kent in December 1949, "I have a hundred underworld and police contacts that make it easier for Superman to fight crime!" (Act No. 139: "Clark Kent ... Daredevil!").

Over and above its usefulness to him in his career as Superman, it is clear that Clark Kent values his career in journalism purely for its own sake. "Just remember," exclaims Kent to newsboy Tommy Blake in Summer 1945, "a good reporter gets the news ... and gets it first! But there's more to being a reporter than that!

    He lives by the deadline!  The thunder of  
    the presses is the pounding of his heart! 
    And most important --all his personal 
    feelings remain in the background!  It's his
    story that counts!  Always remember that!"
    (WF No. 18: "The Junior Reporters!").

According to Superman 25/2, Clark Kent tried to enlist in the U.S. Army during World War II, only to be rejected on the grounds of faulty eyesight when, in the midst of his preinduction eye exam, he absent-mindedly peered through the wall of the examining room wth his X-ray vision and, instead of reading aloud the letters of his own eye chart, recited those on a different eye chart posted on a wall in the adjoining room. Kent might have renewed his efforts to join the Armed Forces had he not soon realized that, as Superman, he "could be of more value on the home front operating as a free agent!" (Nov/Dec 1943: "I Sustain the Wings!").

And so, for more than six continuous decades, Clark Kent has been the Daily Planet's "star reporter" (Act No. 25, Jun 1940; and others). Renowned for his ability to root out local news (S No. 44/3, Jan/Feb 1947: "Shakespeare's Ghost Writer!"; and others), particularly stories dealing with crime and corruption (S No. 83/3, Jul/Aug 1953: "Clark Kent---Convict!"; and others), he has performed in numerous other capacities for the Daily Planet, including that of war correspondent (Act No. 23, Apr 1940), lovelorn editor (S No. 18/3, Sep/Oct 1942: "The Man with the Cane"; and others), editor of the Daily Planet's Bombay edition (Act No. 203, Apr 1955: "The International Daily Planet!"), and editor of the entire newspaper in the absence of Perry White (Act No. 297, Feb 1963: "The Man Who Betrayed Superman's Identity!").


The Man Himself (as Superman)


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 a thousand adventures. He is the close friend and frequent crime-fighting ally of Batman, the cousin and frequent 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 unrelenting warfare against the forces of evil and injustice, aided by his mighty superpowers and a sophisticated arsenal of special equipment.

Superman's most important relationship is the one he shares with Lois Lane, but Superman has also 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” (S No. 180, Oct 1965: “Clark Kent’s Great Superman Hunt!”), with black hair and blue eyes (Act No. 297, Feb 1963: “The Man Who Betrayed Superman’s Identity!”; S No. 178 Jul: “Project Earth-Doom!”). Described as “an incredibly muscular figure” (WF No. 6, Sum 1942:“Man of Steel versus Man of Metal!”) with “a physique of magnificent symmetry” (S No. 54/1, Sep/Oct 1948: “The Wrecker”), he is 6’2” tall, with a chest measurement of 44” and a waist measurement of 34” (Act No. 297, Feb 1963: “The Man Who Betrayed Superman’s Identity!”; S No. 178/1, Jul 1965: “Project Earth-Doom!”). Because he was born on the distant planet Krypton, “his atomic structure is different from that of ordinary people” (S No. 38/1, Jan/Feb 1946: “The Battle of the Atoms!”; and others), and his blood, according to one text, “conforms to all ALL FOUR types” (S No. 6/4, Sep/Oct 1940).

A U.S. Army doctor once described Superman as “the finest physical specimen on Earth” (S No. 133/3, Nov 1959: “Superman Joins the Army!”), and Lois Lane has referred to him as “the smartest, handsomest, strongest man in the universe” (S No. 176/3, Apr [ “Superman’s Day of Truth!”).

The son of the Kryptonian scientist Jor-El and his wife, Lara, Superman was born in the Kryptonian city of Kryptonopolis (SA No. 5, Sum 1962; and others) during the month of October (Act No, 149, Oct ‘1950: “The Courtship on Krypton!”), in the year 1920 (S No. 181/2, Nov 1965: “The Superman of 2965!”).

