Characters: Superman And Supporting Cast
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"This is a job for Superman!"
AKA: Clark Kent/Kal-El
Born on the planet Krypton, Kal-El was sent to Earth as a baby shortly before his planet exploded
. Discovered and adopted by a couple living in the town of Smallville, Kal-El, now named Clark Kent, discovers his superpowers as he grew up. Learning of his Kryptonian heritage, Clark decides to dedicate his life to truth, justice, and the American way
. Clark currently lives a double life in the city of Metropolis, as a mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Planet
, and as Superman, the Man of Steel.
From the late Golden Age of Comic Books
through The Bronze Age of Comic Books
, Superman started his heroic career as Superboy in Smallville. This was Retconned
out of history thanks to Crisis on Infinite Earths
, and later recanonized after Infinite Crisis
in Superman: Secret Origin
. The current New 52
origin in Superman and The Men of Steel has decanonized this once again.
- The Ace
- Adorkable: Several times, especially as Clark Kent. His shyness and sweet nature are very much genuine.
- The Ageless: Depending on the continuity and/or universe, he is portrayed in this way.
- All-Loving Hero
- Back from the Dead: In The Death of Superman, of course.
- Badass: There's a reason he's considered by many to be the greatest superhero of all time.
- Badass Armfold: Not as common as Batman, but he still does it. And when he does, he can outright deter criminals. This is actually really effective because Superman is such a Nice Guy.
- Badass Cape: Not so much as badass as just plain awesome, though. In some versions of the myth, he even came to Earth wrapped up in that cape.
- Brought Down to Badass: Superman has proven he can be a non-powered superhero when he becomes Batman-Expy Nightwing in Kandor, where he has no powers thanks to its red sun.
- Bash Brothers/Bash Cousins: With Batman and Supergirl respectively.
- Beware the Nice Ones: He's one of the nicest, most easy-going guys you could ever wish to meet... but on the rare occasions someone (i.e. Darkseid, Mongul) really sets him off, he's downright terrifying. Also crosses over with...
- Berserk Button: Rule #1: Never ever harm Superman's friends or loved ones. Rule #2: Never ever make Superman Brainwashed and Crazy. As for the latter, Darkseid's one of the most notable causes of this, having turned Superman into this in both the comics and TAS. In either case, get ready to Beware the Nice Ones, because Superman won't take any of that lying down. (Unless of course, you're already prepared for him with a heaping helping of Kryptonite, as Luthor has been on at least once occasion. Nothing like covering the bases...)
- Big Good: He is traditionally the chairman (and often acknowledged as the most powerful member) of the Justice League, and when not acting in his capacity as a Leaguer most other heroes tend to defer to his authority and judgment if only out of respect.
- Big Eater: In Action Comics #454, Toyman siphoned off his energy using a device, leaving him constantly hungry. He had to eat constantly, or else he'll "starve◊ to◊ death!◊"
- Bizarre Alien Senses: Superman has all kinds of visions, not taking into account heat. X-Ray, microscopic, computer (gained in the New 52), soul (Yeah that's a thing now.)
- Blessed with Suck: Post-Crisis, this is often how Superman views his own powers. While he is as strong as a god, he's also, well, strong as a god. His best writers have made him into quite a psychological thought-experiment: on the one hand, he's terrified to not lose self-control or someone (or many, many people) may die; on the other, he often hates himself for still being mortal enough to not be the god everyone wants him to be (such as when he can't save everyone who cries out for him - especially because he hears them... all of them).
- Blue Blood: He originates from the House of El, one of the most powerful noble families on Krypton.
- Bowties Are Cool: Played straight and averted, Clark likes bowties and will rock one on occasion (unlike neckties they don't flap in his face while flying), but everyone makes fun of them when he does.
- Boxing Lessons for Superman: Trope Namer, where he took boxing lessons from Muhammad Ali. He has also had combat training courtesy of Batman and Wonder Woman.
- Brains: Evil; Brawn: Good: Not that he is dumb, but he does tend to rely on his strength more so than villains like Lex Luthor do; they in comparison seem to rely more so on intellect.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: Given how long-running the series has been this trope has cropped up a few times.
- Breakout Character: Originally he was the star of a story in an anthology, then he got his own book and became the Trope Codifier for the entire Superhero genre.
- Brought to You by the Letter "S"
- Bruiser with a Soft Center/Emotional Bruiser: Considering he is the iconic Cape, Superman more than qualifies. Whenever he is being affectionate, it makes him even more endearing to the readers.
- Cannot Talk to Women: As Clark, but not (usually) as Superman.
- The Cape: The Ur Example.
- Catch Phrase: "Great Krypton (or Rao)!", "Up, up, and away!", "This looks like a job for Superman!"
- Those are some of the older ones, "Great Scott!" is one he uses these days.
- Characterization Marches On: It has often been argued that Superman's characterization emphasizes the zeitgeist of the era and the direction of mainstream superhero comics as a whole.
- Originally, Superman was something of a tough guy tackling (literally) wife beaters, war profiteers and abusive orphanages. By the end of the forties, however, he was the leading citizen of Metropolis, battling larger-than-life villains.
- The Fifties stories have even more of a fascination with Mad Science, and Superman became much more of an law-abiding, Establishment authority figure. Some even argue that these Superman stories betray very 1950s male anxieties on the part of the writers.
- The 70s "Kryptonite No More" era had a more relatable Clark Kent and more "grounded" stories, as well as a notable Marvel Comics influence.
- Chest Insignia: The big S in a diamond shield, at first just standing for Superman, later explained as being the symbol of the house of El. It is most often seen on Superman's infamous costume.
- Chick Magnet: Lois Lane, Lana Lang, Lori Lemaris, Wonder Woman, the alien Maxima and many others all show interest in him. Oddly, he seems to attract more women as Clark than he does as Superman.
- Cincinnatus: Practically everyone in-universe considers him the most powerful hero in the DC Universe, and is generally the one to lead the whole superhero community when a Crisis Crossover occurs, but he still prefers to be accepted as the mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent over Superman.
- Civvie Spandex: When he started his superhero career in the New 52, Superman wore jeans and a t-shirt with the typical Chest Insignia. He still wore his cape back then.
- Clark Kenting: Duh.
- Clothes Make the Legend/Clothes Make the Superman: Double use - in the late 90s, DC tried to change his powers and costume to be lightning-themed, as a result of his near-death experience at the hands of Doomsday (basically, his Kryptonian biology that processed sunlight and turned it into energy for him to use decided to go Up to Eleven and turned him into an actual energy being). The idea was that Superman had become too comfortable in his powers and personal life and that putting him in a situation of having to relearn his abilities would be a chance for Character Development. That plan didn't go over well. Then he got his original powers and suit back, showing that, even though the general public loves to make fun of the underwear-on-the-outside classic look, it also loves the tights and cape so much that anyone who dares to drastically change the Big Blue Boyscout's uniform will be ripped a new one.
- Deadpan Snarker: Especially in the Post-Crisis stories where "Clark Kent" was established as the "real" personality and Superman was a mask he wore to protect his normal life.
- Depending on the Writer: Superman's powers (and the explanations for them), history, personality, status as Last of His Kind, the society of Krypton, etc. vary quite a bit over the decades of his existence.
- The Determinator: He just doesn't stay down, not until he saves the day.
- Does Not Know His Own Strength: He's been all over the place with this. He has precise muscle control and can interact with ordinary people without much hassle, but the fear of him losing control and hurting someone is very real (and the basis of his speech to Darkseid at the end of Unlimited). He avoids using his full power unless he absolutely has to and once warned an enemy that being sick made him more dangerous, as he couldn't accurately judge how hard he was hitting.
- Doomed Hometown
- Early Installment Weirdness: Superman wasn't a very nice person in quite a few older stories.
- He beat up and/or killed (usually off-panel, but not always) humans quite frequently in his earliest appearances.
