Faster than a super-sonic jet. More powerful than the atomic bomb. Able to leap from world to world in a single bound. That mysterious visitor from another planet, the Man of Steel himself: Superman.
The last son of a doomed world, Superman was saved from the extinction of his race by the genius and desperation of his parents, Jor-El and Lara Lor-Van. Rocketed to earth in a "basket rocket", he was discovered by the kindly Jonathan and Martha Kent who adopted and raised the boy, naming him Clark. He grew up to be an intelligent and compassionate young man whose desire to aid a hurting world was rivaled only by the titanic solar powers that were imerging from within him.
Traveling to the city of Metropolis, Clark began his neverending battle against evil as both a crusading journalist at the Daily Planet and as the world's first true blue superhero, Superman!
The Super Family:
Joining Superman in his battle against evil are other heroes (and in a few remarkable circumstances, pets) all tied in some way to Superman's homeworld of Krypton.
Supergirl or Kara Zor-El is Superman's impulsive teenage cousin. Though it took her longer to reach earth and be taken out of suspended animation, Kara is technically Clark's older cousin. Having grown up on Krypton, she has a much closer tie to the world both she and Clark lost. Now on earth, she joins Superman in his battle against evil as Supergirl.
Superboy or Kon El is a genetic experiment: a clone grafted from Superman and Lex Luthor's DNA. This strange combination of genetic material impacted the Super Boy's powers in unexpected ways, gifting him with the power of Tactile Telekinesis. This allows him to telekinetically mannipulate anything he can physically touch (except for when the writers don't care about that little limitation. Then he just has regular telekinesis...) Is he a weapon...or a hero? Only Superboy can decide. Let's just hope he ends up on our side...
Last, but absolutely not least is Krypto the Superdog. Krypto was Superman's pet dog on Krypton and in the world's dying moments, defended his master against the twisted criminals of the phantom zone, getting dragged into that limbo dimension in the process. Since Superman has re-discovered the Phantom Zone he has since rescued Krypto (well, they kinda rescued each other) and now Krypto protects the Fortress of Solitude, Superman's secret base, as well as being superhero's best friend. Who's the best doggie in the universe?
The Required Reading:
Want to get a good grip on Superman, past present and future? I'd start with:
All-Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly - The ultimate Superman tale. It's beautifully drawn, beautifully written, and bursting with heart. It changed my own personal philosophy on life, the universe and everything for the better the first time I read it. Cannot recommend hard enough. If you haven't read it yet, what are you waiting for? Go get it right now!
John Byrne's Man of Steel - The first of the major revisions to Superman's history, this is a well constructed and down to earth tale of Superman's origins.
Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? by Alan Moore and Curt Swan - The last great hurrah for the Silver age version of Superman, this is an epic tale that has all the great touchstones of the era.
Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross - My secondmost favorite appearance of Superman in anything. This gorgeous graphic novel show exactly why the world needs Superman and heroes like him. It's not canon, but don't let that stop you.
Red Son by Mark Millar, Dave Johnson and Kilian Plunkett - Probably one of the most commonly referenced graphic novels when people think of good Superman stories, this one has never really resonated with me, but I know Superfans who swear by it. Definately important in order to become super-literate.
The Superman Chronicles graphic novels by various artists - For that golden age flavor. A lot of these are rough and tumble golden age Superman tales where he beats up gangsters, wife-beaters and other people who probably deserve it. Interesting reading and great for seeing where the Man of Steel came from especially due to how the current Action Comics is riffing off these classic tales.
...and hey, speaking of modern Superman how about Superman Vs The Men of Steel by Grant Morrison and Rags Morales for a look at what's being done with Superman today?
We need a place to just talk about Superman around here. Dude's awesome and we've already got a place to talk about why people don't like him, which honestly is getting clogged up with apologists like myself hanging out on our soap boxes. But there's a new movie coming, the big guy is starring in a video game or three and his rebooted comics are actually kind of surprisingly un-horrible.
Given all that's going on, this is going to be the Year of Superman. Whether that proves to be for better or worse remains to be seen. Reading the comics? Found some nugget about Man of Steel? Diving through back issues? Are you into Superman Comics Podcasts? Need some Super-trivia answered? Best of all, are you Superman curious and looking for a few kindly experts to hand you the keys to the Fortress of Solitude? This is the place.