Superman Comics History



[Last updated September 6, 2011]

Introduction

Here is an overview of Superman's comic book career, since writer Jerry Siegel (1914-1996) and artist Joe Shuster (1914-1992) invented him while still teenagers. In 1986, DC Comics revamped the Superman comics recreating Superman and his supporting cast of friends and enemies. This overview helps show how Superman's first 50 years of adventures have influenced his new adventures.

1914

  • On July 10, 1914 Joseph Shuster is born in Toronto, Canada. His family moves to Cleveland, Ohio when he is 10.
  • Jerome Siegel is born on October 17, 1914 in Cleveland.

1933

Jerry Siegel uses the name Superman in a fanzine story "The Reign of the Superman". The story's character was a villain, but Siegel quickly thinks of a Superman being a hero and with artist Joe Shuster does a story The Superman.

1934

Jerry Siegel revises the Superman concept, and with Shuster creates the story that would eventually appear in Action Comics #1.

1935

New Fun, the first comic book with all original content is published by Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson. His company would eventually be known as DC Comics. In October's issue #6, Siegel and Shuster's first professional work appears. Before selling Superman, they invented other characters like Slam Bradley and Doctor Occult.

Golden Age of Comics June 1938-1945

1938

  • Businessmen Harry Donenfeld and Jack Liebowitz buy out Major Wheeler-Nicholson. Liebowitz thinks of a new title, Action Comics, and calls a friend, M.C. Gaines at the McClure Syndicate, and Gaines sends over some material rejected for newspaper syndication. DC editor Vincent Sullivan picks up the Siegel and Shuster Superman story.
  • In March, after being unable to sell their Superman story for newspaper syndication, Siegel and Shuster sell the first Superman story for $10 per page, and all rights to their character Superman to DC Comics for $130. The sample Superman newspaper strips were rejected by United Features Syndicate, Esquire Features, and Bell Syndicate. Reportedly, in 1937 Wheeler-Nicholson had also rejected Superman.
  • Published on April 18, 1938 Action Comics #1 (June cover date) introduces Superman/Clark Kent and fellow reporter Lois Lane at the Daily Star newspaper, with a first run of 200,000 copies priced at 10 cents. It would be selling 500,000 copies monthly by issue #7. Superman's first editor was Vin Sullivan.
  • Action Comics #6 (Nov.) introduces Jimmy Olsen.
  • The sudden success of Superman had Shuster hiring art assistants, including Paul Cassidy, Leo Novak, and Wayne Boring to do inking and backgrounds. Boring would eventually be a prominent Superman artist.

1939

  • On January 16, the McClure Syndicate begins distributing a Superman newspaper comic strip, which lasts until 1966. The strip written by Siegel had the first use of the name Krypton, and Superman's parents being originally called Jor-L and Lora.
  • Following the success of Superman in Action Comics, Superman (Summer) #1 is published, starting as a quarterly, reprinting material from Action Comics #1-2. Superman is the first superhero to have his own title. Issue #1 had a new 2-page origin including the first use of the name Krypton in the comics. Also added to the reprinted story from Action Comics #1 were four new pages.
  • Action Comics #16 identifies Superman's home town as Metropolis.

1940

  • On February 12, the radio series officially debuts
  • Action Comics #23 has Superman's arch-nemesis criminal scientist Luthor with red hair.
  • Clark Kent's newspaper is now called the Daily Planet in Superman #4. It was the radio show that first changed the name of the newspaper to the Daily Planet, and called the editor Perry White.
  • Superman #7 introduces Perry White as Clark's newspaper editor.
  • Siegel and Shuster do a 2 page story for Look magazine called "How Superman Would End the War".

1941

  • All-Star Comics #7 includes Superman and Batman as honorary members of the Justice Society of America superhero group.
  • World's Best Comics #1 begins with Superman and Batman in separate stories. 96 pages for 15 cents. World's Best Comics becomes World's Finest Comics with issue #2 and lasted until 1986. Superman had appeared on the cover of New York World's Fair 1940 comic with Batman and Robin.
  • Superman #10 has a bald Luthor.

1942

Action Comics #51 introduces the villain the Prankster (Oswald Loomis).

1943

Action Comics #64 introduces the villain the Toyman (Winslow P. Schott) a former toymaker who uses toys as a motif in his crimes. By the 1970's Schott had reformed and a new Toyman (Jack Nimball) appeared until Schott killed Nimball and resumed being the Toyman (Superman #305).

1944

Superman #30 introduces the magical 5th Dimensional being Mr. Mxyzptlk (pronounced mix-yez-pitel-ick) who can only be made to leave by tricking him into saying or spelling his name backwards (kel-tipz-yex-im). Once Mr. Mxyzptlk is tricked into returning to his dimension of Zriff, he can't return for at least 90 days. In Superman #30, his name is spelled Mxyztplk. Mr. Mxyzptlk's pre-Crisis debut is now considered to be in Superman #131.

