- Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Superman!
Superman was born Kal-L of the planet Krypton. His father was the esteemed scientist, Jor-L, and his mother was a librarian named Lora. While Kal-L was still a toddler, his father discovered that the planet Krypton teetered on the brink of absolute destruction. Realizing that there was not enough time to save everyone on the planet, he deposited his son inside of a specially designed rocket ship and launched him into outer space. As Kal-L's rocket broke the atmosphere, the planet Krypton exploded.
After traveling through space for an indeterminate amount of time, his rocket eventually crash-landed in a small farming community named Smallville, on the planet Earth. Though at first placed in an orphanage, Kal-L was soon adopted by the Kents and given the name Clark. Over time he discovered his many powers. During his teen years, Clark met a strange visitor from another universe -- his own counterpart, Superboy of Earth-One! The more experienced Superboy helped train Clark in the use of his powers. During this period, Clark briefly worked as a circus strongman under the identity of the Masked Wonder. Mary (Ma) Kent later died and when John (Pa) Kent was on his death bed, he made Clark promise to use his powers for the good of mankind. Taking the advice to heart, Clark created the identity of Superman.
Clark earned himself a job as a reporter at the Daily Star after turning in a story about Superman's first public act. Despite his honorable intentions, Superman was not initially considered a hero and was in fact regarded as a vigilante working outside and at times against the established legal authorities. Many of his earliest public actions showed Kal-L engaging in aggressive actions against wife beaters, slum lords and various other social criminals which included corrupt politicians and law officials. As time progressed, Kal-L began to fight against larger more direct and obvious criminal organizations which gathered his public identity as a hero most notably against the Earth-Two Alexei Luthor, who unlike the Earth-One Lex Luthor still had his red hair and a far more bloodthirsty nature.
As Clark Kent, he reported on his own costumed adventures and was eventually partnered with Lois Lane, a courageous female reporter who had a crush on Superman but didn't think much of the timid Clark Kent. Lane and Kent would usually butt heads with each other on getting the most adventurous stories, but the two eventually became respectful of each other. Lane would eventually start to suspect that Kent and Superman were one and the same based on Kent's continual absences whenever Superman would appear and Kent's extensive detailed reports before Lane could phone in the story despite being at the scene of the adventure. Lane would eventually confirm her suspicions resulting in her marrying Kent in the 1950s.
Powers and Weaknesses
Kal-L was originally unaware of his powers and his own nature as a Kryptonian, thinking of himself as an advanced human of Earth. Kal-L's superpowers were a result of his Kryptonian heritage, whereby the Kryptonians native to his original universe had known superhuman abilities and powers. As Kal-L aged, his power levels increased. For example, Kal-L was able to progress to actual flight where originally he could only leap about an eighth of a mile. His strength level increased to extensive power levels where he started out merely lifting cars and was later able to lift and throw army tanks. His first clue to his alien nature was discovered when he battled Dan Rivers aka "Swami Riva". The glowing stone Riva wore in his turban was actually Kryptonite. In order to find out why Kryptonite made him weak, Superman went on a voyage of discovery to find out the stone's origins. Superman was able to time travel under his own power to watch his father Jor-L and the events that led to him being sent to Earth. Later he defeated Riva and cast the two known fragments of Kryptonite into a river. 
After his return to current time, Kal-L continued to battle an ever increasing amount of advanced villains including the Puzzler, The Archer, Ultra-Humanite, Toyman, Prankster, Funnyface, and many more. During one battle with Funnyface, Superman clashed with a duplicate of his pseudo-criminal identity of the Flying Tiger (possessing powers and weaknesses comparable to his original, not unlike Bizarro).
But while most of these villains were usually operating on scientifically-based equipment, Superman found his most effective villain in the form of the short mostly purple suited mystical imp, Mister Mxyztplk. Mister Mxyztplk exclusively used magic to completely frustrate Kal-L time and time again which were used to interfere with Kal-L's abilities. But because most of Mister Mxyztplk's capers were done more to frustrate and annoy than cause harm and physical death, many of Mister Mxyztplk's pranks had no lasting detrimental effects on Kal-L or the inhabitants of the third dimension unlike the Earth-One version Mister Mxyzptlk who is shown to be far more dangerous even occasionally killing Earth-One inhabitants as part of his exploits.
