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A Brief History of Superman

NEWS rama A BRIEF HISTORY OF SUPERMAN Created by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster in the 1930s, Superman is the original superhero. Disguised as journalist Clark Kent, Superman is secretly the alien Kal-El from the planet Krypton. SUPERMAN IN 1943 A precursor of Superman, the novel "Gladiator" (1930) by Philip Wylie features a character who has been given great strength, speed and invulnerability thanks to a scientist's experimental SUPERMAN'S APPEARANCE AFTER 2011'S "NEW 52" RELAUNCH serum. CHILD WYUE In the early 1930s, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created characters meant for fanzines and a newspaper comic strip, including "The Super-Man," a bald, telepathic villain. Je REIGNof the SUPER MAN 1930 No. 1 JUNE, 1938 ACTON COMICS "SCIENCE FICTION NUMBER 3" FANZINE (1933) 1935 SUPERMAN MASQUERADES AS HUMAN REPORTER CLARK KENT (LEFT), OF THE DAILY STAR (LATER DAILY PLANET) Superman is said to have been rocketed to Earth The Golden Age After years of failure in trying to sell Superman to newspapers, Siegel and Shuster sell their char- acter to a magazine publisher in 1938, and Superman debuts in "Action Comics" No. 1. as a child from a high-gravity planet, Krypton, before it exploded. Kryp- tonians develop strength and speed far beyond that of Initially, Superman's powers are very limited. He could leap "up to an eighth of a mile," outrun a passenger train and lift automobiles. EVERYONE ON KRYPTON IS humans. SUPERPOWERED IN "SUPERMAN" NO. 1 (1939). The early Superman is YOU NEEONT BE AFRAID O E ME I WON'T HARM YOu a sort of vigilante, using his abilities to intimidate criminals and crooked politicians. 1939-1966 As was originally 1940-1951 The popular radio intended, Superman is serial "The Adventures STAR REPORTER LOIS LANE MEETS SUPERMAN, "ACTION" 1 of Superman" stars Bud Collyer and Joan featured in his own 1940 newspaper comic strip. The villain Lex Luthor is intro- Alexander. duced in Action Comics 23 with Y PUT ME DOWN: YOU'RE HURTING ME red hair, but in later appearances he is bald, I'D LIKE TO LAND A ARICTLY NON-ARYAN SOCK ON YOUR B HAT YOU'RE COMING WITH ME WHILE COMNACERTAIN PAL OF YOURS. NO YIME 1941-1943 Fleischer Studios produces animated short films for movie theaters. In a feature drawn for Look magazine in 1940, Superman is shown ending World War II by rounding up Hitler and Stalin *ELECTRIC EARTHQUAKE" (FLEISCHER STUDIOS, 1942). Kryptonite, radioactive fragments of Superman's home planet that are deadly 1948 Columbia Pictures produces a to him, is introduced on the 15-chapter series of short films. Kirk Alyn (right) radio show in 1943, but would not appear in the comic books until 1949. stars Superman. In 1950, a sequel 1945 To expand the franchise, Detective Comics begins publishing a Superboy series, "Atom Man vs. Superman," appeared. feature. These are the adventures of Superman as a child. TEEMOST. STEEL 1951 1750 As a trial run for a possible TV series, a short film, "Superman and the Mole 1950 Superman's power expanded over the decades, and by the 1950s, Superman could travel through time by moving faster than light (above). He could shift planets out of their orbits. Men," is shot in 12 days on a studio backlot. GEORGE REEVES AND PHYLLIS COATES 1952-1958 "The Adventures of Superman" TV show stars George Reeves and Phyllis Coates. 