Ultraman (comics)

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This article is about the DC Comics supervillains. For the 1940s era All-American Comics superheroes, see Ultra-Man. For the DC Comics teenage superhero, see Ultra Boy. For other uses, see Ultraman (disambiguation).
Ultraman
Ultramanburns.jpg
Antimatter Clark Kent as Ultraman.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Justice League of America (vol. 1) #29 (August 1964)
Created by Gardner Fox
Mike Sekowsky
(based upon Superman by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster)
In-story information
Alter ego El-Kal
Kal-Il (New 52 Earth 3)
Clark Kent
Clark Luthor
Team affiliations Crime Syndicate of America (Earth-Three)
Crime Syndicate (Qward)
Crime Syndicate of Amerika (Anti-Matter Earth)
Crime Society of America (Earth-3)
Abilities Superhuman Strength
Superhuman Speed
Superhuman Stamina
Invulnerability
Heat Vision
Accelerated Vision
X-Ray Vision
Telescopic Vision
Dimensional Vision
Immortality
Flight

Ultraman is the name of several fictional characters, who are supervillains appearing in stories published by DC Comics. The characters are all evil or corrupted alternate-universe counterparts of Superman. Ultraman first appeared in Justice League of America #29 (August 1964).[1]

Publication history[edit]

Ultraman first appeared as the evil counterpart of Superman on the original Earth-Three. Having created the worlds of Earth-One, containing Silver Age superheroes, as well as Earth-Two, containing the golden age ones, DC Comics decided to expand the universe to include various themed universes. The first of these was Earth-Three, in which there were villainous counterparts of DC's heroes as well as heroic counterparts of DC's villains. The first Ultraman was killed in Crisis on Infinite Earths and Earth-Three was destroyed by an anti-matter storm and then wiped from continuity at the end of the series. This original Earth-Three Ultraman has reappeared briefly both in the 1980s Animal Man series and the later Infinite Crisis mini-series.

Since Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC has returned to the concept of Ultraman, creating two different characters with that name, often appearing only for a single issue in a story arc. There have been several appearances by both characters. The first version was an anti-matter version of Ultraman, created for Grant Morrison's JLA: Earth 2 graphic novel. This version has appeared several times and was slain at the conclusion of Final Crisis series. Another version, closer to the Silver Age original Ultraman, appeared on the post-52 universe's Earth-3. Based on comments by Grant Morrison, this Earth-3 universe is not the pre-Crisis Earth-Three, making this a new character unrelated to previous versions.[2]

Fictional character biography[edit]

Original Earth-Three Ultraman[edit]

Unlike Superman, the Earth-Three Ultraman gets stronger every time he is exposed to kryptonite, originally developing a completely new superpower with each new exposure. In one such encounter, Ultraman acquired the ability to see through dimensional barriers, thus alerting the Crime Syndicate to the existence of alternate Earths in their first appearance. This allowed the Syndicate to attack the Justice League and Justice Society. Ultraman also differed from Superman in that his version of the planet Krypton had not exploded. Where the Earth-Three dimension kryptonite originated was never specifically listed in any published book.

However, it is implied to be the same as ordinary kryptonite, as Ultraman got powers when exposed to Kryptonite from pre-Crisis Earth-One and Earth-Two, gaining heat vision from Barry Allen throwing some at him. Being exposed to a large chunk of it paralyzed him, as he acquired so many new superpowers that his body couldn't decide which one to use and he was therefore frozen in place. He does not appear to have been affected after this, so perhaps he can reject powers, or they wear off.

In the early 1980s, Ultraman teamed up with Lex Luthor of Earth-One, and Alexei Luthor of Earth-Two, in an unsuccessful attempt to eliminate the Supermen of both Earth-One and -Two (the Supermen were, in turn, assisted by the heroic Alexander Luthor of Earth-Three).[3] Later, Ultraman joined the rest of the Crime Syndicate in a teamup with a time-traveling villain named Per Degaton who had found their prison and released them. Degaton used them in his attempt to conquer Earth-Two, by stealing nuclear missiles from the Cuban Missile Crisis of Earth Prime, though they planned to betray him. However, this proved unsuccessful as well, and he hurled them into the Future of Earth-1, having made sure this would happen if they touched him, and the events were wiped from the timeline afterwards. The original Ultraman was eliminated in the 1985 12-issue limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths. Distraught at the fact that his superpowers were useless at the one time he actually needed them, he flew straight into the anti-matter cloud that was destroying Earth-Three, telling the Power Ring, "I do what I have done all my life. Fight... to the very end!".