- Also, his powers were added over time and his costume was all over the map. He used to wear lace up sandals instead of boots and his chest logo was anything from a basic triangle to a coat of arms. The merchandise was even worse in the early days as they couldn't even get his color scheme right (sometimes his costume was primarily yellow instead of blue).
- His arguably most famous power (flying) didn't even appear until the early 40's, around the time of the Superman Theatrical Cartoons. Before then, he could only leap tall bounds (the creators used the metaphor of a grasshopper's relative high jumps).
- Eating Optional: In many incarnations, Supes doesn't need to eat, but often will out of habit or because he enjoys the taste.
- Expy: Of Heracles/Hercules.
- Famed in Story: As both Superman for being the DCU's greatest superhero and as Clark Kent for being the DCU's greatest journalist.
- Farm Boy: Was raised as one. Depending on the continuity, he did superhero work during this point on his life (Pre-Crisis and Post-Infinite Crisis)
- The Fettered: Has a very strict code towards the respect of all life, enemies included, so he holds back in almost all his fights.
- Fish out of Water: His alien origin is often played up this way, especially in recent Superman works.
- Flanderization: Originally, he was something of a tough guy tackling (literally) wife beaters, war profiteers and abusive orphanages. By the end of the forties, however, he was the leading citizen of Metropolis, battling larger-than-life villains.
- Also when he was first introduced, he was a real scrapper and not afraid to get in the face of authority figures. That changed around World War II along with Batman, however by the end of the fifties, hew as flanderized into the ultimate boy scout and establishment figure. By the '80s, he'd become somewhat more morally ambiguous and a bit more cynical about people in power, especially after the Man of Steel reboot.
- Friend to All Children: There is not a single child in the DC universe who fears Superman. If a child is in danger, he closes his eyes and says to him/herself "I'll be okay, Superman will save me." And he will. Cause he's friggin' Superman.
- Friend to All Living Things
- Genius Bruiser: It's less focused on as many readers felt it would make him almost too powerful, especially since many of his enemies rely on their intellect, but it has been established that Clark possesses an extremely high level of intelligence and is every bit as formidable in analytical problem solving and science as he is with combat. Recent writers have been establishing that, while Batman and Martian Manhunter are the expert tacticians, Clark is much smarter than he looks.
- In the Post-Crisis era, it was pointed out that as Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist, Clark is no slouch as a detective either. He many not be in Batman's league, but his day-job means that he's much better at it than any average joe.
- And if 'Superman, Vol 2, Issue 6' is any indication, he's also a novelist. Guess Superman has more free time than some of us thought.
- Gentle Giant: Superman has the strength of a god, can fly through stars without breaking a sweat, can block bullets with his bare skin, can fly across galaxies... and he'd rather give you a hug than a punch if he can help it. There's a reason one of his nicknames is The Big Blue Boy Scout, he's just that nice. And that is a great thing for everyone.
- The Glasses Come Off: Just when Clark does it, it's a different reason than the trope usually has.
- Or sometimes the same reason. Post-Birthright, it's established that Clark has vivid, otherworldly blue eyes, the kind you immediately notice and can never forget. The glasses mute them into a much more normal shade. Clark is in fact more attractive when he takes the glasses off... and that's why they're on in the first place.
- A God I Am Not: He has lots of followers that worship him as a god, much to his discomfort.
- Good Is Not Soft: He tries to use as little force as possible, but he's still not soft on bad guys.
- Guile Hero: When he can't solve his problems with his Super Strength, he will often have to resort to outsmarting the enemy.
- The Hero: Of the whole DC Universe.
- Hero Does Public Service: No job is too big or too small for him. One day, he's halfway across the galaxy fighting a universal threat. The next, he's reading books to orphans or planting gardens.
- Heroic Spirit: As the archetypical superhero, he more than qualifies.
- Chronic Hero Syndrome: Because of his Super Senses, Superman can tell if someone is danger and cannot resist going to help them. At times, he has admitted he cannot be everywhere for everyone and some people need to be ignored.
- Heroic Resolve: He doesn't stay down while there are people in danger.
- Heroic Sacrifice: He fought Doomsday to the death and came back.
- Heroic Self-Deprecation: Whenever he suffers a crushing defeat, it hits him hard. Also, some versions of the character emphazise his status as the last Kryptonian, with all the angst that entails.
- Heroic Willpower: Superman resorts to this trope in order to fight mind control.
- Happily Adopted: Clark is from outer space, but he and his folks are closer than blood.
- Happily Married: To Lois Post-Crisis, Pre-New 52.
- Has a Type: Superman has one requirement. The initials L.L. His love interests are Lana Lang, Lyla Lerrol, Lori Lemaris, and Lois Lane. This gives an interesting spin to his relationship with Lex Luthor. The tendency has been occasionally Lampshaded.
- Heavyworlder: Superman's powers were, in many older stories including the entire Silver Age run, due in part to Krypton's heavier gravity
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Batman and Jimmy Olsen as well, with a few shades of Big Brother Mentor and Parental Substitute in the latter case.
- High-Altitude Interrogation: Superman has, surprisingly, has done this. On at least one occasion, he dropped a mook, used superspeed to catch him, and said, "Now, we can keep doing this until I get tired, or..."
- Human Alien
- Humble Hero: One of his definitive character traits at least in some incarnations.
- I Am Not Left-Handed: He holds back against most opponents because of his strict Thou Shall Not Kill policy, but if he doesn't, curb stomping usually ensues.
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness
- Innocent Blue Eyes: Of the heroic and idealistic variety.
- Interspecies Romance: With Lois Lane. And Wonder Woman as of the New 52.
- Interspecies Friendship: Most of Superman's friendships qualify, though not necessarily Clark Kent's.
- Intrepid Reporter: Because it's a job that he cannot automatically do with his superpowers.
- Invincible Hero
- Jack of All Stats: Superman may not be as fast on land as the Flash, or as smart as Batman, or as big of a boy scout as Captain Marvel, or as fearlessly determined as the Green Lanterns... but he can do all of those ALMOST as well as those heroes and Depending on the Writer he can be better at some of them.
- The Jailer: Superman himself qualifies since he holds the key to the Phantom Zone where several super-criminals (Kryptonians et al.) are banished for their crimes.
- Knight In Sour Armour: Depending on the Writer, but definitely at the beginning of his career in the New 52.
- Kung-Fu Jesus: An irony, since he's a character developed by two Jews. See the obvious parallels between Kal-El being sent by Jor-El to "show the way" to mankind and the tale of Jesus. (The films tend to play up this aspect more than the comics ever did.)
- Last of His Kind: At first and from time to time, depending on the writer and/or the continuity.
- The Leader: Of the DCU superhero community as a whole. Types II and IV; not only is he admired by everyone they trust his judgement.
- He is widely acknowledged as the second most capable leader in the entire DCU, with only Nightwing surpassing him.
- Leotard of Power: Worn by Superman himself in at least one film incarnation (specifically, in which he was portrayed by Christopher Reeve).
- Lightning Bruiser: Also The Ur Example.
- Meaningful Name: "Kal-El" can be understood to mean "vessel of God" or "voice of God" in Hebrew. The Hebrew word "El" (אל), meaning "God", is frequently used as a suffix in the names of angels (e.g. "Michael", "Gabriel", "Raphael" and "Zadkiel"), hinting at Superman's role as an archetypal angelic figure.
- Minnesota Nice: He was raised as a Kansas farmboy, and he makes sure to apply his midwestern values to his heroics all the time.
- My Greatest Failure: His inability to restore Kandor to its original size. In the Post-Crisis version, this also includes Jonathan Kent's death at Brainiac's hands and his inability to prevent a war between Earth and New Krypton.
- My Suit Is Also Super: Superman has no problem diving into the center of the sun without even leaving scorch marks on his spandex booties, so having bullets bounce off without ripping the material isn't exactly attention-getting. Pre Crisis, this was explained by his wearing a "super suit" made from Kryptonian materials. Post-Crisis, it was explained that the same force that made his skin nigh-impregnable transferred the quality to skintight costumes (thus allowing for dramatic rips of the cape, as well).
