Cover of Action Comics #242, July 1958.
Art by Curt Swan.
|First appearance||Superman vol.1 #46 (May 1947)|
|Created by||Jerry Siegel
|Alter ego||Kal-El/Clark Kent|
|Place of origin||Krypton|
|Team affiliations||The Daily Planet
Legion of Super-Heroes
|Notable aliases||Nightwing, Superboy|
|Abilities||Superhuman strength, speed, stamina, senses, intelligence, regeneration, and longevity; super breath, heat vision, x-ray vision, invulnerability and flight|
The Superman of Earth-One is the incarnation of Superman that existed during the Silver Age and Bronze Age publications of DC Comics. He is also known by the following names: Silver Age Superman and Pre-Crisis Superman.
In the mid-1950s, following the decline of superhero comics after World War II and the end of the Golden Age of comics, the editors at DC decided to revive some of their Golden Age superheroes with completely new origins and backstories. Starting with the Flash in Showcase #4 in 1956, new versions of DC's former heroes were gradually introduced as completely separate characters with no connection to previous incarnations. This concept eventually became canonized with the introduction of DC's multiverse in 1960s DC Comics.
With the introduction of DC's multiverse, it was retroactively declared that the version of Superman published between 1938 and the early 1950s lived on Earth-Two, while comics featuring Superman published since approximately the mid-1950s took place on Earth-One. This was confirmed by the introduction of the Earth-Two Superman as a distinct character in Justice League of America (volume 1) #73 (August 1969). However, since Superman was one of several DC characters continuously published throughout the 1950s, there isn't a clear dividing line between the Earth-One and Earth-Two versions of Superman. Several stories published before the mid-1950s took place on Earth-One, such as Superman (volume 1) #78 from September–October 1952, the first appearance of the adult Lana Lang in Superman comics. Also, any Superman stories published before the mid-1950s that featured or mentioned Superboy also took place exclusively on Earth-One, as the Earth-Two Superman, per the earliest Superman comics, never had a Superboy career. The Earth-One Superman's first appearance in comics was in Superman (volume 1) #46 (May 1947), the first time Superboy was referenced in a Superman story. The Earth-One Superman's first appearance (in a flash-forward) in a Superboy story was in Superboy (volume 1) #1 (March–April 1949).
This version of Superman remained in publication through 1986. After the 1985-86 miniseries Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Earth-One Superman was written out of continuity with the 1986 John Byrne miniseries The Man of Steel. However, the Earth-One Superman was given a send-off in the final, noncanonical-to-Earth-One "imaginary" story Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? in Superman (volume 1) #423 (September 1986) and Action Comics #583 (September 1986).
For details on the Earth-One Superman's origin and childhood/teenage years, see Superboy (Kal-El).
The Earth-One Superman's origin story was retold in various stories; the most prominent retellings were in Superman (volume 1) #146 (July 1961), Limited Collectors' Edition #C-31 (November–December 1974), and Action Comics #500 (October 1979).
As recounted in these retellings, Superman was born Kal-El on the planet Krypton. Upon learning of Krypton's imminent destruction, his father Jor-El and mother Lara sent Kal-El in an experimental rocket to Earth moments before the planet exploded.
Landing outside of the town of Smallville, Kal-El was found and adopted by an elderly farm couple, Jonathan and Martha Kent. The couple soon learned that their foster son, now named Clark Kent, possessed a vast range of super-powers. Shortly before Clark started school, the Kents sold their farm and moved into Smallville, where they opened a general store. After training in the mastery of his superpowers, Clark at age 8 began a superhero career as Superboy, Earth-One's first noteworthy superpowered superhero. During his childhood, Superboy first met Lana Lang and Pete Ross, and also his Kryptonian dog Krypto.
Superboy also first met in Smallville the boy who would become his main archenemy, the criminal genius Lex Luthor. Other foes Superboy encountered included the Kryptonite Kid, and various foes from his membership in the 30th century's superhero team, the Legion of Super-Heroes.
During the summer after Clark's high school graduation, both Jonathan and Martha Kent died. Clark subsequently decided to move to Metropolis to attend Metropolis University, from which he graduated with a degree in journalism. During his college career, Clark changed his superhero name from "Superboy" to "Superman." After graduating from college, Clark obtained employment as a reporter with The Daily Planet. Clark's boss was editor-in-chief Perry White, and his co-workers included Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen.
During his adult superhero career, Clark found various new challenges, such as the first of many battles against the supervillain android Brainiac. Lex Luthor, who plagued Superman as a youth in Smallville, would return repeatedly to face Superman as his primary adult foe.
After Superman reached adulthood, other superheroes soon debuted, including the hero who would become Superman's best friend in the superhero community, Batman. The two heroes would engage in regular team-ups over their careers (as shown in the title World's Finest Comics).
Another ally of Superman is his cousin Kara Zor-El, another survivor of Krypton's doom, who came to Earth and became Supergirl. Soon after Supergirl's arrival on Earth, Superman became a founding member of the Justice League of America, Earth-One's most prominent superhero team.
In 1971, Clark began working as the evening news anchor for WGBS-TV after his new boss Morgan Edge purchased the Daily Planet. Along with Edge, Clark soon gained as coworkers WGBS-TV sports anchor Steve Lombard and childhood friend Lana Lang, who became Clark's co-anchor.
As the first prominent superpowered superhero of Earth-One, Superboy met few other peers his own age outside of his trips to the 30th Century to serve as part of the Legion of Super-Heroes. Earth-One's main other superpowered superhero during Superboy's era was the teenaged Aquaman (who called himself "Aquaboy"). After Superman reached adulthood, other superheroes made their debuts, including Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, the Flash, and the Martian Manhunter. The above group of heroes plus Superman decided to form the superhero team the Justice League of America.
