- Superman (Earth-Two)
caption = Superman. Also pictured; Earth-Two's Lois Lane,
Superboy-Prime, and Alexander Luthor, Jr.
character_name = Superman
debut = "Justice League of America" #73 (1969)
Dennis O'Neiland Dick Dillin
Superman, created by Jerry Siegeland Joe Shuster
alter_ego = Kal-L, adopted as Clark Kent
Base of operations =
alliances =Daily Star
Justice Society of America All-Star Squadron
powers = Superhuman strength, speed and stamina, multiple extra sensory and vision powers, invulnerability, longevity, flight.The Superman of Earth-Two is a
fictional character, a comic book superheropublished by DC Comics. The character first appeared in "Justice League of America" #73 (1969). He is a version of the Kryptoniansuperhero Supermanfrom an alternate reality called Earth-Two. Unlike the more popular Superman, the Earth-Two Superman is portrayed as decades older and is given the birth name of Kal-L.
Fictional character history
Golden Age of Comic Bookscame to a close in the 1950s, most of DC Comics' superhero comic books ceased publication. The commencement of the Silver Age saw characters such as the Flash and Green Lanternrevamped for more modern times, ignoring or abandoning established continuity and thus creating a clean break between the two eras. It was later established that the Golden Age heroes and Silver Age heroes actually lived on Earth-Two and Earth-One respectively, separate parallel Earths in a single Multiverse.
However, Superman was one of the few exceptions; his stories had been published without interruption since his debut in 1938's "
Action Comics" #1. This caused a continuity problem, specifically that Superman was simultaneously a member of the Justice Society of Americaon Earth-Two "and" a member of the revamped "Justice League of America" on Earth-One. Thus, in "Justice League of America" #73 (1969) it was established that there were two Supermen. The "current", Silver Age Superman was Kal-El from Earth-One, while the Golden Age Superman was Kal-L, from Earth-Two.
Several minor differences between the two Supermen were established to make the distinction clearer. The names "Kal-El", "
Jor-El" and "Jonathan and Martha Kent" on Earth-One became "Kal-L", "Jor-L" and "John and Mary Kent" on Earth-Two. Kal-L's S-shield symbol was slightly different. Stories featuring both Supermen also indicated that Kal-L was the older of the two, being depicted as late middle-aged with greying hair at the temples, while his Earth-One counterpart was a youthful man of modern times.
This not only allowed DC Comics to bring Superman's Golden Age stories back into continuity, but also led them to experiment with a Superman who wasn't the mainstream one. Thus, several differences between Kal-L and the more well-known Kal-El were introduced. Kal-L eventually revealed his dual identities of Clark Kent and Superman to the woman he loved, the Lois Lane of Earth-Two, and they got married, [Flashback in "
Action Comics" #484, 1978] Their early marital life was depicted in the feature "Mr. & Mrs. Superman" in DC's " Superman Family" series.
As Superman, Kal-L was considered to be the first superhero in
Earth-Two's history, being the first individual to appear in a colorful costume and display superhuman abilities. Clark received some training from his Earth-One counterpart in his teen years ["New Adventures of Superboy" #15-16] . He fought against evil, at first on a local level in his base of operations, the American city of Metropolis; later in his career, he would consider first the entire United States, and then the whole world under his protection. In November 1940, Superman became a founding member of the Justice Society of America["DC Special" #29, 1977] . He was referred to as an "honorary member" along with Batman during the Justice Society's original meeting. He subsequently appeared in two published adventures with this team during the 1940s and aided them on several other occasions retroactively as a member of the World War IIorganization known as the All-Star Squadron. He built a Secret Citadel in the mountains outside of Metropolis as his headquarters; however, as shown in " Infinite Crisis", Superman eventually built a Fortress of Solitudecomparable to that of his Earth-One counterpart.
In later years, he was considered an "elder statesman" of Earth-Two's superhero community, the one that later generations of superheroes looked to as an example and role model ["All Star Comics" #69, Nov.-Dec. 1977] . In his secret identity as Clark Kent, Superman also enjoyed success at the "Daily Star", of which he was appointed editor-in-chief in the 1950s, replacing George Taylor.
In 1950, Superman encountered three other surviving Kryptonians known as U-Ban, Kizo, and Mala. All three brothers were members of the ruling scientific council exiled from Krypton after they attempted to conquer the planet. Imprisoned in suspended animation tube vessels, they were freed in "Superman" vol. 1, #65 (Jul/Aug 1950) in the story "Three Supermen from Krypton!" Later, in "Action Comics" #194 (Jul 1954) in the story "The Outlaws from Krypton", Superman's lookalike Mala created a counterfeit Earth (a precursor of the
Bizarro World/ Htrae).