- Similarly, his glasses are fashioned from pieces of the windshield of the rocket that brought him to Earth, so as to allow his heat vision to be used without melting his glasses. Although whether his Eye Beams generate heat throughout their length or only where they converge varies according to artist and writer. He's been shown to be able to generate points of heat within objects (heat vision heart massage, anyone?) while others show parallel holes where his heat vision burned its way in.
- The Post-Crisis canonical explanation is that Superman has a bioaura that protects his suit. He's even extended it a few times to save people.
- In the New 52, Superman wears skintight Kryptonian armor that is a nigh-invulnerable as he is. Prior to finding the armor, he wore Civvie Spandex that would tear apart when he was damaged.
- Mundane Utility: He uses his laser eyes to sew clothing and shave himself.
- Nature Versus Nurture: Brought up in most depictions of the character. Superman is Kryptonian, but was raised by kindly old adoptive parents. In older stories, it was usually implied that his superior Kryptonian heritage and abilities were the cause of his strict moral compass, but in later stories (especially after other, villainous, Kryptonians were introduced), it's outright stated that Superman's upbringing is responsible for creating who he is.
- Nerds Are Sexy: In Post-Crisis stories Clark has little difficulty attracting women despite his sometimes nerdy pursuits and farmboy naivete. Of course, being built like Superman helps.
- Nice Guy: His most common trait.
- Nice Hat: As Clark Kent, he occasionally wears a fedora.
- Official Couple: With Lois Lane. And Wonder Woman as of the New 52.
- One-Man Army: When he has to be, Superman can plough through whole legions of supervillains.
- One Super One Powerset: Among other things, Superman has a weakness to Kryptonite. He also has a Kryptonite-Proof Suit. You'd expect him to wear it pretty much all the time or at least line his costume with lead to reduce the effects. However, he brings it out only when he's fighting a villain that specifically uses Kryptonite as a weapon and expects it in advance.
- Papa Wolf: Hurting a kid or one of the teen heroes in front of Superman is a wonderful way to get him to take the gloves off and tell you exactly how badly you're gonna get your ass kicked. If it's a hero he's related to (Supergirl, Superboy), the beating goes double.
- The Paragon: Ask any hero in the The DCU who their greatest hero and example is, their answer will be Superman. Any superhero who tells you otherwise is either blatantly lying or operates out of Gotham.
- Batman may not say it, but he certainly thinks it.
- Parental Substitute:
- He has taken on this role to Supergirl and, to some degree, to Jimmy Olsen.
- Also Nightwing's, if Nightwing: Year One is any indication. After Batman fires him, he goes to see Clark. It's not hard to interpret it as a child getting away from his abusive father (the story portrays Batman as a Jerk Ass) and instead staying with his mother (the caring, nice Superman).
- Patrick Stewart Speech: Because of his Midwestern upbringing, he believes in the flaws, but ultimate goodness of humanity, and will share his viewpoint with anyone who doesn't believe this.
- Physical God: At his highest power levels.
- Really, at any point after the early Golden Age. Even after his Post-Crisis power down, he could move mountains and change the course of mighty rivers and wrestle Thor.
- The Pollyanna: No matter what happens, Superman will never stop believing in the inherent goodness of all human beings.
- The Power of the Sun: Earth's yellow sun is what makes him and other Kryptonians Flying Bricks with Eye Beams. Inverted with red stars, which take away his powers.
- Primary-Color Champion
- Red Baron/Superhero Sobriquets: The Man Of Steel, The Man Of Tomorrow, The Big Blue Boyscout, The Last Son Of Krypton.
- In some continuities, e.g. the Christopher Reeve film, "Superman" is a title bestowed by someone else, too.
- Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs: Whenever he faces someone as strong as he is, Superman sometimes resorts to this.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Tends to use this more as an intimidation tactic... or if he's really mad.
- Relationship Upgrade: With Wonder Woman since Justice League #12 in the New 52.
- Science Hero: Taking after his father, this is Superman's real aptitude.
- Secret Identity: Don't tell anyone, but Superman is actually mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent.
- Showy Invincible Hero: When written well.
- Small Steps Hero: For the better in idealistic stories, for the worse in cynical ones.
- Story Breaker Power: Very much so during the Silver Age due to all the New Powers as the Plot Demands. Mostly averted post-Crisis.
- Super Cop: Defied. People believe he is this because of his good relationship with the Metropolis police force, but Superman has to frequently remind the that he is not one.
- Superhero: Practically named the trope, as he was the one who codified modern use of the "super" prefix.
- Superpower Lottery: The undisputed champion of this trope. Only immensely powerful mystic entities or cosmic beings come close.
- Eye Beams: "Burn."
- Flying Brick: The Trope Codifier.
- Flying Firepower: Can fly and has Eye Beams.
- Hypnotic Eyes: Especially in the Golden Age and Silver Age.
- In a Single Bound: During the Golden Age, but this has mostly been made redundant by his Flight.
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: Super-weaving, super-muscular control, broadcasting his voice through police radio, super-coffee making, you name it.
- Nigh Invulnerable: Artillery shells don't even scratch him. In fact, he's one of the very few number of beings in the DC Universe who can take a direct hit from Darkseid's otherwise all-disintegrating Omega Beams, survive it for more than an instant, and come out with only intense pain, exhaustion and a few "shallow injuries".
- Super Breath: Can be hurricane-force winds or arctic cold.
- Super Intelligence: While he doesn't have the knowledge base of a Luthor or Brainiac, Superman's mind actually works at a far, far faster rate than that of a normal human being. He also possesses perfect recall, and is a genius with Kryptonian technology. Superman: Earth One ran with this portrayal, making Clark a genius in highschool and college.
- Super Speed: An absurdly fast flier, and a fast runner, too. He's only outclassed by Captain Marvel and The Flash, both on ground and in air.
- Super Strength: In the last episode of Justice League Unlimited, which DC Comics considers canon, he explains that he never uses his full strength. He is so powerful that he NEVER can give himself the opportunity to lose the control, because, if that happens, someone could die.
- Super Senses
- Super Will: The real reason Superman can go into battles with outright gods when need be. If someone's life is on the line, if a world is in danger, if the universe is falling apart... Superman will do everything in his power to make sure that never happens.
- X-Ray Vision
- Tall, Dark and Handsome
- Technical Pacifist: Superman has no desire to kill anybody, or even severely injure anybody, but if you force his hand, he will beat you unconcious.
- Terror Hero: A type 5. He doesn't intend to cause fear in evildoers, but his reputation does so anyway. Sometimes, he's even worried about the fear he inspires, making him feel like an outcast.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Though at times circumstances may force him to break this personal credo, such as what to do with three Kryptonians from an alternate universe who committed genocide on a global scale, or when dealing with a killing machine like Doomsday. And he's never had a problem with the notion that the world might be a nicer place without Brainiac or Darkseid.
- Took a Level in Dumbass: His IQ seems to drop a few points whenever he's with the Justice League, or more specifically whenever he's around Batman. Then again, Batman seems to have the power of making other characters dumber just by being there.
- Underwear of Power: Certainly a Trope Codifier. This is averted after the post-Flashpoint New 52 reboot, where there's a red belt where it once was.
- Uniqueness Decay: He started out as the sole survivor of Krypton, but then Krypto, Supergirl, Kandor, and the Phantom Zone were introduced. Throughout his history, he went back and forth on this.
- Upbringing Makes the Hero: No Death by Origin Story (for the Kents), no Freudian Excuse, he was just too well-raised to not be a hero.
- Wolverine Publicity: As one of DC's most popular superheroes, this is to be expected. He always shows up in a new series starring an untested character. Then again, considering how fast he is, he can pull this off if he wants to.
- Wonder Child: For Jonathan and Martha Kent.
