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He is what he is, but he isn't what he used to be. How many versions of Kal-El, aka Clark (Superman) Kent have there been since he first appeared in 1938's Action Comics #1? I'm looking for the subset of canon Supermen and the differences between them, I'm not looking for a list of actors. For instance, after 1992's "The Death of Superman", he came back in several different incarnations.

P.S: Bizarro doesn't count.

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@Thaddeus- Hmmmmm? ;) –  Major Stackings Aug 29 '12 at 23:26

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Canon Comic versions of Superman

This list does not include every alternate version of Superman, nor does it deal with his first animated appearances in the 1940's Fleisher Superman Adventures, The New Adventures of Superman series from the 1960s, his appearances in the Super Friends in the 1970s and 1980s, his award winning Superman: The Animated Series in the 1990s or the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited appearances. Nor does it include the All-Star Superman who is an amalgam of all of the printed versions of Superman bound into one.

Mullet Superman

  • Superman Red and Superman Blue: Superman becomes an energy being and is split into two distinct beings. An old story from the Curt Swan era where Superman is split into two beings is redone in a modern theme giving Kal-El distinctively new powers based in electromagnetic manipulation. Commonly called the Electric Superman, most readers disliked the transformation intensely and could not wait until Classic Superman was restored.

Superman Blue and Red, 1960s and 1990s

  • Superman 1,000,000, Kal Kent, a descendant of Superman from the 853 century and leader of the Justice Legion Alpha. This version of Superman has powers on par with the Silver Age Superman at his peak of power.

  • Superman-Prime - Kal-El; having retired to living in the center of the Sun, this version of Superman has moved away from a human existence and lends his powers to his descendants. He is a god-like being of immense power.

  • Superboy-Prime; Earth-Prime, Infinite-Crisis - A version of the character from an Earth without superheroes. Recently went mad and was believed destroyed during the Countdown to Final Crisis Saga. After some introspective wrangling back on Earth Prime, he eventually is driven mad and imprisoned in the Source Wall. Good riddance. One of the saddest character conversions as well as one of the least well written stories, ever. Superboy-Prime started as a completely sympathetic character turned into one of the worst parody villains in DC history.

  • The Kingdom Superman, a famous alternative Superman and future history that was later merged into the primary storyline during the Hypertime Years. This Superman retires after the murder of Lois Lane and while he does, more nihilistic heroes take up the reigns. His return to the struggle causes epic upheavals on that world. Award-winning artwork by Alex Ross and story by Mark Waid.

  • DCnU - New 52 - Earth-0, Superman: Also known as Armored Superman (Superman) or Blue-Jean Superman (Action Comics). This is the latest version of Superman since DC has started their latest reboot of the DC new Universe called the DCnU or the New 52, denoting 52 separate universes that survived their previous reboot. Much of what we know about Superman has been retained with the obvious exceptions of his involvement with Lois Lane (she has, at least temporarily) been supplanted with his interest in Wonder Woman and his costume losing its briefs and becoming a suit of nano-technological armor.

DCnU Superman

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I don't know how you do it. I know you told me, but it's still amazing. –  Major Stackings Aug 30 '12 at 4:40
    
You forgot Superman Earth One. –  Mike Brown Aug 30 '12 at 4:47
    
I know I did. I left off a couple of the retellings of the Superman mythos: Birthright and Superman: Earth One. There are probably a couple of others but I felt mixed since they were not quite canon versions of the character and they were not part of the mainstream Universe. I guess I could make a secondary pile of near-mainstream iterations of the character. Thanks for the reminder. This means I may have to include RED SON and THE NAIL as well... –  Thaddeus Aug 30 '12 at 5:04
    
Just some corrections: Earth-Two Superman wasn't killed in Crisis on Infinite Earths, he was moved out of the multiverse and then killed in Infinite Crisis. Superboy Prime was never killed. –  Wilerson Aug 30 '12 at 12:12
    
@Thaddeus - might make sense to split them into a second answer if there's a good reason why they are not canon. This is one of the rare cases when 2 answers from the same user make sense –  DVK Aug 30 '12 at 13:46

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