1958 Brainiac, a green-skinned alien, debuts in Action Comics HIM CALL E 1958 242. Brainiac BIZARROy Bizarro first appears uses a shrink ray in "Superboy" 68, to steal the city Bizarro is a Franken- of Kandor off the stein's monsterlike planet Krypton before it clone of Superboy, created when a scientist used a duplicating ray on him. exploded. For decades, Super- man kept the miniaturized, bottled city in his Arctic "Fortress of Solitude." The Silver Age 1959 The period of the 1950s-1960s is dominated by fantasy and "what if" stories. Featured are Superboy, the Justice League of America, Superman's Arctic Fortress of Solitude, and the staff of the Daily Planet including Jimmy Olsen and Perry White. Superman actor George Reeves' death at age 45 is officially ruled a suicide. 1959 Supergirl, Superman's cousin and fellow survivor of Superman's origin story is made more science- fictional. It is established that he got his powers from Earth's yellow sun, which has different properties than the red sun of Krypton. the dead planet Krypton, debuts in Action Comics 252. LOIS LANE IMMY OLSEN ERMAN mYEMBLEMS RECOME AN JNCONTMOLLARLE DEATH RAY. AND ITS PESTROoYING AND LOIS PERRY LEFT: "SUPERMAN'S GIRL FRIEND LOIS LANE" 54 (1965). RIGHT: "SUPERMAN'S PAL JIMMY OLSEN" 126 (1969). "SUPERMAN" 203 ("WHEN SUPERMAN KILLED HIS FRIENDS!") 1966 Broadway musical "It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Super- man!" is a financial The Bronze Age In the early 197os, DC Comics modernizes Superman's environment stodgy Daily Planet newspaper is bought by Galaxy Broadcasting System, and Clark Kent changes jobs to become a news anchor for WGBS-TV. Kent's boss is now Morgan Edge, ৯ MAN I characters. The OMES ST flop. 1971 All Kryptonite on Earth is rendered harmless in the "Kryptonite Nevermore!" story arc. Superman's almost limitless power is reduced. president of the network. News BROAPCAST A TALKS CONNUED 970 scoMMON AACECT "SUPERMAN" 267 "SUPERMAN" 233 (1971) 1973-1986 The animated Hanna-Barbera 1978 In the "Superman vs Muhammad Ali" one-shot, the O"STAR WARRIORS "Super Friends" series teams Super- man with Batman, HRMMAN Aquaman, Wonder SUPER FRIENDS 675 Woman and others. pair team up to fight an alien invasion. 1978 The first of four movies starring Christopher Reeve premieres. In the film, Superman's father Jor-El (Marlon Brando) wears the "S" symbol, suggesting that it might be a family crest or have another Kryptonian meaning, CHRISTOPHER REEVE IN "SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE." RIGHT: MARLON BRANDO WEARS THE "S" CREST ON KRYPTON. 1980 "Superman Il" features Terence Stamp as Kryptonian General Zod. Most of the sequel was filmed by the first movie's director, Richard Donner, but after a studio dispute, Donner was replaced by Richard Lester, who gave the finished film a more humorous tone. 1983 SUPERMAN KNEELS BEFORE ZOD IN "SUPERMAN I" Director Richard Lester returns to make re 1985 CRISIS To simplify its tangled story- "Superman IlI" as a campy comedy featur- ing Richard Pryor. lines, DC Comics changes its retroactive continuity ("retcon") with "Crisis On Infinite Earths," a series that kills off Supergirl and 1984 1985 Helen Slater stars in RETCON "Supergirl," a spinoff film about Superman's other characters. Kryptonian cousin. CUPERMAN 1986 In "Whatever Hap- pened to the Man of Tomorrow?," "Watchmen" writer Alan Moore brings the classic era of Superman comic books to a poignant end. 1987 Christopher Reeve returns in the poorly received "Superman IV: The Quest for Peace." Later that year, writer and artist John Byrne again "retcons" Superman with the "Man of Steel" 1988-1992 John Newton (right) stars as Clark Kent in miniseries, changing many the first season of the long-standing elements, such as the role of Clark Kent's foster parents (alive now instead of having died "Superboy" TV series, but is replaced by Gerard Christopher in subsequent seasons. years ago). 