- "World of Cardboard" Speech: The Trope Namer.
- Would Hit a Girl: Well, not first. But, be it the Silver Banshee or any other villainess he had to face, Kal-El doesn't care about the gender of his opponents.
- Written-In Absence: Many stories feature his friends getting into trouble while he is away. A common excuse is that he is "on a space mission". And then, of course, there were those radio show episodes where he crosses paths with Kryptonite...
Superman earliest and most iconic love interestnote
, Lois Lane is a skilled and determined reporter for the Daily Planet
. Her typical subject of writing is Superman: she reports on his exploits and occasionally tries to puzzle out his real identity, but she's always foiled. She has a hidden crush on Superman, and less so on Clark Kent, creating a Love Triangle
out of two people, though she sometimes suspects that they're one and the same...
- Action Girl: The modern version. She got smarter, too.
- Alliterative Name: Her first and last name begin with the same letter: L.
- Betty and Veronica: To Superman, except she and Lana were both The Veronica. More recently, Lana's Betty and Lois is Veronica, when there's a question of it at all (for example, Smallville).
- Brainy Brunette/Fiery Redhead: She has both the brains and the attitude and has been depicted as both over the years (though jet black hair is her most common look.)
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: To a mild degree; a running gag throughout several of the media she's appeared in has her, despite her fame and success as a newspaper journalist, be absolutely terrible at spelling.
- Captain Ersatz: While Lois has been endlessly homaged and parodied, most people don't know that she herself was based off a 1930s movie character called Torchy.
- Characterization Marches On: Golden Age Lois was a lot more level-headed in early stories, occasionally getting herself out of trouble before Superman could do it. Chickification set in in the Silver Age, and then Xenafication set in later. Lois as she is now is actually quite accurate to the day-one character. Day one was just a very long time ago.
- Chickification: The Silver Age incarnation. After the more intrepid Golden Age incarnation, conservative values influenced by The Comics Code set in, so she went from being a somewhat bitter rival to Clark to being more focused on getting Superman to marry her.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: In the Golden Age comics, Lois had a young niece named Susie Thompkins, whose shtick was getting into trouble by telling fibs. Susie's last appearance was in the mid-50s; a few years later, Lois' (unmarried) sole sibling Lucy Lane was introduced, and Susie was never seen again, save a few appearances in the "Mr. and Mrs. Superman" stories of The Seventies. There, she's shown as the daughter of Earth-Two's married Lucy Lane Thompkins.
- Susie has reappeared in the comics, as of 2012 - but Lucy still exists in this continuity, implying there might be a third Lane sister.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Silver-Age Lois and Lana, though not Lori.
- Cosmic Plaything: As with Jimmy, some of the things Lois experienced happened because she was connected to Superman... and others just happened out of nowhere.
- Damsel out of Distress: She provides the page image. This is a woman who gets caught by villains all the frickin' time, but only because she's Genre Savvy enough to know that if she does so, she'll not only get the scoop on the front page story, but also somehow survive to write it. And not just by getting rescued — if Superman doesn't know/is depowered/is busy, she'll pretend to fall in love with the drug lord who captured her, then blast herself out of their wedding, veil, gown, and all, with a Mook's stolen machine gun.
- Even in the early days, Lois had quite the nerve. In some of the earliest Fleischer cartoons (now public domain) she pulls such stunts as trying to sabotage a getaway vehicle, climbing onto the back of a mechanical monster to see where it was going, blasting away with a submachine gun at would-be train robbers, and disguised herself as a Nazi to warn the American fleet of a U-boat threat(Well, it WAS the early forties).
- Derailing Love Interests: If it is an Elseworld story, you can bet this is what happens to Lois, that is if she isn't just killed off.
- Distress Ball: She's followed her journalistic instincts into danger so frequently it's a miracle she ever survived before having the personal attentions of a Physical God (aka Superman}}).
- Friendly Enemy: Pre-Crisis, Lois and Lana were usually very good-natured about their love rivalry with each other.
- Genre Savvy: Lois knows Superman well enough that she can throw herself out of a window and be sure that he'll catch her. He even did it during Hush, while he was mind-controlled.
- Going for the Big Scoop: Frequently. She is a reporter after all.
- Happily Married: To Clark Post-Crisis, Pre-New 52.
- Hello, Nurse!
- Henpecked Husband: What Superman becomes in some of the Imaginary Stories. Whilst the writing is misdirected, there is a tendency towards this in the post-crisis canonical stories.
- Hot Scoop
- Interspecies Romance: With Clark/Superman. Clark is a Kryptonian and Lois is a human.
- Intrepid Reporter: Much more intrepid in the Modern Age, but was also surprisingly intrepid in her Golden Age incarnation as well.
- Loves My Alter Ego: A Running Gag during the Golden Age and - mainly - the Silver Age. In fact, her Silver Age's iteration currently provides the page image of this trope.
- Ms. Fanservice
- Never Be a Hero: Unlike her fellow Superman supporting characters Jimmy Olsen and Lana Lang, Lois never had a superhero identity that was unique to her; other characters besides her have also been "Superwoman". (Jimmy has been 'Elastic Lad' and Lana was 'Insect Queen'.)
- Official Couple: With Superman Post-Crisis, Pre-New 52.
- Pretty in Mink
- The Reveal Prompts Romance: With Superman.
- The Rival: She considers Clark to be her rival as the Daily Planet's star reporter, which is especially apparent in the early Golden Age stories.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Lois let these out quite often, in spite of repeatedly being told not to, even after all the other times she'd done it.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Lois in the Modern Age and for a good portion of the 1990's and the 2000's is in love with Clark not because he is Superman, but because he is a sweet, kind-hearted farmboy from Kansas.
- Too Dumb to Live: If it wasn't for Superman, she would be dead since 1940 thanks to her fondness for snooping around way too much. Sometimes its shown that she takes those risks because she knows she has backup; she can handle herself just fine, but just lets herself get into these situations because a hostage can get the best details of what the criminals and supervillains are up to, and will always have Superman to back her up if/when she needs it.
- Transformation Comic: Often rivaled the Jimmy Olsen comics for this.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: With Superman and/or Clark in several incarnations. Averted during most of the 1990's and the 2000's, however when they were together.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: In those continuities were she doesn't know Clark Kent and Superman are the same (for instance the Christopher Reeve films or Superman: The Animated Series) she is usually this to Clark, enjoying a very friendly workplace rivalry with him and chastising him for his timidity. In the very early Golden Age her dislike for Clark was genuine but their relationship quickly evolved into this trope.
- Weak-Willed: During the Golden Age she was very frequently (and easily) hypnotised. Oddly this was much more a trait of the Golden Age Lois who was assertive and had a very strong personality than the less feisty Silver Age version.
- Weirdness Magnet: As much as Jimmy Olsen. Heck, look at the Trope image, then know she's been aged prematurely, forced to marry a gorilla, and much, much more.
- Well Done, Daughter Gal: Lois had this relationship with her father Sam Post-Crisis. He wanted a son, badly.
Superman's pal and Clark Kent's co-worker at the Daily Planet, Jimmy is a photographer/cub reporter working his way up the totem pole. He's impulsive, socially awkward, and prone to getting tied up by supervillains. Superman trusts Jimmy enough to give him a wristwatch that emits a supersonic alarm that only Supes can hear. Jimmy is sometimes portrayed in a relationship with Lucy Lane, Lois's younger sister. He had his own series, which was written and illustrated in the '70s by none other than Jack Kirby
, and was notable for two things: introducing Darkseid
and being really flippin' weird
- Ambiguously Gay: A few times, and hilariously so in All-Star Superman.
- Adaptive Armor: His powers during "Countdown" were triggered only when he was in actual danger.
- Adorkable: Jimmy's outdated clothing, innocent demeanor, and extreme loyalty to Superman make him this.
- Action Hero: As Mr. Action.
