Characteristics of Superman

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Superman first appeared in 1938; comic book artists Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created him. Superman quickly became a sensation, and today is regarded as the quintessential comic book superhero. He has undergone changes over the years and even died once during a famous storyline in the comic books. Throughout it all, however, he has retained certain characteristics which define him, both in the comics and in the public perception of his character.

An original Superman comic book is on display in a glass case.
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Superman was born Kal-El, the only survivor of a distant planet called Krypton. His father, Jor-El, placed him in a rocket ship to Earth, when Jor-El realized that their home planet would be destroyed. Kal-El landed in the United States and was raised as a normal boy under the name Clark Kent. He discovered his powers as a teenager and became dedicated to “truth, justice and the American way.” Under the guise of Clark Kent, he took a job as a reporter for the "Daily Planet," a newspaper in the fictitious city of Metropolis.

A pair of black eyeglass frames and a stack of newspapers on a desk.
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According to the Superman Homepage, Superman is 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighs 225 pounds. His hair is jet black, with a natural curl in front, and he has blue eyes. He is always drawn with a rugged bodybuilder’s physique and a square “hero’s jaw” that gives him a noble physique. His costume is essentially a pair of bright blue long johns, red trunks and boots, a red cape and a yellow belt. The famous Superman logo -- the seal of his Kryptonian family -- appears on his chest.

A woman looks at a Superman costume on a mannequin.
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Superman expresses a resolutely noble personality, so much so that it can be hard to find noticeable flaws in him. He’s gentle, kindhearted and selfless. He is also resolute, with a firm knowledge of right and wrong and an ability to act decisively in a crisis. He maintains friendships and acquaintances, both with ordinary citizens like photographer Jimmy Olsen and fellow superheroes like Batman and Wonder Woman. His perennial love interest is fellow "Daily Planet" reporter Lois Lane.

Two men dressed as Batman and Superman pose for a photo at a tradeshow.
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Superman has superhuman strength and is invulnerable. In the early comics, he couldn’t fly, but possessed the power to make great leaps in the air. Eventually, that became flight. He possesses X-ray vision, allowing him to see through walls, and heat vision, allowing him to shoot red-hot beams out of his eye. He can exhale with hurricane force if he chooses, as well as supercool his breath to freeze objects. His only weakness is kryptonite: radioactive meteorites from his home planet that render him powerless and poison him.

An art handler holds up a piece of kryptonite, a prop used in a Superman film, at an auction.
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