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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.

Superman is a fictional character and superhero, also known as Clark Kent and Kal-El. Created by Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, he first appeared in Action Comics #1 in 1938 and rapidly became a popular and well-known comic book icon.

For the philosophical use, see Übermensch
For other uses, see Superman (disambiguation)
All this time. I've been living my life the way my father saw it. Righting wrongs for a ghost. Thinking I'm here to do good. Superman was never real — just a dream of a farmer from Kansas. ~ Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice


Superman: This looks like a job for Superman!

Ongoing series[edit]

Superman in Action Comics[edit]

Issue 1[edit]

Written by Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel

Man in Green (brandishing a gun at Superman): Reach for the ceiling, quick!
Superman: Put that toy AWAY!

Superman: This is no time for horseplay!

Superman: (to a man beating his wife) You're not fighting a woman now!

Clark: Be reasonable Lois, dance with the fellow and then we'll leave right away.
Lois: You can stay and dance with him if you wish, but I'm leaving NOW!
Man: Yeah? You'll dance with me and like it!
Lois: Why you! (slaps man)
Clark: (thinks to himself "Good for you Lois!") Lois—DON'T!
Man: weak livered pole cat! (palms Clark's face)
Clark: Really---I have no desire to do so! (Lois leaves) Wait, LOIS!

Superman: (to Lois, after saving her) I'd advise you not to print this little episode.

Issue 8[edit]

Written by Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel

Superman: Did you ever wonder boys, how it would feel to fall from a great distance and be crushed to a pulp?

Superman: It's not entirely your fault that you're delinquent-- it's these slums - your poor living conditions - if there was only some way I could remedy it--!

Issue 12[edit]

Written by Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel

Superman: Sorry if this is tough on your pocketbook, but I'm thinking of the lives to be saved!

Mayor: The bodies of auto victims--maimed---horrible!
Superman: They are men you killed!

Issue 551[edit]

Written by Marv Wolfman

H.I.V.E Goon: You can't threaten me, Superman! You'd never kill us!
Superman: You're right! Taking lives is something I definitely find offensive! But roughing up criminal terrorists a bit doesn't faze me at all!

Issue 775[edit]

Written by Joe Kelly

Superman: I'm not an idiot, Black. I know there are bad men in power and the world is not an equitable place -- but you can't throw morality in the garbage just because life's tough!


Issue 75[edit]

Written by Dan Jurgens

Superman: It stops here, mister! This insanity ends in Metropolis!

Superman: Too late, Lois. The JLA has already fallen and there are too many innocents in jeopardy. It's up to me.
Lois: Clark... I...
Superman: Just remember... no matter what happens... I'll always love you. ALWAYS.

Superman: Nobody tears my city apart and gets away with it.

Superman: I don't know what hole you crawled out of or where you came from, but I'm sending you back!

Superman: Enough, Doomsday! If you want to get your hands on my friends, you're going to have to kill me first!

Superman: (his last internal monologue before he dies) For Lois, and Jimmy and the entire city, I've got to put this guy away while I still can!

Superman: The Man of Steel[edit]

Issue 21[edit]

Written by Louise Simonson

Batman: He gave me this ring with a kryptonite stone. He said -
Superman: I have many enemies who have tried to control me. And I live in fear that someday, they might succeed. If that ever should happen -- If I should ever lose control, There would only be one sure way to stop me.
Batman: Do you realize what you're asking?
Superman: I do. I want the means to stop me to be in the hands of a man I can trust with my life.

Issue 121[edit]

Written by Geoff Johns

King of Diamonds: Aren't you going to read me my rights?
Superman: See a badge?

Superman: Hello, Ten.
Ten of Diamonds: I was just thinking about you. How --
Superman: You've got a very distinct heartbeat. Erratic breathing. And your kevlar costume squeaks when you walk. Easy sound grouping to pull out of a crowd.
Ten of Diamonds: A crowd of eleven million?
Superman: My hearing's very acute.

The Adventures of Superman[edit]

Issue 505[edit]

Deke Dickson: Maybe you can steal more money with a briefcase than a gun, but nothing beats superpowers!
Superman: Close, Punk. Nothing beats Superman!

Minis and other appearances[edit]

Kingdom Come[edit]

Written by Mark Waid

Issue 1[edit]

Superman: I'm Superman. I can do anything.
Wonder Woman: Except, apparently, face your fear.

Issue 2[edit]

Superman: Party's over.
Superman: We are at war.