At some point during the Silver Age, Superman's cousin Kara arrived on Earth after a lengthy journey from Krypton. When her father Zor-L discovered that Krypton was about to explode, he placed her in a spacecraft directed towards Earth. Although this occurs at the same time that Kal-L's ship is launched, Kara's ship travels more slowly, and she arrives on Earth decades after her cousin has landed. Kara’s Symbioship is designed to keep her in stasis during the journey and provide her with life experiences and education in the form of a
virtual reality. By the time she arrives on Earth, Kara is in her later teens to early twenties.
The Symbioship provided virtual copies of Zor-L, Alura and fellow Kryptonians from within her home city of Kandor. Once removed from the ship, this virtual reality ceases to exist. Only Kara -
Power Girl, as she would later be known - was known to interact with this virtual Kryptonian reality.
"Crisis on Infinite Earths"
The reality that was Earth-Two was retroactively erased from existence in the 1985
maxiseries" Crisis on Infinite Earths", where the "Multiverse", the collection of several alternate realities where all DC characters existed, was destroyed by the Anti-Monitor, and five realities which had been saved were merged into a single reality combining their histories, with Earth-One having predominance in conflicting points. Thus, history remembered Kal-El, but not Kal-L; Lee Travis (the first Crimson Avenger) became the new reality's first costumed hero, now after being shown a vision of Kal-El's future heroism before the start of his career (keeping a Superman as the inspiration for Earth's superheroes in the new reality as well).
Kal-L's role in various All-Star Squadron adventures was also partially replaced by a character created in "
Young All-Stars" named Iron Munro. Kal-L's roles as the most respected Justice Society of America veteran and finder of his cousin Power Girlwere gone as well of course, and given to the Golden Age Green Lantern Alan Scottand Kal-El respectively. Kal-L was among the heroes from various Earths who fought to save their realities from destruction, and was present at the battle at the dawn of time in which the alternate realities were remade into a single one. Therefore, he still existed and still remembered the history of his home reality, even though no one in the new reality remembered he had existed.
Kal-L was initially near-hysterical when he realized the fact that both he and his wife, along with several friends, had been erased from history as if they had never been, and even more devastated when he saw that there was seemingly no way to be reunited with Lois, due to having fought at the beginning of time being the only reason for his presence in a reality which didn't acknowledge his existence. However, he put aside his grief when it was discovered that the Anti-Monitor was still a threat to the new reality, and stood again with his fellow heroes to oppose the villain in his home dimension, the Anti-Matter universe. In the end, Kal-L,
Alexander Luthor, Jr.of Earth-3, and the Superboy of Earth Prime—none of whom now had a place in the new universe—faced the Anti-Monitor alone to give the heroes still remembered in the new reality a chance to survive. Kal-L himself struck the final blow that defeated the Anti-Monitor once and for all.
Alexander Luthor, who had the power to transform himself into a portal between realities, then revealed to Kal-L and Superboy that he had saved Kal-L's wife, the Lois Lane of Earth-Two, from being wiped out of existence by transporting her to "another place" before reality was remade. This "other place" was described by Lois as "beautiful" and by Alexander as a place of "everlasting peace", and Alexander offered the couple and Superboy transport to this realm as an alternative to returning to an Earth where the four were recorded as having never existed. They all agreed, and passed into a paradise from which there was supposedly no return; to reopen that gateway would apparently risk destroying all creation.
As shown in "Infinite Crisis Secret Files 2006", Superman was initially content in the "paradise" dimension. He had no desire to leave, and he didn't even consider the possibility until Lois became ill. Seeing this, Kal-L built a replica of the "Daily Star" building, and eventually Metropolis, believing that seeing home would give her more energy. This failed to help, however, and Kal-L soon began to share Alex Luthor's belief that their "paradise" dimension was eating away at their souls. With Superman distracted by attending to Lois,
Superboy-Primeand Alex were able to break out and initiate the chain of events that would culminate in " Infinite Crisis". It can be seen that Superboy-Prime's damage to the dimensional barrier affected Lois' health for the worse.
In the 1999 miniseries "The Kingdom", it was revealed that Kal-L now desired to escape their paradise, feeling it to be more of a prison than a refuge. Though Kal-L ultimately decided not to leave the "other place" at that time, it was also revealed that he was aware of a "door", a way out that presumably would not cause the destruction of the outside universe's reality.
In the first issue of "Infinite Crisis", it was revealed that Kal-L and his three companions have been observing the post-Crisis DC Universe from their paradise. Kal-L in particular is revealed at the end of the issue to have been the "narrator" commenting on the events of the story.
