|First Appearance:||Action Comics #1 (June, 1938)|
|Created by:|| Dennis O'Neil|
|Affiliations:|| Black Lantern Corps|
Former Justice Society of America
Legion of Super-Heroes
|Abilities:|| Independent Flight|
Rocketed from the dying planet Krypton by his scientist father, Jor-L, baby Kal-L landed in Smallville, where he was found and raised by John and Mary Kent. Instilled with their moral values, and finding himself possessed of powers beyond those of regular men, Clark Kent took on the identity of Superman, the greatest hero of Earth-Two.
Superman was born Kal-L of the planet Krypton. His father was the esteemed scientist, Jor-L, and his mother was a librarian named, Lora. While Kal-L was still a toddler, his father discovered that the planet Krypton teetered on the brink of absolute destruction. Realizing that there was not enough time to save everyone on the planet, he deposited his son inside of a specially designed rocket ship and launched him into outer space. As Kal-L's rocket broke the atmosphere, the planet Krypton exploded. After traveling through space for an indeterminate amount of time, his rocket eventually crash-landed in a small farming community named Smallville, on the planet Earth. Though at first placed in an orphanage, Kal-l was soon adapted by the Kents and given the name Clark. Over time he discovered his many powers. Mary (Ma) Kent later died and when John (Pa) Kent was on his death bed, he made Clark promise to use his powers for the good of mankind. Taking the advice to heart, Clark created the identity of Superman.
Clark earned himself a job as a reporter at the Daily Star after turning in a story about Superman's first public act. Unlike the later portrayals of the character, Superman was NOT originally considered a hero and was in fact regarded as a vigilante working outside and at times against the established legal authorities. Many of the earliest public actions showed Kal-L engaging in aggressive actions against wife beaters, slum lords and various other social criminals which included corrupt politicians and law officials. As time progressed, Kal-L began to fight against larger more direct and obvious criminal organizations which gathered his public identity as a hero most notably against the Earth-Two Alexei Luthor, who unlike the Earth-One Lex Luthor still had his red hair and a far more bloodthirsty nature. As Clark Kent, he reported on his own costumed adventures and was eventually partnered with Lois Lane, a courageous female reporter who had a crush on Superman but didn't think much of the timid Clark Kent. Lane and Kent would usually butt heads with each other on getting the most adventurous stories mostly on Superman. But the two eventually became respectful of each other. Lane would eventually start to suspect that Kent and Superman were one and the same based on Kent's continual missing absences whenever Superman would appear and Kent's extensive detailed reports before Lane could phone in the story despite being at the scene of the adventure. Lane would eventually confirm her suspicions resulting her marrying Kent in the 1950s. These stories would be later printed as the "Adventures of Mr. and Mrs. Superman" in the DC "Superman Family" series.
Powers and Weaknesses
Kal-L was originally unaware of his powers and his own nature as a Kryptonian, thinking of himself as an advanced human of Earth. Kal-L's superpowers were a result of his Kryptonian heritage, whereby the Kryptonians native to his original universe had known superhuman abilities and powers. As the character progressed, so did his power levels. For example, Kal-L was able to progress to actual flight where originally he could only leap about an eighth of a mile. His strength level increased to extensive power levels where he started out merely lifting cars and was later shown in 1940s adventures as being able to lift and throw army tanks. His first clue to his alien nature was discovered when he battled Dan Rivers aka "Swami Riva". The green stone Riva wore in his turban was actually Kryptonite. Superman defeated Riva and then went on a voyage of discovery to find out the stone's origins. Superman was able to time travel under his own power to watch his father Jor-L and the events that led to him being sent to Earth.
After his return to current time, Kal-L continued to battle an ever increasing amount of advanced villians including the Puzzler, The Archer, Ultra-Humanite, Toyman, Prankster, Funny Face, and many more. During one battle with Funny Face, Superman clashed with an unliving duplicate of his psuedo-criminal identity of the Flying Tiger (possessing powers and weaknesses comparable to his original, not unlike Bizarro).