Issue 3[edit]

Superman: Only the weak succumb to brutality.

All-Star Superman[edit]

You're much stronger than you think you are. Trust me.

Written by Grant Morrison

Issue 3[edit]

The Sphinx: What happens when the unstoppable force meets the immovable object?
Superman: They surrender.

Issue 10[edit]

Superman: You're much stronger than you think you are. Trust me.

Superman: Birthright (2003–2004)[edit]

Each time I think I've made a connection with someone... once they find out what I can do, whether it's hours or days later, everything changes. Invariably they freak. They get retroactivly paranoid, wondering what else Clark Kent is hiding from them.
Written by Mark Waid
Clark: (to his mother, Martha Kent, in an email) I can see this, I suppose you could call it, aura of colors that words can't describe around living things. And when something dies the aura fades leaving something that's not easy to look at. It appears empty in a way that makes you feel empty too!!
Clark: (to his mother, Martha Kent, in an email) Each time I think I've made a connection with someone... once they find out what I can do, whether it's hours or days later, everything changes. Invariably they freak. They get retroactively paranoid, wondering what else Clark Kent is hiding from them.
Superman and Lois (first time)
Superman: Don't be afraid.
Lois: I'm not. Helicopters, danger, go, go, go! Then we'll talk.
Superman: (to himself) She's not afraid.
Superman apprehending an arms dealer
Superman: I know it was you who sold those guns to those kids.
Arms dealer: I didn't sell them anything.
Superman: I can hear your heartbeat. I know you're lying.
Superman(Grabbing a gun off the wall): I just saw a young girl looking down the barrel of a gun screaming. She will remember it for the rest of her life.
Superman(Firing the gun at the terrified arms dealer then catching the bullet right in front of his face): Now, so will you.
Clark and Lois at a diner
Lois: When we first met Luthor, you acted like the two of you knew each other.
Clark: Yeah. A long time ago back in Smallville. He doesn't seem to remember, which is its own miracle. I was hoping he wouldn't anyway.
Lois: That's too bad. It would be nice if you could shed some light on his actions.
Clark: Looking back, Lois, I think he just wants someone to talk to.
Superman saves Lois from mobsters
Lois: Thank God.
Superman: Are you all right?
Lois: I'm fine. I need to talk with you.
Superman: Can it wait?
Lois: No. (Bullet flies past her head) Yes.

Infinite Crisis[edit]

Earth-2 Superman: [internal monologue upon hearing of the death of Superboy, at the hands of Superboy-Prime] When I had to tell Kara, all she could say was "Why? Why did we survive when he didn't?" I asked myself that question so many times. But I thought I knew the answer. Because I thought he was unworthy of the symbol I'd help. But I picked the wrong one to condone. And the wrong one to condemn.
Green Lantern: I'm picking up a signal... The Society has broken open every prison in the world and brought the inmates to Metropolis. They're going to storm the city. They're saying that if Superman's city falls... the rest will follow...?
Superman: Everyone, listen to me! These jerks killed Superboy. They've tried to kill us. Now they say they're going to tear this city apart. I say... like hell.
Superboy-Prime: [battling Superman]] I'm the only one who can rescue this messed-up universe. I'm the only one who knows how to make it right. I will be its greatest hero! When you're gone... I will be Superman!
Superman: Superman? [rips the S-Shield off Superboy-Prime's costume] You'll never be Superman. Because you have no idea what it means to be Superman.
Superboy-Prime: Yes I do. I'm from Krypton! A better Krypton than yours ever was!
Superman: It's not about where you were born. Or what powers you have. Or what you wear on your chest.
Superboy-Prime: Shut up! [the two continue fighting]
Superman: [after defeating Superboy-Prime] It's about what you do... It's about action.

Superman (1940s cartoon)[edit]


Scriptwriter Jay Morton
Man 1: Up in the sky, look!
Woman: It's a bird!
Man 2: It's a plane!
Man 1: It's Superman!

Narrator: Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!

Narrator: Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to soar higher than any plane!

Narrator: Faster than a streak of lightening! More powerful than the pounding surf! Mightier than a roaring hurricane!

Narrator: This amazing stranger from the planet Krypton, the man of steel, Superman! Empowered with X-ray vision, possessing remarkable physical strength, Superman fights a never ending battle for truth and justice, disguised as a mild mannered newspaper reporter, Clark Kent.