Appalled by the rapidly-deteriorating state of affairs in the world, the four decide to emerge from their self-imposed exile to lend their aid (in "52" #7, it was noted that the event that swayed Kal-L to this course of action was the murder of his JSA comrades during Zero Hour). Kal-L batters an exit through a seemingly crystalline barrier which separates them from the rest of reality.
In the second issue, Kal-L meets up with his cousin
Power Girland explains her true origins, as well as the previous Crisis and the merger of the remaining Earths, with Earth-One being dominant and some of Earth-Two's heroes having been lost.
Earth-Two's Lois Lane's touch then somehow restores Power Girl's Pre-Crisis memories. The issue ends with Kal-L telling Power Girl that his intent is to somehow bring back Earth-Two. In the third issue, he tries to enlist
Batman's aid, saying that Batman's distrust of the heroes is caused by the darker nature of Earth-One, and promising that he will always stand by Bruce when the 'right' Earth returns. Batman, however, is not convinced, asking Kal-L if the Dick Graysonof this Earth is a corrupted version of Kal-L's one, and attempts to use the kryptonitering against him. Kal-L destroys the ring easily, but, as he departs, he has been left with something to think about.
It is implied at the end of the issue, when Power Girl is knocked out by Superboy-Prime because of discovering Alexander Luthor Jr.'s tuning fork, that Kal-L is actually an unwitting pawn of Alexander, whose purposes appear to be darker than originally implied (as it is revealed that he is the
Lex Luthorimpostor acting as the leader of The Society).
Alexander's true goal is revealed to be restoring the Multiverse to search for a perfect Earth, using Kal-L as some sort of tuning device for his machinations. Alexander succeeds in bringing about the return of a version of Earth-Two separate from the current Earth, where Kal-L and his wife (along with other heroes formerly from Earth-Two) are transported.
Soon after their transportation, Lois Lane finally dies, telling Kal-L that she was happy to have lived such a long life before she does. Kal-El hears Kal-L's screams of sorrow from the current Earth and investigates. Upon his arrival Kal-L attacks him, blaming him for bringing corruption to Earth-Two as he did on his native Earth. Their blows are so powerful, that they "shatter the boundaries of space and time," atomize Earth 2 -- which, inexplicably, reappeared in the following installment of the series -- briefly manifest alternate reality versions of themselves (in "
Adventures of Superman" # 649), and force each of the Supermen to see visions of realities where they live each others' lives. Both of them, however, are unable to survive in each other's worlds; Kal-El finds life in Earth-Two so simple that he sees no need to truly push himself, and he is quickly killed by the Anti-Monitor, while Kal-L's refusal to adapt to Earth-One, instead trying to force it to adapt to "him", results in a mass supervillain uprising that destroys all life on Earth (these events were depicted in " Infinite Crisis" # 5, " Superman (vol. 2)" # 226, " Action Comics" # 836, and "Adventures of Superman" # 649).
After his battle with Kal-El, he realizes the truth; that a perfect Earth does not need a Superman, and that Alexander must therefore be using him for some purpose. However, as soon as this happens, he starts to scream in agony as Alexander uses him to restore further alternate Earths. Kal-L survives as all the universes combine into New Earth after the Anti-Monitor Tower is destroyed. He is one of the witnesses to the death of Kon-El (Conner Kent) along with Kal-El,
Wonder Woman, Batman, Nightwing and Wonder Girl, forcing him to realize that he made a mistake; he condoned the Superboy who tried to end the universe, and condemned the one who died to save it.
In the subsequent
Battle of Metropolis, the two Supermen unite against Doomsday and Bizarro, quickly defeating these two powerful foes, before the two of them assault Superboy-Prime, dragging him through Krypton's red star, down to the planet (and Green Lantern) Mogo. There, Kal-El and Kal-L both battle Superboy-Prime, with all rapidly losing their powers after direct exposure to the red sun (And Kal-El suffering from exposure to the kryptoniteof his universe). During the battle, Kal-L is savagely beaten by Superboy-Prime in a fit of frustration, the latter hero screaming that Kal-L has to understand why he's doing this.
Kal-L is all but dead when Kal-El manages to intervene. As they fight, Superboy-Prime protests that he is the only one who can make the universe right, and he will be Superman when Kal-El is gone. Outraged, Kal-El tears the 'S' off Superboy-Prime's chest, informing him that he will never be Superman because he doesn't know what it means to be Superman. Superboy-Prime claims that he does because he is better than Kal-El, and that his Krypton was superior to Kal-El's. Kal-El responds, "It's not about where you were born. Or what powers you have. Or what you wear on your chest. It's about what you do... It's about action". It appears that this speech confirms to Kal-L that his counterpart is a true Superman, as, while he lies dying, he states that Superboy-Prime was stopped by "Superman", when he earlier referred to his counterpart as "Kal-El".