But while most of these villains were usually operating on scientific based equipment, Superman found his most effective villian in the form of the short mostly purple suited mystical imp, Mister Mxyztplk. Mister Mxyztplk exclusively used magic to completely frustrate Kal-L time and time again which were used to interfere with Kal-L's abilities. But because most of Mister Mxyztplk's capers were done more to frustrate and annoy than cause harm and physical death, many of Mister Mxyztplk's pranks had no lasting detrimental effects on Kal-L or the inhabitants of the third dimension unlike the Earth-One version Mister Mxyzptlk who is shown to be far more dangerous even occasionally killing Earth-One inhabitants as part of his experimentations. Kal-L was a formidable presence and helped to establish the Justice Society of America. Due to various personal adventures, Superman was only able to join the Justice Society as an honorary member. He would later join the reformed team under the World War II incarnation called the All-Star Squadron.
After establishing himself as one of the premiere heroes of Earth-Two, Kent later started to focus on his personal life, advancing his own reporter career to become the Lead Investigative Reporter for the Daily Star. But always mindful of his dual persona, Kent kept his ambitions in check and Kent largely remained a retiring persona. This would change in the early 1950s when two of Kal-L's enemies would fight to see which nature was more powerful the advanced science of Colonel Tomorrow or the ancient mystical powers of the Wizard. After several defeats at the hands of the "Man of Tomorrow" Colonel Tomorrow challenged the boasted powers of the Wizard to prove its effectiveness over his own super-science against their greatest threat, Superman.
To prove his superior powers, the Wizard cast a spell to rid the world of Superman. The spell misfired and made Clark merely repress his superhero identity. Freed of his need to repress his more aggressive and assertive persona, Kent acted out his nature but without his costume and his flight abilities. Kent continued to battle evil as an open crusading reporter for some time even directly engaging in hand to hand battles against criminals which of course he would routinely win due to his superhuman strength and bullet proof skin density. Also freed of his self-restrictions, Kent once again expressed his affections for Lois. Without his clumsy acts and disappearing devices, he eventually won the heart of Lois Lane as Kent. The two married, but Lois discovered Clark's secret while on their honeymoon trying to cut Clark's hair which broke the scissors Lane used. Torn between her love of Kent and the world's need for its most noted hero, Lane-Kent tracked down the Wizard and made him reverse the spell. Lois then tried to forsake their marriage but Kent wouldn't let her. Kent decided to confirm their marriage in both Earth and Kryptonian ceremonies. Later, George Taylor retired as editor-in-chief of the Daily Star and Clark replaced him in that role and promoted Lane as Lead Investigative Reporter though he would usually still follow her in many of her dangerous investigations as Superman.
By the 1960s it was clear that Kent was not immortal and began showing his age. It was during this time that his cousin Kara had arrived on Earth-Two after her decades long journey (unlike her Earth-One counterpart, Kara's rocket was damaged). Kal-L had mostly retired from heroic activity, focusing on his personal life of editor of the Daily Star, leaving the costumed heroic actions to the younger generation including his cousin Kara who had adopted the heroic name of Power Girl. Though Kal-L still occasionally engaged in his Superman identity, even formally joining the reformed Justice Society as an active member, though only part-time preferring to remain in "semi-retirement". It was during this time that Kal-L eventually met his Earth-One counterpart, Kal-El. Though Kal-L and the Earth-One Superman were initially shown to be basically an even match to each other in their first meet up, it was clearly shown in all subsequent meetings that the Earth-One Superman was clearly far more powerful than the aging Kal-L. Despite his age and weakened powers, Kal-L was still one of the most powerful beings ever and continued to fight against evil whenever possible.
Erasure during The Crisis on Infinite Earths
Despite mostly being retired from heroic actions, Kal-L was one of the first heroes recruited by Harbringer and the Monitor to fight back the assault on all populated universes of the Multiverse. Kal-L was pivotal among many of the battles to defeat the Anti-Monitor who was eliminating positive matter realities in order to increase the Anti-Monitor's power levels to allow him to recreate the resulting universe in his own dark image. Kal-L and many heroes from different universes of the DC multiverse engaged in several battles against the Anti-Monitor but was not able to directly stop him directly despite massive losses of heroes as well as many of the populated universes. Kal-L and the others directly assaulted the Anti-Monitor at the "Dawn of Time" which caused the various universes to collaspe into one singular universe that was able to withstand the Anti-Monitor's assault. Unfortunately, the singular universe erased the history of the universe that Kal-L came from and most of the people he knew outside of the heroic community, including his wife Lois Lane-Kent. Near insane with grief at the loss of his wife and entire history and all the people he knew, Kal-L was restrained by the far more powerful Earth-One Superman until he was able to recollect himself
Kal-L was able to gather himself together despite his intense sense of loss and along with the equally alone Superboy-Prime directly attacked and killed the Anti-Monitor. The resulting energy release resulting from the Anti-Monitor's physical death threatened to overcome and kill Kal-L and Superboy-Prime. Alexander Luthor, Jr. of Earth-Three appeared offering to transport them out of the resulting shock wave but still grieving Kal-L decided to end his life rather than transport into the pocket dimension Alex showed Kal-L until Lois Kent emerged from that locale.
