Superman wasn’t always the man we know and love today. In fact, he was pretty much the exact opposite of the man we know today when he first appeared in print in 1932.
Two Cleveland teens, Jerry Seigel and Joel Schuster, created their own fanzine – “Science Fiction: The Advance Guard of Future Civilization” – after their work was rejected by publishers. In the third issue, Seigel included his story “The Reign of the Superman” - a comic about an evil villain who disrupts society with his mental powers.
Seigel revised Superman the following year, establishing him as a hero instead of a villain. However, Seigel’s revision came before editor Whitney Ellsworth outlined a strict code of conduct for superheroes, disallowing them to commit murder. Seigel’s first hero version of Superman was much more aggressive than the man we know today.
After so many changes, Superman’s existence in print was full of anomalies. This presented difficulties for the writers who wanted to continue his legacy. In order to explain the gaps in his history, writers created two parallel dimensions – Earth-One and Earth-Two. On One, Superman was born Kal-El, son of Jor-El, before being adopted by Johnathan and Martha Kent. He eventually became a member of the Justice League. On Two, Superman was known as Kal-L, son of Jor-L, and adopted by John and Mary Kent. He served as a member of the Justice Society.
Throughout his 75 years in print, Superman has been drawn by a great many comic book artists, some of the best of which include Glenn Swan, Gary Frank, Max Fleischer, Alex Ross, and Joel Schuster. Superman has worn 25 variations of his famous “S” shirt, and appeared as five official versions of himself – on Earths One, Two, and Three, as Superman Prime, and in John Byrne’s “Man of Steel.”
Dedicated readers know that Superman has thwarted the evil efforts of plenty of bad guys, including Lex Luthor, Darkseid, Brainiac, Doomsday, and General Zod. They’ve also seen plenty of different versions of kryptonite and their varying effects. Green kryptonite, for example, deprives Superman of his powers and may even be lethal. Blue kryptonite proves deadly to bad guy Bizarro and white is deadly to plants.