According to Superman No. 75/1, the proud parents named their son Jor-El, 2nd (Mar/Apr 1952: “The Prankster’s Star Pupil!”), but an overwhelming preponderance of texts assert that they named him Kal-El (S No. 113, May 1957: chs. 1-3—”The Superman of the Past”; “The Secret of the Towers”; “The Superman of the Present”; and others). By all accounts, the dark-haired youngster bore an “unmistakable” resemblance to his father (S No. 77/1, Jul/Aug 1952: “The Man Who Went to Krypton!”; and others).

As the newest member of the so-called 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 far-off 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 modem Kryptonian architecture (SF No. 172, Aug/Sep 1975; and others). Superman’s paternal grandfather had pioneered the science of space travel on Krypton by journeying to Earth and back in an experimental spacecraft of his own design (S No. 103/1, Feb 1956: “The Superman of Yesterday”), although knowledge of the craft’s construction had apparently been lost to Kryptonians by the time Superman was born (Act No. 158, Jul 1951: “The Kid from Krypton!”; and others).

Superman’s uncle Nim-El, his father’s identical twin brother, was a distinguished weapons scientist. Superman’s uncle Zor-El, another of Jor-El’s brothers, had embarked upon a distinguished career in climatography. 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 (Act No. 285, Feb 1962: “The World’s Greatest Heroine!” and others) Van-Zee, “a distant kinsman” of Superman’s resides in Kandor with his wife Sylvia (S No. 158, Jan 1963: “Superman in Kandor!”).

The Women of the Chronicles

Five women play important roles in the Superman chronicles during the first three decades of Superman’s career.

The Relationship with Lois Lane

Superman and Lois Lane first make one another's acquaintance in June 1938 and embark on a neurotic, unfulfilling relationship that has already endured for nearly 50 years.

Almost from the moment of their 1st encounter, Lois Lane is in love with Superman. For decades, Lois Lane's foremost ambition has been to become the wife of Superman. In an effort to lure Superman into matrimony, Lois Lane has tried virtually every ploy imaginable! All of Lois's stratagems, however have ended in failure.

Whatever Superman's behavior toward Lois Lane, however, the texts make it abundantly clear that Superman does love her.

Yet because Superman refuses to respond to her in a normal, healthy way, Lois Lane finds her love for Superman constantly frustrated. As a result, Lois Lane recklessly plunges into danger as her only means of getting Superman to display an interest in her. Although Superman frequently complains at being forced to keep a constant eye on Lois, the evidence is overwhelming that he loves every minute of it.

“That gal’s a natural for getting involved in mischief, but that’s just what I like about her” – Superman (Act No. 27)

Lois Lane is well aware that Superman welcomes the opportunity to rescue her. What is more, Lois has correctly perceived, despite Superman’s feigned indifference, that the Man of Steel harbors a strong affection for her.

Lois Lane’s relationship with Clark Kent is fraught with hostility. Both are reporters for the same Metropolis newspaper, and their reportorial rivalry is a keen one. Lois in particular is fiercely, even unscrupulously competitive, resorting to such tactics as intercepting Kent’s telephone messages, sending him off on wild goose chases, and even seducing him into letting her accompany him on an interview and then slipping knockout drops in his drink so that she can cover the story alone.

In addition to their professional relationship, Clark Kent and Lois Lane share a personal relationship, for although Superman rejects Lois Lane as Superman, he pursues her slavishly in his role as Clark Kent.

Clark Kent and Lois Lane has dated for five full decades. He is gleeful when she consents to go out with him and forlorn and dejected when she turns him down. Clark has hinted at his desire to marry Lois or proposed outright, but Lois Lane has always rejected his proposals. Lois Lane has also rejected all proposals of married in hopes to marry Superman someday.

In his contemplative moments, Clark Kent realizes that Lois Lane loves Superman not for his personal qualities, but for the aura of glamour that surrounds his super-heroic feats.

In the early years, Lois openly despises Clark Kent and is openly contemptuous of him, referring to him as a “spineless, unbearable coward” and a “weak kneed pantywaist”. Over the years, Lois’s open contempt for Kent has mellowed into genuine fondness for him, but Lois continues to despise Clark Kent for his cowardice, openly referring to him as a “spineless jellyfish”.

Lois attitude towards Clark Kent’s feelings is somewhat cavalier. “Clark’s nice…! I should treat him better!” she states. “But how can I, when I’m in love with Superman? (Sigh) Superman’s really super!”

Despite her romantic interest in Superman and her lack of interest in Clark Kent, however, Lois Lane is extremely possessive of Clark Kent and spitefully jealous of another woman who shows an interest in him.