Kal-L was a formidable presence and helped to establish the Justice Society of America. Due to various personal adventures, Superman was only able to join the Justice Society as an honorary member. He would later join the super team called the All-Star Squadron, which included most of Earth-Two's American superheroes of the World War II era.
After establishing himself as one of the premiere heroes of Earth-Two, Kent later started to focus on his personal life, advancing his own reporter career to become the Lead Investigative Reporter for the Daily Star. Always mindful of his dual persona, Kent kept his ambitions in check and Kent largely remained a retiring persona. This would change in the early 1950s when two of Kal-L's enemies would fight to see which nature was more powerful -- the advanced science of Colonel Future or the ancient mystical powers of the Wizard. After several defeats at the hands of the "Man of Tomorrow", Colonel Future challenged the boasted powers of the Wizard to prove its effectiveness over his own super-science against their greatest threat, Superman.
To prove his superior powers, the Wizard cast a spell to rid the world of Superman. The spell misfired and made Clark merely repress his superhero identity. Freed of his need to repress his more aggressive and assertive persona, Kent acted out his nature but without his costume and his flight abilities. Kent continued to battle evil as an open crusading reporter for some time even directly engaging in hand to hand battles against criminals which of course he would routinely win due to his superhuman strength and bullet proof skin density. Also freed of his self-restrictions, Kent once again expressed his affections for Lois. Without his clumsy acts and disappearing devices, he eventually won the heart of Lois Lane as Kent. The two married, but Lois discovered Clark's secret while on their honeymoon trying to cut Clark's hair which broke the scissors Lane used. Torn between her love of Kent and the world's need for its most noted hero, Lane-Kent tracked down the Wizard and made him reverse the spell. Lois then tried to forsake their marriage but Kent wouldn't let her. Kent decided to confirm their marriage in both Earth and Kryptonian ceremonies.
Later, George Taylor retired as editor-in-chief of the Daily Star and Clark replaced him in that role and promoted Lane as Lead Investigative Reporter though he would usually still follow her in many of her dangerous investigations as Superman.
By the 1960s, it was clear that Kent was not immortal and began showing his age. In the 1970s, his cousin Kara arrived on Earth-Two after her decades-long journey (unlike her Earth-One counterpart, Kara's rocket was damaged). Kal-L mostly retired from heroic activity, focusing on his personal life of editor of the Daily Star, leaving the costumed heroic actions to the younger generation including his cousin Kara who had adopted the heroic name of Power Girl. Kal-L still occasionally engaged in his Superman identity, even formally joining the reformed Justice Society as an active member, though only part-time preferring to remain in "semi-retirement". It was during this time that Kal-L eventually met his Earth-One counterpart, Kal-El.
Though Kal-L and the Earth-One Superman were initially shown to be basically an even match to each other in their first meet-up , it was clearly shown in all subsequent meetings that the Earth-One Superman was clearly far more powerful than the aging Kal-L. Despite his age and weakened powers, Kal-L was still one of the most powerful beings ever and continued to fight against evil whenever possible.
Erasure during The Crisis on Infinite Earths
Despite mostly being retired from heroic actions, Kal-L was one of the first heroes recruited by Harbinger and the Monitor to fight back the assault on all populated universes of the Multiverse. Kal-L was pivotal among many of the battles to defeat the Anti-Monitor who was eliminating positive matter realities in order to increase the Anti-Monitor's power levels to allow him to recreate the resulting universe in his own dark image. Kal-L and many heroes from different universes of the Multiverse engaged in several battles against the Anti-Monitor but was not able to directly stop him directly despite massive losses of heroes as well as many of the populated universes. Kal-L and the others directly assaulted the Anti-Monitor at the "Dawn of Time" which caused the various universes to collapse into one singular universe that was able to withstand the Anti-Monitor's assault. Unfortunately, the singular universe erased the history of the universe that Kal-L came from and most of the people he knew outside of the heroic community, including his wife Lois Lane-Kent. Nearly insane with grief, Kal-L was able to gather himself together despite his intense sense of loss and along with the equally alone Superboy of Earth-Prime directly attacked and killed the Anti-Monitor. The resulting energy release resulting from the Anti-Monitor's physical death threatened to overcome and kill Kal-L and Superboy-Prime. Alexander Luthor, Jr. of Earth-Three appeared offering to transport them out of the resulting shock wave, but still grieving Kal-L decided to end his life rather than transport into the pocket dimension Alex showed Kal-L until Lois Kent emerged from that locale.