- Attractive Bent-Gender: Jimmy looks pretty darn fetching as a woman, and in one story, a mobster falls for the disguised Jimmy.
- Badass Normal: Pre-Crisis, Jimmy did some pretty heroic things, mostly to avoid the inevitable debris of hanging around the planet's most powerful being, on top of providing exposés of crime rings for public viewing.
- Baleful Polymorph: Some of the forms Jimmy was turned into include:
- A werewolf (of the "really hairy man" type.)
- A giant turtle-man (in effect, a Kaiju).
- Which becomes a Mythology Gag when Olsen scored a TV job as "Turtle Boy".
- A human porcupine, with the ability to shoot quills!
- A Rubber Man (see Never Be a Hero).
- A really, REALLY fat man.
- Bromance: With Superman.
- They tried to give him one with Robin back in the Silver Age.
- Butt Monkey: Poor Jimmy is a constant target of Super Dickery.
- Camera Fiend: Some versions of Jimmy.
- Canon Foreigner: Introduced in the radio show, though some claim an (unnamed) copy boy in an earlier Superman comic was supposed to be Jimmy.
- Captain Ersatz: Superman and Jimmy Olsen become Batman and Robin Expies Nightwing and Flamebird in the bottled city of Kandor, allowing Jimmy to fight crime alongside a depowered Superman (since Kandor is under a red sun.)
- Cloning Blues: The Newsboy Legion. Pre-Crisis, they're the completely identical sons of the original Newsboy Legion from The Golden Age of Comic Books, whose fathers made tiny clones of, without their prior consent. Post-Crisis, their Uncanny Family Resemblance is explained by them being direct clones of their "fathers".
- Cosmic Plaything: Jimmy didn't need to know Superman or even do anything extraordinary for things to *just happen* to him.
- Deus Exit Machina: Quite a lot of stories had Superman doing something in space, or Jimmy's watch would be broken, or tampered with, or something would have happened to it.
- Disguised in Drag: Jimmy does this pretty darned often, to the point he may just be a Wholesome Crossdresser.
- Henpecked Boyfriend: Lucy was as shrewish to Jimmy as Lois was to Superman.
- Heroic Bystander:
- Jimmy rushed to Superman's aid when the hero was overcome by Kryptonite fire on his suit. A few burns were nothing when it came to saving his pal.
- In the early story "The Hunted Messenger", Jimmy rescues a deliveryman from two muggers.
- I Have Your Sidekick: Jimmy was frequently taken hostage to get to Superman, to the degree where he tried to defy it once or twice.
- Innocent Blue Eyes: Jimmy is a (sometimes) naive Nice Guy who, according to the DC sites, is blue-eyed.
- Instant Fan Club: Jimmy had one, in some of the comics.
- Interspecies Friendship: Superman is Kryptonian; Jimmy is a human. But that doesn't keep them from being fairly close.
- The Load: In the silver age, modern comics have managed to avert this to an extent, by making him a closer friend of Clark Kent's than Superman's.
- Mad Scientist: Often the cause of Jimmy's transformations.
- Master of Disguise: In the earlier stories, Jimmy could disguise himself so well that Perry, Lois, and even Superman had trouble recognizing him.
- Never Be a Hero: Because his role was always to be Superman's little buddy. However, unlike Lois, Jimmy did get to replay some of his superhero identities: in particular, he was Elastic Lad and Flamebird (sidekick to Superman under the identity of Nightwing, playing expies of Batman and Robin.)
- Parental Substitute: Jimmy's father either died or disappeared (depending on the incarnation) sometime before they could really have a relationship. His bond with Superman is therefore partially this.
- Plucky Comic Relief
- Red-Headed Hero
- Super Dickery: The original site even has its own Drinking Game for him!
- For anyone interested, there's only one rule; if Jimmy gets a super-power, take a shot.
- Superpower Silly Putty
- Transformation Comic
- Unluckily Lucky: Even in his more competent iterations he's a world-class Weirdness Magnet with a tendency to get into major trouble as a result. However, except for a few occasions, he always comes out with nary a scratch or even angst.
- Weirdness Magnet: Holy crap.
- Wholesome Crossdresser: Oh, he also disguised himself as a woman on occasion as part of a mission. Makes you wonder...
- Played, er, "straight" in All-Star Superman, when asked if he's in disguise for a story, he simply replies, "Nope."
- Written Sound Effect: His signal watch's: Zee! Zee! Zee!
- Zany Scheme: Jimmy either made one, or got involved in one.
A cynical, former boxer, turned bartender of the Ace of Clubs, who was inspired by Superman's example that everyone can make a difference. He donned a Superman T-shirt and patrolled the city, roughing up street punks and similar threats, but he isn't really considered a superhero.
The commissioner of the Metropolis Police. Originally Inspector
Henderson, Bill was an occasionally-appearing supporting cast member in The Bronze Age of Comic Books
who acted as Superman's liaison with the police. Post-Crisis
, he became the city commissioner. He was a mentor and close friend to Maggie Sawyer. His cousin, Mike Henderson, is the head of the Metropolis Metacrimes Division.
In the Post-Crisis
era, when Superman allowed more of his hidden qualities to show as Clark Kent, gossip columnist Cat Grant showed up as a rival for Clark's affections. A bit shallow and a shameless flirt, Cat became more serious after her son was murdered by Toyman. In the '00s, she's shown up again in her old job and is cast as a "cougar" having had surgery done to maintain her good looks. She shamelessly hits on the then married Clark in front of his wife. Clark believes she is reinventing herself to mask the pain of her loss.
- Flanderization: She was introduced as sort of a Good Bad Girl Broken Bird. Someone who had a bit of an immoral past that she was trying to move beyond, and was looking for a good man like Clark Kent to be her anchor. Nowadays she's portrayed as a Lovable Sex Maniac at best and just Really Gets Around at worst. It's been mentioned that this is a facade Cat is using because of the pain of losing her son so many years ago.
- Loves My Alter Ego: Actually, she's only attracted to Clark, not Superman.
- Hidden Depths
- Intrepid Reporter: Not exactly to the degree as Lois Lane, but still.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: With Supergirl in Sterling Gates' last story arc.
- The Vamp: Tries to be this after she returned to the Daily Planet, though not in a whorish or vapid kind of way.
Dan "Terrible" Turpin
A cop who was initially skeptical of Superman, fearing that he was making the police obsolete, though he eventually came around. He was the partner of Maggie Sawyer, and fell in love with her, but was heartbroken when she came out of the closet. Sadly, during Final Crisis
used him as his host body, seemingly killing him.
- Badass Normal: His Crowning Moment was taking on Kalibak, son of Darkseid, with a machine gun, getting beaten within an inch of his life, and then giving the signal to channel all the electrical power in Metropolis straight into Kalibak, knocking him out and arresting him!
- Brooklyn Rage
- Expy: In The Animated Series, his appearance was based on his creator, Jack Kirby.
- New Gods: The series where he first appeared.
- Nice Hat
- Retcon: A recent retcon claims that he is the grown-up version of "Brooklyn" from the Boy Commandos (another Kirby tough guy character with a derby hat and a Brooklyn accent).
Jor-El and Lara
Superman's birth parents on the planet Krypton. Jor-El was a wise scientist and member of Krypton's ruling council. Lara's job has varied over the years (an astronaut pre-Crisis, librarian post-Crisis), with stories from the 70s to the present showing Lara's a match for her husband's scientific skills. Convinced of their planet's impending doom, Jor-El devised a plan to save his people on a fleet of spaceships, but the council scoffed at his warnings and denied him funding. Left with only his prototype rocket, he and his wife Lara made the fateful decision to save their only child, Kal-Elnote
, from Krypton's destruction. Jor-El and Lara perished with the rest of Krypton.
- Age Lift: Originally, both were young, about the same age as Clark. The movies cast middle-aged actors due to Rule of Perception (even if they both died as Kal-El was a baby, makes sense them being older than him in the present), and the comics follow suit at the times◊.