Ever since the early 1940s, Lois Lane has struggled to learn the secret of Superman’s identity. Indeed, Lois Lane’s efforts to learn Superman’s secret, and Superman’s constant efforts to protect it, are yet another way in which hostility is expressed in the Superman-Lois Lane relationship.

Superman’s secret identity is vital to the continuation of his super-heroic career, yet Lois seeks not only to unravel that secret but also to proclaim it to the whole world. Despite Lois Lane’s persistent efforts to learn his secret, however, Superman continually outwits her, often through the use of elaborate ruses.

Overall, Superman’s relationship with Lois Lane is an exercise in frustration for both parties. Its gratifications are neurotic and almost wholly unconscious. The relationship denies Lois Lane the married life she claims to seek, while denying Superman the joys of ordinary life that he claims to envy.

The Relationship with Lana Lang

Lovely red-haired Lana Lang, a newscaster for the Metropolis TV station WMET-TV, is really little more than a psychological carbon copy of Lois Lane. (TGSB)

Although, as an adult, she appears sporadically in the chronicles as one of Superman’s “best friends” and as Lois Lane’s “arch-rival” for his affections, Lana Lang’s principal relationship with Superman occurred during their teenage years, when as a member of Clark Kent’s class at Smallville High School. Lana Lang had a crush on Superboy, the teenaged superman, and was alternately friendly to, and contemptuous of, mild mannered Clark Kent, and generally “tormented and pestered” them both in her never-ending quest for the secret of Superboy’s dual identity. One tale does indicate that young Lana cares for Clark Kent as a person, she once asks Superboy to help Clark's self-confidence rather than requesting anything for herself. (SB No. 43/3, Sep 1955: "Clark Kent's Coach")

Lana Lang’s appearance in the chronicles as one of Superman’s most enduring relationships, second only to Lois Lane, which dramatically attests to the irresistible psychological appeal this type of relationship has for Superman.

The Relationship with Lori Lemaris

The lovely brown-haired Lori Lemaris, a mermaid from the sub sea realm of Atlantis, first became involved with Clark Kent, the man who is secretly Superman, while both were students at Metropolis University. Kent “dated her steadily” during this period, falling, day by day, ever more hopelessly in love with her. Finally, Kent decided to ask Lori to marry him. Convinced that it would be impossible for him to assume the responsibilities of marriage while at the same time carrying on his work as Superman, Kent was prepared to abandon his super-heroic role forever and to live out his life with Lori as plain Clark Kent.

Although, superficially, the love between Clark Kent and Lori Lemaris was mutual, she ultimately rejected this proposal of marriage and in fact, deserted the relationship entirely, on the rather vague and flimsy ground that her duty required her to return to Atlantis (S No. 129, May 1959: “The Girl is Superman’s Past!”).

After years of not having seen Lori Lemaris since his senior year at college, Superman initiates the relationship again, once again, Superman proposes marriage, and once again, Lori Lemaris rejects him. Finally, Lori Lemaris succumbs to Superman’s ardor and the lovely mermaid agrees to become his wife. Lori Lemaris’s assent, however, is only the prelude to an even more crushing rejection, for soon afterward, Lori Lemaris becomes hopelessly paralyzed, as the result of a vengeful attack by an evil fisherman, and after Superman has scoured the universe in order to locate a surgeon capable of curing his beloved’s paralysis, Lori Lemaris renounces her engagement to Superman and marries the surgeon (S No. 135, Feb 1960: “Superman’s Mermaid Sweetheart!”).

The Relationship with Lyla Lerrol

Superman embarks on a passionate poignant romance with “hauntingly beautiful” Kryptonian actress Lyla Lerrol during a time-journey he makes to the planet Krypton at a time preceding its destruction. It is a relationship of mutual commitment and neither party may fairly be said to reject the other (S No. 156, Oct 1962: "The Last Days of Superman!" pts. I-III—"Superman's Death Sentence!"; "The Super-Comrades of All Time!"; "Superman's Last Day of Life!").

The Relationship with Sally Selwyn

Superman falls in love with Sally Selwyn, the lovely blond-haired daughter of an immensely wealthy landowner and industrialist, when after having been temporarily robbed of his powers and afflicted with total amnesia as the result of exposure to Red Kryptonite, he wanders onto the Selwyn estate, clad in the clothing and eyeglasses he customarily wears in his role as Clark Kent.