Wally West talking to the other Titans

Wally: I remember the first time I met Superman. Barry was going to introduce us. I was just standing on the rooftop watching Barry talk to Superman. I must have tapped my foot a thousand times fighting the urge to ask for his autograph. I started to get down on myself looking at him. Like I could never measure up. I felt like taking off my costume and walking away. When they finished talking Superman walked over to me, put his hand on my shoulder and said "I wish more young people were like you." Afterwards I couldn't stop smiling for a week.

Superman and Batman Talking in Superman: Critical Condition

Superman: I'm sorry for interfering Bruce. I know that could have gone badly.
Batman: They're never afraid of you are they? Glowing green and seeping radiation. You could break this planet in two. And yet when they see you there struggling to hold yourself up in a doorway, they trip over each other to help you.
Superman: You could try asking people nicely.

Martha Kent talking to Clark about being Superman

Martha: You can't wear a mask Clark. When people see you and can see the things you can do, the power you have, they'll be terrified. They need to be able to look into your eyes, see your face, so that they can see the decency and kindness that's always there and know they have nothing to be afraid of.

The Atom from Superman: Critical Condition

The Atom: I remember the first time I met Superman. It was a Justice League case so there were other heroes involved, but in my mind none of them stood as tall or as proudly as Superman. I began to wonder what I was doing in the same room as him, how little he must think of me. But Superman never treated me as anything but an equal. At six inches tall he made me feel like a giant. Now I had to be that giant for him.

Green Arrow asks for Superman's help on a murder case involving a hanging (Identity Crisis)

Green Arrow: (internal monologue) For the last victim, we went to Animal Man, the Metal Man, and Mister Miracle. We found nothing. So this time, we go to the top. (he glances at Superman) The very top.
Superman: The killer used a sheep's tongue knot with a Dutch Marine twist.
Green Arrow: How do you know that?
Superman: It's a standard Boy Scout's knot.
Green Arrow: (internal monologue)And in one sentence I can both love and hate the man.

Clark Kent quits the Daily Planet over the state of news (The New 52)

  • Clark Kent: The guy isn't a 24-hour pharmacy chief, he must not have felt like he was needed. Calling attention to Superman not being around only serves to put a big target on the people of Metropolis.

Quotes about Superman[edit]