Alexander Luthor, Jr. had saved Lois Kent from the universal reset by taking her from the dying Multiverse to a newly-discovered pocket dimension before the battle at the "Dawn at Time" thus saving her from the reset. Luthor then took himself, Kal-L, Lois Kent and Superboy-Prime into the pocket dimension saving them from the destruction of the Anti-Monitor's exploding energies and an universe that mostly no longer remembered them.
Kal-L continued to watch the new Earth from the pocket "Paradise" dimension. He began to be disturbed by what he saw as the growing darkness that was apparently affecting the Earth, especially in the indecisiveness of his resulting counterpart. That darkness began to affect the Paradise dimension and as a result, Lois began to get deathly ill despite the pocket dimension being insulated from the outside reality.
Deciding that the resulting Earth had been corrupted, Kal-L had decided along with Alexander Luthor Jr. and Superboy-Prime to reformat the existing universe based on them as the primary template rather than the current incarnations of the heroes. Kal-L hoped that would reverse the effect on his dying wife, even though that would kill the current wife of the current Superman though he thought of it as merely "folding the current incarnations into his template" though he did know that those who would be "folded" would cease to live.
Deciding that his greed was permissible to do against the corruption he saw in the current universe, Kal-L punched his way out of the pocket dimension and the quartet established their base of operation in a cave in the Arctic Circle. Kal-L revealed himself to Power Girl as well as to the current incarnation of his best friend, Batman, hoping to get them to agree to his plan to recreate the universe to his expectations. Both refused him after being shown the Earth-Two versions of their histories, though Kara was more accepting of Kal-L than the current Wayne who argued against Kal-L for losing his own version of the Batman Family and himself over the already dead of cancer Police Commissioner Bruce Wayne of Earth-Two.
Kal-L continued on his quest to bring back his version of history alongside Superboy-Prime and Alexander Luthor Jr. which culminated in the recreation of an exact duplicate of Pre-Crisis Earth-Two, though it was completely non-populated. Seeing his goal achieved, Kal-L was overjoyed to see his old world back as the potential cure to his wife's pending death. Kal-L's joy turned to heartbreak when Lois died despite their return to Earth-Two. The current Kal-El heard Kal-L cry out in agony and came to Earth-Two to investigate. Kal-L lashed out at him, blaming Kal-El for "corrupting" Earth-Two thus killing Lois.
As they fought, the two heroes found themselves being "transported" to each other's Earths, reliving their histories and altering them. Kal-L would alter Kal-El's first encounter with Batman as he called out his bluff and turned the two into true friends. They would go on to arrest, then save Lex Luthor's life when he was inflicted with Kryptonite poisoning. He would also snap Doomsday's neck during their first encounter, surviving what should have been his death. When heroes started rising up against Kal-L's more violent methods, he would strike them down with his own Justice League. In the end, this war of the meta's would leave Earth-One a lifeless husk, leading Kal-L to realize that Earth-One wasn't worth saving, but Earth-Two was.
During this time, Wonder Woman arrived on Earth-Two and restrained Kal-L. She and Kal-EL made him realize that reconstructing the universe would not bring about the changes that Kal-L had hoped as the recreated Earth-Two clearly showed.
Seeing that he was wrong and that the ambitions of recreating the universe would not bring about an improvement, Kal-L decided to correct his mistake. Alexander Luthor, Jr. and Superboy-Prime decided to continue to recreate the Multiverse in order to achieve their goals despite the pleas from the current heroes and Kal-L to stop.
Seeing that Superboy-Prime and Alexander Luthor, Jr. were committed to reshaping the universe, Kal-L directly attacked them in hopes of preventing more deaths. Superboy-Prime had decided to directly assault the individual people he considered unworthy in the current universe most notably the current Superboy, Conner Kent. The battle between the two Superboys ended with Prime killing the vastly under-powered Conner as Prime's power levels were shown to be literally infinite with his physical strength levels able to push planets out of orbit unaided, which was beyond Conner and Kal-L's levels.
Nevertheless the two Supermen realized that Superboy-Prime was completely out of control and was openly killing people and not merely intent on just recreating the universe. Alongside many powerful heroes, Kal-L and Kal-El decided to attack Superboy-Prime head on to stop his murderous rampage. Deciding to push Superboy Prime through a red sun to depower his strength levels to a far more manageable level in hopes of snapping him out of his depression.