The relationship that develops between the amnesic Superman and Sally Selwyn is intense yet affectionate, powerful yet at the same time touchingly romantic. Of all the relationships Superman shares with women during the 1st three decades of his career, this one seems the most mature and genuinely loving (S No. 165/2: "The Sweetheart Superman Forgot!").

The Relationship with the Law-Enforcement Establishment

“As a champion of justice, Superman has fought the forces of crime! To people everywhere, he is a living symbol of law and order!” -S No. 153 May 1962

Nearly five full decades of super-heroic adventure have made Superman “the most famous crusader in the world, idolized everywhere for unselfishly using his incredible super powers in behalf of justice” -S No. 144 April 1961

For years, Superman has worked hand in hand with the police, the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, the F.B.I, the Treasury Department, the Secret Service, and several U.S. Presidents.

Although Superman apparently lacks jurisdiction to apprehend criminals outside Earth’s solar system, he has been awarded honorary citizenship “in all the countries of the United Nations”, along with a special “golden certificate” empowering him to apprehend criminals in U.N. member nations and to travel in and out of those nations without a passport.

Superman began his relationship with the law-enforcement establishment as a teenage boy when, as Superboy, he aided members of the Smallville Police during his initial adventures (S No.144/2, April 1961: "Superboy's First Public Appearance!"). Police Chief Parker of Smallville is among Superboy's closest associates.

Metropolis law-enforcement officials can summon Superman into action either with the aid of the “super-signal” or by means of a large loudspeaker mounted atop the roof of police headquarters (S No. 114/1, Jul 1957: "Soundproof Superman”; see also S No. 101/1, Nov “Luthor’s Amazing Rebus”), and “every nation knows exactly how to get in touch with Superman through the White House!” (Act No. 306, Nov 1963: “The Great Superman Impersonation!”).

Superman has been the recipient of numerous awards, trophies, citations, and other honors, including the commemorative stamp issued in his honor by the U.S. government (S No. 91/1, Aug 1954: "The Superman Stamp!”), Metropolis’s Outstanding Citizen Award for 1954 (S No. 93/2, Nov 1954: “Jimmy Olsen’s Double!”), and “the key to the city” presented to him by the mayor of Metropolis in September 1965 (Act No. 328: “Superman’s Hands of Doom!”).

Metropolis has celebrated Superman Day on at least two separate occasions (S No. 157/3, Nov 1962: “Superman’s Day of Doom!”; Act No. 328, Sep 1965:“Superman’s Hands of Doom!”), and 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 (Act No. 207, Aug 1955: "The four Superman Medals!").

Artistic tributes to Superman include the statue of Superman in the Metropolis Hall of Fame (Act No. 297, Feb 1963: “The Man Who Betrayed Superman’s Identity!”), the “colossal steel statue of Superman” in Metropolis Park (WF No, 28, May/Jun 1947: “Superman’s Super-Self!”; and others), the monumental statue of Superman towering over Metropolis Harbor like the legendary Colossus of Rhodes (WF No. 23, Jul/Aug 1946: “The Colossus of Metropolis!”; see also Act No. 146, Jul 1950: “The Statues That Came to Life!”), and the marble statue of Superman unveiled in Planet Square in January February 1946 (S No. 38/3: “The Man of Stone!”; S No. 69 1, Mar/Apr 1951: “The Prankster’s Apprentice!”).

Superman has not always enjoyed the approval of established authority, however, although he has generally enjoyed the admiration of the press (Act No. 9, Feb 1939) and of the average policeman (S No. 13/3, Nov/Dec 1941; and others).

In the early days of his career, Superman was a vigilante “mystery-man” (Act No. 6, Nov 1938; and others) who freely resorted to violence and the threat of violence in order to extort information and confessions from criminal suspects (S No. 1/1, Sum 1939; and many others), demolished private property and committed other gross violations of individual rights (Act No. 12, May 1939; and others), and meted out death to his adversaries whenever he felt the situation demanded it (Act No. 2, Jul 1938; and others).

Pursued by the police during this early period for flouting the law and working beyond the pale of legitimate authority (Act No. 9, Feb 1939; and others), Superman was sought as a fugitive until mid-1942, by which time, although no explanation for the changeover is actually given, he has clearly won the approval of the law-enforcement establishment (S No. 17/4, Jul/Aug 1942: “When Titans Clash!”; and others).