1993 After a prolonged fight with the character Doomsday, Super- man dies in the best-selling issue "Superman" volume 2 1993 Following the death of Superman, four characters emerge who try to claim the superhero's legacy in "The Reign of the Supermen!" None of them (Cyborg, Metropolis Kid, Eradicator and Steel) are in fact Kal-EI, the original Superman from Krypton. number 75. Months after his death, the original Super- man returns in "Adventures of Super- man" 504. 1997 Shaquille O'Neal stars in the 1993-1997 "Lois & Clark: The film "Steel," based on the charac- ter which appeared in the "Reign of the Supermen" story arc. New Adventures of Superman" TV show stars Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher. 1998 Storylines emphasize their relationship. For a time, Superman loses his powers and gains new ones that: are electrically based rather than 1996 Lois Lane and Clark Kent derived from the Earth's are married in a special yellow sun. In these stories, Superman wears a comic titled "Superman: blue-and-white "containment suit." The Wedding Album." 2001 In a remarkable coinci- dence, the "Our Worlds at War" storyline ends 1996-2000 A follow-on to his acclaimed Batman animated show, Bruce Timm's "Superman: just before the al-Qaida attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. "Adventures of The Animated Series" stars Tim Daly. Superman" 596, planned months before but released on Sept. 12, 2001-2011 "Smallville" stars Tom Welling features an image of the as a young Clark Kent. fictional LexTowers damaged and smoking. 2004 Actor Christopher Reeve dies. He had become a quadriplegic after a 1995 horse-riding accident. 2003-2004 Mark Waid's "Birthright" RETCON miniseries retells Superman's origin story and returns some classic elements to the character's 2006 An attempt to reintro- duce the character continuity. 2005-2006 A sequel to 1985's "Crisis" series, "Infinite Crisis" undoes the "Birthright" continuity changes. following the events of 1980's popular film "Superman II," "Superman Returns" stars Brandon Routh and RETCON opens to lackluster reviews. 2008 The miniaturized city of Kandor is restored on 2009-2010 Geoff Johns' "Secret Origin" Earth, freeing 100,000 Kryptonians with miniseries is intended to be the "definitive" telling of the Superman origin story. powers similar to Superman's. The city is "grown" into an entire planet, "New Krypton," which orbits the sun opposite Earth. later 2012 Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson deter- mines that the planet Krypton orbited the red dwarf star LHS 2520, 27.1 CREDIT: STARTALK RADIO light-vears from Earth. 2011 DC again retcons its entire comics universe, 2012 canceling all titles and relaunching them at ISsue number 1 in a campaign called "The New 52." In the new No longer married to Lois, Kal-El pursues a romance with Wonder Woman in "Justice League" 12. continuity, Superman 2013 Director Zack Snyder never married Lois Lane and was orphaned by the death of his adop tive parents, the Kents. ("300," "Watchmen") releases "Man of Steel, a reboot of the Superman movie franchise starring Henry Cavill. ALL ARTWORK AND CHARACTER NAMESO AND " DC COMICS SOURCES: "SUPERMAN FROM THE THIRTIES TO THE SEVENTIES," "THE GREAT SUPERMAN BOOK" BY MICHAEL FLEISCHER, "SUPERMAN: THE COMPLETE HISTORY" BY LES DANIELS, "SUPERMAN IN THE SIXTIES," WIKIPEDIA WEB: HTTP://DCCOMICS.COM HTTP://SUPERMANICA.SUPERMAN.NU/WIKI/INDEX.PHP/MAIN_PAGE HTTP://MAIDOFMIGHT.NET/ HTTP://www.CAPEDWONDER.COM/ KARL TATE / ONEWSARAMA.COM CLADIATOR ANIMATLD SHORTS ARKI THE MEW AVILTURES OF SUPEEE RETCON RETCON UIEMAN CONTG VOL.) NOOLN

A Brief History of Superman

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On April 18, 1938, DC Comics (then National Allied Productions) debuted a new anthology title Action Comics, with the lead-cover story featuring a new superhero character called Superman. The rest, as...


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