Besides Supergirl, other Kryptonians were revealed as having survived the explosion of Krypton. These included the denizens of the bottle city of Kandor, Superman's pet dog Krypto, and the prisoners in the Phantom Zone.
Powers and abilities
As an adult, Superman made prominent use of his Fortress of Solitude. An elaborate facility located in the Arctic, the Fortress traditionally could only be accessed with the use of a giant-sized key only Superman could lift.
Superman also made extensive use of Superman robots, robots that could pose as Superman (or Clark Kent) as needed, with a fraction of his abilities. However, the robots became largely disused by the early 1970s.
Post-Crisis use of Earth-One elements
Crisis on Infinite Earths
Along with the existence of his Earth-Two counterpart, Superman's Earth-One history was retroactively erased from continuity, after the conclusion of 1985-86 miniseries Crisis on Infinite Earths. The Post-Crisis Earth would be an entirely new continuity, but some aspects of the Earth-One version remained intact. However, Clark's career as Superboy, Supergirl, and Superman's tenure with the Legion of Super-Heroes were removed entirely from the new timeline. Writer John Byrne acknowledged that he intended to reintroduce several modified Silver Age aspects such as Superboy to the comics, but he was fired after two years due to "creative differences" with DC.
A year after the Infinite Crisis, a number of the Earth-One elements have been restored to the Post-Crisis Earth (dubbed "New Earth"). Although several Byrne aspects, such as his portrayal of Clark's football days and love interest in Lana, remain in continuity, the Kryptonian criminal Jax-Ur has been re-introduced into "Post-Infinite Crisis" canon in the Superman: Last Son story arc, and Clark is revealed to have been made an honorary member of the Legion of Super-Heroes during his late teens. According to Clark, he met Mon-El and wrongly assumed him to have been his long-lost brother from Krypton, based on their similar names, and Superman still has a Legion flight ring in his possession. He is shown to have been wearing glasses as far back as his adolescent Smallville years, and he has actively been saving lives in a low-profile. Although he had quite an adventurous career as a teenager, he did not wear a costume or was referred to as "Superboy" in his own time, but as revealed in Superman: Secret Origin, he used the name while traveling to the future as a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes.
It is revealed in Countdown to Final Crisis #34, Lex Luthor did spend some time in Smallville under the care of his Aunt Lena. He did befriend and interact with Clark, Lana, and Pete, who were a few years his junior. Unlike the Earth-One or Birthright versions, he did not burn his hair off in an accident he blamed Clark for, but he left after a few months, "under a cloud of suspicion". Instead, like Byrne showed, his hair receded over time until he was bald.
Superman: Earth One (graphic novel)
An original graphic novel written by J. Michael Straczynski and with art by Shane Davis. The story focuses on a young Superman's decisions to use his powers to help the world rather than use his powers for his own benefit. Due to the weekly series Trinity creating a new Earth One this may be part of the DC Multiverse, as J. Michael Straczynski said that it is not part of the main DCU.
In other media
- The 1980s TV series Superboy, featured John Haymes Newton (Season 1) and Gerard Christopher (Season 2-onwards) in the role of the college-aged Clark Kent/Superboy. Like the Earth-One Superboy, he was depicted as being a peer (but not a friend) of fellow student Lex Luthor, who blamed him for the loss of his hair after he rescued him from a laboratory accident.
- The 2000s CW Network alternate universe series Smallville focuses on a Clark Kent (played by Tom Welling) who does not fly or wear the suit during his adolescence or teenage years. However, the ever-thinning relationship with Lex (Michael Rosenbaum) is changed with the meteor shower. Clark arrived in having inadvertently caused Lex' disfiguring baldness and his supposed ability to recover quicker than normal.
- The Flash (volume 1) #123, September 1961
- Superman (volume 1) #146, July 1961
- Limited Collectors' Edition #C-31, November–December 1974
- Action Comics #500, October 1979
- Superboy (volume 1) #10, September–October 1950
- Superboy (volume 1) #86, January 1961
- Adventure Comics #210, March 1955
- Adventure Comics #271, April 1960
- Superboy (volume 1) #83, September 1960
- Adventure Comics #247, April 1958
- Superman (volume 1) #161, May 1963
- Superman: The Secret Years #4, May 1985
- Superman (volume 1) #133, November 1959
- Action Comics #242, July 1958
- Starting in World's Finest Comics #71, July 1954
- Action Comics #252, May 1959
- Justice League of America (volume 1) #9, February 1962
- Superman (volume 1) #233, January 1971
- Superman (volume 1) #264, June 1973
- Superman (volume 1) #317, November 1977
- Superboy (vol. 1) #171, January 1971
- Adventure Comics #283, April 1961
- Action Comics #241, June 1958
- World's Finest Comics #202, May 1971
- "DCU IN 2010: WELCOME TO EARTH ONE". DC Comics. Retrieved 9 October 2014.
- "AICN COMICS STM EXCLUSIVE Q&@ w JMS & GEOFF JOHNS on DC EARTH ONE!". Aint It Cool News. 7 December 2009. Retrieved 9 October 2014.
- Superman Through the Ages' entry on the Superman of Earth-One (Silver Age and Bronze Age)
- DarkMark's chronological index and summary of Earth-One Superman stories
- DC Comics Database entry on the Superman of Earth-One
- Mike's Amazing World of DC Comics' chronology of Earth-One Superman stories