Following is a chronological listing of the textual data relating to Superman’s relationship with the law-enforcement establishment.

In June 1938, having obtained the evidence necessary to exonerate Evelyn Curry of the charge of murder and rescue her from death in the electric chair, Superman barges into the governor’s home just before midnight, manhandles the governor’s personal servant and smashes down the door to his bedroom, and, with only moments to go before Evelyn Curry’s scheduled execution, persuades the governor to put through a life-saving call to the death house. “Gentlemen,” exclaims the governor to the members of his staff the following morning, “I still can’t believe my senses! He’s not human! Thank heaven he’s apparently on the side of law and order!” (Act No. 1).

In January 1939 Superman, convinced that juvenile delinquency is caused not so much by bad youngsters as by the stifling slum environment in which many city youths must dwell, overtakes a paddy wagon taking an arrested delinquent to jail and forcibly rescues him from the clutches of the enraged police in a bid to save the boy from a life of imprisonment.

“It’s not entirely your fault that you’re delinquent,” remarks Superman, “’s these slums—your poor living conditions, if there was only some way I could remedy it!“

Then, as luck would have it, the headline on a local newspaper catches Superman’s eye. “Cyclone Hits Florida,” it screams. “Cities Laid Waste!” The story beneath the headline details plans by the U.S. government to erect modern housing projects on the sites of buildings destroyed by the cyclone.

Inspired by the newspaper article, Superman passes the word to the residents of the city’s slums to gather up their possessions and evacuate their homes immediately. Then, with the dilapidated slum dwellings safely emptied of their occupants, he whirls through the area like “a one-man cyclone,” singlehandedly demolishing every structure in sight with hammer-like blows of his mighty fists. “So the government rebuilds destroyed areas with modern cheap-rental apartments, eh?” says Superman to himself. “Then here’s a job for it!..When I finish, this town will be rid of its filthy crime-festering slums!”

Superman’s unorthodox approach to slum clearance, however, does not endear him to the authorities, and as word of his devastation spreads, scores of policemen and firemen, a contingent of National Guardsmen, and finally “a squadron of aerial- bombers” are ordered into the disaster area with orders to annihilate Superman and put an end to the destruction. But the machine-gun bullets of the National Guardsmen merely bounce off Superman’s chest like pebbles, and the bombs unleashed by the bombers serve only to hasten the completion of his remarkable task.

Nimbly, he races thru [sic] the streets, explosions dodging his footsteps as the frantic aviators seek desperately to eliminate him....

And then finally, his task completed, “SUPERMAN vanishes from sight. Behind him he leaves what formerly were the slums, but now, a desolate shambles...

Soon afterward, as Superman had anticipated, the federal government initiates a campaign of massive aid in the disaster-stricken area. “Emergency squads commence erecting huge apartment-projects... and in time the slums are replaced by splendid housing conditions.”

Officially, of course, this unauthorized act of slum demolition has made an outlaw out of Superman, but even the authorities are privately elated. “... We’ll spare no effort to apprehend SUPERMAN,” vows the police chief, “- -but off the record. ... I think he did a splendid thing and I'd like to sake his hand!" (Act No.8)

In February 1939 the police chief summons newsmen to his office “to witness an announcement of unusual importance.”

“I’ll come to the point at once!” he remarks. “As you know, a man possessed of super-strength named SUPERMAN has torn down our slum area, causing modern apartments to replace crowded tenements.”

“Good for him!” cries one reporter. “What the world needs is a couple more guys like him!” exclaims another.

“Regardless of his motives and our personal approval of them,” scolds the police chief, “the fact remains that he has wantonly destroyed public property and must pay the full penalty to the law just like any other transgressor!”

In hopes of apprehending Superman, the police chief has imported, from Chicago, Detective Captain Reilly, a “conceited windbag” who is, nevertheless, famous for having successfully captured every one of the 800 fugitives he has been assigned to track down. Repeatedly outwitted by Superman, however, Reilly suffers his worst humiliation when he lunges headlong at Superman and knocks himself unconscious against Superman’s “super-tough” skin (Act No. 9).