- Cassandra Truth
- Death by Origin Story: Jor-El and Lara died, of course, when Krypton blew up.
- Happily Married
- Ignored Expert: Jor-El is the former trope namer, in fact.
- Some versions subvert this by having Zod actually believing him and trying to take over krypton as to try to save it from it's destruction.
- Pre-Crisis (and apparently in a recent Supergirl origin version), Jor-El's brother Zor-El did believe his predictions, and (depending on continuity) eventually sent his own child Kara to Earth.
- Posthumous Character
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Though it seems Jor-El's the only one at the time of Krypton's destruction. Some tellings of the origin story alternately suggest Jor-El's findings aren't conclusive.
- Virtual Ghost: Jor-El gets this treatment through recordings.
Clark Kent's high-school girlfriend, with whom he still maintains a friendly relationship; Lana is one of the few people who knows that Clark is Superman. In The Silver Age of Comic Books
, Lana frequently competed with Lois for Superman's affections, but these days they have a congenial friendship. At one point, she was married to Pete Ross, another one of Clark's childhood friends.
Another of Clark Kent's ex-girlfriends. They broke up when she was revealed to actually be a mermaid, as she considered their differences too great, though she still holds a torch for him. She also knows Clark's secret.
Shrunken by Brainiac and imprisoned in a bottle, the Kryptonian city Kandor is eventually recovered by Superman. In The Silver Age of Comic Books
, Kandor was stuck in this state with Superman able to go back and forth into the city but unable to re-enlarge them for a long time (since Brainiac's technology was not designed to work in reverse.) He finally managed to do it in 1979.
When reintroduced in 2009, Superman recovers Kandor and is able to re-enlarge it near his fortress. Humanity does not take kindly to the arrival of 100,000 people with superior technology and all of Superman's powers, so they pick up and leave to build a planet on the opposite side of Earth's orbit. General Zod and Superman joined them.
Unfortunately, Earth and New Krypton didn't get along so well and the two planets waged a war killing the vast majority of the recovered population while the rest had to be imprisoned in the Phantom Zone by Superman himself. The original Kandor was Supergirl's birthplace.
Jonathan and Martha Kent (or John and Mary, depending on the version) were simple farmers who found a crashed spaceship by the side of the road; examining it, they found a baby alien inside. Raising him as their own (and naming him Clark after Martha's maiden name), they instilled in him their simple virtue and respect for all living things. Their status has varied from decade to decade. In The Golden Age of Comic Books
and The Silver Age of Comic Books
, they both died before Clark became Superman; Post-Crisis
, they were both alive and well. Lately, Jonathan has passed away, leaving Martha and Clark behind. In The New 52
Universe they both died before Clark became Superman once again.
Dan Turpin's partner. Like him, she feared Superman was making the police look bad, but eventually, she became a valuable ally. She came out of the closet. Sawyer eventually moved to Gotham City, where she became a captain in the GCPD and a sometimes-ally to Batman
- Action Girl
- Badass Normal
- Lesbian Jock: Which was rather impressive for a character to be when it was revealed in 1988.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: A good example of this was the time Superman's power's were increasing beyond his control leading to a series of accidents. When she arrived just as Superman was about to turn himself in, she cut him off and apologized "for arriving to late to help catch the bad guy" saying that she was "distracted because her friend was sick and needed help." Superman promised her friend would get that help.
Once a famous crusading reporter, Perry White is now the editor-in-chief of that great American newspaper, the Daily Planet
. A gruff, tough, cigar-chomping curmudgeon, White is nonetheless fair, brave, and honest, fostering close relationships with his employees. He plays a fatherly role to Lois and Clark, but finds Jimmy a constant annoyance.
Clark's best friend in high-school. He married Lana Lang, but got divorced. He was Vice President for President Lex Luthor; after Luthor went rogue, Ross became President for a few months to finish Luthor's term, but did little of note in office. After his term—and marriage—ended, Ross retired back to Smallville to get away from all the drama and opened a barber shop.
- Locked Out of the Loop: Until recently, he was oblivious to Clark's secret. (Modern age)
- Secret Secret Keeper (Silver/Bronze Age)
- Unwitting Pawn: He was pretty much just a tool for Luthor. Also, while President, he inadvertently funded Project 7734, the anti-Kryptonian conspiracy.
Ron is introduced shortly before Superman's "death" and takes a reporting job during Clark's extended absence. He dates Lucy Lane and gets her pregnant leading to a story arc touching on the abortion issue; they were later married, but their relationship seems to have been Retconned
away. Ron has been recast more recently as the Daily Planet's intellectual liberal opinion writer.
- Foil: To Steve Lombard, the Planet's sports writer. Ron is a quiet and introverted liberal, while Steve is a loud and outgoing conservative.
- Straight Man: He's arguably the most "normal" person on the Daily Planet.
A former high school athlete and prankster, he became the Daily Planet's sports writer. He shamelessly flirts with Lois, Cat, and other beautiful women he meets. He enjoys picking on the more bookish Clark, which sometimes comes back and bites him in the ass if Clark is feeling mischievous with his superpowers.
- Casanova Wannabe
- Foil: To Ron Troupe.
- Jerk Jock: A former one, now a jerk sports columnist.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Subverted when Clark's inner monologue talks about what lies beneath his tough guy exterior. Basically it's the exact same thing, only worse.
- Meaningful Name: Steve played football in high school, college, and, briefly, the pros; Vince Lombardi is one of the most famous football coaches of all time.
- Straw Conservative: Should be obvious just from the descriptions. Steve is written as though all the research done by the writers for the character's political positions is based on bumper stickers.
A character that existed for a few years in the late nineties. A conservative columnist that was basically meant to be an Expy
of Rush Limbaugh
, same political views, same build and general appearance. At first an annoying unsympathetic character.
- Big Eater: Frequently seem chomping down junk food, especially donuts.
- Hidden Depths: He is shown to have a blind daughter and his interactions with her help soften the audience and the other characters to Dirk.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: This character was clearly a Rush Limbaugh expy. This was before other similar pundits reached widespread audiences. Though its a bit of a dated Expy. Rush has lost a lot of weight since then and audiences today would find Dirk's physique to be an exaggeration bordering on parody.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Mild version of this seemed to be what they were going for. Dirk is a fat doughnut chomping conservative loudmouth (less obnoxious and more informed than Steve Lombard) but really cares for his daughter, really believes what he's saying and generally praises Superman because of the Man of Steel's effectiveness as a crimefighter until Superman's electric powers kick in and Dirk briefly becomes critical as Superman's lack of control of his powers causes come property damage. As far as Dirk is concerned, he's just telling it like it is and while Superman is irritated with him, he acknowledges that Dirk has a point.
AKA: Linda Lee Danvers / Kara Zor-El (pre-Crisis); Matrix (1st post-Crisis); Linda Danvers (2nd); Cir-El (3rd); Linda Lang / Kara Zor-El (4th)
Superman's cousin. In the Silver Age, her city split off from Krypton but was subsequently doomed leading her to be sent to earth where they knew she'd find Superman. After dying in Crisis on Infinite Earths
, she was eventually reintroduced. This time, she left Krypton as a teenager at the same time Superman left, charged with protecting him. Her ship then got knocked off course, and by the time she arrived baby Kal-El was a full grown superhero. In between versions, there was a synthetic being who became a fire angel and adopted the same name. You can find out more about all of this in her own article
Alexander Luthor, Sr.
The greatest scientific genius of Earth-3, a world ruled by the villainous Ultraman and the rest of the Crime Syndicate. Luthor was inspired to become the world's first super-hero after seeing Ultraman defeated by his good counterparts, the Supermen of Earths-1 and -2. He was also shocked to learn that each of these heroes fought against their own evil versions of himself, Lex Luthor of Earth-1 and Alexei Luthor of Earth-2. Luthor married crusading reporter Lois Lane and together had a son, Alex Junior. Luthor and his wife died in the Crisis on Infinite Earths
, but not before they sent their son to safety in a rocket.