1945

  • Mort Weisinger becomes editor of the Superman titles.
  • The adventures of Superman as a boy in Smallville start with More Fun Comics #101's introduction of Superboy. Superboy had a laboratory and trophy room hidden in the Kent's basement, with a secret access tunnel he could use when becoming Superboy. The initial Superboy scripts were by Don Cameron. The first story said Kryptonians were not superpowered.

Post Golden Age 1946-1949

1946

The adventures of Superboy move from More Fun Comics to Adventure Comics in issue Adventure Comics #103.

1947

  • After DC Comics creates Superboy, Siegel and Shuster sue DC Comics. Siegel had been serving in the military during WWII while the Superboy comic was being planned. Siegel claimed Harry Donenfeld had earlier rejected a Superboy series, and Siegel and Shuster were getting declining amounts from their 10 year contract with DC Comics signed in 1938. They sued to regain rights for Superman asking for $5 million settlement. They received $100 thousand for Superboy, and DC Comics did not renew their contract. After being fired from DC Comics and trying a new character called Funnyman, Siegel and Shuster separated in 1949.
  • Superman and Batman appear in All-Star Comics #36 with the Justice Society.
  • In Superman #48 Superman first manages to time travel by flying at super-speed.

1948

Superman #53 tenth anniversary issue had "The Origin of Superman" presenting a more detailed origin of Superman including the cause of Krypton's destruction, with art by Wayne Boring. This story named Clark's adoptive parents as being John and Mary.

1949

  • Superboy #1 begins and lasts until 1979.
  • Although a mountain hideaway had been mentioned since 1942, it isn't till Superman #58 that the name Fortress of Solitude is used.
  • Superman #61 "Superman Returns to Krypton" introduces green kryptonite - the glowing radioactive remains of the planet Krypton and deadly to Superman, first mentioned in The Adventures of Superman radio show in 1945. If exposed to green kryptonite Superman will weaken and lose his powers. If exposed long enough he would die. Green kryptonite can be safely stored within a lead container, and is harmless to humans. Issue #61 is also when Superman first learns about his Kryptonian heritage.

Pre Silver Age 1950-August 1956

1950

  • Superboy #10 introduces Superboy's friend Lana Lang. In the Superboy adventures, Lana often acted like Lois would towards Superman. In 1965, she also acted as the costumed character Insect Queen (origin in Superboy #124).
  • Superman # 65. First time Superman encounters other Kryptonian survivors, in this case the villains Mala, U-Ban, and K120.

1951

Action Comics #158 (July) solidifies Superman's origin by including Superboy and naming Jonathan and Martha Kent.

1953

  • In Superman #76, Superman first teams up with his friend Batman. In 1954's World's Finest Comics #71 they begin working together.
  • Superman 3-D features art by Curt Swan. Swan's work on this comic and work on Superboy and Jimmy Olsen comics earned him the job of being the standard Superman penciler. Swan would remain the primary Superman artist until the 1986 revision.

1954

  • With the popularity of Jack Larson's Jimmy Olsen in "The Adventures of Superman" TV series, Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #1 is published with Curt Swan's art. The first issue introduced Jimmy's signal watch which Superman would respond to when hearing the distinctive zee - zee -zee.
  • Attacks on the content of comics, including Frederic Wertham's book Seduction of the Innocent lead to a U.S. Senate investigation. Responding to public pressure comic book publishers create the Comics Code Authority to set standards.

1955

Adventure Comics #210 introduces Suberboy's Kryptonian pet dog Krypto the Super-Dog. Krypto was originally Superman's pet on Krypton. Jor-El had launched Krypto in an experimental rocket. The rocket was believed lost after a collision with a meteor, but when Krypton exploded a few days later, the rocket was swept along with Superman's. Krypto's rocket reached Earth after Superman's. Krypto found Clark Kent and posed as Clark's dog Chip, while Clark was in Smallville.

Silver Age Sept, 1956-1969

1957

Lois Lane's adventures are tried in Showcase #9-10.

1958

  • Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #1 begins lasting until 1974. The series' principal artist was Kurt Schaffenberger, and introduced the concept of alternate reality "imaginary" stories.
  • In Superboy #68, Superboy's imperfect duplicate Bizarro appears.
  • In Action Comics #241 the concept of the Fortress of Solitude as a structure hidden within an arctic mountain is first used. The Fortress concept would develop into being a three-story structure accessed by a giant door in the mountain requiring the use of a huge golden key disguised as an aircraft marker. Within the Fortress Superman kept items like the Bottled City of Kandor, a Phantom Zone viewer and projector, trophy room, laboratory, communications center, a personal diary, robots to impersonate Superman, archives and memorial to Krypton.
  • Brainiac with the bottled Kryptonian city of Kandor that Brainiac had stolen before Krypton's death using a shrinking ray appear in Action Comics #242.
  • The Legion of Super-Heroes from the 30th century is introduced in Adventure Comics #247, when Superboy becomes a member.
  • Superman #123 has a full-length issue story trying out the idea of a Supergirl character, where Jimmy Olsen uses a magic talisman to wish for a Supergirl.