In March 1939, Superman drags a pusillanimous governor out of bed in the middle of the night so that he can force him to witness, firsthand, the brutal treatment of inmates of the Coreytown prison (Act No. 10). (See: Superintendent Wyman)

In May 1939, Superman forcibly smashes his way into a broadcasting studio, shoving aside the startled announcer and seizing control of the microphone. “Attention, citizens of this city!” he proclaims to the city’s stunned radio audience. “A warning from close heed!” And then, Superman issues the following announcement:

The auto-accident death rate of this community is one that should shame us all! It’s constantly rising and due entirely to reckless driving and inefficiency! More people have been killed needlessly by autos than died during the World War!

From this moment on, I declare war on reckless drivers...henceforth, homicidal drivers answer to me!

Racing at top speed to the county jail, Superman swoops down on “the great lot where the autos of traffic violators are temporarily stored. Leaping at the massed cars, Superman commences to systematically smash and tear them to a pulp!”

“Yes-sir-ee!” exclaims Superman, as he gleefully demolishes the automobiles. “I think I’m going to enjoy this private little war!”

Next, Superman visits “a used-car lot which sells completely dilapidated autos.”“You call these ‘cars’?” he cries to the horrified lot owner. “They’re nothing but accidents looking for a place to happen!...If they weren’t so dangerous they’d actually be funny!” And then, as he wades into the used cars, smashing them into useless scrap with mighty blows of his fists, Superman exclaims, “Sorry if this is tough on your pocketbook, but I’m thinking of the lives to be saved!”

Soon afterward, “...the Man of Steel swoops down from the skies toward the Bates Motor Company’s great factory” and brazenly barges into the office of Mr. Bates himself. “... You use inferior metals and parts so as to make higher profits at the cost of human lives!” accuses Superman. And then, as the flabbergasted automobile magnate looks on in horror, “Gleefully, Superman runs amuck, destroying the factory’s manufacturing equipment” with his bare hands, reducing the entire factory to a mass of rubble.

A short while later, Superman abducts the city’s mayor and drags him to the city morgue. “By not seeing to it that the speed laws were strictly enforced,” intones Superman, “you doomed many to death!”

Indeed, peering through a glass partition inside the morgue, the mayor can see “the bodies of auto victims...maimed...horrible!”“They,” remarks Superman grimly, “are men you killed!”

Jolted out of his complacency by this grisly spectacle, the mayor promises to see to it that the city’s traffic regulations are henceforth strictly enforced, and soon afterward initiates “a great traffic improvement drive...!“ (Act No. 12).

In September 1939, convinced that “gambling is a parasitic vice that has no place in a decent town,” Superman launches a one-man crusade against illegal gambling, single-handedly demolishing virtually every crooked casino in Metropolis. Tearing open the safe in one gambling czar’s office, Superman seizes the hoard of cash inside and, soaring high into the air with it, sends an armful of “fluttering bills” raining down on the grateful inhabitants of “a poor section of the city.”

When he learns that the city’s big-time gamblers are receiving protection from a corrupt police commissioner, Superman confronts the official (“Commissioner, you’re a clever man,” threatens Superman, “and so I won’t bandy words...Either do as I tell you, or prepare to meet your end!”), forces him to call a mass meeting of Metropolis’s gambling czars, and then terrorizes the commissioner into resigning his office—and the gamblers into leaving town—by threatening to track down any man who remains behind “... and end his life with my own hands!” (Act No. 16).

In Fall 1939, Superman strangles Nat Grayson by the throat until he agrees to make a full confession of his crimes and then departs through an open window to avoid a run-in with arriving police. “Remember!” warns Superman as he makes his exit. “If you don’t confess, I’ll come back and dish out the justice you deserve with my bare hands!” (S No. 2/3: “Superman and the Skyscrapers”).

In December 1939, when a chemical company refuses to sell Professor Henry Travers the chemicals he needs to carry on his experiments in search of a cure for the ghastly “purple plague” unleashed against Metropolis by the Ultra-Humanite, Superman breaks into the chemical plant at night and steals the materials Travers needs. “Here are the chemicals. . .“ exclaims Superman to the astonished young scientist. “Never mind how I got them! Get to work!” (Act No. 19).

In February 1940, Superman becomes embroiled, against his will, in a pitched battle with Metropolis police and National Guardsmen when circumstances force him to steal a display of priceless crown jewels in an attempt to ransom captive scientist Terry Curtis from the clutches of the Ultra-Humanite (Act No. 21).

In September-October 1940, after Lois Lane has been wrongfully charged with murder and placed under arrest, Superman swoops down on the police car carrying her to jail and races away with her amid a fusillade of police bullets (S No. 6/1).