Alexander Luthor, Jr. of Earth-Three had saved Lois Kent from the universe reset by taking her from the dying Multiverse before the battle at the "Dawn at Time" thus saving her from the reset. Luthor then took himself, Kal-L, Lois Kent and Superboy-Prime into the pocket dimension saving them from the destruction of the Anti-Monitor's exploding energies and an universe that mostly no longer remembered them.
Kal-L continued to watch the new Earth from the pocket "Paradise" dimension. He began to be disturbed by what he saw as the growing darkness that was apparently affecting the Earth, especially in the indecisiveness of his resulting counterpart. That darkness began to affect the Paradise dimension and as a result, Lois began to get deathly ill despite the pocket dimension being insulated from the outside reality.
Deciding that the resulting Earth had been corrupted, Kal-L had decided along with Alexander Luthor Jr. and Superboy Prime to reformat the existing universe based on them as the primary template rather than the current incarnations of the heroes. Kal-L hoped that would reverse the effect on his dying wife Lois Lane Kent even though that would kill the current wife of the current Superman though he thought of it as merely "folding the current incarnations into his template" though he did know that those who would be "folded" would cease to live.
Deciding that his greed was permissible to do against the corruption he saw in the current universe, Kal-L punched his way out of the pocket dimension and the quartet established their base of operation in a cave in Antarctica. Kal-L revealed himself to Power Girl as well as to the current incarnation of his best friend Batman in hopes to get them to agree to his plan to recreate the universe to his expectations. Both refused him after being shown the Earth-Two versions of their histories though Kara was more acceptant to Kal-L than the current Wayne who argued against Kal-L for losing his own version of the Batman Family and himself over the already dead of cancer Police Commissioner Bruce Wayne of Earth-Two.
Kal-L continued on his quest to bring back his version of history alongside Superboy-Prime and Alexander Luthor Jr. which culminated in the recreation of an exact duplicate of Pre-Crisis Earth-Two, though it was completely unpopulated. Seeing his goal achieved, Kal-L was overjoyed to see his old world back as the potential cure to his wife's pending death. Kal-L's joy turned to heartbreak when Lois died despite their return to Earth-Two. The current Kal-El heard Kal-L cry out in agony and came to Earth-Two to investigate. Kal-L lashed out at him, blaming Kal-El for "corrupting" Earth-Two thus killing Lois. Wonder Woman arrived on Earth-Two and restrained Kal-L. She and Kal-EL made him realize that reconstructing the universe would not bring about the changes that Kal-L had hoped as the recreated Earth-Two clearly showed.
Seeing that he was wrong and that the ambitions of recreating the universe would not bring about an improvement, Kal-L decided to correct his mistake. Alexander Luthor, Jr. and Superboy-Prime decided to continue to recreate the universe in order to achieve their goals despite the pleas from the current heroes and Kal-L to stop.
Seeing that Superboy-Prime and Alexander Luthor, Jr. were committed to reshaping the universe, Kal-L directly attacked them in hopes of preventing more deaths. Superboy-Prime had decided to directly assault the individual people he considered unworthy in the current universe most notably the current Superboy, Conner. The battle between the two Superboys ended with Prime killing the vastly underpowered Conner as Prime's power levels were shown to be literally infinite with his physical strength levels able to push planets out of orbit unaided, which was beyond Conner and Kal-L levels.
Nevertheless the two Supermen realized that Superboy-Prime was completely out of control and was openly killing people and not merely intent on just recreating the universe. Alongside many powerful heroes, Kal-L and Kal-El decided to attack Superboy-Prime headon to stop his murderous rampage. Deciding to push Superboy Prime through a red sun to depower his strength levels to a far more manageable level in hopes of snapping him out of his depression.