As Superboy-Prime is imprisoned by members of the Green Lantern Corps, Kal-L dies in the arms of Power Girl. As she begs him not to leave her, Kal-L assures her that he'll always be with her, even if she can't see him. Enigmatically, he says that "It's never going to end... for us", and says that, someday, she'll see that they're still out there. He then dies just after whispering his last word, "Lois."
Powers and abilities
Superman has super-strength, the power of flight, super-speed, super-breath, arctic breath, super-hearing, super-vision (including X-ray, heat, microscopic and telescopic visions), and invulnerability to any force other than magic, psionics, and Kryptonite. An additional ability he possessed which his modern day counterpart didn't was an ability to "mold" his face to disguise himself, as chronicled in several Silver Age and modern day tales.
Originally, [Comic book reference | Writer = Bates, Cary | Artist = Swan, Curt | Story = Two Men of Tomorrow | Title = Action Comics | Volume = | Issue = 484 | date = June 1978 | Publisher = DC Comics | Page = 23 | Panel = | ID = ] he was significantly weaker than the Silver Age Superman of Earth-One; it was later revealed his powers took longer to develop or be discovered. [Comic book reference | Writer = Bates, Cary | Artist = Swan, Curt | Story = Two Men of Tomorrow | Title = Action Comics | Volume = | Issue = 484 | date = June 1978 | Publisher = DC Comics | Page = 23 | Panel = | ID = ] While he initially could only leap an eighth of a mile, Superman soon gained full-fledged flight by the early 1940s. By the time Kal-L met Kal-El in the late 1960s, [Comic book reference | Writer = O'Neil, Denny | Artist = Dillin, Dick | Story = Where Death Fears to Tread | Title = Justice League of America | Volume = 1 | Issue = 74 | date = September 1969 | Publisher = DC Comics | Page = | Panel = | ID = ] the two heroes were almost evenly matched in terms of power levels. However, some later renditions [Comic book reference | Writer = Wolfman, Marv | Artist = Giordano, Dick | Story = Crisis on Three Earths! | Title = DC Comics Presents Annual | Volume = | Issue = 1 | Date = 1982 | Publisher = DC Comics | Page = | Panel = | ID = ] of Superman showed him exhibiting his more limited abilities including reliance for a time in his leaping ability while allied with the Justice Society on a case involving his cousin Power Girl and the immortal criminal
Vandal Savage. [Comic book reference | Writer = Levitz, Paul | Artist = Wood, Wally | Story = The Return of Vandal Savage! | Title = All Star Comics | Volume = | Issue = 65 | Date = March-April 1977 | Publisher = DC Comics | Page = | Panel = | ID = ]
Based on Superman's first origin and subsequent reference by U-Ban, this Superman came from a race of Kryptonians that inherently possessed superhuman strength, leaping ability, and some visual aptitudes while on that planet to compensate for its greater gravitation pull. As with Kal-El, Kal-L's powers fluctuated when under a red sun as noted in "Infinite Crisis" and "All-Star Comics".
In the final issue of "52", a new Multiverse is revealed, originally consisting of 52 identical realities. Among the parallel realities shown is one designated "Earth-2". As a result of
Mister Mind"eating" aspects of this reality, it takes on visual aspects similar to the pre-Crisis Earth-Two, including Superman among other Justice Society of America characters. The names of the characters and the team are not mentioned in the panel in which they appear, but the Superman, by context, could be a variation of Kal-L. [Comic book reference | title=52 | issue=52 | date=May 2, 2007 | publisher= DC Comics| page=13 | panel=3 ]
Based on comments by
Grant Morrison, this alternate universe is not the pre-Crisis Earth-Two. [cite web
url = http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=111900
title = "THE 52 EXIT INTERVIEWS: GRANT MORRISON"
accessdate = 2007-05-12
last = Brady
first = Matt
date = 2007-05-08
publisher = Newsarama]
In the "Justice League" episode "Legends", the League team up with the "
Justice Guild of America", an analogue of the Justice Society. JGA member Tom Turbine is a cross between Kal-L and the Golden Age Atom. [http://jl.toonzone.net/justiceguild/justiceguild.htm]
Alternate versions of Superman
* [http://superman.nu/wiki/index.php/Superman_of_Earth-2 Supermanica: Superman of Earth-2]
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