1959

  • Superman's young cousin Supergirl (Kara Zor-El), who had survived Krypton's death because her entire city of Argo City had been blown into space on a huge fragment, first meets Superman in Action Comics #252. Kara adopts the secret identity of Linda Lee and starts living at the Midvale Orphanage. Supergirl went on to eventually join the Legion of Super-Heroes, be adopted by Fred and Edna Danvers, and attend Stanhope College. "The Supergirl from Krypton" was written by Otto Binder with art by Al Plastino.
  • In Superman #127 the huge ape Titano is introduced.
  • After Superboy encountered it in 1958's Adventure Comics #252, in Superman #128 Superman experiences red kryptonite. Later (#139) the origin of red kryptonite as having been green kryptonite transformed when passing through a strange radioactive cosmic cloud is disclosed. Red kryptonite's effect is to cause Superman's body to temporarily transform after a warning tingling sensation. The effect usually lasts no more than 48 hours and once a change occurs, that type of transformation won't happen again.
  • In Superman #129 we learn how when Superman attended Metropolis University he met Lori Lemaris, a mermaid from Atlantis in a story by Bill Finger.
  • John Corben becomes Metallo when following a car accident, a professor creates a robot body for him powered by green kryptonite in Action Comics #252. In the 1970's following Corben's death, his brother Roger became known as Metallo after a criminal organization caused Roger to be injured and provided a robotic body.
  • In Action Comics #254 Luthor using a duplicator ray creates a Bizarro Superman. This imperfect double would eventually have a Bizarro-Lois as a companion and live on the cubed planet Htrae (Action Comics #263).
  • Jerry Siegel returns to write at DC Comics, and works with Mort Weisinger, working until the mid 1960's.

1960

  • An updated version of the 1940's Justice Society with Superman as a member is tried out in Brave & The Bold #28-30 called the Justice League of America. Being a success, Justice League of America #1 soon follows.
  • Superman Annual #1 appears reprinting stories.
  • Superman #141 "Superman's Return to Krypton" written by Jerry Siegel, has Superman seeing his Kryptonian parents and meeting Lyra Lerrol. The artist was Wayne Boring.
  • In Adventure Comics #271 "How Luthor met Superboy", Lex Luthor's first name and the origin of his hatred of Superman since their childhood is revealed.

1961

  • In The Flash #123's story "Flash of Two Worlds" DC Comics begins the multiverse concept by reintroducing the Golden Age version of The Flash (Jay Garrick) living on Earth-2 being met by the current Earth-1 version of the Flash (Barry Allen). Story by Gardner Fox, editor Julius Schwartz.
  • In Superboy #90 boyhood friend Pete Ross secretly learns Superboy is Clark Kent.
  • In Superman #149 the 'imaginary' story "The Death of Superman" appears.
  • In Adventure Comics #283 the ghostly dimension called the Phantom Zone is introduced where projected Kryptonian criminals live on waiting to escape.

1962

  • Superman and Jimmy Olsen appear as Flamebird and Nightwing in Kandor in Superman #158.
  • Supergirl begins her public career as a superhero in Action Comics #285.
  • In Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #31 Jimmy Olsen first becomes Elastic Lad after drinking a serum and temporarily gaining the ability to stretch his body.

1963

  • In Superman #161 the first telling about Ma and Pa Kent's death occurs.
  • In Superman #162 the 'imaginary' classic tale "The Amazing Story of Superman-Red and Superman-Blue".
  • Justice League of America #21 "Crisis on Earth-One" reintroduces the Justice Society of America starting the tradition of multiverse crossover adventures lasting until 1985's Crisis.
  • When the Superman character was up for copyright renewal, Siegel and Shuster again attempted to regain the rights with a lawsuit. The lawsuit eventually was finished in 1975 unsuccessfully.

1964

  • In Superman #167 "The Team of Luthor and Brainiac" we learn that although appearing as a green-skinned humanoid, Brainiac is really an android created by the ruling computers of the planet Colu. Art by Curt Swan and George Klein.
  • "Superman's Mission For President Kennedy" appears finally in Superman #170, after the presidential assasination.
  • DC Comics begins the 80 Page Giant format reprinting stories. #1 has Superman stories, and is also labelled as being an annual.

1966

  • Action Comics #340 introduces the villain Parasite (Maxwell Jensen) who gains the ability to drain a person's lifeforce energy after being exposed to radiation.
  • After a successful tryout in 1964's The Brave and the Bold #54 another popular DC Comics hero group appears in Teen Titans #1 which lasted until 1973. The group went through several changes after 1964.