There is also a heroic Alexander Luthor in the Anti-Matter Universe. He also fights that world's Ultraman and Crime Syndicate (including Lois Lane, who in this world is the evil Superwoman) and is very similar to the Earth-3 Luthor except for an arrogant streak.
- Archenemy: Of the Crime Syndicate and Ultraman in particular.
- Badass: This is a man who makes a career out of fighting evil counterparts of Superman, Batman, The Flash, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern, all by himself, and who wins more often than not. For a minor character he is an immense badass.
- Bald of Awesome: Both versions
- Beard of Evil: Inverted!
- Big Good: One Earth-3 and in the Antimatter universe, in much the same way that Superman is in the regular timeline.
- Brought to You by the Letter "S": Had a giant "L" on his chest Pre-Crisis. Not so much in the New 52.
- The Cape: Hilariously yes. Pre-Crisis Alexander Luthor was a genuinely heroic, humble guy, who was channeling our Superman for all that he was worth.
- Clothes Make the Superman
- Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Averted Pre-Crisis. Alexander was well-known as a brilliant inventor and scientist.
- Enemy Mine: With Ultraman in an attempt at saving their world from the Antimonitor.
- Evil Twin: Inverted-he's the good version of Lex Luthor
- Frickin' Laser Beams: Pre-Crisis Alexander's raygun.
- Gadgeteer Genius
- Good Is Dumb: Completely averted. Alexander may actually be the smartest version of Luthor out there, given his ability to outmanouvere not only the entire Crime Syndicate, but both his Evil Twins.
- Guile Hero: As a good counterpoint to Luthor this should be expected
- Happily Married: Pre-Crisis Alexander and Earth-3 Lois Lane
- Intangible Man: Pre-Crisis Alexander had a supersuit that allowed him to turn intangible.
- Mr. Vice Guy: As mentioned, Anti-Matter Luthor is unambiguously good, but very vain.
- Non-Action Guy: Toyed with and subverted Pre-Crisis. Alexander is a terrible fighter and has an average physique but his technological prowess helped him fight the likes of Ultraman on an even footing.
- Powered Armor: Anti-Matter Alexander Luthor (who is, truth be told, very similar to Iron Man) features a version of our Luthor's purple and green battlesuit. Earth-3 Luthor never had the full suit but he did have a jetpack and raygun, as well as the ability to become an Intangible Man.
- Red-Headed Hero: Earth-3 Luthor is bald but has a red goatee.
- Ret Gone: The Crisis removed the original Alexander Luthor from history,and we have yet to see him return in the new Earth-3
- Science Hero: In contrast to the usual Mad Scientist portrayal of Luthor, Alexander uses his scientific brilliance to defend his world from the Crime Syndicate.
- Super Intelligence: And unlike Lex and Alexei, Alexander actually put that IQ to work for the good of his world.
AKA: David Connor
A creation from the Byrne era version of Krypton. It was a supercomputer created to preserve the purity of Kryptonian genetics and culture. It somehow ended up off world before the planets destruction only for Superman to find it while he was lost in space. Once awakened, it resumed its mandate trying to recreate Krypton on Earth, building the first Post-Crisis
Fortress Of Solitude and slowly exerting a mental influence on Superman to make him more Kryptonian
. Superman broke the control with Ma and Pa Kent's help and threw the Eradicator into the sun.
It came back as an energy being, then once again after Superman died, making a Superman-like body and carrying out a cold brutal version of his mission. Now the Eradicator is bonded with the mind of a then-dying scientist and the personality is effectively a hodgepodge of the human scientist and Kryptonian supercomputer, thankfully granting the creature a measure of empathy and making him one of Superman's allies.
AKA: Thara Ak-Var
A citizen of Kandor and childhood friend of Supergirl. She is the host to the mysterious Flamebird entity, granting her pyrokinesis. She is Chris Kent's partner and girlfriend. The name "Flamebird" has also been used by an ancient Kryptonian hero, Jimmy Olsen, Supergirl, and Bette Kane, a former member of the Batman family (she was Bat-Girl - with a dash - before Barbara Gordon was Batgirl - without a dash).
AKA: Jose Delgado
A former teacher who put on a costume to protect his neighborhood from street gangs and other threats, hence his name. He dated Cat Grant, but they broke up, partially because he couldn't get along with her son, Adam
AKA: Jim Harper
The original Guardian was a Golden Age
crime fighter and policeman. The modern Jim Harper was one of the early successes of the Cadmus cloning project. Like the original Guardian, he fights with an armored outfit and shield similar to Captain America.
Krypto the Super-Dog
Superman's dog from the planet Krypton, Jor-El sent Krypto to Earth in a rocket as a test flight before sending his son, but the rocket was slower and took longer to arrive. Has the same powers as Superman and is generally shown to have a human level of intelligence thought he is unable to speak. These days, he is Conner Kent's pet. Has his own page.
Mon-El / Valor / M'Onel
AKA: Lar Gand / Bob Cobb / Jonathan Kent
Lar Gand is a Daxamite, a race with similar powers to Kryptonians, but with a weakness to lead instead of kryptonite. When he crash-landed on Earth, he had amnesia, so Clark nicknamed him "Mon-El", and treated him as his own brother. Unfortunately, he was exposed to lead, and as this is fatal, Clark cast him into the Phantom Zone
, where time has no meaning, to save him until a cure could be found. A thousand years later, the Legion of Super-Heroes
provided this cure, allowing him join Earth's superheroes.
AKA: Chris Kent / Lor-Zod
A little boy that Clark and Lois found and adopted. He has developed into a true hero in his own right. Aside from taking their names from the same ancient Kryptonian hero, Chris has no connection with Batman
's former protege, Dick Grayson, the original Robin who adopted the Nightwing name after hearing the stories of said Kryptonian hero from Superman. Later, he becomes the host of the mysterious Nightwing entity, granting him powers over darkness and allowing him to truly be Flamebird's partner.
- Abusive Parents: His biological parents, not Lois and Clark.
- Blessed with Suck: While his Plot-Relevant Age-Up was quite useful, he now has to wear a device to keep himself from continuing to age or else he will turn into an old man in a matter of days.
- Chick Magnet: As an adult, to his girlfriend's chagrin.
- Combo Platter Powers: He has tackle telekinesis, darkness manipulation, and Kryptonian powers.
- Heroic Sacrifice: On two ocassions, he allowed himself to be trapped in the Phantom Zone to prevent General Zod from escaping.
- Legacy Character: The Nightwing persona is used by Dick Grayson, who got it from Superman, who got it from Kryptonian legends.
- Likes Older Women: Well, he's still chronologically a boy and seeing an adult (Thara).
- Luke, I Am Your Father: He is General Zod and Ursa's son.
- Power Limiter: He used to wear a red sunlight-emitting watch, to help him practice controlling his powers and doing things the old fashioned way.
- Plot-Relevant Age-Up: He became an adult due to the strange effects of the Phantom Zone.
- Sealed Good in a Can: Both he and the Nightwing entity were trapped in the Phantom Zone for a while.
- Spiritual Successor / Canon Immigrant / Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Chris Kent first appeared a year or two after Superman Returns in which Superman was revealed to have a 5 year old son. Chris was about the same age when first introduced and had a similar hairdo but had a different origin.
- Superpower Lottery
- You're Not My Father: He considers Lois and Clark to be his real parents, since they raised him with kindness and understanding, while Zod and Ursa are total douches and only care about the strong. He insisted that he be addressed as Chris, and not Lor-Zod.
