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Although not the first super-hero the world had ever seen, Superman has the enviable position as the most iconic of all of them and is arguably the first character people think of when they use the term "super-hero." Unlike other costumed heroes (with the exception of Batman), Superman has constantly grown and evolved in comics while simultaneously remaining in the general public's eye through radio serials, Broadway musicals, television series, animated shows, movies and more. In many ways, the Man of Tomorrow has been the measuring stick by which all other super-heroes are judged while also becoming as inextricable a part of American life as apple pie.
The character of Superman debuted in the first issue of the comics anthology title "Action Comics" in 1938. Although creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster had been working on the character for over six years, "Action Comics" #1 saw the character's debut, fully formed and in full color for the first time. Due to the character's popularity, Superman became the primary star of the anthology, soon doubling up his appearances with the launch of the self-titled series the following year. In these days prior to the start of World War II, appetite for the character amongst American youths proved voracious and only swelled when the war effort commenced.
Dubbed "The Man of Steel," Superman is gifted with extraordinary abilities that have become archetypes in the world of super-hero fiction. Due to his alien physiology, Superman has the powers of flight, super-strength, invulnerability, super-speed and enhanced and expanded senses. Although his alien ancestry gives him his powers, the remnants of that same home world prove to be his ultimate weakness - kryptonite. While alien in origin, Superman was discovered as a baby and raised as Clark Kent by a set of adoptive parents - Jonathan and Martha Kent - from the Middle-American town of Smallville. The Kents raised him with classic beliefs of which some say is from a bygone era of what Tom Brokaw calls "the Greatest Generation". His powers were a gift from his parents, but it was his adoptive parents that informed Superman's moral compass, which has led to the media calling him "The Big Blue Boy Scout" at times.
Upon reaching adulthood, Superman (in the guise of Clark Kent) ventured into the big city - the biggest city in Superman continuity - Metropolis. As Clark Kent, the occupation of a newspaper journalist provides Superman with a unique vantage point into the city and the world beyond. While working for the paper "The Daily Planet," Clark met fellow reporter Lois Lane, who became Superman's chief romantic interest, and later wife, in virtually all Superman stories, in comics and beyond. Superman's primary nemesis in his adventures has proven to be the unpowered, evil scientist/businessman Lex Luthor.
Today, Superman remains the most iconic of comic book figures to the world at large. In addition to his self-titled comic book, Superman has a starring role in several others as well as numerous series featuring related characters including Superboy and Supergirl. Although sales of Superman comics have been outpaced by other titles, to the wider mainstream public, he remains synonymous with both comic books and the superhero genre. After the mild success of the 2006 film "Superman Returns," DC and parent company Warner Bros. have enlisted director Christopher Nolan ("The Dark Knight Returns," "Inception") to launch a new film franchise, tentatively scheduled for 2012.
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