Post Silver Age 1970-1979

1969

  • The Earth-2 version of Superman based upon the Golden Age's rendering is introduced in Justice League of America #73.
  • Supergirl leaves Action Comics after issue # 376 and movies to Adventure Comics. The Legion of Super-Heroes replaces her in Action Comics.

1970

  • The Newsboy Legion appear in Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #133 by Jack Kirby, and also includes Morgan Edge's first appearance. Kirby's "The Fourth World" concept featuring Orion and the New Gods battling Darkseid developed from this story in the comics The New Gods, The Forever People, and Mr. Miracle.
  • Julius Schwartz becomes the Superman editor lasting until 1986's change with Action Comics #419. Murray Boltinoff had served briefly as editor after Mort Weisinger's retirement.

1971

  • Superman receives his first major revamping in Superman #233 by writer Denny O'Neil, when Morgan Edge buys the Daily Planet and decides Clark Kent should become a television news reporter for WGBS, and a nuclear accident transforms all kryptonite on Earth into harmless iron.
  • O'Neil's revision of Superman continues in Superman #242 when Superman loses half his level of power following a battle with a sand doppleganger formed by a creature from another dimension. This depowering, however, is only temporary and writer O'Neil quits writing Superman in protest. [See the book Superman at 50 edited by Dennis Dooley & Gary Engle (1987) for more details.] In 1992's Superman Special #1, Walter Simonson's "The Sandman" acknowledges this 1971 storyline.

1972

  • Superman #249 introduces villain Terra-Man (Toby Manning) as a 19th century cowboy using alien technology and a winged horse called Nova.
  • Superman #257 includes a short story revealing that if Krypton hadn't been destroyed Superman would have become the leader of the Green Lantern Corps, a group of interstellar police created by the inhabitants of the planet Oa.
  • Supergirl gets her own comic, which lasts for two years. Then she moves to Superman Family.

1973

  • In Superman #264 Steve Lombard as WGBS' new sportscaster and foil to Clark Kent appears.
  • "The Origin of Superman" by assistant Superman editor E. Nelson Bridwell, art by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson is printed in the special magazine Amazing World of Superman.

1974

  • DC Comics begins a series reprinting important comics with a facsimile copy of Action Comics #1. This reprint series did Superman #1 in 1978.
  • Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen changes format and becomes The Superman Family with issue #164 lasting until #222 in 1982.
  • Lois Lane ends with issue # 137. Her comic merges with Supergirl and Jimmy Olsen to become Superman Family.

1976

  • Superman meets Marvel Comics' Spiderman in the one-shot tabloid Superman vs. The Amazing Spiderman written by Gerry Conway and art by Ross Andru and Dick Giordano. In the story, Superman and Spiderman work to stop Luthor's plan, assisted by Doc Octopus, to hijack a space station. How the Marvel and DC characters happen to coexist is never explained, and unimportant anyway.
  • The Earth-2 Supergirl named Power Girl is introduced in All Star Comics #58. The Earth-2 Kara Zor-el would join the Justice Society of America, and later another group, Infinity Inc - a group of children of Justice Society members. Power Girl adopted the secret identity of Karen Starr. Following 1985's Crisis, Power Girl's origin was revised since the Earth-2's Krypton's history was now invalid. Kara found she was really the grand daughter of Atlantis's sorceror Arion, who had sent her into the future with the false memories that made her believe she was Superman's cousin.
  • Jenette Kahn becomes DC Comics's publisher.

1978

  • DC Comics Presents #1 debuts featuring Superman teamed up with different DC Comics heroes lasting until 1986.
  • Action Comics #484 celebrates its 40th anniversary by telling the story of the marriage between Superman and Lois Lane - of Earth-2.
  • Artist Neal Adams and others help pressure DC Comics into crediting Siegel and Shuster in the comics, and providing an annuity, after publicity for the Superman movie.

1979

In Superman #338, Kandor is finally enlarged by Superman on a phase-world called Rokyn, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the comic.

Pre Modern Age 1980-1985

1980

Superboy becomes The Legion of Super-Heroes with issue #259. The same year he gets his own title The New Adventures of Superboy which lasts 54 issues, until 1984.

1981

Marvel Comics publishes another cross-over adventure written by Jim Shooter, with Superman and Spiderman stopping Doctor Doom and the Parasite in Marvel Treasury Edition #28.

1982

Daring New Adventures of Supergirl begins. It lasts 23 issues, until 1984.

1983

  • Action Comics #544 celebrating Superman's 45th anniversary has villains Lex Luthor and Brainiac redesigned. Luthor gets battle armor from the planet Lexor, using a concept by George Perez; Brainiac no longer a green-skinned android, using a concept by Ed Hannigan. This issue also has a text by Jerry Siegel and a "pin-up" by Joe Shuster.
  • In DC Comics Presents Annual #2, a time-travelling history professor, Kristin Wells, assists Superman by using 29th century science as Superwoman.