Contrary to the rumours that you've heard, I was not born in a manger. I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father, Jor-El, to save the planet Earth. ~ Barack Obama
Alphabetized by author
  • If I go crazy then will you still
    Call me Superman
    If I’m alive and well, will you be
    There a-holding my hand
    I’ll keep you by my side
    With my superhuman might
    • 3 Doors Down, "Kryptonite"
  • Well I know what I've been told
    You've to break free to break the mold
    But I can't do this all on my own
    No, I can't do this all on my own
    I know, that I'm no
    • Lazlo Bane, "I'm No Superman"
  • Superman represents an instinctive problem that we are all born and grown up with, that we can fly ─ after all, we can fly now; we couldn't before ─ and that we can carry on all kinds of scientific investigations, that we can stop crime, which Superman does, and that we can have a good influence on the world, and that we can be protected by the powerful influences in the world which may be our own parents, or may be the authorities, or what not.
  • So I advised them that in my experience children throughout the ages, long before Superman existed, tried, to fly, and also it has been my specific experience, since I have been at Bellevue Hospital, that certain children with certain emotional problems are particularly preoccupied with the problem of flying, both fascinated by it, and fearful of it.
And we frequently have on our ward at Bellevue the problem of making Superman capes in occupational therapy and then the children wearing them and fighting over them and one thing or another ─ and only about 3 months ago we had such, what we call epidemic, and a number of children were hurt because they tried to fly off the top of radiators or off the top of bookcases or what not and got bumps.
  • There is another reason why Superman has had good influence. That is the years of continuity of the Superman character. The children know that Superman will always come out on the right side. On that, I can give you another story about what they wanted to do. At the end of the Second World War we bad the problem of a certain number of soldiers coming home as amputees.
One of the script writers got the bright idea that we ought to prepare children for their fathers coming home as amputees by having one of the characters─ I don’t think it was Superman ─ one of the others ─ have an accident and lose his leg. They wanted to know what I thought about that idea. I said I thought it was absolutely terrible because I felt that the children loved this character and, after all, how many children were going to have to face the question of an amputee father? Certainly there are far better ways of preparing such children for such a father than to have to shock the whole comic reading children public. So I disapproved of it.
  • You see all these super hero movies, and super heroes have a moral code that they live by and it seemed like in Kick-Ass, that wasn’t the case. It was survival on the streets and still try to fight crime. I think that’s a more realistic version of what vigilantes would be. I don’t think we’ll see a Superman ever flying in the sky or anything like that, and if that does happen, I don’t think the outcome that we watch in the movies is gonna be the outcome in real life. I think we’d send the army after this person, and the navy, and the air force, and the marines, after this person.
  • Jerry Siegel, an intellectually and physically circumcised chap who has his headquarters in New York. . . The inventive Israelite named this pleasant guy with an overdeveloped body and underdeveloped mind “Superman..”
  • Everyone’s like, ‘He’s so powerful, I can’t relate to him.’ Are you kidding me? He’s the most relatable character ever. He grew up on a farm, he doesn’t have a lot of friends, feels isolated, he can’t tell everybody what his secrets are. He’s a great character. He feels overlooked — who hasn’t felt overlooked, or wanted to connect with people? All social media is, is people wanting to connect with other people. That’s all it is. Because people long to connect with other people. And Superman is the embodiment of that. He’s more relevant now than ever.”
  • When Superman came out it galvanized the entire industry. It’s just part of the American scene. Superman is going to live forever. They’ll be reading Superman in the next century when you and I are gone. I felt in that respect I was doing the same thing. I wanted to be known. I wasn’t going to sell a comic that was going to die quickly.
  • A very young person can come up with an idea— well, Superman is the classic example, see? All these businessmen are at the top of the pyramid, but the entire pyramid is resting on two little stones, and the pyramid denies the existence of these stones because it’s so big. It’s loaded with officials, but the little stones are the ones that are holding it up because that’s where the support is coming from, and I was in the same position.
  • Superman obeys the Talmudic injunction to do good for its own sake and heal the world where he can.
  • Rather than Clark be this clownish suit that Superman puts on, we're going to really see Clark come into his own in the next few years as far as being a guy who takes to the Internet and to the airwaves and starts speaking an unvarnished truth.
  • The 2 wishes behind Superman are certainly the soundest of all; they are, in fact, our national aspirations at the moment--to develop unbeatable national might, and to use this great power, when we get it, to protect innocent, peace-loving people from destructive, ruthless evil. You don’t think for a minute that it is wrong to imagine the fulfillment of those two aspirations for the United States of America do you? Then why do should it be wrong or harmful for children to imagine the same things for themselves, personally when they read ‘Superman’?
    • William Moulton Marston as quoted in Olive Richard Bryne's, "Don't laugh at the comics" Family circle, Oct 25, 1940.
  • A man who can see across the planet and wring diamonds from its anthracite.
  • Mark Waid had him as a vegetarian, he sort of ratified it and then people were really angry because they used to say in the 70s his favourite food was beef bourguignon. But I kind of think of course he would be a vegetarian, I mean he would find it hard not to be. He's a super kid who grew up with animals and I'm sure he'd empathise with them pretty early on and just not be.
