Superman (Earth-Two) - Fictional Character Biography

Fictional Character Biography

When the Golden Age of Comic Books came to a close in the 1950s, most of DC Comics' superhero comic books ceased publication. At the start of the Silver Age, characters such as the Flash and Green Lantern were revamped for more modern times, ignoring or abandoning established continuity and thus making a clean break between the two eras. It was later established that the Golden Age and Silver Age heroes lived on Earth-Two and Earth-One respectively, these being separate parallel Earths in a single Multiverse.

Superman was one of the few exceptions; his stories had been published without interruption since his 1938 debut in Action Comics #1. This caused a continuity problem, in that Superman was simultaneously a member of the Justice Society of America on Earth-Two and also member of the Justice League of America on Earth-One. It was eventually resolved that there were two Supermen. The Silver Age Superman was Kal-El from Earth-One, and the Golden Age Superman was Kal-L from Earth-Two.

Several differences between the two Supermen were established to clarify the distinction. The Earth-One names "Kal-El", "Jor-El" and "Jonathan and Martha Kent" became "Kal-L", "Jor-L" and "John and Mary Kent" on Earth-Two, as in the original Golden Age stories. Kal-L's costume was largely adapted from the 1940s drawing style, retaining the famous sweatshirt wrist cuffs, while his S-shield symbol was originally very different from the main Superman S symbol, adapting the 1940s six-sided version with the tail endings and hard left tilt of the S edges. George Pérez famously redesigned Kal-L's 1940s S shield (starting in JLA (Vol 1) #197) to be mostly the main S symbol with five sides and to merely reflect the tilt connecting the upper edge to the side of shield. Stories featuring both Supermen also indicated that Kal-L was the older of the two, being depicted as late-middle-aged, with grey or solid white hair at the base hair-line and face wrinkles, while his Earth-One counterpart was a youthful man of modern times.

These choices not only helped DC Comics to restore continuity to some of the character's Golden Age stories, but also led them to experiment with a Superman other than the mainstream one. Several differences between Kal-L and the better-known Kal-El were introduced. Kal-L was written to be different from the original Golden Age Superman, most famously by revealing his dual identities of Clark Kent and Superman to the woman he loved in the late 1940s, the Lois Lane of Earth-Two, and eventually marrying her in 1950. Their early marital life was depicted in the feature "Mr. & Mrs. Superman" in DC's Superman Family series, which was very different from the original published Superman stories of the 1940s and 1950s, in which Kent kept his secret from Lane and never married her.

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