Seeing that Kal-L had turned away from their original plan to reshape the universe to fit their demands, Superboy-Prime attacked Kal-L directly venting his full rage and frustration at his one-time ally. Despite the effects of the red sun, Superboy-Prime was still vastly overpowered to Kal-L's own power levels. The attack was so vicious that Superboy-Prime smashed Kal-L's internal organs and skeletal structure, killing him.
But the time that Superboy-Prime dedicated to attacking Kal-L allowed Kal-El to recover and to drain down Superboy-Prime even further lower levels, thus knocking him out, whereby their combined attacks were able to stop Superboy-Prime.
Kal-L died in Power Girl's arms after realizing his mistake and stating that he would never leave her even though she would not be able to see him. Kal-L was buried on the new Earth that he died protecting from Superboy-Prime, alongside Conner and his wife.
Kal-L's corpse and base memories were revived by the Black Lantern Ring, and was used as a active weapon against the New Earth Superman and Conner Kent in Smallville. While not possessing the soul and judgment of Kal-L, the reanimated corpse joined Lois Kent of Earth-Two who was also revived as a Black Lantern. Together they were specifically sent to attack and kill many people in Smallville and hopefully the New Earth Superman and Superboy as well. Kal-L was defeated by Conner who used the Black Lantern Psycho Pirate's Medusa Mask against Kal-L, returning him to a inanimate corpse, while Black Lantern Lois Kent attacked Martha Kent, who was saved by Krypto.
Upon finding that Kal-L had been defeated and returned to an inactive corpse, Black Lantern Lois Kent sacrificed her own revival to reactivate Kal-L's corpse for its greater power levels. Reactivated once again as the Black Lantern Superman, Kal-L's corpse was eventually stopped against the full main Justice Society. Devising a weapon that would completely destroy the reanimated corpses by Doctor Fate and Mister Terrific, Power Girl held onto his animated corpse until it was completely destroyed, ending any future attempts to use Kal-L's corpse as a weapon, finally ending Kal-L's existence permanently.
Powers and AbilitiesEdit
- Kryptonian Physiology: Under the effects of a "yellow" sun, The average Kryptonian possesses the potential for the following power set:
- Solar Energy Absorption: Under optimal conditions, this is the main source of their super powers as they are contingent upon exposure to solar radiation from a yellow sun star system. Their biological make up includes a number of organs which lack analogues in humans and whose functions are unknown. It is believed that between one or more of these and their bio-cellular matrix, "yellow" solar energy is stored for later use. This allows for the use of these powers to fade when yellow solar radiation is not available instead of immediate failure.
- Heat Vision: Kryptonians can, as a conscious act, fire beams of intense heat at a target by looking at it. Typically, the power is seen as two beams of red light emanating from the eyes. These beams can be made invisible, allowing the power to be undetectable. The maximum temperature of their heat vision is said to be around that of a nuclear detonation. They can also consciously determine the area affected, down to the microscopic level.
- Super-Hearing: Kryptonian hearing is sensitive enough to hear any sound at any volume or pitch. With skill, practice, and concentration, they can block out ambient sounds to focus on a specific source or frequency. As such, they can identify a person by their heartbeat, or pick out a single voice in an entire city.
- Enhanced Vision Kryptonian vision processes the entire electromagnetic spectrum as well as allowing vast control over selective perception and focus.
This umbrella ability includes the following:
- Electromagnetic Spectrum Vision: Kryptonians can see well into most of the electromagnetic spectrum. They can see and identify radio and television signals as well as all other broadcast or transmitted frequencies. Using this ability, they can avoid detection by radar or satellite monitoring methods. This also allows them to see the aura generated by living thing.
- Telescopic Vision: This is the ability to see something at a great distance, without violating the laws of physics. Though limited, the exact extent of the ability is undetermined. In function, it is similar to the zoom lens on a camera.
- X-Ray Vision: This is the ability to see through any volume of matter except lead. Kryptonians can see things behind a solid, opaque object as if it were not there. They can focus this ability to "peel back" layers of an object, allowing hidden image or inner workings to be observed. The exact type of energy perceived - such as x-rays, cosmic rays, or some other energy invisible to normal humans - is unclear. this ability perceives an ambient energy source though, it does not involve the eye projecting a concentrated, possibly toxic, beam to be reflected back from objects.
- Microscopic Vision: This is the ability to see extremely small objects and images down to the atomic level.
- Infrared Vision: Kryptonians can see with better acuity in darkness, and to a degree in total darkness.
