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Alternate Supermen

Versions of Superman from different Continuities, brought together during the events of Infinite Crisis.

The various Continuities of the Superman universe are a set of differing, continuous storylines, all based on the overall Superman Mythos. These continuities are, however, mostly separate; that is, the Superman you see in a film may not remember events that take place in Smallville (TV), because they are set in separate continuities. Although both are representations of different parts of Superman's life, they are not in direct continuity with each other.

It should be noted that this is similar to the Multiverse, which contains completely separate worlds with different versions of Superman. But, for the most part, continuities are distinct from these alternate realities (though the line between them is blurry). For example, Earth-Tangent is an alternate universe with a drastically different Superman, but it's part of the Modern Age continuity - that is, the Modern Age Justice League crosses over to the alternate universe, making it part of the same continuous story.

Comics

The mainstream comic books technically all have an overarching continuity, in the sense that even characters from old continuities have reappeared, remembering the previous continuity. When there is a reboot, starting a new continuity, there's usually an in-universe explanation for it, allowing stories from previous continuities to continue. Technically, it can be said that this over-arching continuity stretches all the way from Action Comics #1 till the present, in that although there have been various "sub-continuities", events from back then continue to influence the present day comic books.

That said, there are three main sub-continuities which are part of the overall main DC Multiverse/comics continuity: The Golden/Silver ages, and the Modern/Post-Modern ages. (Also called Pre- and post-Crisis). Finally, most recently, there is the New 52.

Comics Continuity (Golden/Silver/Bronze Age)

Main Article: Pre-Crisis Continuity
Superman goldenage

Golden age Superman

Superman 60s

Silver age Superman

This is the continuity of the Superman comic books from the time the comics were created until Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985. Although the "Golden Age" period was later retconned to take place on a separate Earth (and hence continuity), the stories from the silver and bronze age progressed logically from the ones in the golden. At no point was there a reboot. Hence, for the purposes of this wiki we may consider it a single continuity.

However, modern works set in Earth-One and Earth-Two are serving to retroactively separate the golden and silver ages into separate continuities.

The following works are examples of this continuity:

And the following novels:

Earth-Two

Superman Kal-L

The Earth-Two Superman, as seen in Infinite Crisis.

Despite the fact that the comic stories from Superman's golden age continued directly into the silver age stories without any reboot or separation, this point was ret-conned with the introduction of the Multiverse. Earth-Two, in particular, was the first alternate universe encountered, and it was created to explain why the golden age versions of certain characters, such as the Flash and Green Lantern, for example, were completely different people than their contemporaries, who had never heard of each other.

It was soon established that this alternate universe was a direct continuation of all the stories from the Golden Age. This can lead to some confusion, since unlike the aforementioned heroes, Superman's golden age version was essentially the same person with few differences, and there had never been an interruption in publication. New Superman stories were published that were set in Earth-Two, which purported to continue the adventures of the Golden Age Superman (even though the silver age stories were technically also doing that).

As such, stories set in Earth-Two may be considered an off-shoot of the pre-crisis continuity - that is, this new continuity includes the golden-age Superman comics but none of his successors.

Works in this continuity:

  • Action Comics (Debatably, until 1949 or thereabouts)
  • Superman (Debatably, until 1949 or thereabouts)
  • Infinite Crisis (Characters from Earth-Two survive, though they are relocated to the Post-Crisis/Modern Age Earth)
  • Power Girl (The Modern Age version of Power Girl lives in the Modern Age continuity, but comes from the dead Earth-Two).

Pre-Zero Hour

Legion

The continuity of the Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century does not always match up with Superman's continuity.

The Legion of Super-Heroes were depicted as living in Superman's far future throughout the pre-crisis era, having historical records of the Pre-Crisis DC Universe and regularly traveling back through time to meet Superman, Supergirl, etc. They were part of the Pre-Crisis continuity.

However, when Superman's continuity was rebooted with Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Legion's continuity continued without being rebooted. After that point, the Legion made crossovers with Superman of the Modern Age.

The legion did finally receive their own reboot, in Zero Hour.

Works in this continuity:

Comics Continuity (Modern/Post-Modern Age)

Superman
Main Article: Modern Age Continuity

This is the continuity of the Superman comics, starting in 1986 and continuing to 2011. This continuity was altered a number of times, with Superman's origin changing in Superman: Birthright and later again in Superman: Secret Origin, due to the events of Infinite Crisis. However, the Superman comics were not rebooted at any point, and the stories have continued from previous ones (more or less) since 1986.

Unlike the original continuity, this continuity features Lex Luthor primarily as a businessman running LexCorp rather than a Mad Scientist; Krypton is a more cold and sterile world, whose inhabitants do not touch each other, and Superman and other Kryptonians are weaker than in the Silver Age. This description mainly describes the continuity as originally conceived; some elements of it have been retconned in recent years. Additionally, in this continuity, New Krypton has been created from the Bottle City of Kandor, leading to new storylines.

