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The Superman Symbol is the emblem shaped like an "S" that Superman wears on his chest in different versions of his costume throughout the years. It's first appearance was in Action Comics #1 as part of the character's original design by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. There have been multiple origins presented for this symbol.
Superman's origin story has been rewritten and rebooted many times over the years; most notably in John Byrne's 1986 The Man of Steel, Mark Waid's 2003 Superman: Birthright, Geoff Johns' 2009 Superman: Secret Origin and Grant Morrison's 2011 Action Comics. There are several correct definitive historical versions each valid at a different time in his career as a result.
John Byrne's 1986 mini-series The Man of Steel had Clark Kent and Jonathan Kent design it together independently while they were trying to create his costume. He begins calling himself "Superman." That name is also later given to him by Lois Lane and catches on in popular media.
Mark Waid's 2003 reboot Superman: Birthright established the symbol as Kryptonian. His parents Jor-El and Lara sent him to Earth with a blanket featuring the symbol. Clark originally believed that it was his family crest, but witnessed greater cultural significance surrounding it in his historical texts and came to understand that it was a symbol of hope.
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