After his death, the Pre-Crisis Ultraman showed up in the pages of Animal Man. There he learned that he was seemingly a comic book character himself, who existed only for the entertainment of others.[4] He also fought Overman, another pre-Crisis alternate universe version of Superman who had been infected by a sexually transmitted disease, became insane and killed, seemingly for the sake of killing. This Ultraman later faded into the mask of the Psycho-Pirate, who, for a time, was the only one who remembered the Pre-Crisis multiverse.

In One Year Later there are hints that a man controlling Kandor, under the name Kal-El, could be Ultraman. He has been using the help of a group of followers called the "Praisesingers" and the guidance of the "Holy Mother". Supergirl and Power Girl fight his efforts, causing his cult-like following to falter. This leader also slays several of his own people to keep political information quiet. It has now been revealed that this Kal-El is indeed Ultraman, who was saved from the Crisis and brainwashed by Saturn Queen, his "mother", one of the masterminds behind the "Absolute Power" arc in Superman/Batman. This version appears to be a much weaker version, as he receives a vicious beating from Supergirl not once, but twice.

An additional incarnation of the Pre-Crisis Earth-Three Ultraman has made appearances most recently in Infinite Crisis where Alexander Luthor, Jr. wanted to create so-called "perfect beings" out of his models of long-dead father Alexander Luthor, Sr., the lone super-hero of Earth-Three, Superman (both of Earth-One and Earth-Two), Wonder Woman (of Earth-One and Two) and the Earth-Three Ultraman and Superwoman.

Clark Kent (Anti-Matter Ultraman)[edit]

In 1999, Ultraman was reintroduced in the JLA: Earth 2 graphic novel. The Crime Syndicate of Amerika (CSA) is revealed for the first time to the Justice League by Alexander Luthor, the heroic antimatter counterpart to Lex Luthor. In this current continuity, the CSA comes from the Antimatter Universe, each member being the antimatter counterpart to a core League member.[1]

Unlike the original pre-Crisis Earth-Three Kryptonian Ultraman, the antimatter Ultraman was fully rewritten for modern continuity as Lieutenant Clark Kent, a human astronaut from the antimatter Earth and no longer an alien matching Superman exactly. After his ship imploded into hyperspace, an unknown alien race reconstructed Kent in an attempt to repair the damaged astronaut, which ended up altering the human both mentally and physically, giving him ultrapowers similar to Superman's superpowers. According to Alexander Luthor, the process also twisted Ultraman's mind. In contrast to Superman, Ultraman's power relies on his proximity and exposure to a substance called Anti-Kryptonite; the longer and farther he is separated from it, the weaker he becomes. This substance has repeatedly been shown to have no apparent effect on Superman, just as Kryptonite has been shown to have no effect on Ultraman.[1]

Antimatter Ultraman is unhappily married to his Crime Syndicate teammate Superwoman. Their alter-egos are the Antimatter Earth's alternate Clark Kent and Lois Lane. In the early 2000s, the two had a child together. However, Superwoman maintains a periodic affair with another member of the Crime Syndicate, Owlman, much to Ultraman's frustration. Ultraman would usually fire his eyebeams in between Owlman and Superwoman as a warning when he sees Owlman flirting with Superwoman, although undisclosed photographic blackmail material in Owlman's possession stops Ultraman actually doing anything permanent to him.

Antimatter Clark Kent has been shown to have returned to the Antimatter Earth and again leads the antimatter Crime Syndicate. In an attempt to repair their Earth after the destruction done by the Weaponers of Qward (which resulted as part of the follow-up to their appearance in the first issue of JLA/Avengers), The Syndicate was shown to have been kidnapping people from all 52 matter universes as shown in the Trinity series. In Trinity #13; antimatter Ultraman, Owlman and Superwoman were banished to an alternate subdimension by Superman after Superman defeated Ultraman in a fight.

In Superman Beyond, the antimatter Ultraman was recruited on a journey to the DC Universe's version of Limbo, along with several other alternate universe Supermen, briefly combining- albeit against his will- with Superman to activate a massive robotic version of themselves to defeat Mandrakk, the dark Monitor, their raw power combining in the robot along with Superman's moral strength and Ultraman's pragmatic ruthlessness. In Superman Beyond #2, he was shown to have been converted into a vampiric being. In the seventh issue of Final Crisis, the antimatter Ultraman was apparently slain by the united Supermen alongside his new master, Mandrakk.