1985

DC Comics publishes the 12 part series Crisis on Infinite Earths (often refered to as just Crisis) to transform the DC Comic superhero multiverse into a single universe with one timeline. 'Post-Crisis', Superman and other heroes who fought the story's villain, the Anti-Monitor, remember the battle but no longer recall the existence of the Earth-2 Superman or any other characters from the now destroyed parallel Earths.
  • In issue #7 the Earth-1 Supergirl dies.
  • In #8 Barry Allen (The Flash) dies.
  • In #10, Superman and some of Earth's heroes go to the dawn of time. Later DC Comics executive editor Dick Giordano explains this event allows the origins of Superman and the other heroes to be rewritten.
  • In #11 the heroes who went to the dawn of time find the multiverse, including Earth-1, has been replaced by a single universe.
  • In #12 after finally defeating the Anti-Monitor, the Earth-2 Superman, his wife (Earth-2 Lois Lane), and the Earth-Prime Superboy (introduced in DC Comics Presents #87) go to live in another dimension from which they won't return.
  • DC Comics Presents #87 had two stories. First having how Superman of Earth-1 met the Earth-Prime Superboy, and that Superboy went to see Earth-1. The second story was the Earth-P Superboy's origin: When that universe's Krypton was being destroyed by its Sun going nova, Jor-El uses an experimental teleporter to send his son to Earth, where the baby is found by Jerry and Naomi Kent. The boy is named Clark, and shows no superpowers until one night when dressed in a Superboy costume for a costume party, his powers finally manifest - just as Superman is sent to Earth-P by members of the Superman Revenge Squad. Earth-P was supposedly in our universe where Superman is a character in comics published by DC Comics.

Crisis Age 1986-2011

1986

  • Following the landmark 1985 Crisis mini-series, DC Comics begins revamping different heroes. Artist/writer John Byrne is hired to revamp Superman. Byrne's vision of Superman combining the best of the Superman legend from comics and other media is introduced in a 6 part biweekly mini-series The Man of Steel, followed later by three 3 part mini-series that further flesh out Superman, his history, and the supporting cast of characters: The World of Krypton (1987-1988), The World of Smallville (1988), and The World of Metropolis (1988). This revision has produced new versions of villains such as making Lex Luthor into a corrupt billionaire industrialist.
  • The first Superman's (i.e. the version of Superman developed for almost 50 years) career ended with one of the best Superman stories ever: "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" (Superman #423, Action Comics #583) was an 'imaginary' story about Superman's last adventure where he confronts his deadliest foe. Written by Alan Moore and art by Curt Swan, Murphy Anderson, George Perez, and Kurt Schaffenberger this 2-part story was a wonderfully nostalgic excursion weaving together many elements of the Superman legend. Instead of a letter page, each issue had an article giving an overview of the title since 1938 by DC Comics' E. Nelson Bridwell.
  • In the final issue of DC Comics Presents #97, the pre-Crisis fates of the Phantom Zone, Mr. Mxyzptlk, Bizzaro and Htrae, and the remains of Argo City are told.
  • World's Finest Comics ends with issue #323.

1987

  • A new Superman series begins while the first Superman monthly is retitled as Adventures of Superman with #424.
  • Superman meets the Legion of Superheroes and the "pocket universe" Superboy in Superman #8. Superman visits the "pocket universe" in Action Comics #591.
  • Wayne Boring dies - his last Superman story being in Secret Origins #1 (Apr 1986).

1988

In Superman #21 the new Supergirl's (Matrix) origin appears - created from protomatter by a heroic Lex Luthor from a 'pocket universe', after the Superboy of that universe disappears. Supergirl first appears in Superman #16.

1989

In Action Comics Annual #2 Superman while in space encounters a Kryptonian artifact known as the Eradicator.

1990

  • In Adventures of Superman #466 Hank Henshaw first appears, who later becomes known as the Cyborg.
  • Clark Kent proposes to Lois Lane in Superman #50.

1991

  • In Action Comics #662, Clark tells Lois he is Superman.
  • Superman: Man of Steel #1 debuts.

1992

  • Joe Shuster dies at age 78 on July 30.
  • After stopping the monster Doomsday, Superman appears dead in Superman #75.

1993

  • Adventures of Superman #500 has the first appearances of Steel, Superboy, a new version of the Eradicator, and the Cyborg Superman.
  • The new Superboy is featured in Adventures of Superman #501 created as a clone by a secret government genetics project to replace the then still presumed dead Superman.
  • In Superman #78 the Cyborg Superman (Hank Henshaw) is featured, later responsible for destroying Coast City in Superman #80.
  • In Action Comics #689, Superman is shown being revived in the Fortress of Solitude. He uses a Kryptonian battle suit to return to Metropolis in Superman: Man of Steel #25, and following the defeat of the Cyborg makes his public return as Superman in Metropolis in Adventures of Superman #505.
  • Superboy #1 debuts as a monthly.