The following works are examples of this continuity:

And the following novel:

Comics Continuity (New 52)

Main Article: New 52
Superman-number-1

Superman's redesigned costume in the new continuity.

In 2011, the DC Universe's continuity was again rebooted. This continuity features changes to Superman's costume, origin, and history.

As of 2012, issues of Action Comics follow Superman's early days, before he learned to fly. Superman, however, focuses on the present era in Superman's life, following the demolishing of the old Daily Planet building.

In this continuity, Superman's costume is a piece of Kryptonian technology which adds armor to his already invulnerable skin, and retracts into the S-Shield when he changes into Clark Kent. Superboy is now a much more powerful being, raised by project N.O.W.H.E.R.E., whose consciousness is not centered in his brain.

The following works are part of this continuity:

Other Media

Radio Series Continuity

Superman radio

This continuity has a different origin for Superman than the others. In it, Superman's ship lands on the side of the road, but no one finds it, and Superman emerges, already fully grown. He meets Jimmy Olsen, who points him in the direction of Metropolis.

This continuity consists of:



Fleischer Cartoons Continuity

Fleischer superman

The Fleischer cartoons were highly similar to the Golden Age comics. However, Superman's origin is not retold in detail.

This continuity consists of:

Movie Serials Continuity

Kirk Alyn Superman

The first live-action adaptation of Superman (Though the 1939 World's Fair was the first to have a costumed actor portraying Superman, the serials were the first on a screen).

This version has his adoptive parents named Mary and Eben, as in The Adventures of Superman. Furthermore, Krypton explodes as a result of being drawn too close to Rao, its star.

This continuity consists of the following movie serials:

Adventures of Superman (TV Series) Continuity

Superman Reeves

This continuity is largely based on the golden/silver age one, with a few differences. For example, in this continuity, Superman's X-Ray Vision is hazardous to Humans.

This continuity consists of:

Filmation Superman Continuity

Superman-filmation

This continuity is very closely related to the Silver-Age comics continuity, but doesn't exactly fit into it. It starts with a Superman animated series, which was followed by the more well-known Superfriends series. The continuity added new DC characters, such as the Wonder Twins, Gleek, Wendy and Marvin, and Wonder Dog.

The continuity also includes a number of non-Superman related DCU animated series, such as the Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Hour, which featured a new version of Toyman in one episode, as well as a Batman animated series and a live-action Superfriends movie.

This continuity consists of:

Superman Films Continuity

Superman-1978movie

Christopher Reeve

Box-routh

Brandon Routh

This is the continuity of the Alexander Salkind film franchise. The film Superman Returns follows after the events of Superman: The Movie and Superman II, and so is considered to be a continuation of this continuity. However, it disregards the events of Superman III and IV, retconning the franchise.

This continuity stays fairly close to the pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths comics, though it adopts a more sombre tone for certain aspects of the mythos. Lex Luthor is an underground criminal mastermind (though he does later become a billionaire with his own tower in Superman IV), Clark Kent is awkward and lacks confidence, and Superman can communicate to AI representations of Jor-El and Lara in the Fortress of Solitude. Also in this continuity, Superman and Supergirl landed on Earth separately and have yet to meet each other on screen, though Supergirl is aware of Superman. Finally, it was revealed in Superman Returns that Superman has a son with Lois Lane, named Jason White.

The continuity consists of:

Man of Steel Continuity

Superman 2013

In this continuity, Superman was the first naturally born child on Krypton in many years. He represents his parents' hope that he could choose his own path in life, rather than be born into a specific profession or class like other Kryptonians.

Lois Lane discovered Clark's identity before he had become Superman, by following a chain of miraculous rescues he had performed, all the way back to Smallville.

The continuity beginning with the film "Man of Steel" is intended to incorporate future DC universe films featuring other characters. Some of those characters will be introduced in the upcoming film tentatively titled "Batman vs. Superman", including Batman, Wonder Woman and possibly others. This is all leading up to a Justice League film, and other films featuring the individual superheroes.

This continuity includes:

Ruby-Spears' Superman Continuity

This continuity starts with:

Superboy TV Continuity

Newton superboy

John Haynes Newton.

Gerard christopher superboy

Gerard Christopher.

This continuity has Superboy going to college in Florida along with Lex Luthor.

Despite coming out during the modern age, this continuity is more closely based on the Pre-Crisis comics. Furthermore, despite being part of the Superman film franchise, this film is not part of the same continuity as the Christopher Reeves films.

Works in this continuity:

Lois & Clark Continuity

Box-deancain

This is the continuity of the show Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. It's essentially based on the Modern Age Comics continuity. However, it also introduces its own elements to the mythos (such as Kryptonians communicating with each other telepathically).

As the series progressed, it grew further apart from the comics continuity, though the series and the comics had Lois & Clark get married at the same time.