Post Crisis Earth-3 Ultraman[edit]

In 52 Week 52, a new version of Earth-Three was shown as one universe amongst the Post-Crisis DC Multiverse. In the depiction was the Crime Society of America, whose members were twisted versions of the original Justice Society of America, including Superman. The names of the characters and the team are not mentioned in the two panels in which they appear, but this Post-Crisis Earth-3 Ultraman was originally shown to be aged, as he was a counterpart of the aged Superman of Post-Crisis Earth-2. When the Earth-3 Ultraman is shown in later appearances of the Countdown series, he is no longer aged but young. The Earth-3 team is the Crime Society of America.

The Society make their first solo appearance in Countdown Presents The Search for Ray Palmer: Crime Society #1 (Origin of Post Crisis Earth-3 Owlmen, Talons, Jokester, who is a heroic Joker) written by Sean McKeever and illustrated by Jamal Igle.[5][6][7] In subsequent appearances, the Crime Society are agents of Monarch's Multiversal army. Presently the Post-Crisis Earth-3 Ultraman is missing and presumed dead along with most of the major members of the Post-Crisis Earth-3 Crime Society who joined the Monarch Army.

The New 52[edit]

In The New 52 (a reboot of the DC Comics universe), Ultraman is one of the members of the Crime Syndicate to arrive from Earth-Three at the conclusion of the "Trinity War" event.[8]

This version of Ultraman is Kal-Il, who comes from a version of Krypton whose people are selfish and gain power when exposed to kryptonite. Just before this Krypton was destroyed, Kal-Il's parents Jor-Il and Lara sent him to Earth-3 to one day seek vengeance against the being that destroyed Krypton, teaching him to become the strongest. Upon his arrival on Earth-3, the young Kal-Il coerced Jonathan and Martha Kent to adopt him, only to murder them years later once he had no further need of them. He went on to found the Crime Syndicate and take over the world. Ultraman values strength and selfishness, and hates weakness and altruism. After Earth-3 was devastated by the same being that destroyed Krypton, Ultraman led the Crime Syndicate to the main DC Earth to conquer it.[9]

This version of Ultraman is empowered by Kryptonite (and even snorts it like a drug) and is hurt by sunlight. He was responsible for murdering Monocle when he claimed that the Crime Syndicate was the Justice League in disguise. Ultraman moved the moon in front of the sun to eclipse the Crime Syndicate's section of Earth.[10]

It is interesting to note that the "new 52" version of Ultraman is shown as incredibly strong (fights Black Adam and swiftly defeats him), and is fairly impervious to "Shazam magic," which, in pre-new 52 continuity, is one of mainstream Superman's weaknesses.[11] In the final battle, Ultraman engages Alexander Luthor but is beaten, Alexander leaves him to steal Deathstroke's powers. Ultraman later returns and attempts to attack Lex Luthor after he killed Alexander Luthor only to be weakened after Sinestro and Black Adam move the moon. Lex Luthor opts not to kill Ultraman and kills Atomica instead. In the aftermath of the battle, Ultraman and Superwoman are in the custody of the authorities. He is seen sobbing in his cell.[12]

Powers and Abilities[edit]

Ultraman possesses, essentially, the same Kryptonian super powers as Superman albeit most portrayals show him gaining powers from exposure to kryptonite even snorting it like a drug in the New 52 series; contrasting Superman who is empowered by sunlight. Ultraman is also weakened by sunlight in the New 52 comics as his parents state that direct sunlight breaks down the kryptonite radiation in the cells of Earth-Three Kryptonians stripping them of their powers. A few portrayals have shown Ultraman being empowered by "anti-kryptonite" but not weakened by kryptonite from the mainstream universe.

In Justice League: Crisis on two earths Ultraman is weakened by blue kryptonite that came from his earth and alternate earths though it is never explicitly stated what produces his abilities. Smallville's Ultraman was shown to be vulnerable to kryptonite (from both earth's) and strengthened by sunlight like Earth-One Superman. The Anti-Matter Ultraman was a human empowered by anti-kryptonite (which gave him the same powers as Superman) and required it on his person to maintain his powers while kryptonite did not affect him.

There is a difference in the names of some of his abilities (super strength is called Ultra strength, super vision is called Ultra vision, super speed is called Ultra speed, super hearing is called Ultra hearing, etc.). His other powers are flight, heat vision (which he often uses to intimidate or murder people), x-ray vision, and invulnerability.