1994

DC Comics publishes the Zero Hour mini-series. Designed to further smooth out timeline inconsistencies caused by stories published, especially about events in the 30th century about the Legion of Superheroes, Zero Hour concluded in issue #0 with an updated timeline of events in the DC Comics superhero universe. Although affecting the history of some superheroes, Zero Hour didn't significantly alter Superman's history since the 1986 reboot.

1995

  • Superman: The Man of Tomorrow debuts as a quarterly, allowing for a new Superman comic to be published every week.
  • Superman appears in the DC Comics and Dark Horse Comics mini-series Superman vs. Aliens. Superman saves a girl named Kara on a dying asteroid city called Argo City, from attacks by aliens.
  • Starting in December, DC Comics and Marvel Comics co-publish the mini-series DC vs. Marvel. This project includes a series of #1 issues published as Amalgam Comics in 1996. One of the Amalgam Comics is Super Soldier # 1 combining Superman with Marvel Comics' Captain America.

1996

  • On January 28, 1996, Jerry Siegel dies at age 81.
  • In Action Comics #720 Lois Lane breaks off her engagement with Clark Kent.
  • On June 16, 1996, Curt Swan dies at age 76.
  • Superman is a central character in the Elseworld's 4-part mini-series Kingdom Come written by Mark Waid, art by Alex Ross. In an alternate future, Wonder Woman persuades a self-exiled Superman to lead a group of heroes against a younger violent generation of superhumans.
  • Supergirl #1 debuts as a monthly, after Supergirl had an earlier 1994 four part mini-series and appearing in Showcase.
  • Superman Adventures #1 debuts as a monthly tie-in with the WB Network's cartoon show Superman.
  • Superman loses his powers when the Sun goes out in the Final Night 4-part mini-series.
  • After becoming engaged again to Lois in Superman #118, Clark and Lois are married in the special one-shot Superman: The Wedding Album featuring numerous artists and writers.

1997

  • Superman joins Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Aquaman, Green Lantern and Martian Manhunter to form the JLA (Justice League America).
  • Superman is again involved in a DC vs Marvel cross-over, parts 1 & 4 of All Access.
  • Superman regains his powers in Superman - The Man of Steel #64, after losing them in the 1996 Final Night mini-series.
  • Superman's powers change dramatically, making him an energy-based being. A new blue and white containment suit was made for him to be able to control the new powers. Officially announced in the landmark issue Superman #123.

1998

  • Mayor Berkowitz is assassinated. Lex Luthor and the Contessa have a child called Lena.
  • Superman is split into 2 seperate beings: Superman Red and Superman Blue thanks to the teaming-up of the Cyborg and Toyman in the special Superman Red/Superman Blue #1.
  • Superman Red & Superman Blue and various other DC heroes battle to protect earth from the Millennium Giants. By expelling all their energies, the two Supermen save the day.
  • In a 60th Anniversary special Superman Forever #1, Superman is returned to his classic blue, red and yellow costume and his traditional powers.
  • The Daily Planet is bought out by Lex Luthor who immediately shuts down the Newspaper leaving Clark without a job. Lois & Jimmy (along with other Daily Planet staff) are hired by Lex's new News Network.... LexCom.

1999

  • After having some precognitive dreams of disasters, Superman decides to leave behind his life as Clark Kent and become Superman 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Superman builds an army of Superman Robots to protect the earth from itself, setting himself up as King of the World. Dominus is discovered to be behind Superman's dellusions, and is sent into the Phantom Zone by Superman, who goes about trying to restore his reputation and the world's faith in him.

2000

  • Lex Luthor mysteriously sells back the Daily Planet, and the great Metropolitan Newspaper is up and running with Clark, Lois, Jimmy and Perry back on board. Clark takes on the job of Foreign Correspondent.
  • On New Year's Eve, a future version of Brainiac (Brainiac 13) materializes and taps into earth's power, upgrading Metropolis into a futuristic city. Only Superman's use of Kryptonian technology stops Brainiac 13, but Lex Luthor sacrifices his daughter Lena to gain control of the new hi-tech Metropolis.
  • Superman rebuilds the Fortress of Solitude within a Tesseract with Steel's help. Lois begins acting very strange, rebelling against Clark. Finally Superman discovers that it was actually the Parasite masquerading as Lois.
  • Superman becomes critically ill due to nanobot technology infecting him internally with kryptonite. He is saved by Steel, Supergirl, Superboy and the Atom who conduct a microscopic rescue.
  • Superman finds himself in a strange alternate reality where he is regarded as the world's worst Super-villain. It isn't until Mxyzptlk reveals that he stupidly gave the Joker his powers that Superman realizes that the Joker has altered reality to fit his own twisted mind, and together with Steel, Lois and Batman, things are finally returned to normal.