- Flight: Kryptonians are able to manipulate graviton particles, in an unknown and apparently unconscious manner, to defy the forces of gravity. Under one Earth gravity, they are capable of speeds of multi-Mach speeds in Earth's atmosphere. Their control of their flight is very precise and they can perform aerobatic feats such as hovering, flying backwards and even lifting great weights while flying.
- Invulnerability: The bodies of Kryptonians are nigh-invulnerable to extreme energy forces. In addition, their immune systems protects them from toxins and diseases. The most common explanations for this rely on the presences of a super-dense molecular structure, a supercharged bio-electric aura which acts as an invisible force field, or a combination of the two. With the aura, it is presumed to extend a few millimeters from the skin as well as within the body. A byproduct of the aura is that items close to the skin share their invulnerability. Using clothing as an example, loose fitting fabric would tend to shred or burn in adverse conditions, but skin tight outfits would not.
- Superhuman Stamina: Kryptonians have the ability to maintain continuous strenuous physical action for an indefinite period of time. In theory they have unlimited stamina as their enhanced nourishment is produced from the yellow solar energy their cells process, which also provides the majority of the power for their superhuman abilities. However, their base physical structures do need to process food stuffs and they have a psychological need to eat and drink just as Earth humans do. They also require sleep on occasion so that they can dream. They can also hold their breath for an indefinite period of time.
- Superhuman Strength: A Kryptonian develops enhanced physical strength after absorbing a sufficient amount of yellow solar radiation. This radiation interacts with the greater than human density, resilience and biological efficiency of their musculature to trigger superhuman levels. While the exact magnitude of their strength is unknown, it is generally accepted that it is sufficient to lift 100,000 tons or more. The specific range is unknown as a their strength, like their other powers, may fluctuate over time. Their strength is also more an act of conscious will on energy fields than actual physical strength. It is this act of conscious will that enables them to perform physical feats that are beyond the mere application force, such as moving a mountain top without said rock crumbling under its own mass. At full power, their normal strength levels are well into the multi-megaton range.
- Superhuman Speed: Kryptonians are able to move at incredible speeds by sheer force of will. They can match most other speedsters in super-fast movements, reactions, and processes. They can use this power to disarm opponents without heightened reflexes, catch bullets or shrapnel or cross vast distances in seconds.
This also confers:
- Super-Breath: Kryptonians are able to create hurricane force winds by exhaling air from their lungs. They can chill the air as it leaves their lungs to freeze targets in a variation sometimes called "freeze" or "arctic breath". They can also reverse the process and pull large volumes of air or vapor into their lungs.
- Vulnerability to Kryptonite
- Vulnerability to Magic
- First appearance as Earth-Two Superman: Justice League of America #73 (1969).
- Kal-L's S shield is six sided and has tails rather than round endings as drawn from the early 1940s version, though many artists (most notably starting with George Perez in Justice League of America Vol 1 #195-197) usually extended the upper top curve of the S downwards to touch the side of the shield along with the white hair at temple to distinguish Kal-L from the Earth-One Superman.
- The famous slogan of "truth, justice and the American Way" was changed from the original radio show slogan which stated Superman fought for "truth, honesty and justice" to combat the anti-communism sentiment of the 1950s United States popular culture.
- Superman is also known as Man of Tomorrow, The Golden Age Superman, The Masked Wonder, and Mental-Man.
- Action Comics #1 (1st Appearance)
- Crisis on Infinite Earths #12 (Defeats the Anti-Monitor, saving the Unviverse)
- Infinite Crisis #7(Dies at the hands of Superboy-Prime)
- Blackest Night: Superman #1(Resurrection as a Black Lantern)
- Blackest Night: JSA #3(Destruction of corpse)
- 595 Appearances of Kal-L (Earth-Two)
- 285 Images featuring Kal-L (Earth-Two)
- 14 Quotations by or about Kal-L (Earth-Two)
- Character Gallery: Kal-L (Earth-Two)
- Kal-L article at Wikipedia
- Superman Through the Ages
- The Unofficial Golden-Age Superman Site
- Golden Age Superman biography page at the Unofficial Guide to the DC Universe
- Who's Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe XXII
- Read "Superman Takes a Wife!", from Action Comics #484 (1978), in which Kal-L marries Lois Lane
- Read "The Secret Origin of the Golden-Age Superman", from Secret Origins #1 (1986)
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Superman Family member
Justice Society of America member