DC Animated Universe Continuity

Superman-animated
Superman-batmanbeyond

The future Superman.

This is the continuity of DC Comics animated series, produced in the 90s, starting with Batman: The Animated Series. These series are all in close continuity with each other. The world draws on elements from different eras of comic history, creating quintessential versions of the DC characters.

And the following comic book adaptation series:

Smallville Continuity

Clarkkent-tomwelling

Clark at the beginning of the series.

Superman-smallville1

Clark finally becomes Superman in Season 10.

This is the continuity of the live-action teen drama series, Smallville (TV). It draws heavily from every aspect of the Superman mythos, including the movies, comics, TV series, and more. However, the series also re-imagines or interprets many aspects of the Superman mythos its own way.

The continuity also includes some non-Superman related spinoffs, such as "Birds of Prey" (based on the Batman mythos) and an unaired pilot titled "Aquaman", or, alternatively, "Mercy Reef".

Legion of Superheroes Animated Continuity

Superman-legiontv

The continuity seen in the cartoon series Legion of Superheroes (TV) is not the same as that of the DCAU. Unfortunately, however, there have yet to be any spinoff series.

This continuity includes:

  • Legion of Superheroes - A brief, two-season long animated series following the adventures of a young Superman and the 31st-Century heroes who were inspired by him; season 2 replaces Superman with Superman X, a genetically engineered clone of Superman from the far future.
  • Legion of Superheroes in the 31st Century (Comic book series) - A comic book adaptation of the animated series. Fills in the gaps between many episodes.

Krypto the Superdog Continuity

Krypto the Superdog

In this continuity, Krypto the Superdog lives with a human boy named Kevin Whitney, and Streaky lives with his neighbor. However, Superman, Lex Luthor and the rest do exist in this continuity.

  • Krypto the Superdog - Children's animated series featuring Krypto the Superdog as the main character. Super-powered pets take center stage in this series. Although Superman, Lex Luthor and other characters appear, their appearances are infrequent.
  • Krypto the Superdog - Comic book series adaptation of the TV series.

Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade Continuity

Supergirl 8th Grade

The comic book miniseries Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade started a new continuity, in which Supergirl arrived on Earth at a younger age and is attending elementary school.

This continuity includes:

As of yet, there don't seem to be any other Superman-related works set in this continuity.

Art Baltazar Continuity

Super-Pets

Another continuity featuring younger versions of the characters. These stories come from the art of Art Baltazar.

  • Tiny Titans - Technically a spin-off of the "Teen Titans Go!" comic book series, these diminutive versions of the Titans started as a backup feature and ended up gaining their own comic book series. Later, Superboy was added to the series.
  • DC Super-Pets! - A line of children's books, made by the same artist as Tiny Titans, based on the pet super heroes. The pets, as depicted in this line of books, first appeared in Tiny Titans.
  • The Superman Family Adventures - A 2012 comic series, featuring Superman and the Superman family.

Young Justice continuity

Superboy (Young Justice)

The animated series Young Justice is set in a new continuity, which is similar to the Modern Age comics, but with elements of Super Friends, the Silver Age continuity, and more.

This continuity consists of:

  • Young Justice - Animated series, set at the start of the team's adventures. Unlike the Comics, Superboy starts out as a stoic, introverted hero, freshly rescued from Cadmus Labs.
  • Young Justice (comic series) - New series of comic books, filling in the gaps between episodes of the TV series.
  • Brawl of Justice - Browser game based on the first episode of Young Justice.

The Seinfeld and Superman Continuity

Seinfeld and Superman

Jerry Seinfeld, the comedian responsible for the TV sitcom Seinfeld, was a fan of the Superman mythos and incorporated a number of Superman references in his series. Later, he co-starred with an animated Superman in a series of commercials for American Express.

This continuity starts with:

  • Seinfeld - One episode of this TV series features Bizarro versions of the Seinfeld cast- directly adopting elements of the Superman mythos into the story (as opposed to simply referencing them, as other episodes do).
  • The Adventures of Seinfeld & Superman - Series of short commercial films co-starring Superman and Jerry Seinfeld.

Elseworlds Continuities

Red Son Superman

The Russian Superman, from Superman: Red Son.

Superman Kingdom Come

The future Superman of "Kingdom Come".

There are also a number of stories set in alternate worlds termed Elseworlds, which are specifically created to differ from Superman's main storyline. For example, what if Superman had been raised in Russia? Elseworlds is not one continuity but a plethora of them.

Also in this category are a number of "Imaginary Stories" which "may or may not ever happen", which were published prior to the creation of the Elseworlds banner, and other stories which simply chose not to employ the Elseworlds title but which had a similar theme.

Known Elseworlds stories include:

Other Continuities

There are also a number of stories which don't seem to be set in any other continuity -- that is, there are no other stories directly in continuity with them, (but that will come), although they still likely draw from the Superman Mythos.

Examples include:

See Also

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