In October 1940, an unidentified policeman attempts to place Superman under arrest, but Superman easily makes good his escape (Act No. 29).

In January-February 1941, after Superman has helped thwart a robbery, a policeman on the scene attempts to arrest him, but Superman easily escapes (S No. 8/4).

In June 1941, Superman is apparently still being sought for working outside the law, for Sergeant Casey makes an unsuccessful attempt to take him into custody (Act No. 37).

In July 1941 Sergeant Casey, suspicious that Superman may somehow be implicated in a recent wave of mysterious robberies (see Harold Morton), attempts to place him under arrest, but the Man of Steel easily shatters his handcuffs and escapes, and by the conclusion of the adventure his innocence has been clearly established (Act No. 38).

In August 1941, after a dying watchman, mortally wounded by a mysterious bandit, has muttered something about his assailant’s having been invulnerable to bullets, Sergeant Casey attempts to arrest Superman for the crime. The Man of Steel escapes, however, and ultimately succeeds in proving his innocence (Act No. 39). (See Brett Bryson )

In November-December 1941, while searching for clues at the home of a recently murdered millionaire, Superman is surprised by the police, who attempt to arrest him in the apparent belief that he may have been responsible for the millionaire’s murder. Superman eludes his would-be captors, however, by burrowing beneath the ground like a human drill and then returning to the surface at a different spot and flying away. “It would be useless to attempt to reason with them!” thinks Superman to himself (S No. 13/2).

During this same period, however, when Superman turns a captured foreign spy chief over to the police, one of them remarks admiringly, “If we could only draft you into the force!” (S No. 13/3, Nov/Dec 1941).

In January-February 1942 Superman traces the license number of Rudolph Krazinski's automobile by surreptitiously breaking into the city’s Auto License Bureau and rifling the files, a certain indication that Superman does not yet enjoy the cooperation of the law-enforcement establishment (S No. 14/1).

Moreover, during this same period, Superman abruptly breaks off his interrogation of Jim Bladwin's hired henchmen and flees through an open window in order to avoid a run-in with arriving police (S No. 14/2, Jan/Feb 1942).

In March-April 1942, after Superman has thwarted an attempt by Napkan saboteurs to sink a newly christened American battleship, Secretary of the Navy Hank Fox pays the Man of Steel this tribute:

“How fortunate we are here in America,” he remarks, “to have someone of Superman’s calibre to aid us! In my opinion, he’s worth several armies and navies!” (S No. 15/2).

In April 1942, when Superman attempts to thwart Lex Luthor's robbery of a Metropolis bank, policemen arriving on the scene begin shooting at Superman in the belief that he must have been responsible for setting off the bank’s alarm. Superman easily eludes the police, but Luthor capitalizes on the confusion in order to make good his escape (Act No. 47: “Powerstone”).

In Summer 1942, after Metalo has used his awesome super-strength to steal an entire mail car from the Metropolis train terminal, Superman is accused of having committed the crime. Superman ultimately defeats Metalo, however, and establishes his innocence (WF No. 6: “Man of Steel versus Man of Metal!”).

In July-August 1942 Superman apprehends a group of Lex Luthor’s henchmen and turns them over to the police. “If you keep up this super crook- catching,” remarks one officer, “the force will have to retire!”“Always glad to help the police!” replies Superman (S No. 17/4: “When Titans Clash!”).

In May-June 1943, the nation is plunged into chaos as the result of the Prankster’s having copyrighted the English alphabet. “... What can I do?” thinks Clark Kent helplessly. “The Prankster has the law on his side, and I won’t flout justice at any cost!...” (S No. 22/3: “The Great ABC Panic!”).

In July-August 1943, Superman, by now clearly an American hero, is cheered enthusiastically by American troops when he makes an appearance at a U.S. army base. “... American soldiers cheering me, when all the civilized peoples in the world are cheering them!” thinks Superman proudly. “It’s the grandest tribute I’ve ever had!” (S No. 23/1: “America’s Secret Weapon!”).

In August 1943, while suffering from temporary amnesia induced by a shower of “weird rays” from outer space, Superman commits a series of criminal acts under the evil influence of Professor Praline. For a time, the authorities are convinced that Superman has joined forces with the underworld, but Superman ultimately regains his memory and apprehends Praline and his henchmen (Act No. 63: “When Stars Collide!”).