AKA: Karen Starr / Kara Zor-L of Earth-2
Superman's cousin on Earth 2, who eventually joined the Justice Society. After Crisis, there was no Earth 2, and Power Girl's origins and powers were endlessly retooled. Joining the modern Justice Society before Infinite Crisis
, the new Crisis revealed that Power Girl is still Superman's cousin from Earth 2 (the Pre-Crisis Earth 2) restoring her memories and stabilizing her powers. You can find out more about her in her own article
.She is also Most Common Superpower
AKA: John Henry Irons
A former weapons engineer who became disenchanted with his work and fled to Metropolis, taking a new identity and a new job as a construction worker where he fell after trying to rescue a coworker and was himself rescued by Superman. After Superman died, he got involved with a gang war where one side was using the same BFGs
he designed. In order to fight them, her fashioned a suit of Powered Armor
giving him flight, super strength, Rivet guns, and a hammer for good measure. He even took up Superman's "S" in order to honor the hero who saved his life, and was quickly given the term "The Man of Steel" to differentiate him from the other three heroes using Superman's name at the time (Irons himself never claimed
to be Superman). When Superman returned, he gave him the name Steel
. After Superman's return, Irons moved back to Washington DC to reunite with his family, but was attacked by armored goons sent by his former employers. Steel rebuilt his armor, though he removed the "S" shield as he felt he didn't quite deserve to wear it, especially given that he might have to go outside the law to fight his old employers.
Even without the suit, Irons is a big buff individual with strength to match his brains.
AKA: Conner Kent / Kon-El
A clone with powers adapted from limited scientific understanding of Superman's genome. Meant to be a replacement when Superman was thought dead, Superboy was liberated from his pod before he could finish growing, leaving him a teenager. His power is tactile telekinesis: telekinetic influence over anything he touches, which allows him to simulate Superman's superstrength, flight and invulnerability but also lets him manipulate objects simply by touching them. Eventually, he started developing Superman's other abilities, and learned that he is only half-Kryptonian, and the human half of his DNA came from Luthor
. You can find out more about him in his own article.
AKA: Vernon O'Valeron
The mighty defender of the distant planet Valeron. Vartox occasionally crosses paths with The Man Of Steel. Most of the time, they are friends, though they usually end up fighting because Vartox is brainwashed, trying to steal Clark's girlfriend, or some other reason.
Recently, after the rest of his race was rendered sterile by a villain's "contraceptive bomb
", he tried to seduce Power Girl
in order to breed the next generation and save his people from extinction
. She found him repulsive, but instead worked with him to cure his people's sterility.
- Achilles' Heel: His energy can be siphoned off.
- Always Someone Better: Pre-Crisis, his strength, speed, vision, hearing, etc were all superior to Superman's. Post-Crisis, they are roughly equal.
- Badass Moustache
- Boisterous Bruiser
- Carpet of Virility
- Casanova Wannabe: Post-Crisis.
- Chivalrous Pervert
- Expy: Of the Sean Connery character from Zardoz.
- The First Cut Is the Deepest: While trying to woo Power Girl, he clarifies that he's not looking for love. His wife died and she can never be replaced.
- Friendly Rival
- Idiot Hero: However, despite his bluntness and lack of common sense, he is a Genius Bruiser and an expert when it comes to science and engineering.
- Invincible Hero
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Deep down, he is a true hero.
- Large Ham
- Lightning Bruiser: Especially Pre-Crisis, where his strength and speed are greater than Superman's.
- Lovable Sex Maniac
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: Like being able to manipulate matter at a subatomic level, being able to turn intangible, etc.
- Older Than They Look: He's been battling evil ever since Superman was a little tot.
- Porn Stache
- Rated M for Manly
- Refuge in Audacity
- Story Breaker Power
- Super Empowering: Can transfer a portion of his energy to others, temporarily giving them his powers.
- Superpower Lottery: He periodically discovers new "Hyper Powers".
- Supreme Chef
- Third-Person Person: Lampshaded by Power Girl, who thought it was annoying.
- Underwear of Power: He doesn't shave his legs.
- World's Strongest Man
Other versions of Superman
Superman has been imagined in a number of different incarnations over the years. Here are the notable ones.
AKA: Clark Kent / Kal-L of Earth-2
The original Man of Steel himself, Kal-L was a reserve member of the Justice Society of America
. When the Multiverse was destroyed in the Crisis on Infinite Earths
, he and Earth-2's Lois Lane survived in a pocket dimension with Earth-3's Alexander Luthor, Jr. and Earth-Prime's Superboy but were forgotten by his teammates because of the Cosmic Retcon
. Years later, in Infinite Crisis
, he returned, only to be killed by Superboy-Prime. Kal-L had the same powers as "our" Superman, but many details of his life were different: his parents were named John and Mary (not Jonathan and Martha); his cousin was Power Girl
); his base of operations was the Secret Citadel near Metropolis (not the Fortress of Solitude in Antarctica); and he worked at the Daily Star (not the Daily Planet), where he became editor-in-chief after George Taylor's (not Perry White's) retirement.
- Alternate Universe: The original continuity
- Badass Grandpa: He fits the age,though isn't a grandfather. However, he still stopped the Anti-Monitor
- Continuity Snarl: His past was removed from the timeline, along with his universe.
- Cosmic Retcon: One of the most high-profile victims. His universe suffered a Ret Gone, yet he survived. No wonder he went along with Alex Luthor Jr.'s plan.
- The Golden Age of Comic Books: Where his stories draw from.
- Happily Married: To Lois, decades before mainstream Superman did it. This being a more traditional couple, she actually did change her name to "Lois Kent" and they were featured together in the Superman Family backup. His behavior during Infinite Crisis stemmed from him coping with her dying.
- Redemption Equals Death: Superman-2 was initially on board with Superboy-Prime and Alex Luthor but eventually realized they were wrong and fought them to the death.
- Retcon: How he came into existence in the first place. During The Interregnum the original versions of Green Lantern, and The Flash simply disappeared and were replaced with new versions who were explicitly not of the same continuity, yet Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman had remained active. This version of Superman was introduced to officially be the character those early adventures were about. The creation of Earth-2 itself springs from a Flash story.
Superman of Earth-22
Originally introduced in Kingdom Come
as a possible future for the current Superman, retcons have since placed him in his own continuity on Earth-22 where the Kingdom Come
storyline now canonically takes place. After losing touch with humanity, he left for years, returning from self imposed exile when the new generation of heroes had finally gotten completely out of control. However, his solutions only made the situation worse. Recently in a Justice Society of America
story, this Superman was pulled to New Earth at the moment of nuclear detonation. Believing all he loved was dead, he opted for a new beginning with the JSA.
- Badass Grandpa
- Kryptonite Factor: Removed, explained as having absorbed too much sunlight to be affected anymore. He's also more powerful than the current New Earth Superman.
- Second Coming: His return from his self-imposed exile in the first book of Kingdom Come was seen as that at first to Norman McCay, but the visions he has seen indicate that Superman's return would catalyze the coming doom of the metahuman battle, not avert it. The whole series drew heavily on Biblical prophecy for imagery.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: To the Earth-2 Superman in the sense that he is an older Superman and is a member of the Justice Society as Earth-2 Superman was on his world. He also seemed to bond with Power Girl as they both needed family.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: During his Kingdom Come phase. His solution to the Darker and Edgier generation was rehabilitation or imprisonment with rehabilitation. This had the effect of consolidating power and escalating conflict, though this is not solely Superman's fault.
Superman of Earth-30
A version of Superman introduced in Superman: Red Son
. He landed in Russia instead of America becoming a Russian operative at the beginning of the Cold War
era and later the ruler of most of the globe. His continuity is now preserved as an official continuity of one of the 52 earths.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: He successfully spread his revolution peacefully across the globe simply by running the "best" government, till the end when Luthor was able to finally make the U.S. a viable alternative.
Connor Kent from a possible future. He has been seen more than once. In this future, the Teen Titans
become the Justice League
and the ends justify the means. Conner is shown to have pretty much all of Superman's powers and his tactile telekinesis is more developed.
One of Superman's descendents operating in the 853rd century who has visited the past once and was included in the All Star Superman series. Basically like Superman but even more powerful having a fifth dimensional ancestor.