However, Superman has noted during a fight with Ultraman that Ultraman constantly murdering his opponents in their first confrontations actually made him weaker than Superman, as he simply eliminated his enemies upon encountering them as they were still getting used to their powers, while Superman fought them as they continued to get stronger and thus had to improve himself, putting Ultraman at a disadvantage when facing Superman's ability to think tactically. Also the first comic book portrayal showed Ultraman being defeated when exposed too much to kryptonite as he gained too much power for his body to handle; this is similar to how Superman was defeated in All-Star Superman by flying too close to the sun and gaining more power than his body could handle.

In other media[edit]

Film[edit]

  • Ultraman appears in the DC animated film Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths voiced by Brian Bloom. Ultraman is the "Boss of Bosses" in the Crime Syndicate. This version of Ultraman speaks and behaves in a manner similar to a stereotypical Italian-American mobster, and is weakened by blue kryptonite, instead of green (Ultraman destroyed the last piece of blue kryptonite on his Earth, but their Lex Luthor has been visiting other Earths). Ultraman is known to be ruthless, and has personally targeted the Presidential family, by slapping The President, murdering the First Lady (assassinated in her limo, via Heat-Vision), and threatening the First Daughter Rose. In the end, Ultraman was arrested by the Marines led by President Wilson, along with the rest of the remaining Crime Syndicate bosses, Power Ring and Superwoman.

Television[edit]

  • Tom Welling (who also plays Clark Kent) portrays Ultraman in the Smallville tenth season episode, "Luthor". The episode depicts a parallel universe (dubbed Earth-Two) in which the infant Kal-El was discovered by Lionel Luthor, instead of Jonathan and Martha Kent and named Clark Luthor. Instead of "The Blur" or Superman, Clark is known as Ultraman and is seen wearing a T-shirt with the Ultraman symbol. Ultraman markings can also be seen on building walls - similar to the Superman shield Clark Kent leaves in Earth-One. He also bears a large L-shaped scar on his right arm, which he claims was given to him by Lex Luthor with gold Kryptonite. Clark Luthor murdered that universe's Lex Luthor with his adoptive father's approval. He intended to live in Clark Kent's universe, which became possible when Clark Kent unwittingly activated his universe's version of a device that allowed interreality travel. Clark Luthor approved of Clark Kent universe's Lex for killing Lionel. In the episode "Kent", Clark Luthor again makes his way to Earth and sends Clark Kent to Earth-Two. At the end of the episode, Clark Kent makes his way back to Earth-One, saves Tess Mercer from being killed by Clark Luthor and confronts and lures him back to the Fortress of Solitude. Given Kent's speech to Luthor, followed by Luthor being taken to Earth-Two's Fortress, followed by Earth-Two's Jor-El saying, "Welcome home, my son", it implies the possibility of redemption for Clark Luthor in his own reality.

Trivia[edit]

See also[edit]

  • JLA (1999) "Earth 2" Trade paperback/Graphic Novel. By Grant Morrison
  • JLA (2004) "Syndicate Rules" (JLA #107-114). By Kurt Busiek
  • Final Crisis "Superman: Beyond" (Beyond The Bleed, 2009). By Grant Morrison
  • List of Superman enemies

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Greenberger, Robert (2008). "Crime Syndicate". In Dougall, Alastair. The DC Comics Encyclopedia. New York: Dorling Kindersley. p. 89. ISBN 0-7566-4119-5. OCLC 213309017. 
  2. ^ Brady, Matt (2007-05-08). "THE 52 EXIT INTERVIEWS: GRANT MORRISON". Newsarama. 
  3. ^ DC Comics Presents Annual #1 (1981).
  4. ^ Animal Man #24 (June 1990)
  5. ^ Brady, Matt (2007-05-08). "The 52 Exit Interviews: Grant Morrison". Newsarama. Retrieved 2007-05-12. 
  6. ^ CCI: DC New World Order - Comic Book Resources ..there's a CSA in both the anti-matter universe and on Earth-3 (the former is Grant Morrison's rendition, the latter is a "Golden Age" "Crime Society")
  7. ^ A QUICK CHECK-IN WITH JAMAL IGLE - NEWSARAMA .."I just finished the Crime Society one-shot,"Jamal Igle
  8. ^ Justice League Vol. 2 #23
  9. ^ Geoff Johns (w), Ivan Reis, Joe Prado (a). Justice League 24 (October 2013), DC Comics
  10. ^ Geoff Johns (w), David Finch, Richard Friend (a). Forever Evil 1 (September 2013), DC Comics
  11. ^ Forever Evil Vol. 1 #3
  12. ^ Forever Evil #7

External links[edit]