In January-February 1950, Superman is convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Clark Kent, but the Man of Steel is exonerated when it becomes clear that he only faked Kent’s death as part of an elaborate ruse to enable the Metropolis police to apprehend The Ace (S No. 62/2: “The People vs. Superman!”).

In December 1951-January 1952, Superman is exiled from Metropolis by the Metropolis city council after the Dude Vorman gang has framed him for a series of irresponsible acts. Superman ultimately apprehends the Vorman gang, however, and establishes his innocence (WF No. 55: “The City That Exiled Superman!”).

In January 1953, Superman astounds the authorities by greedily demanding fees and rewards for what have hitherto been his gratuitous services. Superman is only feigning avarice, however, as part of his plan for apprehending the Million-Dollar Marvin gang (Act No. 176: “Muscles for Money”).

In September-October 1953, Superman is widely suspected of being a Metropolis gang czar as the result of an elaborate scheme devised by gangster Harry King Saphire. Superman ultimately exonerates himself of the charge, however, and apprehends Saphire (WF No. 66: “Superman, Ex-Crimebuster!”).

In May-June 1954, during a period when Super man is blacking out for an hour every afternoon as the result of the presence in Earth’s solar system of Kryptonite-laden asteroid, a pair of criminals named Benny and Red begin capitalizing on the Man of Steel’s daily blackouts in order to implicate him in a series of crimes. For a time, Superman is widely believed to have developed a “Jekyll-Hyde personality” that causes him to turn evil for an hour each day, but Superman ultimately establishes his innocence, destroys the kryptonite-laden asteroid, and apprehends the criminals (WF No. 70: “The Two Faces of Superman!”).

In July-August 1956, Superman is an “honored guest”, along with Batman and Robin, at Gotham City’s annual police ball (WF No. 83: “The Case of the Mother Goose Mystery!”).

In April 1959, Vard and Boka, a pair of diabolical “futuremen” from the year 2000 A.D., successfully trick the F.B.I. and other law-enforcement authorities into believing that Superman is actually a fugitive “renegade scientist” from their own future era. The villains plan to make Superman their unwilling ally in a heinously vicious scheme to blackmail the Earth, but the Man of Steel ultimately defeats the futuremen and exonerates himself of the bogus charges against him (S No. 128/1: chs. 1-2—”Superman versus the Futuremen”; “The Secret of the Futuremen”).

When the Metropolis Police Department stages its gala Policemen’s Benefit Show at Metropolis Stadium, Superman contributes a dazzling performance of super-powered feats (S No. 133/1, Nov 1959: “The Super-Luck of Badge 77”).

In January 1960, the name of Superman becomes anathema to the people of Earth when the Kandorian scientist Kull-Ex impersonates him while committing a series of insanely destructive acts. Superman ultimately prevails upon Kull-Ex to confess his misdeeds, however, and the Man of Steel is exonerated of any wrongdoing (S No. 134: chs. I-III—”The Super-Menace of Metropolis!”; “The Revenge Against Jor-El!”; “The Duel of the Supermen!”).

In December 1962, Superman becomes transformed from a beloved hero into “the most feared and hated person on Earth” when he commits a series of insanely destructive acts while under the baleful influence of a diabolical “telepathic-hypnotic weapon” beamed at him by members of the Superman Revenge Squad. Superman ultimately defeats the villains, however, and exonerates himself of any wrongdoing (Act No. 295: “Superman Goes Wild!”).

In April 1963, at the ceremonies marking Police Day at Metropolis Stadium, Superman is on hand to present a gigantic police badge to the heroic police men who make up Metropolis’s police force (S No. 160/2: “The Super-Cop of Metropolis!”).

In June 1963, Superman is convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Clark Kent, but the Man of Steel is exonerated when it becomes clear that he only faked Kent’s death as part of an elaborate ruse to enable the Metropolis police to apprehend Count X and his underworld cohorts (Act No. 301: “The Trial of Superman!”).

In the spring of 1964 Superman astounds the world by demanding that the United Nations agree to crown him King of Earth (Act No. 311, Apr 1964: “Superman, King of Earth!”), but the Man of Steel has only assumed the pose of a “power-hungry madman” as part of his plan to thwart an impending alien invasion from the planet Bxpa (Act No. 312, May 1964: “King Superman versus Clark Kent, Metallo”). (TGSB)

(See also Superman of Earth-2)

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