2001

  • Lex Luthor becomes the President of the U.S.A.
  • John Henry Irons and Professor Hamilton devise a way for Superman (and Lois) to travel through the Phantom Zone to Krypton, where Kal-El meets his parents, Jor-El and Lara, and his pet dog Krypto. After some highly action packed adventure, Superman and Lois return to Earth, with Krypto close behind.
  • Superman is badly hurt and spooked by a super-powerful man calling himself General Zod, however their ongoing battle is interrupted when Earth is attacked by the galactic power known as Imperiex. An enormous war ensues, with Earth allied with Apokolips and other previous enemies in a joint effort to stop Imperiex from destroying the entire universe. However their defeat of Imperiex results in the equally dangerous return of Brainiac 13... but ultimately he too is defeated. The death toll from the war is enormous.

2002

  • Superman begins seeing a psychiatrist... Dr Claire Foster.
  • Clark publishes an article about Lex Luthor's involvement in the Imperiex War. Clark is fired by Perry White (who then secretly hires him to work undercover to dig up dirt on Lex).
  • Lex discovers Superman is really Clark Kent! However his memory is wiped clear of this knowledge when Manchester Black (who also knows the secret) starts attacking everyone Clark Kent has ever known.

2003

  • Lana Lang goes missing in Suicide Slum. After much trouble Clark Kent finally saves both himself and Lana thanks to some help from a young girl called Traci Thirteen.
  • Superman battles Darkseid to reclaim the soul of John Henry Irons.
  • Superman discovers Hope, one of Lex Luthor's personal bodyguards, tortured and held prisoner on a sub-level of LexCorp Towers. Clark Kent returns to the Daily Planet with a front page article all about Luthor's involvement in the scandal.
  • A new Supergirl called Cir-El arrives in Metropolis claiming to be Superman and Lois' future daughter. Created by the Futuresmiths, Cir-El is revealed not to be Superman's daughter when he travels into the future with a future version of himself.

2004

  • At first thinking he is Kal-El on Krypton, Superman soon realizes that he's actually in the Bottled City of Kandor, where somehow 100 years have passed since his last visit. Civil unrest within the city leads to an all-out battle between Superman and Preus, a Kandorian policemen of sorts, who thinks Superman is an imposter sullying the name of the House of El.
  • Clark Kent is demoted from his job at the Daily Planet due to his expose on President Luthor, and left to work in the Shack, the lowest position a reporter can have.
  • Gog comes to town looking to destroy Superman... and nearly succeeds. Left badly injured, and with Lois on assignment in Umec, Superman recovers under the care of Lana Lang (now separated from Pete Ross). Lana tells Clark she loves him and tries to convince him that he and Lois are not right for each other.
  • Lois is shot while on assignment in the war-torn nation of Umec. Superman rescues her, but has to sit idly by as doctors try to save her, vowing he'll never leave her side again.
  • A Kryptonite meteor crashes to Earth. Kara Zor-El, Superman's Kryptonian cousin is housed within a rocket embedded in the meteor. She takes up the mantle of Supergirl.

2004+

  • A year ahead of the events mentioned above, Superman finds himself in an awkward position. He confides in a priest called Father Leone. A million people have vanished, amongst them Lois, due to a weapon that he hunts down. Finding the weapon in the possession of a General Knox (who took it from a desparate dictator), Superman battles Equus, a creature loyal to Knox, only to have Equus turn on the weapon again, causing more people to vanish off the face of the earth. In possession of the weapon, Superman is confronted by the JLA about its use, and just barely trusted to tackle this problem on his own.

2005

  • Superman battles General Zod in Metropia (the reality set up in the Phantom Zone by the vanishing machine). Metropia is destroyed and everyone who vanished is returned to earth, including Lois and Superman.
  • Superman has a tough start to the year, fighting villains such as Repo Man, Preus and Gog... and finding a strange ally in Doomsday.
  • A brother and sister Parasite team show up to cause trouble, thanks to Superman latest nemesis, Ruin. Pete Ross is framed as being Ruin, but Superman later discovers that Ruin is actually Professor Emil Hamilton. Pete and Lana both now Superman's secret now, and after looking like getting divorced decide to work things out between them.
  • Superman is transformed by Eclipso and does battle with Captain Marvel. They defeat Eclipso who declares war on Shazam for revenge.
  • Superman builds a new Fortress of Solitude in the Amazon jungle.
  • Superman begins to lose his mind, as someone is forcing him to believe he is fighting major villains when in fact he's hurting his own friends. Wonder Woman discovers it is Max Lord mind-controlling Superman, and deciding she has no other way of freeing Superman, she kills Max Lord by breaking his neck.
  • With a crisis looming, OMAC units swarm into Metropolis and all over the world.