Seeing that Kal-L had turned away from their original plan to reshape the universe to fit their demands, Superboy Prime attacked Kal-L directly venting his full rage and frustration at his one time ally. Despite the effects of the red sun, Superboy-Prime was still vastly overpowered to Kal-L's own power levels. The attack was so vicious that Superboy-Prime smashed Kal-L's internal organs and skeletal structure, killing him.
But the time that Superboy-Prime dedicated to attacking Kal-L allowed Kal-El to recover and to drain down Superboy-Prime even further lower levels, thus knocking him out, whereby their combined attacks were able to stop Superboy-Prime. Kal-L died in Power Girl's arms after realizing his mistake and stating that he would never leave her even though she would not be able to see him. Kal-L was buried on the new Earth that he died protecting from Superboy-Prime, alongside Conner and his wife.
Kal-L was always one of the last members of his race, something he hoped he wouldn't share with his compatriots. When Steppenwolf erected Boom Towers across the world in order to invade it with his Parademons he established one in Metropolis.
In one of their battles, Terry Sloan used opal kryptonite on Superman causing him to become insane. Terry used this in order to distract Superman from his plans. As Superman attacked Wonder Woman, Terry continued and succeeded with his plans of destroying several places under Darkseid's Anti-Life Equation, despite Batman's intervention. The opal kryptonite self destructed as programmed by Terry.
During their final day, Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman attacked this tower in an effort to destroy them all in a chain reaction. Superman provided the distraction but was completely overwhelmed and unfocused by the horde of demons attacking his dead city. Before he could save Diana, his physiology was exploited and he appeared to have died from an enormous burst of solar energy.
The Hunger Dogs
Superman somehow survived however and was captured by Darkseid's forces and was brainwashed at some point during the five years after the war. At some point Kal-L took the alias Brutaal and began working with the Hunger Dogs under Steppenwolf.
As Brutaal, Kal fought the new Wonders and defeated them alongside the other Hunger Dogs. He would then spare the heroes for an unknown reason and would go to Steppenwolf's aid during the World Army's invasion of Dherain. The new Wonders would eventually return after being healed by Doctor Fate and would help evacuate the remaining World Army Soldiers. Kal would soon aid Steppenwolf in his fight with Green Lantern and ended up defeating him. Kal would then kill Steppenwolf and declare himself the master of Earth. Kal would then remove his costume and reveal that he is Superman and that he was loyal to Darkseid.
Superman continued his assault on the World Army's Arkham base, but soon came in to conflict with Doctor Fate who came to stop him. After a very brief battle Superman got the upper hand and managed to crack Fate's Helmet. Just as he was about to kill Fate, the Flash arrives and takes the beaten Fate back to the World Army's base. After defeating Fate, Superman continued to attack the base and managed to cause most of it to cave-in. Just as he prepares to enter the destroyed base, Flash steps in and tries to distract Superman, by forcing him to chase him. Superman eventually catches him and spares him saying that he could be useful to Darkseid. Superman eventually returns to Arkham with an unconscious Flash and tells Mister Terrific and Terry Sloan that Darkseid has need of them and then tells Bedlam to release the horde of Parademons to attack Earth.
Superman, after releasing the Parademon horde, takes Flash, Mister Terrific, and Sloan to Washington, D.C., where he takes the Washington Monument and throws it into the White House. Superman then declares that everyone should be thankful, for Darkseid has decided to make their Earth into the New Apokolips and he needs Sloan and Mr. Terrific's help to do it.
Superman later left Sloan and Terrific with Bedlam and continued with exterminating the remains of the World Army. Superman ended up in Moscow, where the remaining members of the World Army were be transported to safety by Sandman. The World Army's Wonder The Atom tried to hold off Superman, but was quickly defeated after Superman used his heat vision to remove Atom's right arm and used it to knock him. Even though he defeated Atom, Superman was unable to finish off the remaining World Army forces, who escaped through Sandman's portal.
After leaving Moscow, Superman met up with The Beguiler and discovered the Space Ark, which was the last hope for humanity to survive, while the remaining people on Earth are left to die. Beguiler offers to destroy the ship, but is stopped by Superman who decides to make an example. Superman then proceeds to break the ship open in the vacuum of space, killing all of the passengers inside. After killing all of the passengers, Bedlam contacts Superman and tells him that he discovered Sloan was hiding a Kryptonian. Superman would then return to the location where they were holding Sloan and attempts to interrogate him, but he was stopped by Bedlam who revealed that the Kryptonian's name is Val-Zod and he was held at the World Army's Arkham base. After seeing some footage of Val's escape, Superman notices Batman and mistakes him for Bruce. Superman then tells Bedlam to send some Parademons with him to Gotham believing that's where he will find Val.