  • When Superman was created during the Great Depression, he was the champion of the oppressed and fought on the side of the working man. He was lawless. If you were a wife beater, he’d throw you out the window. If you were a corrupt congressman, he’d swing you from the rooftops until you confessed. I think it appealed to people who were losing their jobs to machines: Suddenly you had Superman wrecking machines and punching robots. But his popularity has declined—nobody wants to be the son of a farmer now. American writers often say they find it difficult to write Superman. They say he’s too powerful; you can’t give him problems. But Superman is a metaphor. For me, Superman has the same problems we do, but on a Paul Bunyan scale. If Superman walks the dog, he walks it around the asteroid belt because it can fly in space. When Superman’s relatives visit, they come from the 31st century and bring some hellish monster conqueror from the future. But it’s still a story about your relatives visiting.
  • Siegel: You see, Clark Kent grew not only out of my private life, but also out of Joe's. As a high school student, I thought that some day I might become a reporter, and I had crushes on several attractive girls who either didn't know I existed or didn't care I existed. As a matter of fact, some of them looked like they hoped I didn't exist. It occurred to me: What if I was real terrific? What if I had something special going for me, like jumping over buildings or throwing cars around or something like that? Then maybe they would notice me. That night when all the thoughts were coming to me, the concept came to me that Superman could have a dual identity, and that in one of his identities he could be meek and mild, as I was, and wear glasses, the way I do. The heroine, who I figured would be a girl reporter, would think he was some sort of a worm; yet she would be crazy about this Superman character who could do all sorts of fabulous things. In fact, she was real wild about him, and a big inside joke was that the fellow she was crazy about was also the fellow whom she loathed. By coincidence, Joe was a carbon copy (of me).
  • Siegel: I figured that the character would be so advanced that he would be invulnerable in other ways than physically. Secretly, I kind of enjoyed the thought that women, who just didn't care at all about somebody like Clark Kent, would go ape over somebody like Superman. I enjoyed the fact that he wasn't that affected by all their admiration. When you come down to it, some of the greatest lovers of all time simply aren't that crazy about women: It's the women who are crazy about them. Clark Gable was hard to get, and so were some of the other romantic heroes.
Q: So Superman was conceived as being like the ideal Hollywood romantic hero of the time?
Siegel: That's right.
Siegel: I don't think they had much of an influence on me when I wrote The Reign of the Superman. However, when I did the version in 1934, (which years later, in 1938, was published, in revised form, in Action. Comics #1) the John Carter stories did influence me. Carter was able to leap great distances because the planet Mars was smaller that the planet Earth; and he had great strength. I visualized the planet Krypton as a huge planet, much larger than Earth; so whoever came to Earth from that planet would be able to leap great distances and lift great weights.
  • The story would begin with you as a child on far-off planet Krypton. Like the others of that world, you had super-powers. The child’s scientist-father was mocked and denounced by the Science Council. They did not believe his claim that Krypton would soon explode from internal stresses. Convinced that his prediction was valid, the boy’s father had been constructing a model rocket ship. As the planet began to perish, the baby’s parents knew its end was close. There was not space enough for three people in the small model craft. They put the baby into it. The mother chose to remain on the doomed planet with the man she loved, and die with him. Tearfully, hoping that their baby boy would survive, they launched the craft toward the planet Earth. Shortly, Krypton exploded and its millions of inhabitants were destroyed.”
  • What led me into creating Superman in the early thirties? … Hearing and reading of the oppression and slaughter of helpless, oppressed Jews in Nazi Germany … seeing movies depicting the horrors of privation suffered by the downtrodden … I had the great urge to help… help the downtrodden masses, somehow. How could I help them when I could barely help myself? Superman was the answer.
  • Shuster: I was mild-mannered, wore glasses, was very shy with women.
Q: Where did Superman's costume come from?
Shuster: It was inspired by the costume pictures that Fairbanks did: they greatly influenced us. He did The Mark of Zorro, and Robin Hood, and a marvelous one called The Black Pirate - those are three that I recall that we loved. Fairbanks would swing on ropes very much like Superman flying - or like Tarzan on a vine.
Before I ever put anything on paper, Jerry and I would talk back and forth. Jerry would say, "Well, how about this, or how about that, or how about doing him like this?" And I agreed the feeling of action as he was flying or jumping or leaping - a flowing cape would give it movement. It really helped, and it was very easy to draw.
I also had classical heroes and strongmen in mind, and this shows in the footwear. In the third version Superman wore sandals laced halfway up the calf. You can still see this on the cover of Action 01, though they were covered over in red to look like boots when the comic was printed.
  • Superman stands alone. Superman did not become Superman, Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he is Superman. His alter ego Clark Kent is how Superman views us. And what are the characteristics of Clark Kent? He's weak. He's unsure of himself. He's a coward. Clark Kent is Superman's critique on the whole human race.
  • The police officer who puts their life on the line with no superpowers, no X-Ray vision, no super-strength, no ability to fly, and above all no invulnerability to bullets, reveals far greater virtue than Superman — who is only a mere superhero.

Dialogue about Superman[edit]

  • Q: What do you think has made Superman so popular for over 40 years?
Jerry Siegel: If you're interested in what made Superman what it is, here's one of the keys to what made it universally acceptable. Joe and I had certain inhibitions...which led to wish-fulfillment which we expressed through our interest in science fiction and our comic strip. That's where the dual-identity concept came from, and Clark Kent's problems with Lois. I imagine there are a lot of people in this world who are similarly frustrated. Joe and I both felt that way in high school, and he was able to put the feeling into sketches.
Joanne Siegel: Most teenage boys have disappointments with girls...
Joe Shuster: True! That's why I say it's a universal theme, and that's why so many people could relate to it.
Joanne Siegel: That's why love songs are so popular: they're all full of passion for someone who doesn't care about the singer.
  • Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster and Joanne Siegel in Nemo #2, 1983

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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