2006

  • Superman's South American Fortress of Solitude is destroyed in a battle with a new Blackrock.
  • The Infinite Crisis sees Superman first battling Superman from Earth-2, then teaming up with him to defeat the deranged Superboy-Prime to save Earth from Alexander Luthor's plan to remake Earth. Alexander Luthor is killed by Joker, while Superboy-Prime is jailed by the Guardians of Oa. Superman-2 apparently perishes in the battle.
  • Superman finds himself powerless after the Crisis, and leaves Supergirl to protect Metropolis in his absence, while he concentrates on being Clark Kent for the Daily Planet for the next 12 months.

2006+

  • One Year Later - Superman's powers re-emerge, as Luthor's plans to use the Kryptonian Sunstone and all the Kryptonite on Earth to reawaken a dormant Kryptonian battle ship beneath the Earth comes to fruition. Intergang send a horde of villains to defeat Superman, but his newly emerged, and somewhat enhanced powers, are too much for them.
  • Having defeated Luthor and now in possession of the Sunstone, Superman goes to the arctic, throws the Sunstone, and creates a new crystalline Fortress of Solitude.
  • Superman sets about confirming to the world that he is indeed back, stopping an alien Auctioneer from abducting Earth's super powered heroes and villains.
  • Battling an alien known as Subjekt-17 in Russia, Superman's fight is interrupted when Arion arrives and tells him that his actions on Earth are dooming the planet to a future oblivion, showing Superman, Lois, Jimmy and Perry a look at the future in store if Superman does not stop his super heroic immediately.

2007

  • Clark and Lois adopts Lor-Zod (General Zod's son) and give him the name Chris Kent. Zod, Ursa and Non are joined by other Phantom Zone criminals and attack Earth.
  • Superman rescues Jonathan Kent from Bizarro, who has created his own Bizarro World.
  • Superman discovers a Kryptonian named Kristen Wells (aka Karsta) living on Earth.

2008

  • Queen Bee, in Lana's image, comes to take over the world.
  • Superman and the Legion of Super Heroes go up against Earthman and his xenophopic teachings.
  • The truth about Toyman's origins is revealed.
  • Cat Grant and Steve Lombard join the Daily Planet.
  • Superman battles Atlas.
  • Brainiac returns and kills Jonathan Kent.

2009

  • Having rescued the bottled city of Kandor, Superman enlargens the city, freeing 100,000 Kryptonians. The Kryptonians set about creating their own planet "New Krypton" in orbit around Earth's sun. Forced by his aunty Alura to chose between Earth and New Krypton, Kal-El takes up a position within General Zod's army. Mon-El, freed from the Phantom Zone and free (for now) of his lead poisoning, is asked by Superman to be Metropolis' champion in his stead. Zor-El is killed by Reactron, with several Earthmen killed in the attempt to bring Reactron to justice. General Sam Lane and Project 7734 prepare for war with New Krypton. Kryptonians are banned from Earth.
  • Chris Kent ages rapidly, takes on the Nightwing mantle alongside Flamebird (really a Kryptonian named Thara).
  • An assassination attempt is made on General Zod.

2010

  • Brainiac, brought back to life thanks to Lex Luthor, attacks New Krypton. With Brainiac defeated, Zod declares war on Earth. Alura sacrifices herself to defeat Brainiac and save her daughter as New Krypton is destroyed.
  • Supergirl and Steel take down Project 7734. General Lane commits suicide. Superboy and Krypto help Superman defeat Zod. Superman sends himself and Zod to the Phantom Zone. Chris Kent, now young again, uses the last of his Nightwing powers to swap places with Superman.
  • With the war over, Superman decides to reacquaint himself with Earth and its people by walking across America.

2011

  • Superman walks across the USA trying to decide whether or not the world really needs a Superman as he deals with real-world issues facing regular people and not-so regular situations.
  • Superman, Superboy, Supergirl, Steel, and the Eradicator face off against a series of Doomsday attacks which end up being different Doomsdays genetically engineered to take on each individually. The Doomslayer decides that Earth must be destroyed to finally kill Doomsday, but Superman and his friends have other ideas and save Earth from destruction.

Post-Flashpoint Age 2011-Current

2011

  • The entire DC Universe of comic books is relaunched in August/September 2011 to make way for a whole series of new #1 issues which re-set the DC Universe after the events of the "Flashpoint" saga.

Sources:
  • Superman Memorial Issue, Comics Values Monthly Special (1992)
  • Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide
  • Wizard Superman Tribute Edition (1993)
  • Superman 1980 edited by Dean Ball
  • The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told (1987)
  • The Great Superman Book by Michael J. Fleisher (1978)
  • E. Nelson Bridwell's essays in 1986's Superman #423, Action Comics #583
  • DC Comics: Sixty Years of the World's Favorite Comic Book Heroes by Les Daniels (1995)
  • The Great Superman Comic Book Collection includes comments by E. Nelson Bridwell and Laurie S. Sutton (1981)
  • Masters of Imagination by Mike Benton (1994)
  • Amazing Heroes #96 (June, 1986) article by Bob Hughes
  • The Comics Journal #184 article on Jerry Siegel by Michael Catron (1996)