Upon arriving in Gotham, Superman began to search for Val, whom he quickly found. Superman managed to over power Val and attempted to kill him, but was stopped by Red Tornado who revealed herself to be Lois.
Powers and Abilities
Kryptonian Physiology: Kal-L's powers were attributed to his Kryptonian physiology, and not the radiation of a yellow sun, as all Kryptonians native to this reality did have superpowers in their original red sun system. Hence, Kal-L's powers did not fluctuate under the presence or lack of yellow sun light. This was the primary rationale used for his lower superpower levels to his other dimensional counterparts and his aging.
- Super Hearing
- Super Vision
- Telescopic Vision
- X-Ray Vision
- Microscopic Vision
- Kal-L's sensory powers include telescopic vision, heat vision, microscopic vision, X-Ray vision as well as being able to hear sounds far too slight to pick up by most life forms.
- Independent Flight: Kal-L was not originally shown as being able to launch himself and fly in outer space unaided.
- Muscular Control: This ability would would allow Kal-L to engage in super breath and hold his breath for extreme periods of time. Several 1940s Superman stories extended this to giving the Superman of this era the ability to contort the muscles of his face to give him the ability to appear as completely different people which made Kent and Superman appear as totally different people. This power is not specifically attributed to Kal-L and is commonly understood to be another "Golden Age Superman".
- Though Kal-L's exact strength is unknown, it is at least in the multi-megaton range, as evident by being able to push ocean liners into drydock on his own power.
- Kal-L did have limits to his strength level - he could not, for example, move planetary bodies out of their orbit unaided.
- Magic: Kal-L had a higher than normal vulnerability to magical beings and devices. He was routinely stopped by the Adolf Hitler native to his dimension who possessed the Spear of Longistis commonly referred to as the Spear of Destiny which would overwhelm Kal-L's mind whenever during World War II Kal-L would attempt to invade Germany directly as did other intense magic based heroes such as Earth-Two Wonder Woman and Green Lantern (Alan Scott). This open weakness to magic would manifest in later events such when Kal-L was poisoned by the Stream of Ruthlessness and almost beat his cousin Power Girl to death.
- Kryptonite: Since the destruction of Krypton, its remains (rendered radioactive by the explosion) have been spreading throughout the universe as kryptonite, a crystalline substance whose specific radiation is lethal to Kryptonians native to this reality. In Kal-L's original Earth Two dimention there was only one type of Kryptonite, Green, and its effect is directly poisonous to Earth-Two Kryptonians. The long term effects of other races being in close or direct contact with Earth-Two dimension Kryptonite was unknown.
- Kryptonians: Unlike his dimensional counterparts Kal-L was not affected in battling the few Kryptonians native to his reality such as his cousin Power Girl when he was possessed by the Stream of Ruthlessness. Kal-L was shown to be far weaker in scope to so called "infinite powered" other dimensional Kryptonians such as Earth-One Superman, Ultraman of Earth-Three and Superboy-Prime, but Kal-L would never retreat from battle with them when he had to despite the large differences in their strength levels to Kal-L.
- Lead: Kal-L could not see through lead with his vision powers.
- Bio Energy: Kal-L's will eventually weaken without rest as his body-generated energies are not inexhaustible. Unlike his other dimensional counterparts, Kal-L was not powered by normal (yellow) sun radiation. Kal-L was not effected by red sunlight and maintained his superpowers in red sun systems unlike the Earth-One and current reality Superman who lose their powers in a red sun system.
In Other Media
- Coming Soon
- First appearance as Earth-Two Superman: Justice League of America (Vol 1) #73 (1969).
- Kal-L's S shield is six sided and has tails rather than round endings as drawn from the early 1940s version, though many artists (most notably starting with George Perez in Justice League of America Vol 1 #195-197) usually extended the upper top curve of the S downwards to touch the side of the shield along with the white hair at temple to distinguish Kal-L from the Earth-One Superman
- The famous slogan of "truth, justice and the American Way" was changed from the original radio show slogan which stated Superman fought for "truth, honesty and justice" to combat the anti-communism sentiment of the 1950s United States popular culture.